MORE than 1,700 people have got behind a campaign which aims to secure access to a Weymouth beach.
Families are demanding authorities restore access to Sandsfoot Beach off Old Castle Road.
The privately owned beauty spot, also known as Castle Cove, has been out of bounds for more than a year following a landslip in the area and removal of the steps down to the beach for safety reasons.
A petition launched by local parent and Green Party member Clare Sutton has now been handed over to Weymouth and Portland Borough Council.
The petition attracted 1,727 signatures, including more than 800 online, in just over two weeks.
It calls on the council to work closely with Dorset County Council, local landowners, businesses and the community to find a solution.
Miss Sutton said: “Having spent many afternoons on the beach as a child, teenager, and more recently as a mum, I knew lots of local residents loved this beach but I didn’t realise just how important it was to so many people.
“Literally hundreds of people have talked about using it as a child and how much they miss it and want their children and grandchildren to be able to use it. I’ve also been really touched by just how many people said there they had scattered a loved-one’s ashes there.”
Over the past fortnight, Miss Sutton and local Green Party members have knocked on nearly 1,300 doors in the and 250 pupils at All Saints School have also signed the petition.
Miss Sutton added: “The level of support has been extraordinary. Almost every single person we spoke to wanted to sign the petition and some even took a copy away to get even more signatures.
"A big thank you also to Janet at the Buxton Road Fish and Chip Shop and Rod at The Old Castle who also collected signatures. It was a real team effort all round, and I’d like to say a very big thank you to everyone who has supported this. I’m sure some people will be disappointed we didn’t get to their door but if people still want to express their support I am happy to pass on all comments to the council.
“Councillors can now be in no doubt how strongly local people feel about this issue, so we are all calling on them to work really hard to try and find a solution. We have asked for a meeting so we can discuss with them the issues and ideas raised by local people and we hope they will get back to us soon. It would be really great to have our beach back in time for the summer, and hopefully the council will help us.”
To support the campaign contact Clare Sutton on 01305 771180 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Council: No funding for works
HEAD of Infrastructure at Weymouth and Portland Borough Council Ben Murray said: “Steps leading to Castle Cove beach were removed last year for safety reasons due to unstable land caused by coastal erosion and there is no longer any direct access to the beach.
“The steps sat on an actively eroding stretch of coastline that would require a significant amount of money to stabilise. Unfortunately there is no funding available for such works.
“Rebuilding the steps could cost tens of thousands of pounds and without the required stabilisation works future landslips could easily destroy the steps at any time.
“The borough council is keen to investigate any solutions that could reinstate access to the beach and is discussing various options with relevant stakeholders.
“Dorset County Council has extended the right of way closure along the coastal path, and for their own safety we advise against people continuing to use this closed right of way to try and access the beach.”