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Beach access campaigners not giving up fight
Updated 10:26am Monday 14th July 2014 in News
CAMPAIGNERS fighting for access to Weymouth’s Castle Cove Beach are refusing to give up their fight.
A public meeting will be held tonight, Monday, to discuss the way forward.
The stand comes after Clare Sutton, who organised a petition, was forwarded a letter by Weymouth and Portland Borough Council’s briefholder for environment and sustainability Ian Roebuck who wanted to send a message to all those who had signed the petition, defending the authority’s stance.
Last month councillors agreed to take no further action to restore access to Castle Cove Beach despite a petition signed by more than 1,700 people calling for the path to be restored.
Cllr Roebuck says he is convinced the access route to the beach is ‘unsafe’ and has outlined the reasons behind the council’s decision.
He said: “My family have spent many happy hours on that beach but I am now convinced that this would be unsafe.”
Cllr Roebuck said that the footpath from the road to the steps down to the beach had ‘become dangerously unstable’ and as a result the borough council and Dorset County Council had taken the joint decision to close it.
After taking legal advice the council was told it would be liable if anyone had an accident on the path and it had to do everything in its power to discourage people, which is why it then removed the steps.
Cllr Roebuck said that council engineers, the Environment Agency and consulting engineers had all looked at the future of the north-west shore of Portland Harbour and estimated that it would cost in the region of a million pounds to address the instability, which was caused by groundwater.
With less than a third of the funding available from central government, the council had spent a year looking for alternative funding but had not had any success.
Cllr Roebuck said: “Even if the steps were restored the path would remain too dangerous for public use."
Clare Sutton, from the local Green Party, is chairing a public meeting this evening to discuss the way forward for those hoping to restore access to the beach. It is at St Nicholas' Church hall, Buxton Road, at 7pm.
She said there were still a number of people interested in searching for a solution, even if it appeared that the council was not going to support them.
Clare said: “There are individuals in the community who are willing to get together an explore some of these issues.”