WORK to install controversial safety railings at Weymouth Harbour wall will go ahead tomorrow - but they will only be in place for summer.

Initially the plan was for railings to become a permanent fixture, with a review in the autumn.

However Dorset Council has now said the railings will be removed after the summer and feedback will be sought from residents about future arrangements.

Dorset Echo:

Meanwhile, benches are being installed along the harbour this week in response to concerns about loss of seating on the wall.

Work on the railings was originally due to start yesterday but was put on hold for 72 hours.

The community reacted with anger to the timing of the announcement before the bank holiday, and a protest was held at Custom House Quay yesterday, organised by Melcombe Community Group leaders Dave Burchill and Genny Burchill.

Dorset Echo:

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Dave Burchill said: "The first we heard about this was in the Echo right before the bank holiday - there was no opportunity for residents to have their say.

"Putting railings along here could in fact be more dangerous - people will climb on them and jump off - it's got to be stopped."

Genny Burchill added: "It's the lack of democracy as much as anything else - even Weymouth town councillors were not told about it. My grandmother was a suffragette so that I could vote. We are a nation of pioneers and explorers - people should be allowed to take risks."

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B&B owner Paul White said: "I have made a Freedom of Information request to Dorset Council to ask for details of the HSE report to be published."

Dorset Echo:

Weymouth town councillor Christine James said: "I am in favour of stopping anti-social behaviour at the harbour and preventing people trespassing on boats - we need better enforcement at the harbour and I am not sure whether railings will do anything to solve the issue."

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Following the protests a statement was issued by Dorset Council confirming latest plans.

Cllr Ray Bryan, Portfolio Holder for Highways, Travel and Environment at Dorset Council, said:“The temporary railings proposed for Weymouth Harbour are just one part of a range of public realm improvements to Custom House Quay which we consulted on between January 13 and February 24 this year.

"The addition of temporary railings was included following advice from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to ensure that we adequately protected people from falling in the harbour.

“Highways officers are due to begin installation of the temporary safety railings this Thursday April 8, which will stay in place until after the summer season.

"Then, we will seek feedback from residents and users of the harbour on how these improvements may be made to balance safety with all uses of the Custom House Quay area.

“We will ensure all residents and users of the harbour will have an opportunity to have their say and will continue to liaise with the HSE on any further proposals.

“Over the last decade we are aware of three fatalities and at least 11 incidents of people accidentally falling into the harbour, most recently in January this year. We have a duty to ensure we have measures in place to prevent future accidents.

“The Harbours Committee, as duty holders, were briefed on these discussions with the HSE at the previous two committee meetings and advised that the space would be continually risk assessed as the Custom House Quay area was developed.

“An agreed 72 hour pause to the installation of the railings ends tomorrow, so work to start the installation of the temporary railings will begin on Thursday April 8, ahead of the expected increase in visitors. Alternative seating along the harbour will be provided as part of the scheme.”