BUSINESSES at Weymouth Harbour could face enforcement action for blocking pavements with tables, chairs and A boards.

Dorset Council has responded to concerns raised by a number of disabled residents who say they are faced with significant challenges caused by hospitality sitting out areas on pavements at Custom House Quay.

The council said it is aware of issues with items obstructing pedestrian access on both sides of the harbour, and warned that businesses could be in breach of licensing conditions.

One local man, who is disabled, was left feeling humiliated after tripping over obstacles outside one eatery, and said he felt as though staff assumed he was drunk.

"People are forced into the roads where cars come through at breakneck speeds," he said. "I have grave concerns that a child could be killed or seriously hurt. I used to enjoy walking along the harbour - now I rarely go down there except for very early mornings as the crowds and lack of space on pavements make it an absolute nightmare. The situation on The Esplanade is not much better."

Meanwhile it is reported a blind lady had to be helped off the ground after a fall at Custom House Quay, because obstacles and high volumes of pedestrians make it virtually impossible to use a walking cane.

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The council said it is also aware of issues caused by advertising 'A-boards' being placed on pavements on the other side of the harbour.

As reported, Dorset Council put in place temporary measures at the harbour earlier this year, creating outside seating areas to enable hospitality businesses to serve customers outside as lockdown eased.

The scheme will be made permanent in the autumn - and the council said it includes modifications to make the area more accessible for pedestrians, including those with disabilities.

A Dorset Council spokesman said: "Weymouth is expected to be very busy this summer, and through the temporary scheme, we have ensured that the needs of harbourside businesses and pedestrians of all abilities are met as far as possible. We are working under guidance from national Government to support hospitality businesses where possible in order to maximise outside space.

“The layout on Custom House Quay is temporary and is being monitored carefully with modifications made to the permanent scheme, implementation to start in the autumn. We know that wheelchair users are now able to access and use parts of the harbourside footway that previously would have been impossible or very difficult when this space was used as parking.

Dorset Echo: Changes were made at Custom House Quay Changes were made at Custom House Quay

“The permanent scheme will ensure that there is clear footway space on both sides of the carriageway and provide greater pedestrian priority at side roads. For visually impaired users, the scheme makes side roads more safely navigable through tactile paving at all crossing points, which none of the footways in this area currently have.

"Some of the footways in this area are less than a metre in width, and with very high pedestrian flows and the need for social distancing, it is very difficult to ensure a clear space at all times, particularly where pedestrians are queueing on the footways.

“In the short-term we are aware that there are issues with the businesses encroaching on the footway space on the northern side (Custom House Quay) and erecting A-boards on the southern side and we will continue to enforce where this breaches their licences.”