October 21, 2015
Burnham residents call on council to improve safety of 'neglected' path

A group of Burnham-On-Sea residents has called on local councils to make long-awaited safety improvements to a 'neglected' footpath.

Residents at Retreat Holiday Park say the sand has built up so high along a public footpath from the beach that people can look into their homes, causing privacy and safety concerns.

They have been calling on Somerset County Council and Sedgemoor District Council to help for several months, but so far their calls have fallen on deaf ears.

The park's Debbie March, pictured, told "For a number of years we cleared the path ourselves because the council refused to do it but for health and safety reasons we're not allowed to clear it any more because it's not our land - it's a public right of way."

"We have been trying to get the county and district councils to take responsibility for this public right of way, not just to remove the sand along the fence, but to make it a path that people can use to safely walk onto the beach."

"The sand has blown up the path in recent years and there's now a very steep incline for walkers leaving the beach from the low lighthouse up to Gore Road, which is a route used by many local residents."

"People can now stand at the top of fence height and look straight into people's gardens and homes on the other side in our park - this poses privacy and security concerns."

"We have spoken to the district and county councils and they each say its others responsibility, which is very frustrating."

"We have also written to and spoken with our MP and other people, but they all say it's other's problems."

"We want to highlight the issue and hopefully encourage someone to come forward and take responsibility to clear the path."

Holidaymaker Tom Bedford, who has sent many letters to local councils to try and get action, adds: "In the beginning I contacted the Town Council who said it was not in their remit and suggested Sedgemoor District Council who said it was not their responsibility, so my next course of action was Tessa Munt - the then MP - who delegated one of her aides to try all the avenues open to him, but alas with no joy."

"I then contacted Sedgemoor District Council again and got Mr Richard Dunne to visit the site to assess the situation. We dug down the side of the fence and agreed that the sand was approximately 18 inches above the weather board of the fence. I then spoke with another person from the District Council who visited the site, but did not give me any answers."

"By this time the MP had changed so I contacted James Heappey but alas he didn't give me the impression that he was interested, and he said I should speak with my MP in Hertfordshire. So then it was back to Somerset County Council - unfortunately I could not speak with the leader of the council but was passed on to Mr Geoff Dight, who managed to get Mr Peter Hobley to contact me. We then arranged a meeting on site which took place recently - he agreed that the sand was high but did not see it as a problem to the public. During this visit we spoke with three members of the public who said that they can remember the path being kept in good order over the years." invited representatives from the councils to comment on the situation.

A Sedgemoor District Council spokeswoman said: "As the path is a public right of way, it is a Somerset County Council responsibility. Sedgemoor District Council are contracted by Somerset County Council to cut grass three times a year and that is our only involvement."

A Somerset County Council spokesman added: "The footpath concerned goes across a sand dune system and it is natural for the height of the sand and the path to change over time. The County Council has never cleared sand from the path but we understand that this was done in the past by a third party. The path has been inspected recently and was found to be acceptable for public use."


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