Berrow beach re-opened to vehicles over the autumn and winter from Saturday following an agreement with a local tourism group, it has been announced by Sedgemoor District Council.
Burnham-On-Sea.com first reported here that the council had decided to shut the beach to vehicles from the end of September until next April on safety grounds due to the beach wardens ending their duties for the season.
But the closure prompted uproar from beach users and a petition launched by local resident Rita Morgan calling on the council to re-open the beach to local cars attracted over 1,500 signatures.
This week, the group Discover Brean – a consortium of holiday parks and hospitality businesses in Berrow and Brean – has offered help, as we reported here, and that offer has now been accepted by the council.
Sedgemoor District Council spokeswoman Claire Faun told Burnham-On-Sea.com: “Following representations from Berrow residents and the positive and constructive proposals from Discover Brean, Sedgemoor District Council has come up with a way forward to allow vehicular access to Berrow Beach during the autumn and winter.”
“The beach warden will be on duty over the half term holiday (from Saturday, 23rd October until Sunday 31st October) between 0900 hrs and 1500 hrs. The beach safety warden will be on hand for safety and advice. There will be no charge to park.”
“From 1st November, the beach will be open for vehicle access on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays between 1000 hrs and 1500 hrs, taking into account tidal conditions. The beach safety warden will be on hand for any safety issues and advice. There will be no charge to park.”
“On the days when there are no safety beach staff on duty (Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays) the access gates will be closed. There is parking in the nearby Berrow Dunes Nature reserve car park, with pedestrian access. There are disabled access points at nearby Burnham-On-Sea beach for those who are unable to use the pedestrian access to Berrow Beach.”
“We are very grateful for the offer from Discover Brean and look forward to working alongside them to help support the beach team. We understand that residents and local users of the beach may be aware of the dangers that the beach can pose, but if the gates are open and unsupervised, that does allow for access for people who may not be aware of the potential dangers of the tides and beach. That is why SDC will be using the regular beach safety staff to supervise the opening hours.”
“As a part of the longer term solution, Sedgemoor District Council will be constructing a car parking area just off Coast Road at Berrow. This work will start on Monday, 15th November and will take two weeks.”
“The vehicle and pedestrian access will be closed for those two weeks to allow heavy plant and machinery to work uninterrupted to create the 30 permanent parking spaces, which are not on the beach. Once installed, these car parking spaces will be free until Easter 2022.”
She adds: “The beach at Berrow is six miles long and is a mixture of sand and mud flats. Unfortunately, there are several incidences of cars and people getting stuck in the mud every year. This means that the emergency services are called and on many occasions, vehicles are stuck in the mud and covered by the fast flowing incoming tides.”
“There is an access point for vehicles which is controlled during the spring and summer (Easter until the end of September) via Sedgemoor beach safety staff. Parking is allowed on the beach, controlled by the safety staff who are au fait with the tidal conditions, problem areas and are on hand to give assistance if needed. Beach safety staff are trained in supervising beach activities, providing basic first aid and general beach safety and advice. During the spring and summer there is a charge to park on the beach. Parking throughout the year is also dependent on tidal conditions.”