Campaigners Fight For Access To Castle Cove Beach
10:59am 4th November 2014
62 witness statements have been collected by a group in Weymouth, who are fighting to make the steps down to Castle Cove Beach, a public right of way.
They've found accounts that date back to 1934, which they've presented to the County Council to prove there has always been public access.
The beach was closed in April 2013 after a landslip and has never been reopened.
Tony Dobbs from The Friends Of Castle Cove Beach says it's been a big loss to the community;
"People are generally upset. A lot of people use the beach in the summer to go and sit down there and two bath. People use it throughout the year to walk their dogs. Once you get down there its very peaceful and clam and a lovely place to go and visit."
"The Council seem to have disregarded local opinion and dealt with it in quite a high handed way. Because the footpath whilst it has deteriorated somewhat it is perfectly accessible at the moment, there's some cracking in it, but in comparison to other footpaths its perfectly accessible."
Tony went on to tell Wessex FM:
"We started collecting statements a month ago, and we've had an astonishing response," said petition organizer Tony Dobbs of the Friends of Castle Cove Beach. "The Mayor of Weymouth and Portland has signed a statement. So have teachers, social workers, a vicar, people who came down to the beach with their grandparents, people who swam here in the Second World War. We have had one witness statement from Switzerland, and another from New Zealand."
"Castle Cove was popular during the war because it didn't have barbed wire - whereas Main Beach was covered with defences. In the 1950s and 1960s, hundreds of bed and breakfast guests from Southlands Rd used the beach. Schools had leaving parties there at the end of term, and primary schools regularly brought their students down for nature walks. People have been using the steps to the beach for more than a hundred years. It's an wonderful local resource."
"The 62 statements were sent to Dorset County Council, where they have been officially registered. "It's a long process, because there's a backlog," said Tony. "but it's a very strong application. We're confident that access to the beach will be declared a Public Right of Way."
A spokesman for Dorset County Council said; "Castle Cove Beach has a right of access, but we have received an application for the steps to be recorded as a Public Right of Way. We will process this application in due course."