Sandy walkways limit disabled coast access

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A DISABLED elderly woman has been unable to access the coast all summer due to sand covered walkways at Chapel St Leonards.

Mae Carter, 84, bought a £28,000 caravan at the Golden Anchor Caravan Park several years ago so that she could enjoy the health benefits of the fresh coastal air.

This year, sand encroaching onto the sea defence has made it impossible for her to access the coast in her wheelchair.

“I’m a disabled person and I spend as much of the summer as I can by the coast for health reasons, but this year I’ve not been able to get to it because of the sand,” Mae explained

“I’ve been to the parish council, the district council and the Environment Agency but they all said it was not their responsibility.”

Mae has also noticed mothers with pushchairs encountering similar difficulties and would like to see one of the local authorities clear the walkway so that she can enjoy the beach.

Unfortunately, maintaining accessibility in that area is not the responsibility of any particular organisation.

It is owned by the Environment Agency as a sea defence to mitigate against flood risks but although access is permitted, it is not a public right of way as other coastal promenades are.

The Environment Agency does clear the sand twice a year but this is done purely for inspection purposes and cannot be carried out more frequently due to budget constraints.

Chapel St Leonards Parish Council also has insufficient finances to carry out the regular clearances necessary to maintain continual accessibility.

Despite, the lack of resources to carry out the discretionary clearances, many of the local authorities are looking at other ways of helping to address the problem. The parish council has negotiated an agreement with a local entertainment operator starting in 2012 to keep the sand clear, in return for allowing it to operate attractions in that area.

Coastal Access For All campaigner, Paul Marshall, has also expressed a desire to expanding the clearances he and his team carry out between Skegness and Ingoldmells to include Chapel St Leonards as well.

Although Paul has regular voluntary assistance, the group would benefit immensely from mechanical equipment.

l If you can offer help contact Paul on 01754 768775