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Wednesday, 01 October 2014

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Action group formed to fight Barrow road being closed to vehicles

A CAMPAIGN to prevent a road from closing, effectively rendering a tourism hotspot unsafe, is gathering momentum after the formation of an action group.

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Gary Powell

The Earnse Bay Access Action Group are battling to save a storm-damaged road at West Shore, Walney, after Barrow Borough Council decided against reinstating it as a public right of way.

A £600,000 construction of sea defences near West Shore Park is set to start next month, but in official documents unearthed by Furness kitesurfer Gary Powell, the council plans to prevent vehicles from accessing the road, which leads to Earnse Bay.

A recommendation from the Marine Management Organisation claims vehicles have caused damage to vegetated shingle on the shore front, and have offered to have a barrier fitted.

Mr Powell said: “The road dates back as far as anyone still alive can remember, so I don’t see why it should be closed now.

“In the places you can park, the vegitated shingle is very sparse and there is no evidence that vehicles have had any effect.

“The point of the action group is to ask the MMO to reconsider their views or produce indisputable evidence that vehicles are causing damage to the shingle.”

Mr Powell, who formed the group after learning of the road’s proposed fate, believes the issue will have a negative effect on many locals and visitors and such decisions should never have taken place without proof of any adverse effects on the shore front.

He also claims that council’s hands are tied as the plans for the sea defences have already been passed, and to revise them at this stage would see a delay in the construction of the sea defences, leaving a number of homes at risk of flooding damage later in the year.

Last year, Mr Powell had to close down his kitesurfing tuition business because ambulances could no longer easily reach the bay, and he believes that were the road to remain out of bounds it would put lives at risk.

“I had to close down my business because I couldn’t guarantee people’s safety,” he said.

“What I find very contradicting is that heavy machinery will be using that road while they are building that road, so either they will be causing more damage, or they will have to repair it anyway.”

Phil Huck, executive director at Barrow Borough Council, said: “We are not closing the road to the public, though it will no longer be open to traffic. We are not resurfacing it because the whole area is of national and international importance as a nature reserve and vehicles can damage that.

“If people want to park up and enjoy the area, there is an underused car park at Earnse Bay which is only about 125 yards away.

“Emergency vehicles will still be able to gain access if necessary.”

Have your say

This road has been a public right of way all my life of 59 years and my parents before that. The erosion accelerated after the building of the Whale Tail see defence to the left of the seafront car park which has a had a gradual but highly noticeable effect to the north but build up to the south. I've read some nonsense written in this column, probably from newcomers to the Island. The Fishermen, Windsurfers and Kite surfers have had exremely little or no effect to the erosion, the relatively new sea defence and last winters storms have. VSEL (BAE) tried to take over the Sand hills back in the seventies and the Walneyites stood up marched against them so restore all the road for us all to use and stop being so damn selfish.

Posted by Chip on 7 September 2014 at 19:47

Wally, and all others. Thank you for your support. Unfortunately in these modern times everything take place on the internet including petitions and action groups. The online petition can be found here http://www.activism.com/en_GB/petition/earnse-bay-access-action/62877 . I think even if you don't use Facebook you can do a search in a search engine for "Earnse Bay access" and you will find links to information on the group page that you may be able to read without having an account. After a meeting on Friday to check over some things I expect to be sending out 3 copies of objections and observations to the relevant people so maybe within the following week there will be some indication as to weather things will be reconsidered or at the very least a meeting between parties to discuss the issue.

Posted by Gary Powell on 3 September 2014 at 17:07

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