As many of you are aware from social media, there is now some confusion among locals and visitors about alleged restricted access to the beach at Wanson, near Widemouth.
Locals claim the public footpath has been modified and Nicky Chopak of Cornwall Council is now investigating the issue.
However, the landowner feels that people are mistaken about rights to access to the beach across private land.
The landowner there says:
There are three signs advising access to the Coastal Path – two of which have been in situ for over five years.
Access across my land to the Beach (which is included in my land holding) is not a Public Right of Way (PROW).
Appeal Reference CROW/6/M/04/2933 which applies to ALL of the land holding at Lilttle Wanson confirms exemption of any Public Right of Way other than any dedicated Footpaths ONLY.
Due to a huge increase in public traffic (especially during COVID-19 lockdown), the footpath is becoming dangerous and inaccessible. It is extremely narrow and is harming the SSSI status and causing erosion at an alarming rate which is apparent all along this stretch of coastline.
I am concerned about the amount of people using my footpath rather than the dedicated public footpath to access the beach. It will eventually lead to not only further erosion, but potential injury. The public footpath is not clearly identified. I have raised this issue with Cornwall Council and if the Council are unable to expedite their signage programme, then in the interim, I shall install additional directional signage to the Public Footpath. I have yet to discuss this with the Council as of Tuesday 21 July 2020.
We had previously installed wooden gates and fencing but these were vandalised and burned on the beach on two occasions. Due to this, we have had to install metal fixings.
We are working with Natural England and Cornwall Council to address signage issues.
The existing Public Right of Way offering access to the beach located adjacent to Outdoor Adventure is much wider, closer in proximity to the beach and the road. It is also possible to see others using the pathway to aid social distancing and is also more suited to young families, the elderly etc.
Due to pressure from certain bodies on social media, I am sure that everyone will be advising that they have authority to use the path and have done so for many years. I have never given any authority for this, verbal or otherwise to anyone over the 22 years of living here.
Due to the footpath location, I am unable to monitor footfall from my home – which has also meant an increase in antisocial vandalism and theft. Only last week, the lock on the footpath gate was superglued which I have reported to the Police. I have also had to report hate mail as a result of social media and am currently accessing victim support for this.
The wooden gate accessing the main entrance was erected and paid for by Cornwall Council. This was due to an increase in cars being driven down to the end of the Coastal Path and being dumped and burned out on private land.
I have always tried to be a good member of the community and I have always welcomed people to use the beach, especially local residents.