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'There's now a feeling of oppression' - Anger at spiked metal gate installed to restrict beach access

PUBLISHED: 14:59 31 July 2019 | UPDATED: 16:52 31 July 2019

People protesting against gate at West Runton beach. It has now been removed. L-R, Bev Burnham, Liz Quigley, Nigel and Teresa Turner. Pictures: David Bale

People protesting against gate at West Runton beach. It has now been removed. L-R, Bev Burnham, Liz Quigley, Nigel and Teresa Turner. Pictures: David Bale

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Beach-goers are furious that a metal barrier has been installed blocking access to a Norfolk beach.

Nigel Turner, pictured, has criticised Mr Chambers for putting up the barrier at West Runton beach. Pictures: David BaleNigel Turner, pictured, has criticised Mr Chambers for putting up the barrier at West Runton beach. Pictures: David Bale

Fisherman David Chambers said he erected the gate on the main entranceway to West Runton beach, which is used by tourists and locals, for health and safety reasons.

But people at the site cannot understand his reasoning and blasted the action.

Holidaymaker Nigel Turner, 63, who grew up in the village, said: "If he had wanted just to stop vehicles he could have put up bollards. When the next influx of tourists arrives here, on the weekend, they will see this gate, and go somewhere else."

Most people won't be able to access the beach on foot when the gate is locked or when the adjacent slipway is under water, at high tide. The slipway is not suitable for dog-walkers and the disabled.

The new gate at West Runton beach is next to the Lifeguards' hut. Pictures: David BaleThe new gate at West Runton beach is next to the Lifeguards' hut. Pictures: David Bale

Liz Quigley, from Cromer, said: "It's a very unfriendly barrier and a hindrance to health and safety. I come here because it's so accessible for my boys (dogs).

"But there's now a feeling of oppression. Kids love the sense of freedom, but that's gone. There are metal spikes on the barrier.

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"We are also worried about the effect on our Blue Flag status, because the beach is not accessible."

The slipway at West Runton beach. Pictures: David BaleThe slipway at West Runton beach. Pictures: David Bale

Gilmar De Souza, from Great Ellingham, said: "Our family has used that beach for years, It's now impossible to access it."

Mr Chambers, 72, who keeps his boat on the pathway, said it was not a public right of way, and he wanted to protect his gear from theft and criminal damage, and beachgoers from a 12ft drop onto the slipway.

But another beachgoer said: "I'm mystified as to how the gate will stop damage to boats or prevent theft.

"You could have walkers approaching from East Runton not being able to leave the beach at West Runton if these gates are closed. Not sure what the reasoning is behind all this."

People protesting against new gate at West Runton beach. Pictures: David BalePeople protesting against new gate at West Runton beach. Pictures: David Bale

A North Norfolk District Council spokesman said: "We do not own the land in question but we have been assured that the beach will remain accessible to all."

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