Walkers are 'risking their lives'

PUBLISHED: 08:40 05 September 2012

Campaigners petition the highways agency to reopen the Old Beer Road footpath which has been closed due to subsidence. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref mhs 9798-36-12AW

Campaigners petition the highways agency to reopen the Old Beer Road footpath which has been closed due to subsidence. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref mhs 9798-36-12AW

Archant

Seaton residents warned not to use pavement next to major landslide in Old Beer Road

Walkers are risking their lives using a footpath near a Seaton landslide, it was claimed this week.

They have pulled down a security fence barring access to the pavement in Old Beer Road, where a major slice of the highway has collapsed over the cliff edge.

People are squeezing through a gap to walk alongside the gaping chasm - to save themselves a 10 minute detour - despite the obvious risk of another major landslip.

On Saturday a group of local residents presented highway chiefs with a 2,000 -signature petition calling for the footpath to be reopened.

It was handed to Seaton’s Devon county councillor Jim Knight, who was accompanied at the site by the authority’s cabinet member for highways and transportation, Stuart Hughes.

Afterwards, Cllr Knight told The Herald he backed the call 100 per cent – but warned it was entirely conditional on the area first being made completely safe.

And he condemned people pulling down the barriers before a geo-technical survey was carried out to determine the stability of the land.

Cllr Knight said it was important to reopen the path as the tourist industry benefited from coastal walkers and locals, including parents walking children to and from Beer Church School, faced a lengthy diversion.

“I hope it will be open again, although the road won’t be,” he said.

“But, currently, the weight of just one person might cause it to collapse - it could be the straw that broke the camel’s back. We must be sure it is safe to do so.

“There is also a live metal gas main there and that needs to be replaced by a plastic one before people use the walkway willy-nilly.”

Local resident Bob Spalding, who watched as much of the road dramatically collapsed over the cliff edge last July, said the people ignoring the closure and using the footpath were foolish.

He said: “I would be very cautious.

“No one knows what it will be like when it goes or when it is going to go.

“An enormous amount of earth is going to fall one day.

“It is a threatening situation still.”

Cllr Hughes said: “We welcome the receipt of this petition and I’m pleased to see how valued our coast path is.

“No decision will be made on the path until we have received the findings of the geotechnical report.

“But I must remind everyone that the road is closed for everyone’s safety and I would urge everyone to use the diverted route.”

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