Protests went up another notch as dozens of residents stormed a fenced-off beach.

Campaigners used a ladder to help families, locals and day-trippers over the fence at Newhaven Beach in protest against its French owners.

The sandy stretch, which has been closed for six years citing safety fears, is owned by UK-based but French-run Newhaven Ports and Properties.

Protesters tied socks to the fence as a symbol of “sock it to them” – a sequel to the last protest when they tied underwear to it and used the slogan “pants to them”.

Norman Baker, MP for Lewes, said: "It's a very British protest - very well behaved and very well humoured.

"There is still a sense of frustration among residents because they want to see the beach opened.

"I nearly got here in 2010, but the French dug their heels in as did the local council and now we'll have to wait for the court hearing in November.

"The ideal situation is that the beach is reopened so that people can use it again.

"And the frustrating thing of course is the money being used for the court case could have just been used to fix the steps.

"It's such a waste. It's a lovely little beach and you can tell its popularity by how many people have turned up today - and they just want their beach back."

Barry Staple had travelled down from Surrey to show his support and said it was a disgrace it had come this far.

Sue Stanley from Seaford said: "It's the only sandy beach for miles and miles, and when we bring our grandchildren to the beach - they want sand.

"They want to be able to make a sandcastle and draw in the sand.

"It's just so sad.

"Not having this at our disposal has been really hard."

Lewes district councillor Carla Bulter said: "Not only is it frustrating for the residents, but it's also hitting Newhaven's economy massively.

"It used to be a thriving town in the summer, but this has hit us hard.

"The pub down the road has closed and it just needs to be sorted - these people deserve their beach."

Protest organiser Heather Mclean said: "It's lovely to see the support.

"We just want the beach back.

"If we were told "let's draw a line under this and open it back up", then we would all be happy campers."