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Residents plan day of action as row over Newhaven beach access intensifies
6:00pm Friday 9th August 2013 in News
Hundreds of sun-seekers will storm a fenced-off beach in protest against its French owners.
Residents ripped down the gate keeping them off Newhaven Beach last weekend – after six years of it being closed.
They are now planning to hold a liberation picnic on Saturday called Retourner Notre Plage! (return our beach) – with hundreds expected to attend.
The sandy stretch is owned by UK-based but French-run Newhaven Ports and Properties (NPP).
They closed it off to locals in 2008 citing safety fears.
Residents and the town council took the company to court in an attempt to have the area designated a public space – but the decision still hangs in the balance.
Last week, frustrated residents took matters into their own hands and broke into the site.
Heather McLean, of Newhaven Village Green Preservation Society, told members in a letter that residents had been “cruelly barricaded” for too long.
She said: “Another summer is now here, and we still cannot enjoy the use of our village green “We here in Newhaven all feel that it is a great shame that NPP are continuing to spend money on fighting this through the courts instead of on the repairs that are needed to re-open the beach.”
Residents are being encouraged to bring food, flags, towels and entertainment to the picnic protest which will begin at noon.
A run of t-shirts bearing the slogan Save Newhaven Beach For The People have been printed and visitors are being asked to learn the words to The Village Green Preservation Society by The Kinks.
Sussex Police said they would be unable to stop residents accessing the beach as it was a “civil matter”.
A spokeswoman added they are investigating the original break-in last Sunday.
She said: “If anyone has any information they are asked to contact police on 101 quoting 1182 of 4/8.”
A statement issued by Newhaven Port and Properties said: “Please note that despite local rumours and antics to the contrary, the sandy beach remains closed to the public. Whilst there is still a legal case ongoing with appeals to the Supreme Court, the beach will remain closed.
“This is because there are still serious health & safety issues and the access is very dangerous. The fence and signage clearly indicate that there is no access and therefore the public should not put themselves at risk of injury.”
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