Veterans say new Hayling Island footpath runs too close to memorial

PATH Douglas Sharp from the committee on the pathway in front of the COPP memorial stone. Picture: Sarah Standing (131104-641)
PATH Douglas Sharp from the committee on the pathway in front of the COPP memorial stone. Picture: Sarah Standing (131104-641)

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CAMPAIGNERS who put up a seafront memorial to an elite undercover unit have hit out over a new pathway which cuts across the front of it.

The Combined Operations Pilotage and Reconnaissance Parties (COPP), was set up in 1943 by Lord Mountbatten and based on Hayling Island.

A large granite memorial stone was put in place last September and Prince Charles is the patron of the committee behind it.

Earlier this month Havant Borough Council began work on an 8ft-wide wheelchair and cycle-accessible pathway along the seafront, close to the stone, which Robin Walton, the Hayling historian who founded the COPP Heroes Memorial Association, says spoils the view.

He said he had to go to great lengths to ensure the memorial was sensitive to the surrounding area and he does not believe the path is.

‘An absolutely dead straight pathway is not aesthetically pleasing’, Mr Walton said.

‘Pathways should be discreet and not overly evident.

‘With a little bit more care, they could’ve made it look like it was a natural part of the landscape. It’s insensitive.’

And Douglas Sharp, a former Royal Marine who trained with the COPP, said: ‘I feel very little reflection was made on this.

‘It’s an absolute straight line, it should be curved to add some element of character to it.

‘The memorial isn’t going anywhere, neither is the pathway, so we need to do something now while the contractors are still there.’

But the council says the path is not finished yet and will blend into the natural surroundings once it is complete.

Michael Park, the council’s project engineer, said: ‘The pathway follows the natural path worn by cyclists and walkers and avoiding the boggy section of ground.

‘It will not have a tarmac surface, the current colour will fade in time. The council had discussions with Natural England and worked closely with them to ensure it did not contravene regulations.

‘The path is not yet complete, the contractor will be installing further dragons’ teeth at either end of the adjoining car parks for the safety of pedestrians and cyclists.

‘Once the pathway is complete and the ground around it returned to its original natural state, it will blend into the landscape.

‘It will also allow visitors to view the memorial close up in all weathers, allowing them to read the plaque about the COPP Heroes.’