Havant council responds to complaints about 'discriminatory' beach access provisions

BEACHES on Hayling Island could become more accessible, Havant Borough Council has said, following complaints from residents with disabilities.

By Richard Lemmer
Friday, 13th May 2022, 4:18 pm
Rod Hall (80) at the accessibility ramp on Hayling Island beach, where a sea view is blocked by sea defences. Picture: Mike Cooter (300422)
Rod Hall (80) at the accessibility ramp on Hayling Island beach, where a sea view is blocked by sea defences. Picture: Mike Cooter (300422)

A group of people with mobility issues banded together earlier this month to demand the council works to make beaches across the island more accessible, saying that the few ramps in place simply lead to wheelchairs and scooters getting stuck on the shingle.

One resident – who was left using a wheelchair after a traumatic brain injury – described the lack of accessible ramps as ‘very discriminatory’.

Now Havant Borough Council has said it hopes to improve accessibility across the seafront, according to a spokeswoman from the local authority.

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She said: ‘Our new beach access points installed at Eastoke Point in 2013 have improved beach access, however these would be unsuitable at other location on the seafront and we are working together to look at other possibilities.

‘Part of the ambition for the seafront is to explore the opportunities for sustainable access.’

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The spokeswoman said that beach shingle – which can be difficult to traverse for scooters, wheelchairs, and push-chairs - was added to reduce the risk to homes vulnerable to coastal flooding.

She added: ‘While the beach is left in a good condition and graded to a profile, this fresh material tends to temporarily steepen through a process called ‘cliffing’. This is a natural process and disappears after several spring tides, where waves sort the beach into a more normal profile.

‘Being a shingle beach, the profile will always be steeper than for example a sand beach.’