CONTROVERSY over public access along the sea defence and footpath at North Shore Golf Club in Skegness is continuing.
Skegness man Alan Watkinson has urged the town council to ‘take up the cudgel’ and back his on-going campaign to find out whether Mitchell Leisure Investments Ltd, which owns North Shore Golf Club, is entitled to prohibit members of the public from gaining access along the sea defence and the footpath – as it is doing now.
At the annual parish meeting, Mr Watkinson told members of the town council that he still maintains that Mitchell Leisure Investments Ltd is acting illegally by putting up gates and a notice stating there is no public right of way. He claimed: “It was my belief then and is now these notices are illegal and that land does not belong to the North Shore which is what they (Mitchell Leisure Investments Ltd) think is the truth.”
Mr Watkinson added that he had asked to see the deeds for North Shore Golf Club in order to clarify ownership of the footpath in the interests of ‘serious public concern.’ Mr Watkinson said he had been informed it would cost E500 to see the deeds, which he branded as ‘an outrageous amount.’
However, Mr Watkinson insisted it was important that the ownership was once and for all clarified: “If the deeds prove it belongs to Mitchell Leisure that is the end of the matter and if they are wrong the gates and notices should come down which seems a reasonable approach.”
Mr Watkinson requested the town council ask Mitchell Leisure to leave the gates open and pull down the prohibitive notices until the matter is resolved.
Chairman, Cllr Ken Holland pointed out that the town council is fully aware of the situation and the environmental agency, formerly the National Rivers’ Authority (NRA) was looking into the matter. Cllr Holland did, however, express his surprise at the £500 price tag attached to looking at the deeds. “You could get a full conveyance of five to six houses for that sort of money,” he remarked.
Chairman elect, Cllr Mark Anderson, who is also a member of the NRA Lincolnshire Sea Defence Committee, said the NRA had planned to put up a fence costing £80,000 after its completion of the £4.5m sea defence programme. “This is public money that has been spent and they (the public) should have access to it,” Cllr Anderson commented. He added that the definitive line needed to be proved and that the public had been asked to prove they had been walking along the footpath for ‘X’ amount of years. Once this had been proved, action could be taken. he stated.
Cllr Sheila Mackenzie stated that she had walked the footpath at Easter when the gates were knocked down and the public simply went round them and ignored the notices. “It is quite clear the public think they have the right to go along the walk,” she said.
And Cllr Edith Sutton pointed out that the town, district and county councils were all aware of the situation and that people are investigating the matter ‘right to the bitter end.’
The town council agreed to write to Mitchell Leisure Investments Ltd requesting the gates be left open and the prohibition notice be pulled down whilst the ownership of the footpath is clarified. However, this request will only be made following legal advice being sought over public liability.
• Following the meeting, a spokesperson from Mitchell Leisure Investments Ltd told the News that provided the town council accept liability, the company would give proper consideration to its proposal to leave the gates open whilst ownership of the footpath is determined.
Source: Skegness News 26th June 1996