Agenda item - Beach Access Update

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Agenda item

Beach Access Update

Report of the Executive Director, Economy, Environment & Culture.

Decision:

RESOLVED: That the Committee:

 

1.       Noted the progress already made towards improving beach access in Brighton & Hove.

2.        Supported the continuation of improvements to beach and seafront access in Brighton & Hove.

3.        Agreed that, where appropriate, Transport and other allocations from Section 106 and future Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) contributions be used to facilitate beach access improvements as identified by the Beach Accessibility working Group (BAWG).

4.       Agreed that the Beach Access Team (BAT) were established as a key consultee for all seafront infrastructure and redevelopment projects.

Minutes:

54.1    Ian Shurrock, Head of Sport and Leisure and Toni Manuel, Seafront Development Manager introduced the report, which had followed an initial report from BAT the Beach Access Team and was supported by SCOPE, whose members were present at the meeting.  They confirmed that this was an important issue for improving access to the beach for the city and that access to the beach was widely acknowledged as a challenging issue.  The Officers confirmed that they had met with BAT and now requested the Committee supported the ongoing work on this issue. They highlighted the main recommendations to support the allocation of S106 money in order to support infrastructure projects and plans for the immediate future.

 

54.2    The Chair thanked Hannah and Neil from BAT, since he felt that the meetings opened people’s eyes to the problems of beachfront access.

 

54.3    Councillor Powell noted that it had taken over a year from the issue of the petition in 2019 to come to fruition and that she was astounded that the whole process had taken around 10 years to get off the ground.

 

54.4    Councillor Powell also asked the following 6 questions:

 

1.  She asked for more information on the wheelchair trials and asked if the use of scooters had also been researched. 

2.        The issue of staffing on how the wooden strips and the rubber mats would be maintained; and whether staff with disability awareness would be involved.

3.  Where would the beach access be advertised?

4.  How would people get to the seafront and is provision for transport and / or parking being made?

5.  How would the Health and Safety on the beach be managed.

6.  Since SCOPE was a national body, which local disability groups had been engaged with, such as GIG on this?

 

54.5    The Chair replied that regarding question 6 the Beach Access Team had been engaged with and meetings had already been happening for one year.

 

54.6    The Seafront Development Manager gave the following replies:

          1.        Regarding the wheelchair trial, a number of electric chairs had been trialled but none had had the capacity to cope with the terrain and the gradient on Hove beach had proved problematic and that extra assistance from a carer was needed.  She confirmed that the research did not source a good selection of wheelchairs from the  UK  and wheelchair had not yet been found that would be suitable for the terrain. There was only one from the US – the Nomad chair which they had deemed suitable to purchase.  They had looked into mobility scooters but had concluded that these were not suitable for the shingle beach due to the small wheels.

 

2        The wooden strips and rubber matting would be laid down for each season. There would need to be the correct access route found to allow more ease to get across the shingles.

3        The access would be advertised on the Seafront Office webpage and there would also be additional coverage through SCOPE web pages to get more information out into the community.

4.       Areas for viewing platforms had already been identified and the first one was next to King Alfred’s leisure centre in Hove.  There were already disabled parking bays and toilets available in this area and also near the Seafront Office, which was accessible to public car parks, with a ramped access area to the beach.

5.       She noted that staffing would be required for health and safety since shingle was slippery and that matting was required.

6.       Possability People and SCOPE had already been involved in the project as well as the Beach Access team and that the research and had been broad and wide ranging.

54.7    Councillor Powell queried whether the rubber mats were only for summer use and if there was a long term solution.  She felt that the scheme was extremely positive for the City and should be advertised more widely in papers such as the Argus.  The Councillor queried what the end result for the beach would be, and whether the whole seafront would be widened.  The Head of Sport and Leisure replied that the input from the Beach Access Team and their local knowledge had been excellent and that they wanted to improve access with new technology as much as possible, with the priority on starting with current solutions in order to make progress as quickly as possible.

54.8    Councillor Nemeth echoed the admiration for this project and confirmed that he had already been in touch with the Beach Hut Group whose members were keen to assist with access. He also highlighted the point that the shingle moved all the time and buried additions to the beach and that therefore a mat would easily be covered in stones in the event of a small storm and that therefore technical questions had to be covered on this issue.  He also recommended that the new Project Board for the King Alfred project should be included in all future plans. He also asked about the issue of sourcing a UK-based wheelchair and how many chairs and their upkeep could be bought within the 10K budget. The Seafront Development Manager confirmed that only one wheelchair could be purchased within the 10K budget.  She confirmed that in future they wanted to trial different chairs suitable for different users.

54.9    Councillor Mears stated that she saw beach access as an important issue and was concerned that only the Chair had been asked to be involved and that Members from the other Parties should have been invited and that  this was an oversight, since it should be a cross party consultation.  The Chair replied that he thought a cross party invitation had been issued to the petitioners.

54.10  Councillor Simson asked about the consultation with Sea Lanes and other professional contacts and also about the planning applications that had been submitted.  The Seafront Development Manager replied that there had been consultations with Sea Lanes and that the ongoing problem had been getting down to the water’s edge.  She also confirmed that the Beach Access Team had spoken to architects and engineers on this issue. She also confirmed that the last application for funding from Pride had been unsuccessful and that BAT were currently looking at alternative funding methods at present.

54.11  Councillor Powell asked whether there would be a designated member of staff available and the Seafront Development Manager replied that staff would be trained in assisting with the wheelchair, and on giving tips and advice on beach access and that there would be a broom for sweeping up shingle.

54.12  Jo Martindale asked about consulting with the parent carer council on the issue of children’s wheelchairs for the beach and that it was also important to include Adult Social Care, and the Council should be thinking across all departments. The Seafront Development Manager replied that this was possible and that currently they had trialled an adult wheelchair but were looking at a range of different models for different needs and ages.

54.13  RESOLVED: That the Committee:

 

1.       Noted the progress already made towards improving beach access in Brighton & Hove.

2.        Supported the continuation of improvements to beach and seafront access in Brighton & Hove.

3.        Agreed that, where appropriate, Transport and other allocations from Section 106 and future Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) contributions be used to facilitate beach access improvements as identified by the Beach Accessibility working Group (BAWG).

4.       Agreed that the Beach Access Team (BAT) were established as a key consultee for all seafront infrastructure and redevelopment projects.

Supporting documents:

 


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