So, once again, Newhaven’s residents get the proverbial kick in the teeth and the sandy beach is set to remain closed. Well, let’s be honest, with our track record, were we really expecting any other outcome?
The difference this time is that the kicking comes not from a duly elected, accountable (and ultimately replaceable) local body, but from a remote, unelected and unaccountable judge.
I’m afraid that I can only see the judge’s decision as further evidence that some of the judiciary, while they may be experts in the law, seem to be very much out of touch with the real world.
If he would care to make the trip down from his ivory tower to Newhaven and see things for himself, the good judge would discover the two inescapable facts that he somehow seems to have missed.
Firstly, although it falls within the shelter of the breakwater, the sandy beach is nowhere near the true working area of the port.
Secondly, until its closure, the beach had been in constant use by the public ever since its creation with the construction of the breakwater in the 1890s. Never has it adversely affected the running of the harbour. Cast your mind back to the port’s heyday in the mid 1980s.
We often had in excess of nine ferry movements each day, with the Senlac, Chartres, Marine Evangeline, Cornuailles, Chantilly, Exxtor 1 and Casablanca in constant use. The North Quay was many times busier than it is now with coasters or sand dredgers arriving and departing on almost every tide.
Add to that the constant stream of large cargo vessels at the East Quay, most of them swinging inside the breakwater with the help of the tug Meeching. And when not swinging these vessels, Meeching was engaged in towing out mud barge after mud barge, day in, day out. So the port was tremendously busy, but did the port operators let that level of operations move them to closing the beach? Of course not.
So, if people’s enjoyment of the beach didn’t affect the running of the port when it was at its busiest, how the heck can it affect it now, when there’s nothing happening? Even work on the wind farm, if Newhaven actually got it, would not bring things back to the way they were in terms of shipping movements.
Or do Newhaven Port and Properties have something else up their sleeve for the beach that only judges are allowed to know about, leaving us mere residents in the dark yet again?
Andy Gilbert, South Heighton