Angry residents launched a ‘Save Our Beach’ campaign after Horsham District Council fenced off a paddling area at Southwater Country Park
Hundreds signed a protest petition amid fears that the council was to close the beach permanently.
Petition organiser Diane Dowling said: “This small beach has been used for many years by local families who take their little ones for a paddle after school or at weekends.
“It is environmentally friendly saving petrol on road trips elsewhere and is a much valued local amenity.
“The beach area has been closed with no local consultation and this petition will hopefully force a full and open discussion that will fully include the views of the Southwater village community.”
The beach area has been closed to the public since the start of the pandemic, with ‘temporary’ fencing around it. But villagers say the new fencing appears ‘permanent.’
However, Horsham District Council denies that the beach will be closed permanently.
A spokesperson said: “The council apologises for any inconvenience or concerns caused by the recent erection of new temporary fencing at the Southwater Country Park beach area.
“The council’s parks and countryside team is working in partnership with Sussex Police and its own community safety team to put in place measures to curb a number of issues at the park.
“Since March 2020, regular visitors will be aware that the beach has been closed off using high, metal heras fencing which has been repeatedly damaged over time.
“The area remains fenced off due to concerns of overcrowding and because annual maintenance is required to the beach surfacing in order for it to re-open safely. Once the work is complete it is intended that the area will re-open.
“Appropriate signage explaining these measures will be installed at the park.”