Video: Protesters ‘sock it’ to those who fenced off Newhaven beach

Several hundred people climbed a ladder to access West Beach in Newhaven on Saturday and ‘socked it’ to the company that closed it to the community.

Campaigners calling for the beach to be reopened to the public invited residents to join them for a peaceful protest in the form of a picnic and councillors and Newhaven MP Norman Baker went along too.

Residents gain access to West Beach for a protest picnic

Residents gain access to West Beach for a protest picnic

Heather McLean, from pressure group We Love Newhaven, said: “There must have been at least 300 people.

“One minute there was a small group of people I helped over the fence and then there were more and people - neverending people.

“It was wonderful to see the kids running around with complete abandonment on the sand - how they should be able to.

“Threre was a carnival like atmosphere, peole were so happy they could just put their toes on the sand.”

Some had taken along English flags but Heather said this was discouraged as they had no wish to make it the English against the French, with Newhaven Port and Properties (NPP) based in France.

“It is more the community against the company,” she said. “It is about our freedom being taken away to utilise land as we have been doing for hundreds of years.”

Instead of saying ‘Knickers to NPP’ like last year, residents took along other items of underwear to ‘Sock it to NPP’, the suggestion of a group member.

“Someone suggested if we hear we’ve won in January or February we should go for a skinny dip but I think that would be too cold so maybe a onesie dip,” joked Heather.

Newhaven Town Council and NPP are locking horns in a lengthy legal battle to register the beach as a village green.

The Court of Appeal decided the beach could be registered as a village green but it has yet to be officially registered.

East Sussex County Council, the Village Green Registration Authority, is waiting for the next stage in the process - which will be to go to the Supreme Court.

NPP is appealing to the Supreme Court against the decision of the Appeal Court.

A hearing has been pencilled in to take place in November.

The hope was registering the West Beach as a village green would help to ensure access for residents.

The beach has been closed since 2008 by NPP due to health and safety concerns.

A fence was put up this summer which made it even more difficult for residents to access the beach.