Transparency needed over closure of walkway

Posted on 09th December 2021 | in Community , Northumberland County Council

Many people have commented on the closure of the walkway along the quayside and wondered when it might reopen. Loose handrails were cited as the reason for the closure, but over the weeks and months no work has been forthcoming. We wondered why.

Coble Quay walkway was paid for with public money, but who is responsible for fixing it?

Since the summer, The Ambler has been asking many people many questions, not all of whom were effusive in their answers. At one stage we wondered if we should give up. Except, no, and here’s why.

In 2014, Northumberland County Council (NCC) and partners were awarded £1.8million by the government’s Coastal Communities Fund to construct the Harbour Village. One of the key features of the development proposal, was the construction of a ‘public footpath’ or walkway along the quayside.

Northumberland County Council’s original development plan described the walkway as a ‘new quayside public footpath’

At that time, the walkway land was owned by two groups; half belonged to Amble Boat Company, and half (after a long running legal battle between Warkworth Harbour Commissioners and Northumberland Estates to establish rightful ownership) was declared to belong to Northumberland Estates/Amble Marina. Amble Boat Company gave NCC their section to create the walkway via a 20-year lease, and a lease for the other section was drawn up.


• The Ambler says: “Where public money has been spent, there needs to be transparency.”


For some reason the walkway was never officially designated as a public footpath, or permissive footpath. When The Ambler enquired about who was responsible for maintaining the path, we were met with a metaphorical shrug of the shoulders. There appeared to be little appetite by NCC to delve into what the legal or maintenance situation is.

The route has never been officially designated a public right of way

A spokesperson told us: “‘NCC understands the concerns raised locally about the closure of this popular walkway. The walkway is not a public Right of Way and has been closed by the landowner, Amble Marina due to safety concerns.”

But, sorry, that’s not good enough. Where public money has been spent, there needs to be transparency.

So The Ambler is calling on NCC to read their leases, find out who is responsible for fixing the handrails, and do their best to ensure that this ‘public footpath’ paid for with public money and developed by a public body can hopefully remain open to the public.

Anna Williams

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2 thoughts on "Transparency needed over closure of walkway"

  1. Mick Dawson says:

    In the latest plans for Mr J Tweddle’s development of the Amble Boat Yard the ‘public footpath’ or walkway along the quayside, 21_03144_FUL-3314_C201_EXISTING_SITEPLAN-1951027, has been removed.
    The complaint about the public footpath being blocked off has been closed and developers like Mr Tweddle have discovered a loophole in planning regulation means they can close off public footpaths with impunity once they have got building control onside – see response from Mr Wilson below, but first they need it to be removed from the existing plans and the Minchella and Co. have done that for them.
    Please see Facebook group “Re-Open public access to the River Tyne @ Market Dock South Shields”
    to see how the closure of the footpath will develop. That too started with Minchella and Co removing a footpath from the plans.
    To be fair to Mr Wilson, I believe he was instructed to close the incident and it would be interesting to know who gave the instruction.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    From: Robert Wilson
    Robert.Wilson@northumberland.gov.uk>
    Sent: 08 September 2021 17:08
    To: daw50nmdj@hotmail.co.uk
    Subject: 21/01092/MISC –
    Radcliffes Lodge, Coble Quay, Amble
    Good afternoon
    I write further to your enquiry received by the Planning Enforcement Team concerning the blocking of a Public Right of Way.
    It is not considered that blocking a Public Right of Way amounts to a breach of planning. Accordingly, we have no control over this matter and I intend to close my file in relation to your enquiry.
    Thank you, however, for bringing this matter to my attention. Should you have any queries please contact our Public Rights of Way Team.

    Regards
    Robert Wilson
    Planning Enforcement Officer

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