Why is the Coble Quay walkway still closed two years on?

Posted on 05th December 2023 | in Community

Comment: the Coble Quay walkway closure two years on

Northumberland County Council is still in discussions with Amble Marina over the closure of a popular walkway, two years after it was closed.

A section of the railings has been removed and some bolts have become loosened along the walkway

Regular readers may remember that in 2021 (Issue #131 p4) we reported on the extended closure of one section of the Coble Quay walkway. We called on NCC to review their leases and work towards getting the necessary repairs done.

We have regularly asked NCC for updates ever since, with no response until now.

A reply!
Now, dear readers, they have finally deigned to reply.
“The Council is in discussions with Amble Marina about how we may be able to reopen the footpath and these are still ongoing.”

That’s it. After two years, that’s the extent of their communication.

For those wanting a reminder of the situation: The section of the Coble Quay walkway owned by Amble Marina has been closed since the summer of 2021. The reason cited was that the railings had become loose. NCC have a lease on the land and are required to maintain it. However, nothing has been done to repair the footpath or re-open it to the public.

The Ambler says:
This is privately owned land, which was gentrified with public money; the public were told we were to benefit by use of it as a footpath. NCC has the remains of a 20-year lease on the land which gives them the right to access and maintain the footpath.

Some of the bolts along the walkway have been loosened

However, for the last two years, the attitude of all parties involved has been to physically and metaphorically shut out the public, and no one seems in any hurry to progress the situation.

Two years ago we called for transparency over the situation. We call again for it now. We consider two years to be an extraordinary length of time to be still in discussions, and we continue to call on all parties to work together and restore the public’s access to this footpath.

In 2014, NCC and partners were awarded £1.8million by the government’s Coastal Communities Fund to construct the Harbour Village including a ‘public footpath’ or walkway along the quayside.

The walkway land (which is entirely separate from the apartments) was owned by two parties; Amble Boat Company and Northumberland Estates. Amble Marina subsequently took over ownership of the Northumberland Estates section. In December 2014 NCC took out a 20 year lease on both parts of the walkway land which enables it to maintain the footpath.

However, the walkway was never officially designated a public right of way, and from our very first questions back in 2021, NCC have been reluctant to talk to us or admit any responsibility for it.

Section 3.1 of their lease says that NCC are responsible for maintaining and repairing the walkway.

NCC took 35 days (15 more than they are supposed to) to respond to our FOI request to see the lease between themselves and the owners of the closed section of the walkway. We had also asked to see other documents but those were refused. However, the lease clearly states NCC are responsible for maintaining and repairing the walkway.
Anna Williams

Related article:

Transparency needed over closure of walkway

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