Stepping out of my (virtual) beach hut this morning in Skegness I noticed quite a bit of activity going on along the sea front. Quite a number of vans with Environment Agency markings and other contractor vehicles were parked near to the Lifeboat station. All along Lagoon walk new railings are being installed to replace the damaged and worn railings that have been battered by the sea over the years. Also the railings leading from Lagoon walk have been dug out of the sand and replaced with brand new shiny barriers. Further up the coast at Sea View pullover a section of the Walkway that had become damaged and cracked on top of the sea defence wall was being relayed and similar areas like it along the coast towards Ingoldmells were due to get the same treatment. It is good to see this work being carried out on our sea defences because for those of us living along our coast rely on them for protection from the sea. But let us not forget that it’s because of our coast that thousands of people visit the area each year. Many of our visitors want nothing more than the opportunity to stroll along our coastal walkways breathing in the fresh sea air, even though it is somewhat bracing at times.
It’s been over two years now since I set out on my campaign to make our coastal strip accessible to all. I started it out of frustration that I was unable to travel along our coastal walkways on my mobility scooter and I was not the only one, anyone one who was disabled whether young or old in a wheelchair or mobility scooter were denied access due to the amount of sand lying on the promenade, Family’s with pushchairs struggled to get through the mounds of sand, cyclists lost control of there bikes, in fact there was one particular stretch of the coast from North Shore road to the start of Prince Edwards Walk that was not even accessible even to walkers who’s only option remaining to them was to trudge through the loose sand on the beach, which is fine if your young and fit but not so good for others. I tried getting help from both the council and from EA but both was unable to help because of the cost and the lack of recourses they had available.
Much as changed over the past 2 years. I have been fortunate to in getting the help of the Hope Volunteers at the Salvation Army’s Witham Lodge Homeless centre that at the time were looking for a long term project that would benefit the community and without a doubt over the last two years the volunteers have been invaluable to me and my cause. This year we have also secured the aid of the Community payback service which has made our task much easier. All of this was made possible with the help of the Skegness Partnership and the support of Stefan Krause (TCM) who provided the volunteers with tools and protective clothing and much more.
It is now at this present time possible for everyone access at least 90% our stretch of coast for Skegness to Ingoldmells, last week I surveyed our coast from Butlins to Skegness Pier and found no area I could not access ( not counting the area on Golf Course private land) and its only the beginning of March. When I told folks that I was going to open up Sea View walk which was overgrown and inaccessible for the last 8 years I was told it couldn’t be done, now each week hundreds of people use it to get from the North of Skegness into its main centre facilities.
But the work goes on, we are now forming a group to undertake the work and we hope to gain funding to get equipment that will enable us to do the work more efficiently, besides the work to create access to our coastal areas we wish to ensure all beaches are kept clean and safe for all to use and ensure that there are more much needed seating and dog bins along our coast two.
We recognise that the beach nourishment process that ensures the safety of both property and people needs to go ahead, but this should not be an excuse to allow our coastal paths to vanish below the sand and to those who consider our work a wasted effort may I just point out that I have recently been shortlisted for my 2nd Community award since setting out on my campaign, When I started Coastal access for All awards were never in my mind, but I am glad of the recognition and publicity it brings to the group and our hard working team.
So please, next time you use the coastal walkways between Skegness and Ingoldmells spare a thought for the Coastal Access for All group that have made it possible and if you would wish to support us further in any way or wish to become a volunteer then you can contact Stefan at the Town hall or by email to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org