Bracklesham family flabbergasted by raft ban

A Bracklesham family who were threatened with a court injunction for using a small raft out at sea, have said the situation is ‘health and safety gone mad’.

Mum Ann MacDonald said her children Corrie and Angus Davies have loved playing on the raft, inset, right, above, for several years, but Chichester District Council has said the craft, and the buoy attached to it, are a hazard to others.

The feud comes after the introduction of a kitesurfing zone at Bracklesham beach.

“It does seem ridiculous. This is health and safety gone mad,” said Miss MacDonald, of East Bracklesham Drive.

“There are by-laws for the seafront. By-law six states that if any kitesurfer is a nuisance to other beach-users they have to move on. The raft is not a nuisance to anyone but the kitesurfers, so where’s the freedom?”

In a letter to Miss MacDonald, the council said the raft was causing an obstruction to beach-users, in particular kitesurfers.

It also said anyone who used the raft was at risk from being struck. The family were given four days until August 16 to remove the raft and buoy.

The council said if they did not remove the raft, it considered the case to be ‘serious enough to bring an emergency injunction against you through the court in order to remove the hazard’.

Neighbour Sarah Taylor, whose children Cameron and Hugo also use the raft, said the council’s letter shocked her.

“Ann’s family have used the raft for a long time.

“The kitesurfing zone has been a big change for us.

“It only seems now they can’t use the raft because of the kitesurfers.”

A Chichester District Council spokesman said: “Recently, we were made aware of a buoy and an associated platform in the water, which was creating a potential hazard. The police and coastguard had been called out to investigate the object, after someone raised concerns.

“We wrote to the owner of the buoy to ask for it to be removed because they did not have permission to fix it there. Any buoy must have a licence and relevant permission.

“Permission for a buoy in this location would not only have to be approved by us, but also the Crown Estate which owns the beach, the Marine Management Organisation and the Admiralty.

“We are not preventing the owner from using their floating platform, but would encourage them to be aware of other beach-users and use it in a suitable location.

“The kitesurfing zone is a temporary voluntary zone in order to protect people’s safety. The zone is warning people water sports are taking place and they need to take care.

“This is in line with national guidelines produced by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA). Beach zoning is now regarded as best practice –just like there are activity zones for football, play areas and cycle lanes.

“Beaches are used for a variety of activities and are for everyone to enjoy. We are trying to balance the needs and safety of all groups.”

Bracklesham residents called for the zone to be moved elsewhere when it was introduced for a trial period last year. It has continued through this summer.

The zone is overseen by the council’s foreshores staff during opening hours in the operational season between April and September.

However, the flags to identify the zone are put out only when the conditions are right for kitesurfing.