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News Archive > General > Road and pub swamped by sand

Road and pub swamped by sand

By Warren Wilkins 24th January 2018

Road and pub swamped by sand
Mermaid landlady Kathy Wason at the Porth pub.

FEARS have been raised Cornwall Council is putting the public in danger allowing sand to build up in the road and around the pub at Porth.

Two cars have collided reportedly due to the large amount of sand on the road, and drifts, which have built up around The Mermaid Inn, have sparked concerns children could fall into air pockets.

Cornwall Council, which owns and manages Porth Beach, organised a digger to clear away the excess sand on the road as well as around the steps at the beach on Friday, but Porth Coastal Management Board, Porth Residents’ Association, businesses and residents believe the authority should be doing more.

The unitary authority annually levelled Porth Beach up until five years ago to stop the sand drifts from occurring, but it has now been left to local businesses and residents to foot the £1,700 bill. Cornwall Council reportedly contributes £205, which only covers the regrading of the beach car park.

Kathy Wason, the manager at the Mermaid, said: “The council has not taken responsibility for clearing away the sand, which comes into our outdoor seating area, car park and into the road.  We’ve got a five-foot drift and the tables and chairs have partially disappeared. I understand the council wants to save money but this is dangerous. There has got to be about 400 tonnes of sand that has blown in.

“I have taped off the outdoor seating area but children think the build up of sand is amazing so they play in it. I’m concerned there could be pockets where there is no sand and they could slide underneath.

“Cars are mounting the pavement to try and avoid the sand blown onto the road, especially when it’s raining, as motorists are unsure how deep the puddles are.

“It is the third time the sand has built up in the road this winter. The council got the road cleared in December and earlier in January, but if they looked after their beach properly we wouldn’t be having these problems. The problem is occurring because the council no longer regrades the beach. When the sand builds up to the top of the wall of our outdoor seating area it just blows over because there is nowhere else for it to go. The council used to clear the sand away from the wall twice a year so there was an eight to 10-foot drop, but for the past four or five years the council has not taken responsibility for it. The local community has got the sand cleared after getting funds together to flatten the council’s beach. We cleared 200 tonnes of sand from the car park the last time but over the last two weeks it has got really bad. It has gone from two-foot to five-foot and we cannot keep on top of it once the wind starts blowing in. Once it’s built up any bit of breeze and the sand blows straight in. It happens when the wind comes in westerly, which occurs more commonly when a storm blows into the bay.”

Jean Smith, chairman of Porth Residents’ Association, added: “It’s a concern of Porth Coastal Management Board and the residents’ association about having to frequently deal with the build up of sand at Porth. Cornwall Council pay to level the car park but we have to pay to do the rest of the beach. There was around 15 inches of soft sand on the road, which is dangerous. We had a couple of cars collide because of not going slowly enough.”

A spokesman for Porth Beach said: “Due to limited street lighting and no warning signs, vehicles are not seeing the sand in the dark until they are on it and any braking is then causing them to skid. There has already been one minor bump so everyone should take more care.

“The first load of sand was cleared away shortly after the last storms but this has occurred after last week’s storm.

“Grading of the beach was carried out last year through a combination of funds from local business, donations and Cornwall Council, however this issue is an act of nature which is affecting the safety of the highway so I hope the council take the appropriate action and rectify the problem as soon as possible.

“I guess in the long-term they could bulldoze the large amount of sand beside the Mermaid back down the beach so it has further to go before spilling out onto the road during periods of high onshore winds, but I expect they will weigh up the risk against expense before taking any more action other than clearing the road.”

Cornwall Council says it is working with partners to solve the sand drift problem at Porth. A spokesman said: “Cornwall Council regularly inspects its beaches and we’ve received no reports of soft sinking sand amongst the drifted sand at Porth Beach. However, as the bay at Porth Beach acts as a wind tunnel, sand naturally builds up at the top of the beach and road by the Mermaid pub.

“We are working with colleagues in Highways to examine how to better manage sand on the road, whilst considering the challenge of climate change that will likely lead to more frequent and intense storms. We currently work with the Porth Beach Management Group and arrange for sand to be moved on to the beach, usually between Easter to mid-May, to achieve the best longer term results in the run-up to summer.

“Our partnership with this community group has successfully managed the sand build up for the past few years and the owners of the Mermaid pub have again been invited to join the group to contribute. Whilst in partnership with the Management Group we could constantly clear sand from the site, however we must consider sustainability, cost and the impact on those using the beach.”

By Warren Wilkins 24th January 2018

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