Road Works Force Choice Between Tourism And Safety

Old Town, St Mary's

The Council has approved spending £60,000 from reserves to create a footpath along Old Town sea wall.

But there was considerable debate over the best time to undertake the works.

The concrete pavement of 1.2m width, with a concrete kerb, will be laid alongside the Old Town sea wall.

Councillors agreed the plans back in February, following months of complaints and a petition from parents concerned about their kids’ safety walking to and from school, especially in bad weather or dark winter mornings.

A temporary solution, using plastic barriers, was implemented shortly afterwards but this also generated complaints due to the narrow width of the walkway.

However it’s unlikely that the building work will start until the end of the holiday season, due to a desire by the Council, still smarting from the criticism over the timing of the Porthcressa project, to avoid access issues to Old Town beach while Porthcressa is off limits.

It’s estimated the work will take 2 to 3 weeks to complete although Chief Technical Officer, Neville Gardner, admitted this was an estimate, as they may need to reinforce the foundations for the kerb due to subsidence of the road near the sea wall.

Councillor Gaz O’Neil felt that in the interests of safety, it would be better to carry out the works during the school summer holidays, since he didn’t want children having to walk in the road to avoid the works.

Neville replied that the autumn is better due to less traffic, and the path would be built in sections so children wouldn’t need to walk in the road for the whole length.

The Chief Technical Officer also said that the children walking to school “are respected by other road users and it appears that they are conscious and careful” in the area.

He added he was looking at a ‘frangible’, or breakable, barrier with smaller footprint than the previous temporary one as an interim solution, but on closer questioning by Councillor Brian Lowen, admitted it “wasn’t exactly clear in his mind” what the solution would be.

Vice Chair of Council, Marian Bennett, also asked that any fencing decision be discussed with the Planning Officer, to ensure it was “as aesthetically pleasing as possible.”

Councillor Chris Savill said it was essential to communicate with the public about the works, particularly following the petition submitted by Old Town residents calling for changes to the sea wall to be reversed.

But it was Councillor Merryn Smith who came up with a sensible compromise of doing the works during the two week autumn half-term holiday, which was supported by other Councillors.

 



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