Don’t fence me out

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A reinforced fence prevents people reaching the footpath

For the last twelve months or so someone has been determinedly blocking access to the Rye-Camber footpath, just opposite where the Harbour Master’s lane meets the Camber Road.

It’s been quite an effort! A fence was constructed and quantities of brush stacked up against the fence. But then, over time, walkers and runners opened up new gaps – and each of those has been subsequently stopped up. Last month, some branches were tied to the fence (see photo) to stop people climbing over.

It’s caused quite a nuisance – a rather dangerous nuisance – as walkers and runners seeking the safety of the footpath are forced 50m along the very busy, very narrow Camber Road to reach the the nearest gap.

So my questions are:
1. Who is doing this?
2. Why on earth are they doing it?
3. Is it even legal ? Who actually owns the narrow strip of land between the road and the footpath?

Image Credits: Stephen Axbey .

11 COMMENTS

  1. The Ramblers Association give excellent help, guidance and advice on such matters to protect public rights of way and to make sure that they remain open and unfettered to users, if there is an established legal right to do so. Here, the landowner may be within his legal right to stop access, but the guidance provided by the RA will assist what needs to happen to conclude this matter. All contained in the link, below:

    https://www.ramblers.org.uk/advice/paths-in-england-and-wales/rights-of-way-law.aspx

  2. Thanks for the link
    Checking the Land Registry, the footpath is by SUSTRANS.
    Curiouser and curiouser – I’d be surprised if SUSTRANS are busily blocking access to their own footpath – and I think they would be more interested in clearing up brush and debris – than in stacking it up.

  3. The escc footpath people confirmed to me it was a joint effort by the golf club and Sustrans. As was pointed out to me, the road to the harbourmaster is not a public right of way. Of course, this would appear to be a further salvo from the golf club in making it as difficult as possible for anyone to walk anywhere near or on their land. Doubtless in due course they will make applications to close the footpaths that do exist across their land, claiming lack of use.

    • I doubt Sustrans have any resource to carry this work but the Rye Golf Club would. The golf club are getting increasingly annoyed about walkers parking their cars next to the old Tram Station and are threatening to close the path across the golf course as a punishment.
      https://www.ryenews.org.uk/news/path-to-camber-threatened

      Undoubtedly, it’s their work and looks like the club is pushing to restrict the freedom of walkers etc.

  4. With regards to the footpaths across the golf course we were told the golf club have installed some sort of clicker counting device at each gate so they can prove ‘how little they are used’. Please walk them to regularly to stop them being closed down.

  5. Perhaps it needs a sign to direct people to the official footpath? ~ 0.5 miles towards Camber from the fenced gap, then across the road at the Clubhouse over the fairway to the Tramway/Coastguards house.

    • You will note that when crossing the road at the Clubhouse there are a myriad of signs declaring it all to be private. With the use of a magnifying glass and a fair wind you might, just might, see the single public footpath roundel. It’s all an attempt to discourage walkers. I am in no doubt this current public footpath across the course will be something to be traded in negotiations for other access. It is open to the club to make this simple assertion “we have no intention of seeking to reduce pedestrian access across our land, be it established public paths or other permissive or licensed footpaths”. I’m sure they will be aware of this article…

  6. As a long term visitor to this area, I have used the old tramway and further down to the harbour entrance as a great location for dog walking and exercise during the lockdowns and before. I have noted the plethora and increase of ‘deterrence’ signage aimed at walkers and those that wish to gain access to Camber Sands via the tramway and southwards down to the river entrance from the Harbour Masters office.
    About the newly erected fencing opposite the entrance of the tramway. The fencing does not appear to be on RGC (Rye Golf Club) territory. Their territory (according to the Land Registry plan) ends on the West side of this road. I suspect the Sustrans cycle/foot path is either leased from Highways or the farmers that own the adjacent fields to the East of the road.
    The section of Sustrans cycle/foot path running from the ‘traffic island’ corner North into Camber fields is though leased by Sustrans from RGC. This lease according to Land Registry runs out in 2024. Could RGC have held Sustrans feet to the fire with regard to the upcoming renewal? Hence the fence?
    Rumour had it that RGC in cooperation with the Environment Agency (a call to the harbour masters should confirm this) are in negotiation with regard to installing a vehicular barrier on the tramway as a further deterrent. It seems the ‘Safety Card’ has been played with accusations that errant drivers have blocked the emergency access to the riverside east of the harbour masters which is occasionally used by the Coastguard and RNLI. Although there is another entrance via the Environment Agency territory to the west of the harbour masters office.
    It is a fact that RGC have refused to countenance any cooperation with regard to the Coastal Foot Path scheme. They insist the Sustrans path to Camber is adequate. And around eighteen months ago they have installed what appear to be ‘electronic body counters’ just inside of the two public (one allegedly ‘permissive’) rights of way. And, to the entry point to the riverbank close to Gorse Cottage.
    Spotted on the riverbank (levee) close to Gorse Cottage is a sign from ESCC declaring the walkway along this bank (as far as the EA pumping station) is licenced courtesy of RGC.
    Without doubt RGC are playing the ‘long game’. By gradually reducing and recording the numbers using the rights of way, they will, at some point declare them without use and ask for them to be discontinued.
    Perhaps ‘Rye News’ could ask RGC exactly what their plans are?

  7. Steve – I think if you could gather enough evidence that it’s been used in this way (maybe a signed letter from people who’ve grown up in the area and always used it) then that would be well worth talking to ESCC Footpaths team about – they’ll be able to advise on the law.

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