Alex Easton MLA met with representatives of the GVA and a Council officer to view issues with the Costal path at Groomsport.
Speaking today Alex Easton MLA said:
“Alex Easton MLA has met with representatives of North Down Borough Council and the Groomsport Village Association, to see at first hand the issues that are affecting the costal path from Groomsport to Orlock. Having walked the costal path from Groomsport to Orlock, issues were identified with the Groomsport Village Association representatives and the Councils officer.
“It was agreed that certain issues needed to be looked into, with a view to trying to resolve them, so that the costal path could be used by all in a safe environment and that it was able to be used safely by the public. It was also agreed that certain actions needed to be taken, to improve the look of the costal path at certain locations. I was delighted to have worked alongside the GVA, and will be ensuring the Council take forward the views that were expressed, and that the issues are resolved for the benefit residents of Groomsport and visitors.”
Please find below my response to each of the items you have noted which were raised during our site walk on Friday 5th September.
1 The concrete path with grass growing out across the path from the bonfire site to Groomsport beach
• An independent contractor will be appointed to clear either side of the path of encroaching vegetation to increase the path width and trim back the nettles etc. located around the metal fencing on the seaward side of the path.
• I will advise on proposed timescales further to discussion with the contractor.
2 New steps to be built at Cove Bay due to the dangerous drop near gate.
• Council have approved the proposed installation of the above steps and it is planned that their construction will take place before Christmas 2014, subject to the availability of NDBC retained Minor Works Contractor.
3 More litter bins around the harbour area
• This particular request has been forwarded for the attention of Amenities and Technical Services and I will advise in due course following receipt of a response.
4 Rubble to be removed from coast line at Seahaven
• As discussed on site, the Seahaven section of the coastal path is privately owned and therefore is not maintained by North Down Borough Council.
• You will be aware that part of the asserted public right of way at the location known as ‘Briggs Point’ Seahaven was eroded by the severe weather conditions during the winter of 2013. The landowner has advised Council that their appointed consultants are developing plans to protect and reinstate the path on the affected section of shoreline.
• I am meeting with the proprietor of the Seahaven site later this week to view their proposals and discuss timescales. I will contact you thereafter with more information.
5 Pipe broken at Mary’s bay
• I will carry out some research to establish responsibility for the repair of this broken pipe and then review the accessibility issue in this location thereafter.
6 Foilage cleared from the path around seahaven to allow better access of the right of way
• As previously noted, whilst this section of path is a right of way, it runs through private land, owned by Lifestyle Seeview Limited. During my forthcoming meeting with the proprietor, I will discuss the possibility of Seahaven taking steps to cut back any overgrown vegetation either side of the coastal path as part of their regular maintenance programme.
7 Wooden slate path on Groomsport beach.
• A full review of coastal regions and strategies will be carried out following the amalgamation of North Down and Ards Borough Councils in April 2015 and until then further planned improvements to the North Down Coastal Path are limited to Swineley Bay.
• The accessibility issue along this stretch of beach is noted and will be considered in due course.
I trust that the above is of interest to you, Mrs Miriam Gibson and Mrs Doris Hutchinson. I would also stress that whilst some sections of the coastal path have been upgraded to a hard surface finish this would not be appropriate for the majority of the coastal path between Groomsport and Portavoe and would not sit comfortably with its’ existing character.
The coastal path exists in various forms along the coastline, many parts are rugged with no formal path finish. The stretch of path between Cove Bay and Portavoe, would generally be considered to be a ‘natural’ one i.e. the route simply passes over a combination of beach area, grassland, and rock and can and does vary from time to time with use and the weather and is subject to the encroachment of vegetation. Also, most of this section of coastal path falls outside NDBC ownership is either privately owned or acquired by the National Trust and therefore maintained by others.
North Down Borough Council value the Coastal Path as a local resource and are committed to its’ improvement and upgrade wherever possible, however, planned improvements are subject to the available budget and grant aid opportunities.
I will be in touch in due course with a progress update on those matters as listed above.