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  1. #1

    Post

    All last winter there was huge worry over the change in beach
    byelaws in the Brighton and Hove area, which seemed to have
    the (possibly unintentional) effect of banning windsurfing
    and kite-surfing on local beaches.
    The excuse used for these proposals was that the differing
    laws relating to Brighton and Hove beaches needed to be
    unified and modernised.
    A proposed plan was put before the Environment Committee of
    Brighton and Hove City Council (BHCC) and it was only
    pressure put on them by us that saw this initial plan thrown
    out.

    The committee then recomended that a greater consultation
    process take place. That consultation process has not taken
    place and yet a very similar plan is to be put to the same
    committee again at a meeting to be held next week, on
    October 21st. The agenda for that meeting gets given to
    councillors this Friday.

    The process of creating a new byelaw is a long one but if the
    new plan gets the nod at this next meeting then it may be
    difficult for us to get it changed. It is therefore crucial that
    windsurfers write or e mail the council to make their feelings
    felt. At present they are suggesting there are no concerns
    about their proposals. Because there have been no letters.
    Which, if true, is not surprising given that the whole process
    has been kept behind the scenes.

    We suspect some dodgey goings-on, behind the scenes.

    I was away last winter and missed most of this but in the
    Spring I was approached by Chris Holm, a council official
    responsible for brighton seafront. He said all the original plans
    had been ditched and a new consultation process would begin
    in June. He asked me to be an 'expert' beach user at a meeting
    to be held with officials and councillors, and of course I agreed.
    We were to meet up on the beach and thrash out the issue so
    that all the landlubbers could come to understand what the
    issues are.

    It seems that none of the people directly involved in the
    decision-making process is a beach user other than perhaps
    for swimming.

    I waited for a meeting to be announced and nothing
    happened. I assumed this was being held back until the
    summer holidays were over. It turns out that 'in-house'
    meetings have been held and that the committee have since
    been persuaded by Chris Holm that the consultation process
    should be held AT THE END of the byelaw process! Chris Holm
    also told the committee he had consulted with local businesses
    and experts in drawing up a new plan. We are not sure just
    who he has spoken to or consulted with. But the RYA have not
    been contacted. He has not spoken to Hove Lagoon at all
    about the beach bylaws, as of today. And he only spoke to
    Boost Kite shop at their request yesterday.
    At the last Environment committee meeting the local Green
    Councillor asked what consultation had taken place and
    suggested there should actually be a public meeting. The ruling
    Labour Group on BHCC are not keen on public meetings and
    this was voted down.
    But I was finally invited along with 2 other windsurfers to a
    meeting held just 10 days ago. We only spoke to 3 council
    officials, including Chris Holm. There were no councillors
    present.
    We were surprised to be shown the new plan which is almost
    exactly the same as the earlier one. The one 'concession' is
    that the new plan includes a 'sailing area' set up on Hove
    Lawns beach, spread over 3 groynes. This is not a place most
    people choose to sail and you will be lucky to find a parking
    space near there. As a lauching area it is also too close to the
    West Pier.
    In all other areas, all sail-powered craft must stay outside the
    yellow swimming buoys which are set in a line parallel to the
    beach, 200 metres out. There are 'access channels' marked,
    which are to be used by windsurfers and kiters alongside
    motor boats and jet skis, and, like them, we can only travel at
    8 knots or less until 200 metres out.
    One of these access channels is of course off Hove Lagoon
    but the club there currently tells their windsurfers, kiters and
    dinghy sailors to keep INSIDE the yellow buoys for safety
    cover.
    So the new law would be in direct contradiction of their wishes
    and against common sense.
    Many people windsurf and kitesurf by the King Alfred Sports
    Centre in Hove. There is no access here except for a further
    access channel set further up the beach away from any car
    park and again to be shared with fishing boats and other
    motor craft being launched off the beach. Again the speed limit
    is 8 knots and you have to head out beyond the yellow 200
    metre buoys.
    Between Brighton Piers, where the windsurfing world cup was
    once held, the access channel is a wide one but is in the West
    Pier wind shadow.
    There is a further launching channel further east, in the centre
    of Kemp Town beach again positioned where fishing boats
    rent beach parking space from the council and where few
    choose to windsurf.
    All other areas are for swimmers and 'hand-propelled craft'
    only. So, curiously, you can row through the swimming areas in
    a rowing eight or paddle in surf alongside swimmers in a
    kayak, but you can't wind surf or kite-surf on most beaches.
    From May 1st until September 30th, you can't windsurf of
    kitesurf at planing speeds anywhere in Brighton within 200 yds
    of the beach!
    This is madness!


    We voiced our concerns at the meeting and suggested several
    changes to the plans but I felt these were not understood by
    the 3 council officials who do not sail. We were told that other
    groups and businesses have been consulted with, but I have
    since found out that they had not and in some cases still
    have not been approached. We suggested that it was wrong
    and unsafe to classify sailing craft alongside motorised craft
    and that this would put us at risk. We explained the
    windsurfing was not an offshore sport. We explained that most
    people only windsurf when it is too rough to swim. And we
    explained that access lanes for sailing craft cannot be set at
    right angles to the beach unless you can guarantee a cross-
    shore wind.
    The three council officials listened and we thought they liked
    some changes we put forward to the plans, involving widening
    the access areas, moving them to where people currently sail
    and dropping the 8 knot limit for sailing craft. We also
    suggested that genuine swimming areas should be set up
    where NO craft are allowed (including surfboards and kayaks
    etc). These safe swimming areas would be buoyed off and
    overseen by lifeguards in the busy summer months, with the
    usual red flag system in place to warn swimmers of when the
    sea is too rough to swim in.
    That meeting ended amicably.

    But I understand that the plans to be put before the
    Environment committee on 21st October may well still be the
    original ones.

    I have started this new thread to get people involved.
    Dave Meakins is to re-activate his website at
    www.nomadix.co.uk

    This site was set up when this byelaw problem first surfaced
    last year and needs to be updated (this morning the site is still
    saying the battle has been partially won). But there are some
    addresses to write to given there.
    I'll try and post some e mail and snail mail addresses here.

    This is all slightly depressing, I know. But we can stop this
    happening if we make our views felt.
    It's really about council officials being too lazy to sort out
    simple beach byelaws which allow people to do what they
    want to do, safely.
    In short, this is only about shared beach usage and in thinking
    they are protecting swimmers the Council have got it badly
    wrong.
    You don't close a whole road to traffic because you are worried
    about pedestrians on the pavement being knocked over.

    Now back in the UK.

  2. #2

    Post

    Chris Holm started our meeting with him saying that we'd be
    pleased to know that the new laws would only be in place from
    May1st to September 30th.
    He went a bit quiet when I pointed out that that is when most
    people sail. And that's 5 months of the year.
    The swimming buoys at present are only put out from June to
    early September.
    The sea is so rough outside this period that the buoys rarely
    stay put! This summer half the buoys got washed away in
    August.
    We do not have boaty people running our seafront. Their
    concern is over staged events, crowd control, drink and drugs,
    and cleaning issues. Half of them couldn't tie a knot in a piece
    of rope.
    Now back in the UK.

  3. #3

    Post

    Good letter, gmac.
    Because the process has started again, they can say they've
    had no complaints until we send more letters.
    These letters have to be sent to the council by e mail or snail
    mail. With e mail you can of course copy to all councillors (and
    with most e mail programs you can ask for a receipt!)
    I would suggest that anybody who has already written now
    sends a further letter referring to your first and saying you
    understand that the new proposals have not changed much
    and still do nothing to protect swimmers whilst effectively
    putting windsurfers at increased risk.

    I might have to lie down now.
    Can you see that smoke coming out of my ears?
    Now back in the UK.

  4. #4

    Post

    Will,
    in theory they could impose a 1,000 fine.
    In practice, they won't be chasing around after windsurfers in
    Police Boats any more than they fine cyclists for riding on the
    pavement.
    Having said that, I had the lifeguard's patrolboat sent out after
    me this summer the seafront office having told the lifeguards
    to give me a hard time for sailing between the piers 'too close
    to the beach'. On this occasion it was blowing force 6 and
    there were no swimmers in the water. The lifeguards originally
    refused to come and tell me off, but they were told they had
    to.
    The lifeguards think their own bosses are incompetant.

    No court would want to waste time dealing with someone who
    simply wanted to go windsurfing. But the issue is more that if
    you are acting technically illegally, then your insurance is
    invalid.

    This is also an opportunity to make sure we keep beach access
    not just for ourselves and kite surfers but for future
    generations and for some new sailing sport yet to be
    invented. The UK has a huge coastline and you don't see many
    people swimming in the sea outside July and August. There is
    also plenty of room for shared usage of what is the prime
    resource for most seaside resorts.
    Now back in the UK.

  5. #5

    Post

    Please write again, Darren.

    The chairperson of the Committe is Gill Mitchell (Labour)
    The Lib Dem representative is Paul Elgood.
    The Conservative rep is Ted Kemble
    And for the Greens it's Georgia Wrighton

    For snail mail the address to write to these councillors is

    C/O Brighton and Hove City Council
    Kings House
    Grand Avenue
    Hove
    BN3 2LS
    Now back in the UK.

  6. #6

    Post

    The council web site is;

    www.brighton-hove.gov.uk

    Chris Holm's e mail is ;

    chris.holm@brighton-hove.gov.uk

    I'd better try and pull off another link;



    http://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk
    Now back in the UK.

  7. #7

    Post

    No worries, Weathercam,
    I'm on the case here all day today.
    I spoke to Stav at Boost last night and Harvey at Hove lagoon too.
    They're as frustrated and angry as I am.

    Stav only spoke to council official, Chris Holm, about these new
    proposals after he (Stav) had arranged a meeting. Chris Holm then
    turned up at his shop with the same plan he'd shown me this plan
    unaltered, despite our recommendations. That's when I smelled rat.

    Chris Holm had also assured me he had spoken to Harvey Dawkins at
    Hove Lagoon and that they were happy with the plan. Harvey called
    me last night to say he had seen Chris Holm but only because the
    council are landlords at Hove Lagoon. The seafront byelaws had not
    been mentioned! Harvey is furious, but also feels he's in a difficult
    position with the council being their landlords.

    We can't work out if this is some deliberate tactic by the council, or
    whether they are simply incompetant.
    Either way, we are the potential losers.

    I've just re-joined the RYA!
    Now back in the UK.

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