From Paul Dobson, Newport:
With reference to the letter from Ruth Bird, Apse Heath (CP, 15-08-14).
There are too many people on the Island eager to erect a barrier across a public right of way without erecting a sign explaining the situation, or warning people they proceed at their own risk.
Often the barriers are erected illegally, as a public right of way cannot be closed without a specific act of parliament signed by the Secretary of State. This, of course, costs money.
Far cheaper to erect a nondescript barrier and play on the ignorance of people who do not know better. Far better to erect an informative sign and let the public make their own intelligent decision.
Another matter for contention is a sign on the beach at Alum Bay accompanied by barrier tape advising "This is a private beach and is closed for safety reasons".
As all land below mean high water mark is vested in the crown, and high water mark at Alum Bay is against the base of the cliff in most places, this sign and barrier are unlawful.
The public cannot be prevented from accessing any beach below the high water mark.
However, many people take it as read, being ignorant of the law concerning private beaches. The only beach that can be classed as private is that section permanently above the mean high water mark.