Council accused of “eroding fishermen’s rights” in dispute over land

The land at West Runton subject to a dispute between fishermen and North Norfolk District Council. P

The land at West Runton subject to a dispute between fishermen and North Norfolk District Council. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

A council has been accused of eroding fishermen's rights in an ongoing dispute over a patch of land in West Runton.

Fisherman David Chambers. Copyright Archant Norfolk

Fisherman David Chambers. Copyright Archant Norfolk - Credit: Copyright Archant Norfolk.

An application has been made by North Norfolk District Council to register a section of the coastal path near the Sea View Beach Cafe.

But fishermen have claimed 'historic rights' to the land, where they usually moor their boats in stormy weather, and David Chambers has challenged the Land Registry.

The matter will go to tribunal in July.

Meanwhile the spat landed Mr Chambers in court this month where he was found guilty of harassing cafe owner Martin Hipkin.

 West Runton

West Runton - Credit: citizenside.com


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But fellow fisherman Jon Dorey, 50, has come to his defence.

'It isn't a land grab - David is trying to preserve the rights of fishermen for future generations,' he said.

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'He is trying to safeguard the interests of Norfolk fishermen. Historically that bit of land has always been a storm refuge for fishermen to put their boats.

'All along the coast fishermen's rights are being eroded. It has got to stop somewhere. The council want the tourism but not what goes with it. They want all the pretty boats lined up but they don't want the noise or the smell of fish guts.'

He added: 'There has always been an unwritten rule the fishermen can store their boats there. North Norfolk District Council tried to take it over almost by the back door.

'The fishermen have been using that land for 50 or 60 years - it is a known fact.

'It is a Blue Flag beach and the council are trying to dictate where we can launch and recover from. The bit they are saying we are not allowed to launch from is the only part where it is safe to launch.'

A council spokesman said: 'The overarching ambition of North Norfolk District Council is to improve the facilities at this Blue Flag beach for a range of users, including fishermen, users of the public toilet facilities, visitors interested in the West Runton Mammoth, beach users and local businesses.

'Safeguarding an area to act as a storm refuge for the fishermen and a public shelter has always been part of the council's ideas.

'Because the matter is at tribunal, it would be inappropriate to comment further.'

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