Wheelchair users and disabled people can now easily access Seaton beach thanks to a purpose-built path across the pebbles.
Becca Gliddon eastdevonnews.co.uk
The pilot project launched this week with the installation of an 85-metre platform made of specially-designed plastic and aluminium fitted on the beach.
The aim of the new path is to give greater access to those who find navigating the pebbles a problem.
The track could be extended in both directions if the pilot project proves a hit.
East Devon District Council (EDDC) said the path was already in use – saying the track had enabled a Seaton resident to access the beach for the first time in a decade.
The track was installed after a group of disabled and physically impaired people lobbied EDDC and Seaton Town Council (STC).
EDDC Councillor Geoff Jung said he hoped the track scheme could be rolled out across other East Devon beaches ‘as soon as possible’.
Councillor Amrik Singh, Seaton mayor, said: “Seaton Town Council appointed Nicky Dack as its ‘Disability Champion’ to assist the town council in making small adjustments around the town to make it more accessible for all.
“The beach matting is a great addition to the beach and complements the town’s wide accessible promenade and upcoming free summer beach school for local children, with one-to-one sessions available to accommodate all needs. Seaton is the town where everyone is welcome.”
Dan Ledger, EDDC and STC Councillor, said: “It’s great to see this pilot programme come forward.
“From Nicky’s original idea to the reaffirmation of its need from the public consultation and then partnership working from all three levels of local authority to make it happen.
“It really is a story of success and working together to deliver for tangible changes for the public.
“Hopefully, the scheme is a great success and work can then begin on gaining funding for a further extension.”
The project came was made possible thanks to joint funding from EDDC, STC and Councillor Marcus Hartnell’s Devon County Council locality budget.
If the pilot proves successful EDDC plans to seek extra cash to extend the length of the path in both directions.
The Tuff Trac path is being closely monitored to ensure it is set up in the most effective way, EDDC said.
Marcus Hartnell, Seaton deputy mayor EDDC Councillor, said: “I’m really pleased to support this project with my locality budget.
“Making our beach more accessible will mean that many more people can enjoy spending time during the summer with friends and family and not feel excluded.
“I’d like to thank our local disability champion Nicky Dack who suggested this idea to councillors last year and I very much look forward to working with her and others to deliver more initiatives like this that will make Seaton more accessible.”
Jack Rowland, ward Councillor, said: “Having been involved in the initial meeting with Nicky Dack and other residents and listening to their concerns I’m really pleased to see this track matting installed.
“This is evidence of all three levels of local government, at town, district and county, working together to research, cost and finance this initiative and all credit to the EDDC beach safety officer Pete Blyth and the team behind him for bringing this to fruition.”