In May of this year access to the beach in Thorpe Esplanade, Thorpe Bay was improved due to the help of a £9,400 grant from the Gannet Foundation. The Beach Wheelchair Pathway was officially opened by Southend mayor Judy McMahon and representatives from the Tram Stop Shelter charity.
Today a charity is pleading for some action to address the damage that is repeatedly being caused by vehicles and vandals. Many times since it was opened cars have used the pathway designed for use by wheelchairs to try to access the nearby beach. The cars generally get stuck at the bottom of the ram in the sand.
The ramp is made using some special mats that give a wheelchair friendly route to the beach. However vandals have more than once ripped up the mats and on one occasion set fire to them rendering them useless. All incidents have been reported to the local police but still the ramp is inaccessible to wheelchair users.
Discussing the ‘traumatic’ incident on Sunday afternoon, Mr Craven, 69, of Marcus Chase, Thorpe Bay, said: “A car had driven down the ramp beside the beach pathway and was stuck in the sand. “I got there just in time to stop three guys lifting up parts of the pathway to place under the car tyres to assist in getting it off the sand.
“They then went to other parts of the pathway to use mats that had been previously damaged. I stopped them again.
“A young woman shouted abuse at me.
“I told her that the charity I headed was the owners of the pathway and that they would be causing damage to our property.
“Two hours later the car was, eventually, removed by a friendly four by four driver from the large crowd that had gathered.”
There is now a campaign to have a gate placed at the top of the ramp to stop any further damage and to discourage more car drivers from causing problems. The problem here is that the gate would then needed to be unlocked by the wheelchair users to gain access.
“From witnesses this is a regular occurrence.
“What was really worrying is that at the time the car was spinning its wheels there was an elderly person in a wheelchair on the beach pathway who was sprayed with sand!
“A lockable barrier will protect our visitors and our property.”
A council spokesman, said: “We are happy to consider any requests for a barrier, gate or something similar.”