Yacht quay on the Essex Stour is the subject of community protest

Tempers have flared in an Essex village after a landowner closed off access to a popular landing quay. Mistley Quay was built in the 18th century and is still regularly used by yachtsman visiting the village and not least for lunchtime visits to the nearby pub, the Thorn.

Now owners, Trent Wharfage, have restricted access by building a fence across the highway, after warnings by the Health and Safety Executive to improve safety at the site.

Around 150 people packed into Mistley Village Hall last week to protest at the erection of the fence without notice or planning consent, which will block public access from land and water.

Says Simon Bullimore, who led the meeting: ‘Trent Wharfage has misleadingly claimed that it is required to install the fence in this form by the Health and Safety Executive. Any casual observer of railings and fences at other ports, piers and promenades will know that they are normally around 1m-high and offer an opportunity to lean on the top of the fence while enjoying the view. This fence is a 2-m high wire-mesh eyesore set back some distance from the edge of the quay and is more appropriate to the construction of a cage than a safety barrier for children.’

A subsequent meeting between the protestors and Trent Wharfage failed to resolve the dispute and the owners made it clear that they were determined to erect the fence very much in its current form with the declared objective of preventing public access to the quayside either from land or from the river. The fence is explicitly intended to prevent the public from swimming, crabbing, fishing and mooring off the quay. It will even stop people just gazing at the river.

The meeting leaves Free the Quay with no option but to pursue legal action to stop the fence and to preserve public access to the quay and quayside.

This topic has already captured the attention of our forums , and you can find out more at www.freethequay.org