Newhaven port-row protesters picnic on shut West Beach

Campaigners climb over barriers
Image caption Campaigners climbed over the barriers on to the beach during the protest

Campaigners fighting for access to a beach in East Sussex have held a protest picnic on the sand.

People started gathering at low tide, when the sand appeared at West Beach in Newhaven.

The Court of Appeal has ruled the beach can be listed as a village green, giving residents the right to use it.

But owner Newhaven Port and Properties is appealing against the ruling to the Supreme Court, and has said the beach remains closed for safety reasons.

Newhaven town councillor Carla Butler said about 200 people turned up and about 100 people, including the mayor, gathered on the beach.

She said campaigners were being "very careful" in terms of safety issues.

She added: "I think Newhaven Port needs to start to listen to the public and work with the town council."

'Cruelly barricaded'

Newhaven Village Green Preservation Society organised the picnic - which included entertainment, banners and bunting. The group said campaigners covered the gates with blankets and used ladders to scale the barriers.

Image caption The "picnickers" used knickers to make bunting and waved pirate flags

Protesters said residents had been "cruelly barricaded" from the once-popular tourist beach, which was the only sandy stretch for miles.

They said some residents had been using the beach in recent weeks after the gates were repeatedly vandalised at night.

Earlier this month, the port owners issued a statement which said: "Please note despite local rumours and antics to the contrary, the sandy beach remains closed to the public."

It said the beach would remain closed while legal action continued and added: "This is because there are still serious health and safety issues and the access is very dangerous."

The statement said the fence and signage at the beach clearly indicated there was no access and it said the public should not put themselves at risk of injury.

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