Legal bid goes in to end fence row

A NEW legal bid is being launched to end the deadlock over access to an historic riverside quay in Essex.

Residents in Mistley have been up in arms about a two-metre metal mesh fence which was put up as a health and safety measure two years ago.

Despite vehement opposition and a strong protest campaign, the fence, erected by TWL Mistley Quay and Forwarding, remains in place.

But now protest group Free the Quay has applied for the historic quay, which has had open public access for hundreds of years, to become a village green under the 2006 Commons Act.

To mark the two year anniversary of the fence going up, protesters have published an open letter to TWL asking it to join in its application and to take the fence down.

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And in a conciliatory offer, Free the Quay has even pledged to pay for a “suitable alternative barrier” if necessary.

Mistley resident Ian Tucker has already submitted the application to Essex County Council on behalf of local residents.

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Simon Bullimore, chairman of Free the Quay, said it was believed the village green solution would provide the best result.

He said: “Thanks to the overwhelming generosity and support of local people over the past two years, Free the Quay has been able to obtain the best legal advice on the several legal courses open to us.

“Registration as a village green will give the quickest and least costly result; we are confident that we will succeed.”

The group said it had been given indications that the application would be “fast-tracked” if Free the Quay paid the costs of the inquiry.

The group’s treasurer William Meston added: “Mistley has a strong maritime heritage, it’s a unique village which only exists because of the quay, and it’s only right this should be recognised.

“We are confident that we have sufficient pledges of financial support to meet the costs of any inquiry.”

Families are set to meet at 10am on Saturday at the quay to demonstrate their “legal use of the quay” for leisure pastimes.

Earlier this year Tendring District Council (TDC) took measures to prevent construction, maintenance, improvement or alteration of any features at the site – without the owners first seeking planning permission.

The council announced the move saying that it believed the fence was “excessive” compared to other ports in the area.

However, when TWL Mistley Quay and Forwarding put up the fence it said it had the power to do so under permitted development rights.

No-one was available from the company for comment last night.

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