Quayside fence row - new twist

A ROW over a fence being put up along an historic Essex quayside took a further twist yesterday as dock employees placed concrete blocks at the site to stop protestors from obstructing their work.

Elliot Furniss

A ROW over a fence being put up along an historic Essex quayside took a further twist yesterday as dock employees placed concrete blocks at the site to stop protestors from obstructing their work.

Dozens of angry residents have been maintaining a round-the-clock vigil along the path of the fence at Mistley Quay, which has been outlined in white paint.

The intended course of the proposed barrier, described as an “eyesore” by residents, is now lined with the slabs of concrete, which were put in place when protesters attempted to swap over some of their vehicles that had previously held up construction work.


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Despite losing their strategic position, the campaigners have said they will continue their stand.

Kate Worsley, of campaign group Free the Quay, said Trent Wharfage, which owns the land, had still not made it clear what had prompted the start of the work.

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The firm claims the fence is being built under guidance from the Health and Safety Executive in line with docks regulations, but Mrs Worsley said there was a historic right of public access to the site and protesters would not give up the fight.

She said: “There have been a lot of people about today. When people moved their cars, the workers moved in with a forklift and put great concrete blocks along there instead.

“That means we won't be able to block the fence anymore and they will be able to put it up. But we won't stop - if anything, people are getting more furious.”

Tendring District Council has said it is powerless to stop the erection of the fence as it is not next to a public highway, but Free the Quay disagree and have urged the council and the firm to recognise that a right of way does exist.

A council spokesman said that, after investigation, it seemed clear that the fence was not adjacent to a public right of way and the council had no powers to require the removal or modification of it.

He added: “Moreover, it has no jurisdiction over what private or public rights may or may not exist over the land in question.”

Last night, a spokesman for Trent Wharfage said Free the Quay's members appeared to be “confused” about the difference between a dock road and a public highway.

She said: “The fence is on dock premises and there are no limitations to the height of a fence adjacent to a dock road. The statement by the planning authority confirms this understanding as correct by reference to the relevant provisions in the general permitted development order.”

She said the drop from the quay was a clear health and safety risk and the open mesh steel panel fence was “less visually intrusive” than commercial alternatives such as steel palisade, tubular bar or close boarding used at similar sites.

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