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States can’t act on Rozel Bay danger

States can’t act on Rozel Bay danger

Thursday 01 September 2016

States can’t act on Rozel Bay danger

Thursday 01 September 2016

The States admit they are powerless to do anything about the “severe” danger to the public on Rozel Bay pier.

Express yesterday reported a Royal Court judgment which warned that the cliffs above the beach huts the pier are unsafe, due to the risk of landfalls.

Nearly four years ago a landfall dumped a beach hut onto the road, and the court judgment says similar dramatic erosion could easily happen again.

But the States’ Environmental Health Department say they are powerless to use current laws to make the area safe. 

That’s because the cliffs above the beach hut are believed to be owned by millionaire Kevin Leech, who has so far not made them safe; and the road along the pier is owned by the Ports of Jersey. But while they are responsible for the actual road, the cliffs do not come under their jurisdiction.

It means the harbour road may have to be closed and beach hut owners are in limbo, unsure whether to use their chalets as they sit underneath a dangerous cliff.    

Director of Environmental Health Stewart Petrie admitted the States’ hands are tied by current legislation. 

He said: “Statutory nuisance laws as they stand currently have no way of helping these people out. Where the law requires us to help we will help and we have looked into this case since it first emerged many years ago. There is simply no statute which covers this satisfactorily because if there had been we would have used it. 

“It is a tricky one. If the States cannot do anything then it falls to someone to take private action. We can only operate within the law.” 

Diana Daniels’ Rozel Bay beach hut was once her pride and joy, but four years after it was lifted off its hinges and dumped into the harbour road by a landslip, she fears her years of tears will not end soon.

The hut owners have at least won a court judgement meaning the cliff owner, Mr Leech, must allow surveyors access to the area and recommend action to make it safe. 

That small victory for the hut owners means they may have won the battle, but not the war, as the harbour road could be closed as the court judgment, delivered earlier this year, said there was a “severe” risk of further landslips.   

In the meantime, Mrs Daniels continues to vent her frustration.

“I can’t tell you how many tears have been shed over this matter,” she said.

“The fact that, in my view, millionaires can ride roughshod over beach hut owners like me is very distressing.

“It was a family heirloom which was passed on down to me from my mother and as such there is great love and pride attached to our beach hut. 

“Kevin Leech has, to my mind, just washed his hands of the whole affair. I warned him and so did other owners, that there as a potential for disaster here because the cliffs are so unstable, but he didn’t listen to me or anyone else and of course, we know what happened next, my beach hut ended up in the road and is now matchwood.”  

Mrs Daniels considered re-building a hut on the same site, but on legal advice decided not to go ahead. 

“My lawyer said that would be unwise because I owe the land underneath where my beach hut once stood. If I built another beach hut, knowing the ground was unstable, and that caused damage to persons or property, then I could be held liable. It means I can’t re-build on the site, I can’t chase Mr Leech to repair his land and it means year after year goes by and very little gets done. 

“Meanwhile the beach hut I once owned and wished to pass on to my children is no more and there appears very little I can do about it.”

The Royal Court judgement plaintiff was chalet owner Mary Venturini, who owns the hut next door to where Mrs Daniels’ used to stand. 

“Mary Venturini has been brilliant in the way she has stood up for her rights and taken on Kevin Leech, but we will just have to wait now to see how much this is all going to cost,” said Mrs Daniels. “It is so important the work gets done because as the court underlined, this is a severe hazard both to beach hut owners and to users of the road.

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