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Continued closure of part of Norfolk Coast Path at Brancaster is 'damaging' to locals and tourists, says resident

County Hall is facing criticism for delays in the reopening of part of the Norfolk Coast Path which it shut over health and safety fears.

Just over a mile of the footpath at Brancaster was closed last year, between Harbour Way and Butcher’s Drove, because the boardwalk had deteriorated so badly.

This has led to uproar among locals who say it is taking too long to get fixed.

Just over a mile of the Norfolk Coast Path at Brancaster was closed last year over health and safety fears
Just over a mile of the Norfolk Coast Path at Brancaster was closed last year over health and safety fears

Simon Bax, a Brancaster resident, said: “Closure of the footpath is damaging both to residents and tourists and the absence of any timetable to rectify the situation is unacceptable.”

Norfolk County Council, which manages the boardwalk, said it understands the frustration but safety issues had forced its hand.

A spokesman said: “The decision to close the path was taken as an emergency as, due to its current condition, there is a risk of injury to the public and we have a duty of care in ensuring that the path is safely maintained.

“Unfortunately, repairs are not straightforward due to the complex nature of the site, its archaeology and the sensitivity of its wildlife.”

County Hall said it originally identified 37 defects with the boardwalk timbers in June last year, with a fix expected by the end of the following month.

But work was delayed as more issues were found, with 83 timbers thought to be affected by rot caused by wood-eating fungi.

The spokesman added: “The scope of work has changed from maintenance to full replacement and we are working on finding the best and most sustainable solution.”

The issue has been blamed on increased footfall in the pandemic and warm summers creating perfect conditions for fungi to take hold.

Mr Bax added: “I have walked the path and counted 37 issues where timbers need replacing, which is less than 5% of the total and does not appear to be evidence of ‘rapid deterioration’.

“I suggest an explanation is provided as to why the original works were not carried out when scheduled and why no action was taken until December.”

All repair work must be approved by the landowner – the National Trust – as well as Natural England and Historic England.

County Hall’s ecology and trails teams will be meeting Natural England at the end of the month to talk through the different options.

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