A POPULAR coastal car park for walkers has been closed off as a lack of funding to combat cliff erosion continues to cause problems in West Somerset.

Doniford Beach Car Park has been shut by Williton Parish Council over health and safety fears, just a month after the Blue Anchor Pub further along the same coastal stretch was forced to close its doors for similar reasons.

While many fossil hunters and dog walkers have taken to social media to share their frustration at the decision, Councillor Tony Perrett, chairman of Williton Parish Council, said it was not a choice taken lightly but felt the council were left with no other option.

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Cllr Perrett said: “It is quite simply a health and safety matter. The cliff by the car park continues to crumble and erode and it does not bear thinking about if one day a large section of cliff were to collapse while a family is using the car park ready for a walk.

“We could put a sign there saying ‘Use the car park and ramp at your own risk’ but that is not acceptable from a legal perspective.

“We have looked into the matter and to put in the required rock armour-style sea defences to protect the car park and ramp is likely to cost in the region of £100,000.

“The total amount of our yearly precept as a parish council is £90,000 so we just cannot afford it. 

“If the district council and Environment Agency can’t find a way to fund protection for the Blue Anchor Hotel it is not going to happen here.”

Cllr Perrett said Williton Parish Council had been attempting to negotiate with nearby landowners to purchase or rent a section of land that could be used as an alternate car park but to no avail.

He said: “We are concerned residents will park along the lane which could cause traffic problems and we would urge them not to do so.

“There is right of way access nearby for people on foot which can be used but, in terms of people wanting to drive down, we recommend travelling to the likes of Blue Anchor.”

However, the move has upset some residents who have described the decision as ‘a shame’ as it is a popular spot for dog walkers and fossil hunters.