Beach boycott over new fees?
KITEBOARDERS from Weston are threatening to boycott Uphill beach if a new charge is introduced. North Somerset Council wants to charge people £20 a year to use the 'WindZone' for sports, such as kite boarding and land yachting, as well as the kite and wi
KITEBOARDERS from Weston are threatening to boycott Uphill beach if a new charge is introduced. North Somerset Council wants to charge people £20 a year to use the 'WindZone' for sports, such as kite boarding and land yachting, as well as the kite and windsurfing launch areas. Health and safety regulations at the site are strict because members of the public also use the beach. Wardens have to carry out checks every two hours, to make sure people using the WindZone are insured and belong to one of the clubs. Signs separating the area also have to be maintained and the council claims the new fee will cover these costs.But kiteboarder David Mitchell, who is a member of the SwatK club for kite surfers, boarders and kite buggy enthusiasts, is outraged by the move and believes the fees will drive fans away.He said: "We are not prepared to pay it. So far 68 per cent of the WindZone users have said they will not pay and will not use the site again. That's how incensed we are about it."The council is trying to generate extra money for its coffers and we are being penalised because we are a minority."Mr Mitchell, of Bramblewood Road, Worle, said there are no charges for other sites for wind sports and he is worried Weston could lose its WindZone altogether if people stop using it.But Julia Stuckey, destination manager at North Somerset, stressed the proposal to introduce a fee is still being investigated and if it is not popular it will not be adopted.The council has spoken to the clubs who use the sites and has asked for feedback by the end of October.She said: "We have invested thousands of pounds in the site since it was set up four years ago. It's not a case of not wanting people to use it, far from it. But we have to cover costs. "The cost of staff and maintenance of the WindZone and the new kite and windsurfing zones is high considering the site is only used by a relatively small group. To ensure that the ranger service can continue to carry out the required actions, some income is required to offset some of the costs. "It's a small amount to pay for the privilege of using the site.