One of the three emergency iron beach ladders secured to the sea wall of Penarth Esplanade has been torn from its mountings by the heavy seas.
The ladders are the only way of getting off the beach at high spring-tides when the concrete steps leading from the promenade are largely under water.
Similar emergency ladders are also positioned along Cliff Walk although they’re only ever used by people who are familiar with their location – specifically shore-fishermen and Penarth Coastguard.
The ladder that’s been cast onto the beach at the Esplanade is one of three which was mounted on iron bolts drilled into the masonry of the sea wall itself.
Local sailors said considerable force would have been needed to dislodge it but the sea, propelled by winter storms, high tides and gales, has torn it free .
The responsibility for the maintenance of the Esplanade is that of the Vale of Glamorgan Council which has deferred expenditure until the next financial year, despite being about to increase Council Tax by 3.9% – the fourth successive above-inflation increase inflicted on local residents by the Labour-run administration . £49,000 was supposed to have been spent in 2015/16 “on feasibility studies into future improvements at Penarth including the Esplanade” but nothing happened. The money was rolled forward into 2016/17.
It’s not known how old the ladder was or whether – as a key piece of it beach emergency equipment – it was subjected to routine health and safety checks. The condition of the remaining ladders now needs to be urgently checked.
£20,000 was spent last year – some critics said unnecessarily – on replacing the existing benches on the Esplanade. The new £800-a-piece benches have now weathered to exactly the same condition as their predecessors and look no different. Local residents said it would have only been necessary to sandpaper and re-varnish the existing benches.
Funding for what is called a “Penarth Esplanade Feasibility Scheme” has been deferred for two successive years by the Vale of Glamorgan Council – although it’s not known whether this would have included the cost of replacing the safety ladders.