VOTE: Should jet-skiers’ access to the beach be reinstated immediately?

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Angry jet-skiers have found themselves barred from Bognor Regis beach.

The watersports fans found the Gloucester Road launching ramp locked at Easter.

They have been unable to find out why their access has been blocked at the Arun District Council-owned site.

One of them, Terry Skilton, said: “I’ve been using the ramp for about 15 years.

“It’s a great place to come to but we’ve been told the ramp will be shut until later on.

“No-one will give us an answer about why that is the case and when it will re-open.”

The ramp’s closure would damage the town’s economy, warned Croydon resident Mr Skilton, 38.

“There are ten of us who have bought caravans at the Riverside Caravan Centre specially to come to Bognor for the ramp.

“Some of us have bought new jet-skis this year at a cost of up to £15,000. When we’re here, we spend a lot of money on the seafront and in the town centre.”

Bognor resident Tony Arnold, 45, said: “This closure is also affecting divers, day boat trips and the entire seafront community. There can be 60 people using this ramp on a good day.

“There has been no information about the closure.

“People have come down here expecting to go out for the day only to find they can’t. This is a huge loss to the town.”

District councillor Jeanette Warr said: “I’ve been kept in the dark by the council about what has been happening. Arun talks about regenerating Bognor, but closing the ramp is damaging the town.”

The ramp has been operated by a private company after it won a tender from the district council. It has not been revealed why that arrangement is lacking this year.

An Arun spokeswoman said: “The council will be operating the launching ramp this year before seeking tenders to operate it from 2013.

“It will be fully operational in time for the summer.

“As part of our planning, we are looking at how this may be brought forward but, particularly as Bognor was a Blue Flag award-winning beach in 2011 and is hoping to gain the same status this summer, public safety is of paramount importance.

“We will only open once all the necessary safety measures are in place to protect the public.”

For the full story, see the Bognor Regis Observer, out today (Thursday, April 12).