Disabled residents argue for beach access

WHETHER or not four-wheel-drive vehicles should be allowed on Pippi Beach remains a hot topic but it appears Clarence Valley Council is moving towards a resolution.

After installing a lockable gate to prevent hoons from accessing the Yamba beach in their cars, council is now having to address the concerns of disabled residents eager to gain access.

"People should not be discriminated against because they cannot physically get onto the beach," Cr Jason Kingsley said.

Cr Kingsley, who uses a wheelchair, said for him getting onto Pippi Beach was next to impossible unless there was vehicular access.

"It doesn't mean we are going to hoon around like idiots, because I don't when I go to Minnie Water," he said.

"We drive onto the beach, I get out and then the car goes back up off the beach. That's all we're asking."

At this month's Ordinary Council Meeting councillors voted five to three to further investigate the financial implications and practicality of opening the beach to vehicles, specifically for those with a disabled permit or equivalent.

Council is expected to present the findings at the August sitting and debate whether to implement a motion allowing some vehicle access.

Cr Kingsley said providing those with a disabled permit a key to unlock the gate and access Pippi Beach would eliminate the risk of "idiots driving on the beach erratically" and provide equitable access.

The motion highlighted the maximum speed of vehicles would be restricted to 25kmh.

While Cr Kingsley's proposed solution appears simple, Cr Karen Toms said policing it would present issues.

"We've had good feedback that there are no vehicles on that beach," she said.

"This has been to the Action Committee and about 50% of those people are in wheelchairs and they are happy to keep the beach closed (to vehicles).

Cr Arthur Lysaught said he could not understand why there was so much debate about the issue.

"You've got say 4-5 people on any given Sunday (wanting to access the beach) who are as entitled as the rest of us to enjoy life so I think for the small number of people, and they must have a permit to go down there, I can't see why we are taking all this time on this one," he said.

It was agreed the councillors would look into several points including the costs associated with supplying keys to permit-holders and the practicality of changing the lock on an annual basis to boost security.

The council will re-visit the proposal at its August meeting.