Work to make Isle of Wight beaches safer could involve a new policy on the use of jet-skis and other powered craft near beaches.
The Beach Management Strategy Framework (BMSF) was passed unanimously at the Isle of Wight Council’s cabinet earlier this month and sets the standards such as how frequently and to what extent beaches and slipways are cleaned, and how safety of users is ensured.
The council has a set way of managing the 35 beaches it owns or leases, that it says can be easily delivered and is flexible enough to meet changing demands with ever-increasing budget pressures.
In the officers’ report, it was noted additional work was needed to improve beach safety and equipment.
One of the actions is for the council to look at policies of other authorities and see whether it is feasible to implement an Island-wide policy on personal watercraft. It was also recommended to bring forward installation of safety marker buoys, subject to funding.
Councillor Paul Brading, (Lake South), said he welcomed the ‘long overdue’ policy and that it is the starting point to make the Island’s waters’ safe. He said:
“Long before I became a councillor there were buoys in the bay at Sandown. There have been lots of instances last summer with water-powered crafts constantly reported as getting too close to swimmers.”
Cllr Steve Hastings, cabinet member for environment and heritage, said the Island needed clean beaches, good water quality and safe places to swim and that is what the strategy will provide.
Another part of the action plan included formalising the ownership of some of the beaches — they are owned by the Isle of Wight Council but have not got a land title, which would allow for possible future development.