Sidmouth rock fools! Cliff danger worsens

THE risk posed to people who walk under Sidmouth s crumbling cliffs is so great that coastguards are refusing to venture into this danger-zone. That is the message from Beer Coastguard station manager, Terry Hoare, speaking to the Herald only days after

THE risk posed to people who walk under Sidmouth's crumbling cliffs is so great that coastguards are refusing to venture into this danger-zone.

That is the message from Beer Coastguard station manager, Terry Hoare, speaking to the Herald only days after another cliff fall at the town's Eastern Beach near Pennington Point.

Mr Hoare said people are continuing to flout warning signs by going into the hazardous territory but he and his team will no longer walk under the cliffs to warn them of the danger.

He said: "For our own safety I'm not going to send my men there to tell people to get out of the way in case there is a cliff fall."

Instead, Mr Hoare said they will use alternative methods to warn the public.

He added: "We will use the loudspeaker on the lifeboat off-shore or if it is low tide we might wade in to the edge of the beach as its unlikely, if there was a cliff fall, that the rocks would end up that far out."

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Mr Hoare, however, pointed out that the coastguard would come to the aid of people injured or trapped as a result of a cliff fall.

He said: "We would have to get the person out of the area as quick as possible, risking our own lives."

The latest fall on Sunday brought another large chunk of Sidmouth's distinctive red rock crashing to the beach and only days earlier, Ana Langridge, on work experience at the Herald, captured a photo of two people sitting a few metres away from that spot.

Directly above them, a broken fence hangs precariously over the edge of the cliff-a reminder of previous falls which have plagued the area.

Three days after Sunday's fall, another photo, taken by Herald photographer Simon Horn, shows a different couple sitting dangerously close to where the cliffs gave way.

There are five warning signs in place at the western end of the beach and an East Devon District Council spokesperson said people who ignore the signs "do so at their own peril".

She added: "People who doubt that only have to read reports of a recent tragedy in Portugal, where at least five people were killed at a popular beach in Albufeira as a result of a cliff fall. According to local TV news and papers there were signs up warning people to keep clear of the area.

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