Dorset Council is proposing to keep the current safety railings on Custom House Quay, Weymouth, in place for the foreseeable future.

The railings were installed in April earlier this year following advice from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) that edge protection was required to ensure that people were adequately protected from falling in the harbour.

They were initially installed as a temporary measure in preparation for increased visitor numbers over the summer, partly due to the pandemic. Over the summer, council officers have reviewed their effectiveness and advise that they should be retained permanently to maintain safety in this area of the harbour, complementing the public realm improvements being made to Custom House Quay.

Full consideration has been given as to whether the existing railings should be retained or whether they should be replaced with a different design. The current railings cost £40k and allow flexibility for harbour user needs in the future. An alternative type of railing with a more traditional, heritage appearance and made from Ferrocast Polyurethane could be used instead in this area of the harbour. However, the replacement cost would be approximately £100k including installation and does not give flexibility of use.

Based on Health and Safety advice and the known risk of people falling into the harbour, removing railings altogether in this area of the harbour is not an option.

Cllr Ray Bryan, Portfolio Holder for Highways, Travel and Environment, said:

“We believe the safety railings installed on Custom House Quay in April this year may have helped to save lives by preventing people from falling into the harbour and drowning this summer, as has very sadly happened in recent years. We installed the railings on the advice of the Health and Safety Executive and we maintain this was the right thing to do.

“I’m well aware that there was opposition to the railings when they were installed earlier this year. However, they have proved their worth over recent months keeping visitors safe and those who earn their living within the harbour able to carry out their work, the current railings have weathered-in now, and they meet the needs of a busy working harbour and its users.

“As Portfolio Holder for Highways, Travel and Environment, I have to make some really difficult decisions and ensure we spend taxpayers’ money as efficiently as possible. It is my view that the current railings work well, and it would not be cost effective to replace them with alternative barriers which would cost more and require ongoing maintenance. However, I am open to listening to residents’ views on this and will make a final decision once I’ve considered all feedback.”

Local residents and businesses are able to give their views on this proposal by emailing [email protected] by 31 October.

Feedback will be reviewed and considered and a final decision will then be taken by the Portfolio Holder for Highways, Travel and Environment, having considered comments from harbour users and Dorset residents.

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