Activists urge CIG to deal with beach access

| 26/01/2018 | 66 Comments

(CNS): Activists from the Concerned Citizens group are raising the alarm that the beaches around Grand Cayman are becoming battlegrounds because government is still not protecting access for local people. Since 2001, the group has been campaigning for the authorities to have a number of beach accesses points registered where they have been used by members of the public for over 20 years without interruption, but 17 years later the activists say little progress has been made and beaches continue to be blocked and the public prevented from enjoying Cayman’s beautiful coastline.

Despite submitting over 500 affidavits to planning, as well as meetings with officials and ministers over the years, the situation has not changed. The group has taken advice on the possibility of using the courts but given the costs, they still believe the best hope to secure beach access for now and into the future is for government to enshrine the access in law.

A 2003 report by the chief surveyor at the time, entitled ‘Beach Accesses, a way forward’, identified the accesses and recommended action that would have enabled him to initiate the required procedures under the Roads Law.

“The Concerned Citizens feel that the right way to go for the access claims should be under the
Prescription Law,” the activists said this week in a statement released to the press about the continuing failure of government to deal with what remains a significant public interest issue.

Over the years the group has continued to talk with the successive governments to address the
problems relating to beach access being blocked, which they said is getting worse. The activist say the places where landowners are blocking access are now too numerous to list, but while public outcry against this growing problem is getting louder, this is not fuelling the urgency to act.

Current planning officials were supposed to be creating a new beach access report by the end of October 2016 but there is no sign of this latest review.

“The Concerned Citizen Group is not in receipt of a written copy of the report as to date,” the activists stated. “In October 2016 a final request was made for the Registrar of Lands to register the accesses but to no avail, therefore the claims for the accesses remains unregistered to date. Since then the group has filed a Notice of Intention to Appeal against the refusal of the registration of the accesses under Section 147 of the Registered Land Law.”

Members of the group made legal aid applications last March to take the case to court but they were refused on the basis that the “circumstances do not justify the expenditure of public funds”. The application was refused again in July.

After government recently amended the Prescription Law, one of the pieces of legislation dealing with access rights that gives government the power to secure beach access, the group has pressed for a meeting to move forward on registering these accesses. But the Concerned Citizens say they have had no response.

“The government is now responsible for the registration and preservation of the beach accesses
according to the current Amendment to the Preservation Law. It is time for the controversy over beach accesses to come to a final closure,” the group said, as they urged government to act.

In his Strategic Policy Statement and subsequent Budget Speech last year the premier said he was committed to addressing the issue. But even though he has wide cross-bench support in the Legislative Assembly to formalize and protect beach access rights, it appears that pressure from landowners may be behind the failure of government to act.

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Category: Local News, Politics

Comments (66)

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  1. robert whiittaker says:

    I live on Old Prospect Road from 1980 for 15 years and I occupied the property next door to the Beach access in question, I would like to set the record straight that during my 15 years there that access was always availiable to the public as a matter of fact I made sure it was always kept clean weekly. Many cyms and tourist stop by and use the access to the beach and would always stop by and visit with me on my patio. I am sadden to learn that it is being blocked to the public times have changed no one would attempt to block that during my stay. Robert Whittaker Hydra Villa

  2. Anonymous says:

    I can get to the beach any time I want and as often as I want with no problems. But then again I cause no problems for any one else at the beach. Maybe that’s the real problem.

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    • Anonymous says:

      It sounds like you are quite well-off and live somewhere from SS to WB where fortunately access remains in several places. I’m happy for you. Not everyone lives there though.

      – did you try the (signposted) public beach access point on Boggy Sands Road lately?
      – have you tried to get to the beach either side of the (signposted) public beach access at sign at Prospect Fort?
      – have you tried walking down the slither of path and taking the steps down to the (signposted ) beach further along Prospect Point Road? You’ll have to climb over a 4 foot wall that blocks the steps.
      – at Spotts all the way to Beach Bay have you noticed how properties and developments surround the beaches along the way, claiming them as private and making it impossible for the public to access.
      – have you noticed that developments are growing, and land is being fenced off all over the entire island, blocking worn pathways and other areas frequented by the public for decades.
      – have you tried to access the beach headed West at Frank Sound Dock at high tide? You will have to take a steep step into knee deep water and wade around the huge ugly block wall that was built beyond the high watermark and much higher than law permits and without any planning approval whatsoever? The very land that wall blocks has been a local picnic area for decades.

      I could go on, and on, and on but hopefully you get my drift.

      Surely you can at least agree that public access to all beaches should be enforced and maintained. Those that have been blocked should be opened again. Developments should be discouraged from building to the high watermark and planning should ensure public rights of way to beaches and other areas are marked accordingly and remain on their plans. Anyone preventing access should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

      This is a crucial matter of public interest. Surely it’s for the good of all to fight to protect these basic rights.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Amen to that !

      • SandraMae witney says:

        Thank you Mr. Whittaker yes I remembered the years you lived at Hydra Villa and the many visits , you always felt welcome at your villa , the first I had had Chilli you fixed it and many people stopped by and had some. I can truly say you kept the access open I can see you raking up the leaves now with your wide hat. Times has changed.

    • Anonymous says:

      As a visitor I see other tourists funnelled into a small area of beach opposite beach access paths (when open) or car parks. This is due to the lack of information and the stance taken by hotels/condos with their “warning” signs. We have all seen it,”private” signs and the “cayman classic” , the quintessential rope barrier. These are hung around all over the place & very strategically I must say. So much so,rope barriers are visible blocking access paths and large areas of public beach on the recent government draft survey photos. The government staff didnt even highlight this detail in their beach access survery so I can only assume that this is accepted practice. It would seem as though “anything goes if you have enough cash” when it comes to putting your flag on the ground so to speak.
      Visitors count for a big part of the Cayman local economy, keep moving them on further down the beach.. they wont come back.
      Some CIG signs installed on the beach at regular intervals would be cheap and do the job of clearing the issue.
      A suggestion below which I found on the Cayman Beach Watch website.

      https://view.officeapps.live.com/op/view.aspx?src=https://caymanbeachwatch.weebly.com/uploads/1/1/3/9/113967843/2012_-_13_tourist_accommodation_guidelines_apdx_d_-_public_access_to_beach.doc

  3. Anonymous says:

    I don’t get it. Which beach can you supposedly not get to? 7MB? Really?

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  4. Anonymous says:

    As a devoted annual visitor to GCM it is indeed disappointing to see and experience.
    The problem is signage also, the hotels and condos are very keen to state their rules using signs and the positioning of the said signs is very often on public beach. The hotel signs (no coolers etc) are placed strategically on or close to the beach access path to deter those who are not staying at the property to stay away from “their area” of beach.
    I would have thought that it would be quite easy and low cost for the local council to install signage with equal strategy, to re-instate the fact that all of Caymans beaches are public and are free for all to use and enjoy.
    In the last year or so, the problem on SMB is particularly noticeable with hotels/condos moving their equipment ever closer to the sea. The current trend is to move older equipment to block beach access paths.
    The situation is nothing short of ridiculous.
    CIG, take back control ASAP.

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  5. West bay Premier says:

    She said that’s not her responsibility, because she is the Brac Representative . So I can’t do anything about Public Beach access in Grand Cayman, So it’s left up to you the Activists to take care of it.

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  6. Anonymous says:

    Condo owners have been called classicist and racist which is unfair. Look at the condition of the public beach and the crime which occurs there.

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  7. Anonymous says:

    I don’t live on the beach but somehow manage to get to a nice spot every weekend with the kids. What on earth are people complaining about? You’ve got legs, use them.

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    • Anonymous says:

      I am happy for you. I have a back condition and difficulty walking, as do my elderly neighbours, and the young disabled lady further up the road. The beach access 3 minutes walk away has been gated and locked even though there is a signpost there. Shall we just use our legs or do we get to pay for a taxi?

      Unbelievably blasé attitude.

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  8. Anonymous says:

    We need more gang-bangers jaming their bass, intimidating and annoying, so we can all fell like it is home beach in Jamaica.

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    • To the haters says:

      Jamaican beaches are accessible where legal and in Barbados all of the beaches are accessible. Stick to the point, this is about Cayman and how weak the people and Government are not what happens in other countries.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Wrong, this is about a foreign criminal culture that has taken over this small little island and not recognizing private property is a criminal signature. Lets change the rules so that private land next to a beach means private beach, and designate 20 other places as public beaches. Then you can have your glorious Jamacain trash beaches with robbery and murder and rape and loud music and annoying solicitors -just like your own private little Jamaica in Cayman.

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        • Anonymous says:

          Please go somewhere where this is already law and leave our country alone. We don’t need you coming to tell us how to run things, if it works back home, stay there. Sorry….

      • Anonymous says:

        Lets all be like Jamaca with poverty and crime and incompetenet management.

    • Anonymous says:

      They won’t be happy until a robbery turns to murder on one of those beaches.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    Look close up on Google Satellite Maps to see the beaches. Now try to get to them. Been there, done that, and there’s not many left you can get to.

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  10. Anonymous says:

    Good luck proving 20 years continuing use in an actual court

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  11. Anonymous says:

    To get this done we need men with balls…statesmen and women like we used to have with the likes of Jim Bodden, Ormond Panton, Benson Ebanks, Miss Annie and the like…

    These guys we have now are looking to guarantee high paid positions until retirement and then double dip on pension and most of all will do nothing to rock the boat because they want to get re-elected.. Shame but that is what we have!

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    • Anonymous says:

      Same sentiment echoed on “For the Record” this week,
      avid listener?

    • West bay Premier says:

      Anonymous 5:03 pm , Because they want to get re-elected . Shame is what Politians don’t have .

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      • To the haters says:

        Vote them out until we have ones who realise that they are there to work for the people and the betterment of the country.

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  12. Anonymous says:

    Well what a big surprise that government continues to sit on its hands – they ain’t going to ruffle feathers of the big money guys. If this was an issue on one the less complacent Caribbean islands, you can bet that government would know exactly what the local population thought.

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  13. Benjamin Hedeman says:

    Does anyone know how much payola certain people are paying to keep us off “their” beaches/ No, of course not! That’s top secret. That’s the reason nothing has been done.

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    • Anonymous says:

      In the meantime …our so called Public Beach is being allowed to become a place for trash , crime and haven for unlicensed pushy third world hawkers.
      Clean up and police the public beach so at least we will have somewhere to go.

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  14. Anonymous says:

    I hope this will be addressed soon. The beaches are for all to enjoy but honestly, if natives and locals can’t even access the beloved beaches we have failed on a monumental level.

    My dad always told me growing up that he thought we did it wrong from the beginning by allowing the condos and hotels to be built on the beach side of the island. He always told me we should have never allowed anyone to build on the beach but instead, across the road; giving full beach access to….everyone.

    Although we can’t undo our past mistakes, we can surely do better going forward, in learning from the mistakes we have already made.

    Signed,

    Peace, love & unity.

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  15. Anonymous says:

    If the white race ain’t saying it then it means nothing sad disgrace for the rest of us Natives”

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    • Anonymous says:

      Why did you have to reduce this to race..Come on that is not the Caymanian way, I hope you know better.. We are not that type of people. We were not raised that way..

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      • Anonymous says:

        It is true. The big white money men do not want us ordinary folk to enjoy the beach. After all our dark skin dosen’t look good on white sand.

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      • To the haters says:

        Then you are living in a dream world, it has always been that way.

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        • Anonymous says:

          But were you raised to glorify, i.e., perpetuate it? Or were you raised that ‘it doesn’t happen here’ as a way of trying to stamp it out? (Clearly didn’t work.) Arguing over whether it did or does doesn’t help if you don’t stop the idea that its a reason to perpetuate other problems.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Because that person is clearly a racist.

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    • Anonymous says:

      You might be surprised how many of the “white race” are the ones actually doing something about this. And how many go clean the beaches for free.

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    • Anonymous says:

      1:18 pm You mean the kind of natives with the loud bunga bunga radios that left the beach and bathrooms in a deplorable state. If I had a residence on the beach I wouldn’t want a beach access within a mile of me.

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  16. Anonymous says:

    Dart does not want any further protection for the beach accesses. He does not want it to get in the way of his island remodel. That is way Gov. is not moving forward.

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    • Anonymous says:

      I hate to be saying this, but credit where its due, isn’t Dart putting in a 12 foot beach access point over there by Royal Palms to replace the one they block?

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      • Anonymous says:

        One twelve foot access is not a satisfactory substitute for two six foot accesses! The stipulation was not only the width but the distance between accesses. Our rights have been violated – again.

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        • Anonymous says:

          Some people would bitch if you hanged them with a new rope. Geeezzz!!!

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          • Anonymous says:

            You miss the point. If you have two access points covering two hundred feet of beach how have you benefited to replace that with one wider access point to 100 feet of beach?

            (Note the 100ft is just for example purposes.)

  17. ILoveCayman says:

    ENFORCE THE LAWS OR CHANGE THEM. Applies to a LOT of things.

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  18. Anonymous says:

    The govt not doing anything and refusing to talk about an actual hot button issue?? Whodathunkit??!

    This is my shocked face…

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    • West bay Premier says:

      I didn’t know that Cayman had ACTIVISTS , but surely happy to see that some people have become ACTIVISTS , and this issue is a good reason to become one of the group and ready to stand up for their RIGHTS.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Somewhere in between govt not doing anything and standing up for your rights is the magic word democracy. Vote em out = do not pass go, do not collect nice govt pension.

  19. Unison says:

    BEACH ACCESS FOR CARS … NOT JUST PEOPLE !

    Why?

    Because we shouldn’t leave out elderly and disabled persons when it comes to the beach, which is God-made for all??

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  20. Anonymous says:

    Dumb question, but shouldn’t this be the job of the National Conservation Council with support from DoE, Lands and Survey, Planning Department, “Saved the Cove”, and National Trust? This Unity Cabinet seems to be continuing the PPM/CDP tradition of siloed, uncooperative sister Ministries. This fear of collaboration for the common good couldn’t be less helpful for the people of Cayman.

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    • West bay Premier says:

      Anonymous 10:19 am , NO NO NO those Departments had too many years to fix the beaches access and didn’t do it . So we must join the ACTIVISTS GROUP and get the public beach access fixed for everyone .

      I have to applaud the Person that started the group , it was long overdue .

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      • Anonymous says:

        My good friend Consuelo Yates, was one of the primrary advocates for just these sort of things. Not a hand full of Caymanians would get out there and protest with her. The horses are out of the stable now, good luck getting them back in. Consuelo, rest in peace my dear friend.

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    • Anonymous says:

      No. Most of those groups have separate mandates for other things. NOT public beach access. Which is squarely with the Ministry of Lands. – Stop confounding the issue, that’s a fast way for nothing o get accomplished. Unless that was your intention? To distract and confuse all the people who thumbed-up your post?

    • Anonymous says:

      Too busy trying to preserve the wetlands (swamp). More important than public beach access it seems.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Disappointing to see Government sit on its hands with this issue. A recent drive down 7 mile beach reveals only a couple of places one can enjoy un-restricted access to the beach. On one hand , you have entitled rich snobs at some condo development or their security guards trying to chase you out of their view , or Public Beach now totally blocked by the non certified beach vendors , bullying you to rent a broken plastic chair. Sad state of affairs.

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    • Anonymous says:

      9:53am, those beach vendors should not be allowed to set up shop on the beach. I hope they are keeping it clean.

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  22. Public Beach Access 4 All says:

    Time for Minister Hew to show us what he’s all about or will he bite the hands that help feed him instead of doing the right thing?

    It’s the law so shouldn’t be a difficult decision.

    Public Beach Access 4 All

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    • Anonymous says:

      Beach access sits within in the Ministry of Education and Lands. It should be dealt with via the Lands and Survey Dept. This is not an issue for a Minister Hew but Minister Julianna- O’connor Connolly.
      Prescriptive access rights exist in theory but are not legally in existence until such time as a court accepts that they are proven. It is only then that the Regiatrar of Lands can register the rights and show them on the Registry Map and Land Registers.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Minister who?

      • Anonymous says:

        You are incorrect look at relevant case law regarding prescriptive rights. It is an established principle in land law.

        • Anonymous says:

          Of course it’s an established principle. But you have to prove the rights first legally before anyone has any power to enforce those supposed prescriptive rights or get them registered. Just saying that you have them means nothing. In that sense they are theoretical rights until accepted by the courts.

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