Court to hear beach access case

| 11/12/2019 | 73 Comments
Cayman News Service
Beach access sign on Grand Cayman

(CNS): A group of ladies from West Bay who have been quietly but persistently fighting for government to register hundreds of access points and historic rights of way to the beach have finally been given a date for their case to be considered. On 9 January the Concerned Citizens Group, which has sought a judicial review, will have the chance to persuade a judge that the government’s refusal to register the beach access points is unlawful.

The increasingly limited access to the beach for the wider public has been an issue for many years. But more recently, with the rapid acceleration of development on beachfront land, decisions by the Central Planning Authority and the government’s deals with major developers, in particular the Dart Group, the problem has been compounded.

In all of the cases where the group is pursuing the registration of the rights of way, they have been used for at least twenty years and in some cases much longer. But the battle to get the public pathways recognised, led largely by Alice Mae Coe, Ezmie Smith and Annie Multon, all from West Bay, has gone on for fifteen years and in that time many have been encroached and blocked.

The application for the judicial review relies heavily on a letter that was sent to the group by the registrar of lands, who claimed that she could not confirm access points unless ordered to do so by the courts. Despite accepting that the pathways had, under the prescription law, reached legal status, the courts still had to define them.

It is on this basis that the three women had fought a hard battle to secure legal aid, given that the case related to the wider public interest, in order to challenge the claims that the registrar cannot confirm these access points.

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Category: Business, Court, Local News

Comments (73)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Please can we refer to these persons as ‘activists’ or perhaps ‘protestors’ or even just ‘concerned citizens’? Yes, they are women and the word ‘lady’ can and does often signal respect, but they and their efforts are diminished when they are consistently referred to as a ‘group of ladies’ or something similar in reference to their campaign to preserve beach access rights for the rest of us. Their salient features for the purposes of this story should not be their gender, class or age but their activism and civic-mindedness.

  2. Take Note says:

    Amazing how both the Premier and his PPM-saved-again Minister of Lands, Miss Julie, lips are sealed on this issue. Not a word.
    Caymanians need to take notice – this so-called Unity government ain’t looking out for Caymanians that’s for sure.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I don’t understand what the big issue is. If people want to enjoy the beach then just go to one of the long established public beaches such as Public Beach!

    • Anonymous says:

      The whole beach is long established for use by the public.

    • Anonymous says:

      I can tell you’re not a true Caymanian. So. go sit down.

    • Anonymous says:

      Because we like to enjoy the beach at the long established public beach access points. Except they occasionally get blocked to prevent us doing that. Hence the move to make sure that no one can legally block us from enjoying the public beach access.

    • Anonymous says:

      Please leave this Island now. You plainly have no understanding of it, its laws, its cultural norms, or its people. Your ignorance is manifest and inexcusable.

      If you would like to visit a beach, and not have to deal with local persons in the country you have travelled to, I hear there are nice private ones in Jamaica. Ignore the armed guards. They will be there for your protection and you have no need to fear them.

    • David. S says:

      Such as Public beach?.Hopefuly the govt installs security officers public safety officers or police to protect tourists, and citizens from harassment by highlers.
      Hope it don’t turn into a shanty town and scare away our visitors destroying our tourism downgrading to 3rd world.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Prospect point, there is a house that has a dog off leash that chases people from the private beach. Who’s going to enforce leash laws for that? Same people who don’t enforce beach access laws. Incompetent people everywhere.

  5. Anonymous says:

    The beach is mine, I bath here all the time.
    Despite what Dart say, I bath here everyday.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Beach access is an important issue. However, along the SMB and South Areas it needs to be restricted due to safety requirements and no matter how you feel everyone should accept this.

  7. Anonymous says:

    That wall at Frank Sound dock is unsightly, the clearing and construction has messed up the beach, and the property beyond has 2 wood flagpole sunk into the sand way beyond the waterline for 2 years now. What’s being done about that?

  8. Brian Tomlinson says:

    You go girls. This is a very important issue. I see many new Public Beach Access signs east of Bodden Town marking spots I never knew existed. Some are cleared and walkable, some are overgrown bush.

    • Anonymous says:

      One of the signs has mysteriously disappeared a couple of times, and another is covered up by plastic all the time. If theres a judicial review they should make all beaches up to the vegetation line public and stop all this private beach malarkey.

      • Anonymous says:

        They are all available for use by the public to the vegetation line.

      • Jotnar says:

        First, that already is the case – you have usage rights up to the vegetation line. But this is a separate issue – how do you access the beach in the first place. Doesn’t do you much good to be able to use any part of Seven Mile beach up to the vegetation line if you can only access it via the public beaches. That swings the balance massively in favour of the private owners as well as denying people historic rights of free access.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I don’t care what any foreign born, condo owning person named Linda tells me, I’m walking on MY damn beach!

    • Anonymous says:

      Tell that to Mr Dart and his guards at the Kimpton beach.

      • Anonymous says:

        This needs to stop now or there will be violence. Everyone has the right to enjoy the beach. EVERYONE!

      • Anonymous says:

        That was MY spot for years before they ruined it Moved on to Royal Palms and they ruined that too. 🙁

        • Anonymous says:

          Even the shade from trees has been taken away, try sitting under one of the pine trees at Harbor heights beach.

          • Anonymous says:

            If you are on the sea side of the trunk – go for it. It is yours to peaceably enjoy. If anyone tries to move you, leave, get a large group of friends and return to have a nice beach party and swim and laugh and play games. Keep smiling and do not do anything that would impact others peaceable enjoyment.

            If we could all do that, the condos and hotels will soon get the message. They chose to build there subject to the public’s right to peaceably enjoy it. We do now have to all stand up for these rights, or we risk having them taken from us.

          • Anonymous says:

            I will if I need/want to do so.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Never understand the government goes around putting up those signs but refuses to actually protect the paths the signs are referring to
    It should be simple
    Landowners don’t own the beaches except for limited circumstances and even then there are clear boundaries
    The paths should be protected, if you don’t want people to be going by your properties to the beach then don’t build them traditionally where people access the beach simple

    If you build your house next to a highway you cant then turn around and complain that people are driving by your house too often
    If this government served the people rather than businesses, large landlords and developers this would have never been an issue in the first place

    • Anonymous says:

      Thanks. I would add if you build or move near the dump, don’t then turn nimby and dump on those who chose not to live near the dump.

  11. Anonymous says:

    In Jamaica, almost all the beaches are owned by the hotels and locals aren’t allowed on them! We can’t let this happen here!!!

  12. Anonymous says:

    Go ladies. Alden McLaughlin and his government could and should have fixed this years ago. Our politicians are disgusting. We should not be relying on elderly ladies or having our courts tied up just to deal with basic issues. There seem to be two possibilities. Either our government is corrupt, or it is incompetent.

  13. Anonymous says:

    If they are not used for 20 years, do they legally expire? Do the landowners get a chance to give evidence?

    • Anonymous says:

      What evidence could the landowners give? The rights are rights. It is only a question of registration of them. The rights exist independent of registration.

      • Anonymous says:

        They might show that the affidavit was wrong for a particular path or that the location was wrong or that it was actually his drive that was being claimed., or that the path wasn’t a path or was seldom used or less than 20 years continuously.

      • Anonymous says:

        I am Beach Access, where are my rights?

    • Anonymous says:

      Were you here 20 years ago?

    • Anonymous says:

      Someone saying that over my way despite generations of local families using it to get to the beach.

    • Anonymous says:

      We’re talking UK law and the precedents are well established. If you understood the history of covenants under UK law you wouldn’t waste money on this lame as argument. Appeal it all the way to Privy Council in the UK, and they’ll follow historical precedents including a very recent one on the very same points. It’s a well established principle in the UK that once entered in the property deed/register, it remains a right of way, whether the right is still being used or not. If someone wished to use a right of way that has not been used for many years, it may be the case that they are entitled to do so.

      • Jotnar says:

        “once entered in the property deed/register, it remains a right of way, whether the right is still being used or not..” – think you miss the point entirely. The point is that they HAVE NOT been put on the register, and because of that are at risk of being lost because of the lack of use argument, which the petitioners would argue is due to lack of signage, deliberate blocking by landowners etc.

  14. BeachForAll says:

    Caymanaians/Residents need unhindered access to the beaches/coast and be able to walk the coast and enjoy the sea, breeze and nature, without feeling threstened that some land owner will harm them. Talk about rights?

    • Anonymous says:

      Problem is that some landowners are politicians and they want to control the pathways to the beach. This is why there is a reluctance to act. No real political will.

      Go get them ladies.

      • Chris Johnson says:

        And no enforcement.

        • Roger Davies says:

          Chris, and no accountability for no enforcement. As Frances D’Souza, Life Peer and former Speaker of the House of Lords stressed as quoted in the Compass, the importance of accountability is the bedrock of all societies.
          Unfortunately it is generally accepted that lack of accountability is endemic in the Public Sector, so where does that leave us?.

        • Anonymous says:

          Chris, please explain in clear detail. I think I agree with you but that comment is too brief.

      • Anonymous says:

        Yes my beach access that is blocked is a Caymanian. His land not governments is what he says

      • Anonymous says:

        And some politicians who are not landowners, but in the pocket of landowners and hotel owners. Anyone guess who the owner of the largest number of beach front hotels in Grand Cayman is?

        • Anonymous says:

          3.20pm Here we go again. Accusing without being required to provide proof. Just so lame but damaging.

    • Anonymous says:

      Harder to kill turtles when yas can’t get to the water, eh?

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