Posted on October 30, 2023
Restoration works have finally started on unsafe steps at a Sunderland beach after being closed off due to coastal erosion.
The steps to Ryhope Beach were closed by Sunderland City Council on August 9 after coastal erosion led to the entrance becoming increasingly unsafe. It is estimated the cliff edge on the south side of the steps eroded by around five metres (16ft) in the last five years, with the erosion rate of the limestone cliffs undermining the concrete and weakening the structure of the steps.
Despite the decision to close the steps being warmly received on safety grounds, the lack of a definite date for work to restore the entrance led residents fearing that further delay and erosion could have a lasting impact on the beauty spot. But weeks later and after repeated calls by residents and local councillors work finally started this week.
Cllr Lindsey Leonard, Labour councillor for Ryhope Ward, said: “We are thrilled that work has finally resumed on the restoration of the steps to Ryhope beach. Ever since they were closed off to the public, we’ve been keeping residents updated on the progress and constantly asking the council if they can make the works a priority and we are delighted that those calls have now been heard.
“The beach has always been the jewel in Ryhope’s crown however – in the wake of Covid – more residents than ever before really grew to appreciate having it on their doorstep and hopefully it won’t be too long until they can enjoy visiting it once again.”
Helen Glancy, a former schoolteacher who regularly walked along Ryhope beach until its closure in August, was one of the campaigners calling for the steps to be restored. After being urged by the Ryhope Ward councillors to lend her voice to the campaign, she has since decided to stand as a local councillor and has been accepted to represent the Labour Party in May’s upcoming local elections.
She said: “I’ve always been interested in politics and have helped canvas in the past, however it wasn’t until I got involved in helping restore the access to Ryhope beach that I thought I’d quite like to give it a go. Working with the ward councillors, it was fantastic seeing first-hand how they could help ensure residents voices were heard and now that I’m retired, I thought, why not?
“I’ve always loved this area and often visited the beach when out walking and have a real passion for helping out in the community and especially supporting young people, so I can’t wait to get involved in even more projects and see what we can achieve.”
The concrete steps are a public access point to the beach and were rebuilt in 2011 and repaired in 2018.