02 March, 2009

Long Bay

Long Bay is beckoning us to come and have a swim. Long Bay is another access problem waiting to explode. One public access to the beach used to be the road that now leads to Oliver’s Restaurant.

I remember 35 years ago we used to drive down it to the beach next to Howard Clark’s house. That road was given away by Hubert years ago to Oliver. The road has been diverted from where it once ran and now ends in Oliver's car park. With his permission, you may be able to staircase to get onto the beach.

All the other roads off this road appear to be private roads.

Another traditional public access to the beach lay further to the west. It has been effectively closed off by Geoff Fieger. It used to run directly to the beach from just east of Lucy’s restaurant. It seems that Mr Fieger wanted this road to come to his house directly. No doubt with the permission of the Planning Department, he built his house directly in the path of the road. In exchange, he gave the public an alternative access to the west of his property.

However, he has fenced in the last 50 feet of it before the beach. The result is that anyone driving up will think they are trespassing on private property, and will not use it to access the beach. To help you to make up your mind, there is a sign on a column. It proclaims the gravel path “Fieger Villa beach access”.

Additionally, the access is now squeezed between concrete monuments, both lying down and standing. Some helpful person has even left a pile of sand and stones lying in the way. It appears that the idea of this further obstruction is to suggest very strongly that the use of the path is limited to the guests of the Fieger Villa.

There used to be a third road that led to Long Bay beach. A little further to the east of Howard Clark’s road was the access that ran down to the beach to the west of Long Bay Pond.

The Planning Department permitted Robert FX Sillerman to enclose the end of it where it approached the beach. He has included it in his high wall.

Mr Sillerman’s wall reaches upto the pond, so that it is now impossible to get from the road to the beach without wading through the pond.

God alone knows who permitted this abortion. Ministers have apologised to the people of West End and have promised to rebuild this public access to the beach. That was three years ago, and nothing up to this time has happened. In any event, that would involve filling in part of the pond, an important wetland habitat with nesting birds. Another abortion of a solution.

There is no public right of way to drive your car up to Long Bay beach. This is not the fault of any of the persons mentioned in this post. They have no responsibility to protect public access to the beach. That is the duty and responsibility of our Planning Department and our Surveys Department. They are expected to ensure there are signs at every public access saying “Beach access”. We expect them to be alert to notice when there is any infringement of a public right of way. Individual members of the public have no legal right to enforce a public right of way. That is what the Attorney-General’s Chambers are there for.

The Surveys Department know from their records where the public accesses in Anguilla are. These public rights of way are not noted on the Land Registers, due to a defect in the relevant law. Public rights of way will not be apparent to someone who searches the public Registers. The government records kept in the Survey Department are not part of the Land Registry records. Even if the persons mentioned above had searched the public Land Registers for a record of public rights over their lands, they would not have found them mentioned.

The Anguillian public expects public rights of way to appear on the publicly available Land Registers. It is pure negligence and cowardice why they do not. We now have no way of knowing how many of the three roads described above were public rights of way. If they ever were, they are now inaccessible to the public.

If you want to swim at Long Bay beach now, better hire a boat. There is public access by sea from Road Bay.

I feel bad for the children. They will never be able to enjoy what we once had.


  1. I don't know the history before the Fleger access to the side of Fleger's home and that is now being posted as access for his guests at his new villa, but I do know that I've used that access recently and it's perfectly passable, as it has been for years. That's a pretty puny pile of sand and when I went, there were tiles of native stone to the new villa side. This is just work, not some nefarious plot to block access.

    I agree it's rather misleading for tourists, but anyone on Anguilla who wants to use Long Bay Beach knows this is the public access to the beach. Don, I agree the government should post "Public Access," but the melodrama over a beach whose access has not changed is too thick.

  2. After reading this blog, I think it necessary that a similar investigation be done with reference to Flat Caps. For those who do not know where that it, it is a teeming fishing area just about 1/2 mile to the left of Limestone Bay.

    This fishing ground provided livelihood for persons such as Nessy, Sonny Petty and Johnson Hodge beginning from their formative years through to the 1980's.

    Since then it was the fishing area for many wannabees. Now persons such as Worrel, Jerome and the many others who enjoyed the sport of fishing and the income that it would bring in jeopardy. Due to the inability to get to Flat Caps, you and me cannot be supplied with fresh local yellow tail snappers, white backs or bonitos.

    Apparently the best access seems to be by boat and then climbing the dangerous rocks to get to the once famous fishing area. Probably by the time the buildings are completed and the area fenced, ths would be considered trespassing.

    Isn't is insenstivie of a government to rob its people of both a sport and their livelihood by allowing the property to be sold and removing access to the fishing area?

    Don, please investigate further... you may be shocked by what you uncover. I may not know all the facts.

  3. I wonder how the poster who complains about government "allowing the property to be sold" would feel if government prohibited him from selling his own property.

    The developer claims he is, or he will (I'm not sure which) provide access for fishermen and others to this traditional fishing area. Is there evidence that he has not been truthful? We are lacking some information here.

    What, precisely, is the poster suggesting should be investigated?

  4. I must comment on the two previous posted comments, especially the latter. I too am concerned about access to Flat Caps.
    I am aware of the area being changed up. I have gone there recently and have not seen an access track mapped out indicating that this is now the way to get to Flat Caps. If the person writing the last comment is aware of such a mapped out path by the new land owners, those of us who visit the area to fish or to enjoy the beautiful scenery (as I do)would appreciate knowing where it is and if it is indeed accessible.

  5. I agree with the comment from the person indicating that access should be made to sites such as Flat Caps. And by access, I really mean access… not having those who want to get to the area to create a path through uncharted coast line. Those who know the Flat Caps area know precisely what I mean.

    I believe government should prohibit sale of property that would prevent access to areas such as Flat Caps. As a compromise and as a means to protect such sites and areas Government should acquire them and maintain access. Are we going to sell everything, including our heritage for the almighty dollar?

  6. The question raised above seems to be where and how EXACTLY will the developer provide the "promised public access" for fishermen to Flat Caps?

    I don't know the area, who the developer is or what has transpired to date, but he should be required by the Government to provide this information in writing before the buildings are completed and fences/walls built, if he has not already done so. Furthermore, the agreed upon public access should be noted someplace in the Public Records (unless the law actually forbids this?).

    Finally, all occupancy permits for buildings on the developer's property should be withheld until the above is done and the public's right of access is protected.

    Is there any reason why this can't be done? Seems simple, but then I'm not a lawyer.

    On the broader issue of public access to the beaches, can't somebody with the appropriate legal background (Mr. Mitchell?) volunteer (on behalf of all Anguillians) to draw up a proposed law to address the apparent issue that public access records are not really public? The law could simply require that all existing public rights of way (to the beaches) be noted on the Land Registers, and direct the Surveys Department (or other appropriate party) to accomplish this objective within a defined period of time.

    What public official would not want to support such a law? However, if the current Government doesn't respond to this hopefully simple proposal, at least willingness to assure public access to the beaches might then become a very specific campaign issue in the next election.

    Again, seems simple, but then I'm not a lawyer.

  7. It would be helpful if someone from government or Lands and Survey can clear the air on this matter. As usual, government will remain mum on this issue giving the general public the feeling that there is something fishy going on.

  8. Alas, Poor Howard and Natalie Clark .... they fought so often and so effectively to keep the beaches open even unto helping to haul out fishermen's boats onto their own property when work needed to be done on them. May the Good Lord Bless and Keep both Mr. and Mrs Clark and may they Rest Eternally in Peace.

  9. It is easier than you think for the Garden of Eden to be lost.

    You all are systematically losing the island to very poor planning...and very poor controls.

  10. Next to Mr. Sillermans property is a pond - instead of having to wade through it to get to the beach why not build a wooden walking path bridge to the other side - Anguillian's are known for their great boat building skills - it should not be hard to build a small walking bridge over to the other side and would preserve the pond and birds

    You have no idea how the arrogance of people like Mr Sillerman angers me and how much all of this has changed the once peaceful childlike feeling that Anguilla was in my heart


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