“WE have families going hungry, libraries closing and bus routes being scrapped but the council can find £3,000 for some frankly ludicrous gates.”

That is the message from angry Burnham-on-Sea resident, Beverley Milner Simonds, who has hit out at Sedgemoor District Council (SDC) for its decision to install a £3,000 gate around an old pilot hut on the town’s Esplanade. 

The council installed the gates and handrails outside the hut last week after receiving a number of complaints about the steps being slippery and there being a risk of falls.

But Beverley said she thinks the gates are ‘ludicrous’ and says she thinks the council has poured too much money into the project. 

“I’ve never heard a report of anyone falling up or down the steps - but now their nearest option is to scramble up the grassy bank I think we will have some accidents,” Beverley said.

“I find it insulting that when we have families going hungry, libraries closing, bus routes being scrapped and the public sector being frozen harder than an artic winter the council can find £3,000 for some frankly ludicrous gates.”

Since their installation, a number of residents have moaned about the gates on social media saying they think the new safety measure is ‘a waste of money.’ 

One resident, Cllr Phil Harvey, said he thinks the new gates are an ‘expensive solution’ to the slippery steps problem. 

“The installation of gates at a cost of almost £3,000 seems an expensive solution to the problem of slippery steps especially as it doesn’t directly address the problem and still leaves the steps accessible from one direction,” Cllr Harvey said. 

“Given the years of public access over the steps surely a better, and cheaper, solution would have been to surface the steps with a non-slip material? 

“Or, alternatively, to convert them into slopes, again with a non-slip surface, so that they became accessible for wheelchairs and pushchairs?”

Cllr John Parkes agreed with Cllr Harvey and said he thinks the new gate is a ‘bizarre solution’ as its placed at the top of the stairs.

But a spokesman for SDC has defended the gates saying they will increase safety around the hut.

“The council received complaints about the steps being slippery and reports of falls,” the spokesman said. 

“Our health and safety officer investigated and we concluded that the most effective solution to reduce risk was to fix handrails to the steps and gate off the area around the Pilot Hut to prevent unauthorised access. This also provides increased security for our building.”