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Southend Council ‘neglecting its ancient duty to protect our oysters’
4:00pm Tuesday 4th September 2012 in Southend
SOUTHEND Council is neglecting an ancient duty to protect the town’s fishermen by allowing gangs to strip the foreshore of shellfish, according to councillors.
The move comes after Liberal Democrat councillor Peter Wexham unearthed documents, dating back to 1220, which he believes demonstrate the council has a duty to defend local fishermen. He said: “The council is neglecting its duty to maintain the land in a sustainable way for the fishing industry, and for the habitat of the birds and nature.”
Last month, the Echo took photographs of Asian oyster pickers working Chalkwell beach in an apparently organised operation. Independent councillor Martin Terry and Labour’s David Norman have now joined Mr Wexham in demanding the issue is discussed at a council meeting on September 20.
Mr Wexham believes he has uncovered case law which proves Rob Tinlin , the council’s chief executive, has the power to prevent commercial harvesting by anyone other than local fishermen.
Mr Tinlin said: “While we are aware of this information, we have been monitoring and reviewing the position on the foreshore and have alerted all the relevant bodies with current legislative interests and controls on environmental and health matters, so they can take action if appropriate.
“We will continue to monitor the situation and all relevant channels for any action needed. This is a complex issue with a long history.
“It will be discussed in detail on September 20, and the cross-party committee will then make recommendations on the matter.”