Champion slams kite surfer ban

EXMOUTH S world champion kite surfer, Steph Rowsell, has blasted health and safety chiefs following a surprise ban of her sport on the Imperial Recreation Ground

EXMOUTH'S world champion kite surfer, Steph Rowsell, has blasted health and safety chiefs following a surprise ban of her sport on the Imperial Recreation Ground

On Monday, a sign was put up by East Devon District Council saying 'No power kites over 2m; no kite buggies; no kite boards' because of safety fears.

But Ms Rowsell, who secured the ladies title in the first ever world course racing series in 2007, said they weren't even consulted.

Despite the assertion from the district council that the town hall was consulted, members at the town council planning committee this week seemed equally surprised.


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She said the ground was 'where 'champions of the future' started out and the ban would affect their work with young people:

"(On Tuesday)...we had a group of youngsters from the Exmouth Community College ...

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"This is an annual thing...and we provide this service to many of the local education and special needs schools."

She said if the tide was high the Imperial Recreation Ground was used to show young people the ropes.

"We have real talent in this town that puts Exmouth on the map and world champions that train in this area.

"We want to encourage this activity to keep the youth busy and off the streets."

She said they hoped to make it an Olympic sport - and the Imperial Recreation Ground 'was the only place in Exmouth to do it.'

Foxholes' Sarah and Steve Taylor's son is training for the British Championship: "As far as we are aware, no consultation was made ...The Imperial Recreation Ground has been used for this purpose for a number of years."

"This area is vital to kiters who launch, buggy, and land board on this grassed area and without which they would struggle to pursue their much-loved sport."

The sport, they said, brought revenue into the town: "(Our)...son is currently competing in the British Kitesurfing Championships - something that he would not have been able to do without having this space where he could train and practice."

A spokesman for EDDC said: "(The signs)...were erected following a risk assessment by the council's beach safety officer who had received a number of complaints from members of the public about the danger of power, buggy and board kites in this area.

"The officer wrote to Exmouth Town Council and all Exmouth ward members asking for their comments before the signs were installed. No-one was against the proposal.

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