Thousands sign petition urging re-opening of Blackhead Path
Thousands of people have supported a petition urging Mid and East Antrim Borough Council to fully re-open one of the area's most important "tourist assets".
An online petition on Blackhead Path, Whitehead has already amassed over 3,000 signatures - despite only having started yesterday (November 5).
Part of the popular walking route in the Co Antrim town has been closed for some time due to the risk posed by rock falls.
The petition was established by local woman Sharon Wheeler, who wrote: "The residents of Whitehead regard the Blackhead Path as an important asset to our area. Unfortunately it has been closed for some time where the path goes around the lighthouse.
"This is an amazing part of the path walking close to the sea, through a cave, [and] up to the lighthouse with amazing views. The path has been closed here for some time and the fencing is falling apart. Urgent action is needed and residents would like the path open.
"With a population of over 3,000 people this path provides access for all - it's flat for the first part so suitable for buggies and wheelchairs. It's free so open to all. Walking is good for mental and physical health. It's all a tourist asset."
A letter attached to the petition adds: "The residents of Whitehead would request a meeting with the council to discuss the future of the path. We would also request regular updates on progress of the path re-opening."
Responding, a spokesperson for the council said: “We want to reassure the public that Mid and East Antrim Borough Council is doing all it can to get the path re-opened as soon as possible.
“It is a real asset to our tourism potential and hugely popular with the local community, but the safety of users of the path is paramount.
“Council is currently engaged with a project team to design and oversee remedial works. Investigations on the scale of this work and the repairs needed are underway and we will have plans to resolve the issue drawn up as soon as possible.
“Work timescales will be determined then, and will also be dependent on weather conditions, so unfortunately it is not possible to put a timescale on the reopening at this stage.
"We will endeavour to ensure the work is completed is as short a timeframe as possible.”
The petition can be accessed here.