Man, 33, critical after cliff fall
FURIOUS demonstrators will march on County Hall tomorrow to demand action to rid Newquay of its seedy image, after a stag night reveller became the fourth casualty in a month to plunge down cliffs.
Angry Newquay residents will urge councillors in Truro to "restore law and order" in the resort, which has become a magnet for raucous stag and hen parties, as well as binge-drinking teenagers celebrating the end of school exams.
The protest comes as a 33-year-old man is treated for "life-changing" injuries after he plummeted down the rock face at Tolcharne beach in Newquay – the same location where 16-year-old Paddy Higgins died on July 6.
The youngster's family has now launched a campaign, calling on teenagers to boycott the Cornish town, amid fears on safety issues, policing and the sale of alcohol.
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The "unprecedented" spate of incidents began on June 28 when 18-year-old Leeds Rhinos rugby academy player Andrew Curwell, from Saddleworth in Lancashire, fell to his death after a night out celebrating the end of A-levels.
Within days, a 16-year-old student broke his neck in a plunge. It is thought he may have been on the rocks all night before he was discovered.
Yesterday, Dave Sleeman, chairman of Newquay Town Residents Association, said the situation was "out of control".
He added: "We have had so much trouble in this town and we're so fed up with what's taking place. The town council is taking no action, but we want our town back under control."
Members of the association will travel on a double-decker bus from Newquay to march on County Hall at Truro at 10am tomorrow. They will present a petition, which they hope will bear up to 2,000 names, calling for "immediate action" to "restore law and order".
They will also demonstrate at Newquay Town Council's offices at the next full meeting on August 5.
Mr Sleeman blamed the problems on marketing which attracted revellers to Newquay's nightlife, and it drove away the traditional family holiday market.
Newquay's MP, Dan Rogerson, will join tomorrow's march. He said: "Unfortunately, Newquay has slipped down the direction of attracting a certain form of tourism, without there being any debate about that being the best way to go.
"The balance can be redressed, but all the organisations involved need to do their duty, both to residents and tourists, in turning this around."
The latest casualty was reported to police just after 5am on Saturday. The man, from Hampshire, was staying at a local campsite in a group of 15 friends celebrating a stag night.
He was first spotted at the bottom of the rock face by a security guard, who alerted the Coastguard. He was airlifted to the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro.
Police are now trying to piece together his movements in the time between bars and clubs closing and the security guard raising the alarm.
It is not known how long he was lying at the bottom of the cliffs.
The casualty's wife was informed of the incident and she travelled from Hampshire on Saturday.
Inspector Dave Meredith, of Newquay Police, described the fall as yet another "tragic accident".
He said police were able to speak to the casualty, who was conscious, who told officers he fell off the cliff face.
Yesterday, it remained unclear how far he had plunged, or whether he landed on sand or rock.
Insp Meredith said: "From wherever he fell, it's quite high there. It's possible he bumped his way down, and he could either have landed on sand or rock."
He added that the injuries appeared "life-changing, but probably not life-threatening".
Police are investigating whether alcohol played a part. Insp Meredith said: "It would appear that he had been out enjoying the nightlife in Newquay with a group of friends."
He accepted that revellers drank heavily on nights out in the town, but added: "At this stage, we can't say whether alcohol was a factor in every case, but we do warn people against the dangers of consuming alcohol and going near the cliffs, especially after dark."
He said police, businesses and the council were working together to tackle binge-drinking, and to change perceptions of Newquay.
He said: "We certainly want to improve Newquay's safety record next summer.
"That's a long-term project, with all of Newquay involved, but the short-term issue is that we have had these four falls – two fatalities and two serious casualties – in under a month, and it's unprecedented."
Cornwall Council is currently carrying out a safety review, and risk assessments along the clifftops, with a particular emphasis on Newquay.
But leader Alec Robertson said yesterday: "You can't fence off every inch of cliff around Cornwall, but we need to get people – and not just youngsters – to behave more responsibly. They have got to take responsibility for their own safety.
"There's a need to get that message out to people before they come here."
He believed Newquay had been sensibly marketed by official organisations, but said there may be an issue with some businesses which needed to be addressed.