|Clear enough one would have thought|
Artefact hunters have been told by the owner of the land that they cannot use their equipment on Whitstable beach by the Whitstable Oyster Fishery Company, which owns the substantial majority of the main beach. It seems they have been ignoring the requirement to ask permission from the landowner, and the company has now taken the step of erecting a sign last week informing fans they could not detect "at their usual spot".
The famous Whitstable firm has placed a sign on the beach, prohibiting detectors after claiming it damaged oyster growing activities. In a letter from director Richard Green explaining the move, he states the removal of historical artifacts would be treated as theft. The oyster company has accused detectorists of 'stealing' finds from the beach. It reads: “This year, increased metal detecting activity on Whitstable beach has hampered oyster growing activities. “For this reason we do not permit metal detecting on the foreshore.” [...] “If it was a respectable body of people doing an archaeological survey then we would co-operate, but often you get 20 people out there with metal detectors and you don’t know who they are. If we are asked permission then we can control it. “At its worst, people are finding coins and taking them away with them, which is theft. “We don’t know what damage they’re causing from an archaeological point of view and to the oysters.”You'd think that was pretty clear. It would be to normal folk, it is private property and the owner does not want strangers digging holes and clandestinely taking away things found there.
Chairman of Medway History Finders Peter Clarke was informed by two members of the ban and refuses to back down. He said: “It’s just crazy - I don’t understand it. “I’ve not got a clue why they’ve done it – unless we are getting the blame for the holes there but my lot always replace their holes. “I think it’s totally wrong – I was gobsmacked. How long is it going to be when they ban the public from the beach?” Mr Clarke says he has been metal detecting for more than 30 years and has never experienced an occurrence like this. “They can’t go putting signs up willy nilly,” he told the Times. “If we were digging huge great big holes then that would be fair enough. “When the tide comes in and there’s shallow water a child could trip over the sign – it’s putting the public at risk, it’s a health and safety hazard.Astounding, just who does this guy think he is? Medway History Finders, these are the Kent FLO's blue-eyed boys who she disgustingly told had "done well' when they trashed that Early Medieval grave in their club dig on the A20 (did Mr Sweetman personally have permission to be on that site on the day?) Now they are refusing to "back down" when caught out detecting without permission. Where are all the finds that Mr Clark made on Whitstable Oyster Fishery Company over those past thirty years? Have ANY of them been signed over by the landowner? The argument that it is private property and they never have been allowed to use their metal detectors there and take away stuff and they need permission before they start digging holes seems to mean nothing to this lot. As for where the Whitstable Oyster Fishery Company land actually begins and ends, that will be defined on the written search agreement anyone metal detecting on their land will have - otherwise its a useless piece of paper.
Now (with regard to the landowner's observations about a "respectable body of people"), read the simian comments here ("Hole 1960" is presumably a sockpuppet identity for "Holdedigger Pete" [Pete Clark] who's been on here before causing trouble). Then turn to the thread on a metal detecting forum near you (which has already been bowdlerised). Perhaps the FLO should have another pep-talk with her "partners" and explain the law to them.
See also here: Jamie Bullen, 'Whitstable Oyster Company's metal detector ban branded 'silly' by enthusiasts' Kent online 7th September 2014. That really takes the biscuit, silly or not, it's their land. Look at the comments here too.
UPDATE 16th September 2014:
I am accused by one of the protagonists of this story of "needing to get my facts right", and of course one of the places where one can do that is by referring to his own words published on a metal detecting forum to which I give a link. Now see what's happened, the whole thread has been deleted/ hidden or moved. It seems that some "facts" are more difficult to deny when they are recorded in black and white, hence the need to remove them when they are being discussed here. The total lack of commitment of this whole milieu to transparency and open discussion of the issues is truly pathetic.