CEREDIGION County Council say steps have been taken to secure pedestrian access to a safety pontoon on Patch Beach, near Cardigan, in the short term.

The move comes after local fishermen claimed their livelihoods had been threatened after the pontoon was closed ‘for safety reasons’.

The structure was used to help collect and deliver the fishermen’s catch to land, but since its closure they claimed there was more of a risk without it.

The pontoon was built to offer protection from the elements as well as some safety, according to fisherman Aaron Walters, who uses the pontoon to get his catch on shore.

"You can have four to five knots of tide on the river as the water shoots through," he said.

"You've got the sandbanks as well - if the tide pushes you onto the sandbanks you'll get stuck.

"If there's a southerly gale the weather here can be very dangerous.

"Last summer, there were two young boys playing here. The tide was starting to go out and they got washed into the middle of the river. We went after them in the dinghy.

"This pontoon is massive in terms of safety. If you have bad weather you can come in behind the pontoon and it's quieter.

“If we haven't got this here we just have big waves crashing on the beach."

His father Len Walters said the pontoon was closed without warning and the seven businesses who use it had been affected.

“It's a fantastic asset for the area, but something is going to happen again,” he said. “Someone is going to drown out there."

Ceredigion County Council said the tenant, Afon Teifi Fairways Ltd, had operational responsibility for the pontoon.

Following consultation with the local authority, ATFL said they had taken ‘reasonable steps’ to restrict access.

A council spokesperson confirmed to the Tivy-Side that the pontoon’s condition indicated it was close to, or at the end of its safe working life.

Cllr Clive Davies said: “I asked Ceredigion County Council’s’ Economic Regen department to seek funding for a short term solution as quickly as possible.

“This was achieved within a week, so a temporary pontoon layout/arrangement has been commissioned which will allow pedestrian access to the facility in the short term.

“I’m pleased also to hear that Ceredigion County Council, with support from ATFL, intends to investigate medium/long term solutions, which will include vehicular access also.

“The pontoon has become a popular facility for the local population, businesses and tourists and I hope that we can find a solution which fits with its current and future use.”