The steps at Cow Gap have been so badly vandalised they need to be completely replaced in the new year, says East Sussex County Council.
The steps, which walkers would normally use to get access the beach at Cow Gap, have been destroyed effectively shutting off the route between the beach and footpaths.
Two coastguard rescue teams, a helicopter, police officers and a dog team were sent to the scene of the arson early evening on Saturday. Initially a call was received from a member of the public concerned that a man was ‘acting erratically’ at Cow Gap.
A spokesperson for Sussex Police said officers and a dog unit were dispatched to the area between Cow Gap and Beachy Head, meeting up with the coastguards. “Once on scene it was apparent the male had set alight to some stairs,” said a police spokesperson.
“The coastguard led officers to where male had taken cover. With assistance of the dog unit they arrested the male.” The dog found a man in the bushes, police say, and he was arrested on suspicion of arson and taken into custody.
Anyone with any information should contact Acting Sergeant Atfield by calling 101.
East Sussex County Council has assessed the damage and this statement was released.
The council spokesman said, “If you’re planning walks near Beachy Head, please note that the steps at Cow Gap have been vandalised and are closed until further notice.
“The damage is so extensive that they will have to be completely replaced in the New Year. We apologise for any inconvenience that this closure may cause.”
In the meantime, Eastbourne Coastguards manager Steve Dann said that people walking from Birling Gap to Eastbourne should remember they need to carry on walking to Holywell instead.
“The stairs down to the beach have been destroyed and there is no access,” said Mr Dann.