THE unsafe zig zag path in Highcliffe will not reopen, after councillors voted against costly repairs.

Members of the council’s community committee decided in a narrow vote not to proceed with the reconstruction of the path at Highcliffe Castle, despite some calls for a second opinion.

Options to make the site safe will now be looked at along with how the council can make other routes more accessible.

If repairs had been approved on Wednesday night the council may have faced a bill of more than £1.25m. The path was only built in 2005.

Speaking at the meeting, the council’s chief finance officer, Ian Milner, said: “This council is in a fairly sound financial position and that’s in the face of austerity.

“But things are going to get worse and we are looking to become more and more self-sufficient.”

He said if members chose to fund the repairs from reserves, “that is a pot of money that once we have used it, it’s gone.”

He added: “I do understand it’s an emotive issue but I have to have a mind on the future and I have to advise you how best to spread our limited resources.”

Members heard the latest surveyors report revealed the path has continued to move a further 20mm in the last month.

Consulting engineers AECOM considered nine structure options for the walkway, but only one was considered realistic.

Chairman of the committee, Cllr Sally Derham-Wilkes said: “We have had a lot of emails on this subject. The vast majority of people wish us to go ahead.”

Cllr Claire Bath urged members to consider a second opinion from other companies, and was supported by Cllr Vicki Hallam.

“To my mind we still have some unanswered questions”, Cllr Bath said.

“We have to look at the financial constraints and be mindful of that but we also have to be mindful of the wishes of the residents and take them seriously.”

Other financial concerns around the Regent Centre and Two Riversmeet were also raised in the meeting.

It is not yet known what will happen to the £280k from Dorset Coastal Communities Fund.