COUNCILLORS unhappy at plans not to repair the zig zig path at Highcliffe Castle are trying to get the matter debated again.

Seven of them have signed a motion calling for the controversial issue to go back to the next full council.

On Tuesday, angry residents who handed in a 3,000 signature petition, heckled members and accused them of being 'undemocratic' over the decision.

Council bosses say the path, which has been closed for safety reasons, is too costly to repair and that other options for access to the beach will be explored.

The Echo understands that senior officers want to spend the money on projects elsewhere in the borough including the Riversmeet leisure centre and the Regent Centre, which has major structural problems.

No figures have been made available so far on how much the Regent repair bill will be.

Meanwhile, there is also a suggestion that an extraordinary meeting of the ruling Conservative group will be called to agree a position.

One senior councillor said: "We seem to have dug ourselves a big hole again, just as we did with the beach huts. It is rather unfortunate."

The councillors who have signed the motion include Trevor Watts, Vicki Hallam, Claire Bath and planning chairman, Lesley Dedman.

But Cllr David Jones said the move was "premature."

He told the Echo: "I completely understand the views of the resident but in my view it's too soon to debate this again. We have already said we will look at all the options and everybody seems to have forgotten that."

Residents have raised concerns over the commercial impact on the castle itself and tearooms and over the effect on the elderly and disabled.

Cllr Sally Derham Wilkes, chairman of the community committee said: "The councillors voted as they did for the whole of Christchurch."

The petition will be considered as part of the response to the coastal strategy.