ANGER has erupted over a "prison-style gate" installed at the ferry jetty at Mudeford Sandbank.

Owners of some of the most expensive beach huts in Britain have called for the gate to be removed, and complained to Christchurch council over the stainless steel structure.

Comments on social media have dubbed the row "Jettygate", with many describing the measure as "ridiculous".

But the council say the gate has been installed for safety reasons, due to dangerous use of the jetty by other boat users.

The jetty is a private facility for use by Mudeford Ferry, which runs between Mudeford Quay and the sandbank.

Sallie Longman, who has had a beach hut at the Spit for 30 years, described the structure as a "prison-style gate".

She said: "There was absolutely no consultation with hut owners.

"Many of us emailed the council back in the autumn with strong concerns but to no avail.

"People are very, very angry, and that's an understatement.

"We don't know how buggies and wheelchairs are going to use it. It doesn't look wide enough.

"We want it removed. It's unnecessary and complete overkill.

"I can't remember there ever having been an accident in the past 50 years on that jetty.

"It's health and safety gone mad."

Steve Barratt, chairman of the Mudeford Sandbank Beach Hut Association, described the gate as an “eyesore” and predicted it will “cause more problems than it supposedly cures”.

"Let's hope that common sense prevails and there is sufficient money in the council budget to remove it before it causes too much embarrassment to all those implicated in its concept and erection,” he said.

Beach huts on the Spit can fetch more than £215,000, with people able to sleep in the chalets.

The sandbank is so remote it can only be accessed by foot or ferry, or via the land train.

A spokesperson for Mudeford Ferry said: "The gate has not got anything to do with us. You will need to speak to the council."

Matt Reeks, community and open spaces manager at Christchurch council said: “The gate was installed for safety reasons due to the unauthorised and dangerous use by other boats of the ferry pontoon.

"The pontoon is a private facility which is for the ferries to use.

"We have been monitoring the situation for a number of years and we were increasingly finding that other boats were mooring there and preventing the ferries being able to get to the pontoon.

"The gate can now be locked so that other boat users will not have access to the beach from the pontoon. The design of the gate is the standard one used on jetties and pontoons around the country.”