WHEN villagers first saw fence panels going up along Mistley Quay, they jumped into action.

They lined up along the quay edge to prevent workers from installing more panels, but when that failed and the fence went ahead, they vowed to continue their fight anyway.

Almost six years on, they are still battling to have the fence removed.

After numerous public meetings, protests, pleas for help and setting up a dedicated Free The Quay campaign group, protesters said they were closer than ever to a resolution.

With its new designation as a Village Green, they hope the fence’s days are numbered.

Simon Bullimore, chairman of Free the Quay, said: “Mr Bullimore added: “Now that the quay is a Village Green, we will take steps to have the fence removed from the quay as it clearly interferes with the enjoyment of the Village Green."

The 130-metre-long fence that can be seen on the quay today was installed on September 17, 2008 after owners TW Logistics was given advice from the Health and Safety Executive about necessary precautions needed at the site.

It is believed that under the Docks Regulations 1988 Act, the company was given the option of providing new safety equipment or closing the quay off for good.

A flotilla of 50 boats took part in a protest rally.

Other demonstrations included campaigners tying thousands of yellow ribbons and rags to the fence to spell out Free The Quay in 3ft-high letters.

But, in 2010, the process of getting Village Green status began.

Protesters eventually hope a post-and-chain barrier will adorn the quay.