Work is underway to repair two large “cave-like” holes under Larne Promenade, amid fears that the popular path could collapse.
Local people say that the two deep holes, which each measured around two metres wide, had been there for two weeks and that young children have been daring each other to enter the chasms.
On Friday August 5, Mid and East Antrim Borough Council erected fencing around the walkway above the holes.
However, the deep holes were still accessible via steps until steel mesh was bolted over the entrances by the council on Saturday August 6.
Repairs began on the path on Tuesday August 9, when a digger and council workmen moved in to start work at the site.
Last week, mum-of-two Carrie-Anne Hill told the Times that she had recently had to warn other children to stop entering the holes for fear of collapse.
“There were kids inside it and I told them to get out but they didn’t,” she revealed.
“It was very dangerous because of the collapse risk and I think that it was in a bad enough condition to collapse on top of them.
“This route is very popular with families and kids, and I would have thought there would be more action to repair this sooner, as it has been like that for two weeks.
Cathy Sittlington, who was walking along the promenade with her son and dog last Friday, added: “It’s not good to see the promenade in this state. I noticed holes in the side of it before, but they weren’t as big as that.
“I would be worried about the safety aspect, it seems that the stones underneath the promenade were being washed away.
“There’s no telling how far under the structure the holes stretch. I would have been afraid for the safety of kids or animals.”
A man, who said he had reported the situation to a local councillor, added: “I first noticed the holes two months ago and it has got worse. One hole opened up a fortnight ago and the other last week.
“I was really surprised that it had been there for so long and without being fixed by the council.
“I had been worried that the promenade could collapse underneath as the sea gets in and washes the stones away, placing the path in jeopardy.
“This could have been a real health and safety danger.”
Local people took to social media to voice their frustration that the promenade had deteriorated to such an extent.
One man commented: “Almost a kilometre of a promenade which has many visitors every day from sunrise to after sunset but seems to have been left to ruin.
“Adjoining with the Chaines and Town Park, it has the potential to be a beautiful place for families to go and spend time. If only half the money was spent on this area that has been used for fixing the Gobbins then I’d say it would have more visitors than the Gobbins.”
A council spokesperson told the Times that the damage was “part of ongoing erosion at the sea defence wall”.
“The top surface has only broken in the last few weeks over a 20m section,” he stated.
“A structural engineer has already examined the damage and has confirmed there is no immediate danger to the promenade.
“We have appointed a consultant engineer to look at both the very urgent and the long-term works regarding the promenade.
“Cost to be ascertained, both for urgent and longer term works.”
The spokesperson revealed that repair work had “progressed very well” on Tuesday and that the holes which were exposed were to have been “fully filled in” before the contractor left on Tuesday night.
“The pathway remains open, with a passage clear for pedestrians,” he continued.
“That will continue to be the case as the work progresses.
“The safety barrier (heavy wire) secured across the holes on the sea side of the damage at the weekend has been removed to facilitate the work, and not replaced, as that is no longer necessary.
“The area will be condoned off with appropriate barriers on the land side to ensure public safety overnight, and will be the case until completed.
“Concreting is to take place in the next two days and weather–permitting, the pathway will be fully restored by Friday,” he concluded.