PEOPLE are putting their lives at risk by ignoring the emergency closure of a riverside footpath due to river erosion, a council has warned.

A section of the Keelman’s Way, near Wylam, had to be closed to the public earlier this month after a landslip led to fears that the footpath could collapse into the river.

But the barriers placed across the footpath by Gateshead Council to protect the public are being regularly hauled aside and even pushed into the river by people who are determined to use the path despite the danger.

A spokesman for the local authority said: “The council has now been forced to erect heavy palisade fencing in a bid to stop people from endangering both their own lives and the lives of others.

“The collapsed section of riverbank is privately-owned and the council is in urgent communication with the landowners to discuss the restoration of the riverbank and the reopening of the Keelman’s Way.

“Gradual erosion of this section of riverbank was first noted in early 2019 after winter storms led to changes in the flow of the River Tyne below Wylam Bridge. The increased erosion of the southern bank caused by the river changing its course has been regularly monitored by the council to ensure the Keelman’s Way remained safe for the public to use.”

Concerns have been shared with the Environment Agency whose permission would be required for any works affecting the River Tyne.

It is not known when or how this section of the Keelman’s Way will be reopened.