Blair: Don't close beach just for me

EVER SENSITIVE to the opinion polls and, of course, the wishes of the people, Tony Blair yesterday decided that he did not, after all, need the beach near his Tuscan holiday home to be closed to the public.

There was an outcry earlier this week when it was announced that a stretch of beach at San Rossore, near Pisa, was to be closed so the Prime Minister and his family could enjoy their holiday, which began yesterday, in private.

They are staying at the Villa Gombo, which was the holiday home of several Italian presidents and was offered to them free of charge by a friend Vannino Chiti, the regional president for Tuscany. The villa has its own 200 metre wide beach but several miles of coastline on either side were to be closed.

Local residents were furious at being denied their favourite sunbathing and swimming spots and fishermen had been told to haul in their catches elsewhere during the Blair's one week stay.

The Italian port authorities said that it was for security reasons, although other sources hinted that it was more to do with Cherie Blair's fear of being spotted, in her swimming costume, by the paparazzi.

But Downing Street announced in a statement yesterday that the Italian authorities had agreed to lift the ban allowing the public onto the foreshore. "At the personal request of the Prime Minister, the Italian authorities have lifted the restrictions on access to the beaches at and around the site of his family holiday home," said a spokesman.

"He thanked the Italian police for their careful consideration of his security needs but said he did not wish anybody to be prevented from visiting beaches they normally use."

Ann Widdecombe, the shadow Home Secretary, immediately leapt into the fray, accusing the Prime Minister of double standards. "He likes to pretend he's everyone's friend - standing up for the many and not the few," she said.

"Now on holiday it is an entirely different story. Who else in Britain could expect their own private beach. If it wasn't for local Tuscan residents up in arms that they can't use their beach this summer and the Italian Communist Party whipping up a storm, Phoney Tony could go on enjoying his holiday safe in the knowledge that his monumental double standards would never get back to the voters at home. Now he is trying to grab the credit for the beach being given back to the public."

Earlier in the week Marcella Monicelli, whose 34-year-old handicapped son, Christiano, regularly swims on the beach said: "My son vitally needs the exercise. To block off [the]beach for Tony Blair's family is obscene and shameful. Blair is welcome but I don't see why he can't mix with us."

Mr Blair's holiday is also being dogged by threats of protest action by local communist groups. They threatened to demonstrate over Mr Blair's "warmongering stance" during the war in Kosovo.

Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
tech
News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
books(and not a Buzzfeed article in sight)
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Mystery man: Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike in '‘Gone Girl'
films... by the director David Fincher
News
Kim Jong Un gives field guidance during his inspection of the Korean People's Army (KPA) Naval Unit 167
newsSouth Korean reports suggest rumours of a coup were unfounded
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Life and Style
stoptober... when the patch, gum and cold turkey had all faied
Travel
Bruce Chatwin's novel 'On the Black Hill' was set at The Vision Farm
travelOne of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
Arts and Entertainment
Gay and OK: a scene from 'Pride'
filmsUS film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
News
people
Life and Style
Magic roundabouts: the gyratory system that has excited enthusiasts in Swindon
motoringJust who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Welsh Year 6 Teacher required in Barry

£100 - £110 per day + Plus travel scheme: Randstad Education Cardiff: The Job:...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Welsh Teacher Year 2 required in Caerphilly

£100 - £105 per day + plus Travel Scheme: Randstad Education Cardiff: The Job:...

Year 4 Teacher

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Would you like to work in ...

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?