CAMPAIGNERS handed over a 1,200 signature-plus petition in their battle to keep Walton’s famous Naze clifftop from being leased off.

Tendring Council is considering handing management of the green space to Essex Wildlife Trust on a 99-year lease.

Council bosses say the move would help boost facilities at the Naze and lead to better management of the 45-hectare site.

But public opinion is divided and some residents are fighting to keep the Naze out of the trust’s hands.

Campaigner Andy Foster, of Old Hall Lane, said: “We handed the petition in and had a chat with people at the council. I think they were shocked at how many names we had.

“More than 1,200 signatures is a lot of names and it goes to show how strongly people feel.

We could have collected more, given more time. That is just local people in Walton, not taking into account all the visitors this affects.

“I believe the petition will make a difference. How can they go against this level of public feeling?”

Campaigners do not want to see the Naze changed and fear the lease could lead to restrictions being placed on the site.

The trust has been giving planning permission to create a visitor centre at the Naze. The petition opposes the centre, as well as the leasing move.

Mr Foster added: “Our petition is against any change.

“It is a wonderful site which has been perfect all this time. It does not need altering.”

The council completed a consultation into the leasing move on Friday.

A report will be prepared based on responses and the plan will be discussed by cabinet before a decision is made.