Monday, 22 July 2013

Friends of Redcar - "Beach Action Group" is born

Following concerns from residents and business owners and fed up of listening to positive spin that ignores the problems, we decided to create a community action group that unashamedly brings awareness and action to the negative visual impacts in Redcar. These issues have a detrimental affect on perceptions harming tourism, trade and the local economy. Pretending they aren't there is no longer an option. Something needs to happen to change this. For us this starts with the beach. Being summer it's important that our coastline is inviting. Unfortunately it is not!

Residents and business owners had been raising concerns that the newly built coastal defences and £30 million sea front was already beginning to look old and tatty. Co-founder of Friends of Redcar Carl Quartermain said,  "I have an office in the Palace Hub so see Redcar Esplanade on a daily basis. There was already obvious signs that more focussed maintenance was needed. I attended the Federation of Small Businesses' Lemon Top Event on 11/06/2013 at the Palace Hub regarding tourism. There were concerns our beach was depleted of sand, that the litter was terrible and in regard to the stains from liquids flowing from our brand new shelters. When all this was brought up it was no surprise and highlighted the many problems we have encouraging tourism to Redcar.

"As a presenter on Palace FM, when listeners heard I 'd invited George Dunning leader of Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council for an interview, I received numerous emails regarding the regeneration work. Although cagey on air and to give George his due, he immediately emailed the concerns to the local Cabinet, EMT and neighbourhood team. George stated that he could see we had a point."


Red rag to a bull
"Following these concerns over lack of maintenance to the sea front I had a closer look myself. Along with the issues stated, I was amazed by the amount of bricks and rubble found all along the coastal defences and recognised that the work had not been cleaned up properly. I voiced my concerns to the council PR team. They took a look, but I was amazed to hear it was "tidal wash". So I took some photos and showed them. 

"So you took a picture of a brick" - This picture of bricks and concrete amongst natural beach rocks was effectively the birth of Friends of Redcar

"When I displayed the photos there was still an air of denial and shoulder shrugging and one comment which stuck with me. "Oh, you took a picture of a brick". I came away feeling incensed. It was like waving a red flag at a bull. From that moment I knew I had to do something"

Carl Quartermain and Natalie Williams felt the same way about the beach but wanted to develop a community group that did more than pick up litter. Emails showed many concerns throughout Redcar and for various problems with Redcar's image.  Natalie also had serious concerns in relation to the deterioration of the exterior of the Regent cinema. "The cinema is a council owned building. Allowing it to fall into disrepair while spending £75 million on the recent developments doesn't bode well. We have to keep a close eye on this and be prepared to fight to keep this building should it come to this."

Carl Quartermain and Natalie Williams created "Friends of Redcar" to raise awareness and to promote actions over issues that have a negative visual impact on Redcar in whatever capacity they can. Their initial event starts on the 5th August 2013 from the Dundas Street Slipway to the Turner Street Slipway at 8am to10am. For more images check our pinterest page