Friday, 27 September 2013

Redcar Flood Alleviation Scheme Complaint Part.Three

Hi all,

Over the past few days I have been bringing you up to speed with our complaint regarding the brick and rubble on our beach in Redcar. For consistency please follow the links back to the original thread. (See Redcar Flood Alleviation Scheme Complaint Part.One and  Redcar Flood Alleviation Scheme Complaint Part.Two)

The letter below is our reply to an Environmental Agency that doesn't feel they have any responsibility to the building debris left on our beach. Above and below are the new photos sent to accompany this email.


Dear Gemma,

Thank you for your assistance in bringing us a reply to our complaint. Thank you also to Mr. James Mead the Project Manager for his reply and courteous invitation to inspect the beach area with the contractor next month. We (Friends of Redcar) would accept this offer to make our case. Thank you also for the distance photo shot of Granville Terrace that does indeed appear to show red brick on the left although difficult to make out anything more. 

We, wholeheartedly disagree with Mr. Mead that the materials left over has "nothing to do with our works" and cannot agree that they "ensured that the material dug up from under the beach was removed" - certainly not thoroughly enough as described.

We would concede that naturally over the many years and developments/demolitions, that material would have "washed in and out", been buried and re-emerged and in any case building material would certainly have been evident next to the old defences, prior to the new coastal defences being installed. We would not dispute that in any way. However, please consider that;

- Much of the building debris remaining is not weathered or shaped (rounded) as would be expected from material that had been left to the elements for years. 
- This is clean looking rubble and very similar in appearance along the entire stretch. We have seen "old" rubble too but not as much.
- The sheer weight of some of this debris would not suggest it had just washed in recently along the whole length of the defences after the builders departed and without being noticed. In such case there would surely be evidence of scattered debris all over the beach too. There is debris further out but is isolated to one particular area which is rocky.

By Mr. Mead's admission they did a "thorough" clean up and "ensured the material dug up from under the beach was removed". So are we therefore to assume that the jagged, clean masonry running the length of the new coastal defences, that we're speaking of, is "material washing in and out"? Well not necessarily because we are provided that picture of Granville Terrace which shows "a number of bricks" of which the contractor "cannot accept responsibility". So this is confusing. Is this new material washed up or old material already there? According to Mr. Mead both, but no way has anything to do with the construction work or the "thorough" clean up.

 The "thorough" clean up Mr. Mead describes seems to therefore discriminate against any previous masonry that was found. That during their "thorough" clean up, the contractor carefully manoeuvred passed or turned a blind eye to the bricks and rubble already there, carefully examining what was theirs and what was not their "responsibility". Ensuring that they only cleared away their own mess. How "thorough" does that clean up sound? 

Personally, I used to fit bathrooms and kitchens. When I finished I would clean up and hose down outside removing all rubbish and debris. Inside I would wipe everything down, polish it up and vacuum up and down the stairs. I would insist. And yes that would include mess I never made. Why? Because I took pride in my work and wanted to impress my customer. It was the professional and conscientious thing to do. And very much appreciated.

We disagree with and disapprove of Mr. Mead's response of what has been left and that he feels no responsibility. We are convinced that not only did the contractor leave the "nothing to do with our works" but also added to it. Perhaps our beach doesn't matter to the contractor or the pride they take with their clean up, but it does to the people of Redcar and to our tourism. 

Furthermore we're not sure why a clean up would come from "public money" and not from the contractor's purse? With respect who is Mr. Mead to speak for the public by suggesting that this is not an efficient use of money? Ask the people of Redcar and indeed any coastal town if they'd like a clean beach and we can assure you the answer would be in the affirmative. Two JCBs, three employees, our volunteers, three to five large skips and a days work to polish off a great job, is hardly going to scratch the £30 million project.

We have just had our first summer with these fabulous new sea defence in place and yet the number of complaints received about the beach resembling a building site far outweighs the complimentary comments about the work. Was that the contractor's intended legacy and public opinion?

 I have attached two more photos. The bricks and rubble displayed do not appear to be weathered from decades in the sea and were found beside the new defences. We are positive that these pieces along with the 4.5 tons our volunteers have already cleared along the defences since August this year, were left after the contractor finished working there. There simply is no other explanation and to deny this is insulting.

 We look forward to going along to inspect the area when a date is set and having extra help to remove the remaining debris.

Once again thank you Gemma,

Yours respectfully,

Carl Quartermain 

Chairman of a Friends of Redcar and on behalf of all our beach users.

If you would like to contact the Environmental Agency or the contractor to make your own point here are their details below. If you require the contact details of any of the Redcar Officials please let us know and we'll happily forward them. Thanks

Tel: 0191 203 4105 (Internal 728 4105)
Fax: 0191 203 4004

Environment Agency
Tyneside House
Skinnerburn Road
Newcastle Business Park
Newcastle upon Tyne

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Fir Street Patio StreetClub

Anything is possible if you share and work together #Redcar #FriendsofRedcar #StreetClub
Watch out for details of our own StreetClub coming soon

Original blog story:

Friends of Redcar Chairman condemns "Gagging Law"

Friends of Redcar chairman Carl Quartermain has condemned the proposed Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill as a "Gagging Law" and supports 38 Degrees campaign to raise awareness.

"This bill has been condemned by most reputable charities and community groups, voluntary organisations and umbrella organisation, from the National Council of Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) to the TUC, the Royal British Legion to the RSPB, Oxfam to Christian Aid.

"I'd like to highlight 38 Degrees stark warnings about the damage that part II of the government bill would inflict on open debate."

"The gagging law introduces new rules that would prevent non politicians from speaking up on the big issues of the day. Potentially this would provide power to the government to disperse groups, shut down funding and communications and even stop non-politicals blogs like this."

Despite public outcry in civil society about the problems with this law, the government has been trying to rush it through anyway without proper scrutiny.

Groups that normally wouldn’t agree have been uniting to speak out against this law.

Carl added "Politics should not be left to political parties and local councils to decide upon. In a healthy democracy everyone should be able to express their views which is why our group can be completely transparent about issues important to us. Legislative ideas like this have been handed down from the U.S. where liberty is being seriously undermined to protect political parties from losing control to opposition parties.

"Being an apolitical group does not mean sitting on the fence over bad policy. This legislation effectively gags any group's rights of choice and is therefore undemocratic. We would therefore request that our Redcar MP Ian Swales vote against this and we have written to him in respect of this."

 MPs have another chance to vote on 8th October.

For more information please check the links below.

Tom Harris' summation of the Bill

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Redcar Flood Alleviation Scheme Complaint Part.Two

Hi all,

Following on from our original complaint (See Redcar Flood Alleviation Scheme Complaint Part.One) Below is an email we received on the 23rd September 2013 from the Environmental Agency. Mr James Mead is the project manager for the Environmental Agency who oversees the contractor's work. Above is the picture sent with this email to display that bricks were already on the beach prior to work commencing. I have replied and will show this in a new blog (Part.Three) shortly. Enjoy

Dear Carl

Thank you for your enquiry, received in this office on 12 September 2013. I have consulted James Mead who was the Project Manager for the scheme. James has made the following comments

We are confident in our contractor that they were very thorough in cleaning up during and after the sea defence works along Redcar Sea front. Further inspections were carried out as areas of work were completed to ensure no materials were left over from our works and we ensured that the material  dug up from under the beach was removed and the sand placed back where we had been.

We cannot accept responsibility for materials that are nothing to do with our works, I attached a photograph of Granville Terrace before we started work which shows the stones and shingle at the top of the beach with a number of bricks visible amongst them. The photographs taken recently do not look dissimilar to this. This we would suggest is as a result of many years of materials washing in and off the seafront and not as a result of our recent works. Re-mobilising our contractor to carry out such a beach clearance for the small quantities of materials highlighted does not seem like an efficient use of public money.

That said we are happy to check the beach once again, when we return to site next month to install the second sculpture, to satisfy all parties that  we haven’t missed anything. We would be happy for you and representatives from the council to join us on such an inspection. We will be in touch when our contractor has confirmed the timing of this visit.

I attach a copy of our "Notice" which sets out the various uses to which Environment Agency information and data can be put.
If you require any further assistance on this or any other environmental matter please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Kind regards
Gemma Alecks
Customers and Engagement Officer

So what do you think? If you would like to contact the Environmental Agency regarding this matter or have any other concerns below are their contact details.

Tel: 0191 203 4105 (Internal 728 4105)
Fax: 0191 203 4004

Environment Agency
Tyneside House
Skinnerburn Road
Newcastle Business Park
Newcastle upon Tyne

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Friends of Redcar Sept meeting from TunedIn

Hi all, Just to say a quick thank you to all those who attended our meeting at the TunedIn meeting last night. We shall be providing minutes soon on our new social website along with all our official correspondence so that information is free flowing from our point of view.

We had a very good discussion last night regarding a number of topics around Redcar such as:

Redcar Regent Cinema
Kirkleatham Fracking Fears
Closure of the Crown Post Office
Locke Park Maintenance
Redcar Pier Association
Redcar in Bloom
Adopting StreetClub as a website platform for official documents and as a forum
and of course Redcar beach

Lots of good ideas in what became a very healthy flow of information. It was suggested we have another like this before setting out and implementing them with perhaps something for Christmas and in earnest early springtime. Come and join us at the next one and sound off your concerns and solutions to resolve our issues.

The minutes will be displayed on our new StreetClub page which is a work in progress so bear with. We also have an email mailing list so pass on your email if you want to know more about the work we do in Redcar.

More info coming soon on Streetclub.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Friends of Redcar on PalaceFM Radio

Hi all,

Just found this from the 29th August 2013. It's Carl Quartermain being interviewed by Dee Wold on PalaceFM about Friends of Redcar. Carl talks about how the idea for Friends of Redcar came about, the goals and concerns. Carl states, "I took some pictures and showed a council member who dismissively said 'Oh, you took a picture of a brick' was from that moment that Friends of Redcar was born."

Carl adds, "The name 'Friends of Redcar' was actually Natalie Williams' idea. I was busy playing with acronyms and trying to be clever, hence the'Beach Action Group' is 'B.A.G.' However that limited us to the beach and we both have numerous concerns that need to be addressed. So initially we are working the beach but we have plans all over Redcar. I think 'Friends of Redcar' was an excellent idea and one that sums us up very well. Well done Natalie"

We are keen to raise awareness of littering and are contacting Redcar schools to work with the kids and educate attitudes from an early age. We will be creating fun days out and competitions and trying hard to get residents and businesses to work together and feel proud. Imagine that - conscientiously feeling proud of where you live and your contribution towards how it looks and is perceived.

We will be lobbying the council to listen to residents and businesses about how we can shape our town and make it a better place to live. We are keen to get people on-board because the more numbers we have the more influence we have. We will be working alongside other community groups to find ways of helping each other physically and practically. That's what community is all about. That's what 'Friends' do.

Join us to see what were all about on Wednesday the 18th September at the TunedIn building Redcar.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Redcar Flood Alleviation Scheme Complaint Part.One

Hi all, 

To keep everyone up to speed with our Beach Action Group complaint regarding building debris on the beach and our endeavour to bring the contractor (Balfour Beatty - Birse Civil) back to clear up the rubble, below is the initial email, links and photos sent to the Environmental Agency and Birse Civil. 

We have received replies from the Environmental agency (See Redcar Flood Alleviation Scheme Complaint Part Two) but sadly not a single reply from any of the Redcar officials copied into this post. 

We believe our beach is worth investment as part of a process to attract visitors and holiday makers onto the beach (in their swimming costumes!) and to change the perceptions that prevents Redcar becoming a viable holiday resort like Scarborough and Whitby. 

Enjoy and look out for the updates 

Dear Sir/Madams,

I represent a community action group in Redcar called "Friends of Redcar" (FOR) and am writing this email on behalf of our committee, residents and visitors of Redcar. 

For transparency I have copied into this post; Balfour Beatty (Birse Civil); the FOR committee; Zetland and Coatham councillors and neighbourhood teams; Ian Swales - MP for Redcar, George Dunning - Leader of Redcar and Cleveland Borough council (RCBC) and Vic Jeffries - Mayor. (*Please can you assist us by forwarding this email to any relevant department/persons and/or replying with appropriate advice, protocols and actions.)

We were advised to contact the Environment Agency due to our concerns over the amount of building debris remaining on our beach following the Redcar Flood Alleviation Scheme Spring 2012. We are hopeful that the Environment Agency can clearly steer us towards the correct course of action.

I have also sent a copy of this email to:-
Birse Civil Head Office 2200 Century Way, Thorpe Park, Leeds LS15 8ZB

We would draw your attention to the following links in support of our concern. I have also attached some photographs.

It is our belief that we have building debris all along our coastline because the beach was not cleaned up thoroughly after the coastal defence work was completed. We believe the responsibility for carrying out a thorough clean up of the beach area, all along the new coastal defences and in part further out where large pieces of rubble have been found, lies with Balfour Beatty (Birse Civil) who carried out the work, along with any inspection team who signed the work off (if indeed it has been signed off.)

We have been advised by RCBC that they are, or will be, in contact with Birse Civil (Tel: +44 (0) 113 821 3400) to get action and will keep our group informed of developments. Representatives from our group will gladly assist in highlighting and removing these unsightly and often dangerous reminders of our old defences.

We very much look forward to receiving your response and to find a way forward so that as a group we can concentrate our efforts on lifting litter off our beach and not masonry. Thank you.

Best regards,

Carl Quartermain 
Co-Founder and Chairman of Friends of Redcar on behalf of all our beach users.

If you would like to add your own comments for the Environmental Agency office in Newcastle and Balfour Beatty Birse Civil office - here are their contact details. Please do let us know how that communication goes.

Email: Gemma Alecks Customers and Engagement Officer
Mr. James Mead (Project Manager)
0191 203 4105

2200 Century Way
Thorpe Park
LS15 8ZB
Tel: +44 (0) 113 821 3400

If you require the contact details of any of the Redcar Officials please let us know and we'll happily forward them. Thanks

This series continues here:
Redcar Flood Alleviation Scheme Complaint Part.Two
Redcar Flood Alleviation Scheme Complaint Part.Three
Redcar Flood Alleviation Scheme Complaint Part.Four

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Impending closure of the Redcar Crown Post Office on Cleveland Street

Friends of Redcar condemn the Royal Mail's decision to franchise the Crown Post Office in Redcar and see it as asset stripping.

On the 6th September the Communication Workers Union. CWU held a meeting at the Coatham Memorial Hall to discuss the decision by Royal Mail to close their Crown Post Office in Redcar.

The plan is to franchise with another business, similar to the decision made in Middlesbrough locating the service upstairs in W.H.Smith and disliked by pensioners, disabled people and parents with young children.

Carl Quartermain, who attended the meeting said, "The general consensus amongst residents is that this would be an unforgivable loss and they would fight it. The Post Office had £94 million profit last year and paid out £15.4 million in bonuses to senior managers, including a 37 per cent increase to CEO Paula Vennells - raising her earnings to £697,000. Redcar's Post Office located on Cleveland Street is one of 76 Crown Post Offices facing closure or franchise.

"When pushed the attending Royal Mail management said that they would listen to residents' concerns but I felt these were empty words and my gut feeling is a deal has already been done and the meeting was set up by the CWU 'after the horse has bolted'. This is happening while residents around Roseberry Square shops are crying out for a post office - and it so happens there's an empty unit waiting to be filled."

FSB Teesside are currently relaunching their "Keep Trade Local" campaign to bring awareness to the loss of business within town centres. Carl added, "We fully endorse the FSBs campaign. We recognise that closure to the Crown Post Office could have serious implications to the businesses around that area. It's not just about the heritage, it's the effect this will have on trade. Shutting this office will undoubtedly mean losing an immeasurable amount of footfall from customers who use the postal services in this location".

For more links on this story see below:

The Northern Echo
Communications workers union 

Monday, 2 September 2013

Friends of Redcar conquer the beach again

On Sunday 1st September Friends of Redcar carried out their second successful beach litter pick. This time the focus of attention was on the Zetland area of the beach. Starting at the Zetland Park roundabout our 35 volunteers worked their way along the beach towards the Zetland lifeboat museum.

We collected 50 bags of litter and created 8 piles of rubble for Redcar and Cleveland borough council to remove the following morning. Natalie Williams co-founder of Friends of Redcar said "Over the two litter picks we have removed more than 5 tons of brick and rubble. We can raise awareness to reduce litter but building debris is a different problem. We intend to continue our focus on this issue. Our beach shouldn't resemble a building site". 

 The building debris found along the length of the new coastal defences is believed to have been left from the regeneration work carried out by Birse Coastal. Friends of Redcar chairman Carl Quartermain raised the issue with the council at their inaugural meeting. Carl said "The council have requested that Birse Coastal return and clear up. We shall also contact Birse but as the work has been signed off, I doubt we'll see them again." He added "Redcar is our home. As community representatives we would request involvement with inspecting building/demolition work carried out to ensure the clean up is sufficient."

Thank you to everyone who got involved and showed just how much you care about our home, Redcar.

 Friends of Redcar are a growing community action group examining issues that have a negative visual affect on tourism, business and residents and bring action to them. Our next open meeting is at 6:30pm on the 18th September at TunedIn. Join us!

For more images check our pinterest page