Friday, 14 March 2014

Redcar Flood Alleviation Scheme Complaint Part.Four

Following our winter hibernation we have jumped back on the horse and are galloping through to advise you of how Redcar beach is doing. It's not doing well to be honest. 

Redcar beach resembles a hideous building site along the Coastal Defences following the work carried out by Birse. It is laden with rubble, masonry, building felt, scaffolding parts, bricks, iron rods and that’s before we get to the litter issue. And it’s here to stay unless you act now.

It’s important that we as a small community pursue continued assistance and support by the contractor to remove this problem before the final contract between Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council (RCBC), The Environment Agency (EA) and Birse (now Balfour Beatty) is signed off.

As a community group, Friends of Redcar (FRED) doesn’t believe the contractor is being pushed hard enough by RCBC to pick up its responsibility to the clean up and that the quality of the contractors work as a responsible and considerate construction company is questionable. If we allow this to go unchecked they will shortly be able to leave us with a beach that harms our enjoyment of our major asset, is unsafe for our kids and diminishes our flailing tourism economy even more so.

We are passionate about our beach. We want to take our children there and feel confident that they are safe in bare feet. We want to sit and have picnics and eat ice creams on the sand while enjoying our surroundings. We want to build sandcastles without fear of what we might dig up. We want to lay out our towels and sunbathe in a relaxed and popular setting. We want tourists to come in and spend their money in our town and caf├ęs and to want to come back.

We are disgusted that our beach has been left like this. We have requested that the Final Contract with Birse (Balfour Beatty) should not be signed off until they commit to clearing the beach of their broken masonry, cement sacks and building materials that was buried there and has been revealed by dissipating sand and tides.

Last year we did indeed get the contractor to come back and they hand-picked some of this masonry up. It is nowhere near enough. We need heavy equipment down here and we need them to do it now before another summer is lost. We were assured last year that they would return. As yet we haven’t had a response to let us know if this will happen or when, so we can make arrangements to assist and observe.

With the lack of information coming from Birse, the Environment Agency and Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council regarding our call for Birse to help with cleaning up and because of the overwhelming amount of building material  that's been uncovered over the winter we've decided to push forward our complaint to the EA and follow the official avenues.

“Dear Sir,

Following on from our initial complaint regarding our beach and having had contact with James Mead the Project Manager for the Environment Agency (EA) we would like to pursue our complaint further. 

We appreciate that the EA, Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council (RCBC) and Birse answered our call to agree to an inspection in October 2013. Following on from that inspection, Birse through Simon Kirtlan, did carry out an initial sweep of the beach as a side issue to their intended reason for being in Redcar - namely the positioning of the seafront sculpture art. We thank them for this even though we had requested to be kept informed when they were coming so that we could join in and observe but were not. 

We also look forward to greeting them again in April or May to carry out another sweep AND even though we have not received any details following our requests to be kept informed (so we can build an event around it and observe, advise and assist) AND even though we are left to assume this will be another side issue to why Birse are expected to be in Redcar AND even though we again have no knowledge as to the extent of work they intend to do - we thank them.

To this end though we truly feel marginalised and discounted at the operation level of the Coastal Defence project and as residents who volunteer our free time to remove the vast amounts of building materials left behind by Birse, we are not satisfied 

- at the efforts to clean up our beach of the remains of the overwhelming evidence against Birse's regarding buried building material and masonry and therefore their commitment to behaving as a considerate constructor. 
-  with the lack of information from the EA regarding the intention to manage a clean up as the Project Leader.
- that we have had no official report from the EA following the October inspection and therefore no clear intent of how you will deal with our complaint in order that we can consider our future actions.

I'd also like to draw attention to a comment made during October's inspection, towards our problem by the Environment Agency in that "it isn't an environmental problem". In that case why are the Environment Agency solely given management over building projects in a built up area that relies on tourism? If the attitude is, it doesn't matter that the beach is left as a rubble land fill then who manages that side of the project?

We recently wrote requesting all public details of the contract between the EA, RCBC and Birse. Regarding the Flood Alleviation Project and any additional contracts for projects associated with it and any details regarding tthe intended final sign off we would exercise our right as set out in the Freedom of Information Act 2000 Part One and look forward to receiving this information along with any dated amendments. Please can we have an assurance that we receive this in a timely fashion and advise accordingly.

We are also pursuing our complaint through the RCBC, Birse and all associated professional and quality bodies.

Thank you and we look forward to hearing back from you.”

We've had a response and have added this to our Streetclub . Joining is free and simple. We will post the response here too at a later date. 

We have compiled a blog with links to key persons who can be made aware and an example letter to help you complain with us.

Here are the links to the rest of this series so far :)