Friday, 22 September 2006

At last progress towards improving the unmodernised part of the Closes estate

Coast & Country Housing have issued the following notice to residents of the Closes Estate:

Consultation Event – Thursday 28th and Friday 29th September at Newcomen School Redcar – 10am to 4pm

Coast & Country Housing are committed to improving both the homes and the environment of the Closes estate.

We value your ideas and are keen to find out you views about the area.

Please come along to the above event and be involved in shaping the future of your estate.

In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, parts of the estate were modernised and improvements made to the layout and the environment of the estate.

The properties improved during this period are currently undergoing Investment work to bring them up to Decent Homes Standard.

We now want to concentrate our efforts on the older unmodernised part of the estate and bring about lasting improvements to the area.

A number of partners are on board to help us work with residents to deliver these improvements.

· DKS Architects
· Groundwork South Tees
· Tees Forest

Your views are essential to this process!

We look forward to seeing you on the 28th and 29th September at Newcomen School

Every Household from The Closes who attends the event will be entered into a prize draw for £50.00 Marks & Spencer Vouchers

We need your views on how we can improve the Estate!

Wednesday, 20 September 2006

'Easy' access to Council services

Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council launches ‘It’s Easy’ – a Public Access campaign - tomorrow (21 September) to promote the seven easy ways in which local residents can contact the Council and access its services.

These seven easy ways, which include new and improved technology, include Viewpoint webcams, by phone, One Stop Shops, the Council website, i-plus kiosks, by letter and through the A-Z Guide to Council Services.

The campaign aims to raise awareness of how easy it is to get in touch with the Council by phone on a single contact number 0845 612 612 6 (standard rates apply); at our network of One Stop Shops at Guisborough, Redcar and Eston as well as the mobile One Stop Shop bus which travels throughout East Cleveland and Nunthorpe.

The campaign also demonstrates how the Council is embracing the use of modern technology to bring access to services for residents who can now speak directly with confidential advisors using a Viewpoint Webcam available at 11 libraries in the Borough.

Also available is the i-plus kiosk network – an interactive screen and keyboard available in Brotton, Marske and Ormesby libraries, Lingdale Village Hall and at Redcar High Street.

Residents can always contact the council by letter addressed to one of the four main council buildings or via the website at

In the past few weeks, the Council has also published its first-ever A to Z Guide to Council Services which has been distributed to every household in the Redcar and Cleveland area.

The launch coincides with the arrival of ‘Adshel’ posters to promote the campaign across the Borough which each feature a member of Council staff. Also being launched is the ‘It’s Easy’ contact guide which is available at libraries and Council offices.

Cllr Glyn Nightingale, Cabinet Member for Corporate Resources at Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council, said: “We are getting out into the local community and getting in touch with local residents in libraries, high streets towns and villages as well as delivering information about how to access Council services to each and every home across the area. Above all, we are not just sitting back waiting for residents to come to us.

“In the past three years, we have considerably increased the ways in which residents can contact the Council to access our services and our staff are trained to deliver consistently high standards of customer service using a variety of methods to communicate with residents, including Typetalk and new technology.

“As a Council providing key local services, residents expect us to be responsive to their needs and deserve the best services possible that are accessible in the most convenient way possible.

“We have worked hard to ensure residents can contact us in a variety of ways – some have been in operation for the past two years, some are new services using the latest in technology – now we are promoting these services to residents to make sure that the greatest number of people are aware of them and able to use them in the most convenient manner for them.”

The Public Access Viewpoint webcams have been launched in partnership with Redcar and Cleveland Mind, The Junction, Citizens Advice Bureau, Cleveland Police (Domestic Abuse) and Women’s Aid.

Thursday, 14 September 2006

Environment Agency reveals flood plans for east Redcar

Residents from east Redcar will have the opportunity to see how the Environment Agency plans to improve flood defences in The Stray area of the town.

They are invited to find out more at an Environment Agency open day on Tuesday, September 26. Staff will be answering people’s questions at Laburnum Road Library in east Redcar from 3pm to 7pm.

Earlier this year staff outlined the main flood defence plans for the town but this month’s event is for people in east Redcar to see how the scheme will benefit them.

Project manager Phil Welton said: “We held an open day in March to show the public the main proposals for the town but at the time our plans for The Stray had not been finalised.

“We have now had time to assess the options for The Stray and we are coming back to people to show how we want to tackle flooding in their area.”

The proposals for The Stray include repairing and replacing the timber groynes, reinforcing the slopes that stretch from the promenade to beach level, and filling gaps in the wall including a 150-metre stretch by the paddling pool.

Residents will have the opportunity to comment on the proposals and staff from Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council, who have been working with the Environment Agency on the scheme, will also be at the open day.

Once feedback has been received and the plans have been finalised, the Environment Agency will seek approval for funding.

The scheme is due to be funded by the Environment Agency, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council.

Redcar is at risk of flooding during storms and also from coastal erosion at a rate of 40 centimetres a year. The sea wall has been damaged by storms and the slopes are starting to break up in places.

Tuesday, 12 September 2006

Response to Coatham protesters exaggerated claims

Printed below is a report issued to members of Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council by the Council's Chief Executive, Colin Moore. It is in response to the seriously exaggerated claims about contamination made by objectors to the Council's proposed leisure and housing development at Coatham Enclosure:

"Persimmon is being advised by experts in these fields and the advice they have received has been submitted to the Council as part of their planning application.

"Two separate but related issues need to be addressed here. There is the issue of contamination of the site as a whole and then the allegation of sand being removed that is two and a half times the safe level for mercury, lead and arsenic."

The Site as a Whole

"The issue of contaminated land is an issue for all developments throughout the country. Some degree of contamination is to be expected on all brown field sites. That is why a thorough examination of this site has taken place and a report submitted as part of the planning process. The issue then is the nature of remediation required.

"The examination done for Persimmon by Encia Consulting is thorough, detailed and highly responsible as should be expected from a respected national house builder dealing with public authorities.

"The first headline from the report is that there is nothing on this site that presents any danger to existing uses. The issue is with “made ground”, that is soil imported or existing reworked. It goes on to say “This made ground contains sporadic, slightly elevated concentrations of some metals including arsenic, copper and zinc. These are considered to present only a slight risk to the proposed development.” The report goes on to discuss the remedial work necessary for the development to go ahead. This will be implemented in the final scheme and independently scientifically validated

"In other words the whole site does not have contamination but only parts of it. Where there is contamination it is only slight. There is no danger to anyone walking across the site or playing golf. There is a slight risk to new residential development if remedial measures are not taken. The view of Persimmon is that this is one of the cleanest sites they have had to deal with.

"I will now go into the detail of exactly what is on the site.

"Out of twenty samples tested there was one finding of Arsenic at two and a half times the Soil Guideline Value (safe in layman’s terms). It was found at 2.6metres depth. It was in unusual soil of brick and ash. For this to be a danger to health you would have to dig down 2.6metres (8 feet 8 inches) and somehow eat the brick and ash. You would probably have to do this repeatedly to have any affect on health. The 95 percentile analysis of all samples is at 21.2 parts per million, or just over the Soil Guideline Value (SGV) of 20 parts per million, this is the measure used to assess whether the site is contaminated.

"There is only one sample where mercury is above the SGV at 1.4 metres depth and is way below the two and a half times level claimed. All other samples are well below mercury’s SGV of 8 parts per million.

"For lead there are two samples slightly above the SGV, one at 1.4 metres depth and the other at 2.6 metres depth being the same site of brick and ash as the arsenic anomaly. However when taken as a whole the concentrations encountered present negligible risk.

"In conclusion this leads to the best technical advice being that there is no danger to existing users and only a slight danger to a residential development, which can easily be remediated."

Removed Sand

"The key allegation is that McAlpines, in laying out a public footpath, have removed sand that is contaminated at two and a half times the safe limit for arsenic, mercury and lead. This is nonsense. Such inorganic contaminants as are known are well below the surface in made ground. They have only been identified in two locations over an area of 4.5 hectares (45,000 square metres). In addition the elevated concentrations were only found at depth (the shallowest being 1.4metres). There is therefore no basis for the claim that the sand removed is contaminated with arsenic, mercury and lead. The material removed by McAlpines is wind blown sand from the surface."


"One trial pit found one trace of one metal in one place at two and a half times the safe limit in deep unnatural soil. To extrapolate that into three metals being at that level in blown sand on the surface elsewhere on the site is an argument that cannot be sustained and is unscientific.

"There is no more significant risk to human health in the near surface deposits at Coatham than anywhere else on industrial Teesside and certainly not such as to require special measures in terms of its current use."

The report prompted the Leader of the Labour Group, Councillor George Dunning, to include the following in an email sent to all members of the Council: "I have to say on behalf of the Labour Group that we have had reassurances from top officers on the allegations of contamination at Coatham Common."

Also in an email to all members of the Council, Chairman of the Cabinet, Councillor Eric Empson wrote: "I am sure that my colleagues, and all right thinking Members of this Authority, are completely disgusted at the posturing and pontificating of people who have no interest in the future of Redcar and Cleveland."

Friday, 8 September 2006

Public rights of way on Coatham Enclosure

Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council has given permission to surveyors to mark out a number of routes on land at the Coatham Enclosure and surrounding area in Redcar, intended to be used as public rights of way.

The Council is responsible for the maintainance and promotion of public rights of way and recognises the importance of maintaining public access throughout the Borough.

Surveyors and contractors have made a start marking those routes which will be completed next week.

More information on public rights of way are available on the Council's website at

Thursday, 7 September 2006

Penguins back after 'Atonement'

Redcar's seafront penguins have been safely returned to their Esplanade patch as the town returns to normal life after the summer excitement of becoming 'Hollywood by the Sea.'

The penguins had been carefully lifted from their habitat and kept in protective storage while the area was totally transformed into 1940s Dunkirk for filming scenes for the eagerly-awaited adaptation of Ian McEwan's novel, Atonement.

Redcar and Cleveland Council's Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Tourism Councillor Dave Fitzpatrick reflected on an amazing few months for the town and said: "The penguins must be the only members of our community who haven't been enthralled by what's gone on!

"Of course, it's difficult to work out just how much interest and income the filming has generated for the Borough, but the publicity and marketing value must run into hundreds of thousands of pounds. Now we've got to see if we can repeat it."

Redcar's Town Centre Manager John Partridge said: "The effect of the filming on the town centre was incredible - visitors came to see the set being built, to watch the filming itself and then to look at the set before it was dismantled."

The town's Tourist Information Centre on the Esplanade enjoyed probably its busiest-ever week, coping with 350 visitors in the week before filming, then an incredible 750 during the filming. Callers included people from all over the United Kingdom, many to watch family members among the 1,000 extras.

Mr Partridge explained: "The town certainly enjoyed one of its busiest Augusts for many years as people wanted to see the transformation of the seafront into 1940s Dunkirk and then came into town for food and drink and other shopping.

"All kinds of businesses benefited from the film as they provided the film makers with everything from car valeting and hairdressing to food and vehicle fuel.

"Town centre shops reported higher than average sales, car parks were full and Redcar became the place to visit for a glimpse of 'Hollywood by the sea'."

The Regent Cinema, used for a fight scene and adapted as a French bar, has two souvenirs - the mirrored bar itself and two illuminated art deco fan-shaped facades.

And manager Neil Bates is looking forward to next year, too, with the prospect of a regional premiere. "I'm sure there'll be a Leicester Square premiere, but I'm also pretty certain we'll get one of the regional premieres. I'm confident enough to be ordering the red carpet."