Friday, November 03, 2006

Redhead's Landing work undone!

Local company pollutes landing - shock!

I reported yesterday how pleased I was that a clean up operation had taken place at Redhead's Landing, off Commercial Road, South Shields. I had suspected that this was the area wrongly reported to be Templetown Slipway and I was right. I sought confirmation from the Port of Tyne Authority who operate the Clean Tyne Project
with a team of volunteers, and this is what Alasdair Kerr (Environmental Officer) said:

"Thank you for your email. I can confirm that the River Bank Raid, clean-up event, took place at the location shown on the drawing. We were very pleased with the result, as I estimate that we took out approximately 2 tonnes of debris. The vast majority of the waste removed from the site was litter and debris, which had obviously been swept up on the tide."

Having got the confirmation that I was looking for, I decided to go and take a look at the Landing for myself this morning. I arrived a little after 09.45 and was surprised to find both the vehicular and the pedestrian access gates both open, having been locked for over the past year (since we attempted to have the Landing opened for last year's Tall Ships race). There was still some litter, flotsam and jetsom left, as well as the wrecked hull of a small boat, this was not surprising it was far too large to expect a team of volunteers to handle.

However, it was a pleasant experience being able to get so close to the riverside, and to be able to photograph some activity on the River Tyne for Curly's Photoshop. Whilst I was appreciating the splendid view of the ship moored at Tyne Dock I became aware of two employees of Tyne Slipway Engineering who were busying themselves by filling large tubs or buckets with rubbish and debris and proceeded to deposit them on the lower reaches of Redhead's Landing. Further inspection revealed that a series of wooden 'pegs' had been inserted into the ground to prevent the rubbish being washed back into the Tyne, it also creates a large 'hill' of debris making it even more hazardous, and less inviting for visitors to the site (unless they are rats.) I thought this was a shameful act after volunteers had spent so long taking 2 tonnes of debris away from there!

Having noticed that I was taking photographs, one man gestured to the other with his hand that it was time to take a tea break, and they left for the confines of their building.

I have no doubt that this activity has been going on for some time, and I had expressed this to a council officer in the Neighbourhood Services department last year, at the time when the council's Legal Services department were expressing the view that enforcement of the previous planning conditions would not now be valid. One of the reasons given was that the build up of debris was caused by youths and flytippers frequenting the Landing, and causing a risk to Health and Safety and that no life saving equipment was nearby.

I was always sceptical about the rubbish issue, youngsters and youths have not been able to gain access to the Landing for many years (the pedestrian access gate is almost always locked!) In previous posts here and here I had made the point that Tyne Slipway Engineering were making an effort to clear the waterway for their own exclusive use, and speculated that they may attempt to annexe the land at the earliest opportunity.

My photographs today (click to enlarge) provide the clearest evidence yet of their activity, which is totally unacceptable given that good honest people had given up their own time to clear mess away from here!

I have passed this information on to the Port of Tyne Authority and to South Tyneside Council in the hope that some official action can be taken against the polluters of Redhead's Landing. As far as the application to have the landing added to the designated map of Public Rights of Way goes - it has been gathering dust in the Town Hall since March of this year, with still no signs of a committee being formed to hear and progress the application.

It would be so easy to make the accusation of 'dragging their feet', perhaps they are still trying to find out who owns the land, and whether or not the public have been going there for a period of twenty or more successive years - doh!

A simple appeal in the local newspapers would find hundreds of people who could attest to having public access to Redhead's Landing over the last fifty years at the very least!

I used to play and fish from Redheads landing from the mid 50s to early 60s there was open access to the landing at all times, from the late 50s I used to take my younger brother with me. We are both willing to make statements to this affect.
When I was a child I spent a lot of time playing at Readheads Landing as I lived very close to it from the mid forties to the late fifties. I used to love watching the old men fishing from there and have many happy memories of it. I often went home with a fish from one of the men who fished there. I do not remember any gates there as it was always open access and quite popular at that time. Great views of the river and shipping passing by. The "Good Old Days" before land theft was permitted.

D. Smith, former resident Laygate, South Shields.
I used to live in the area as a child and it was one of our favourite places to play. We called it the West Shore. This was the early fifties. I used to take my paper and pencils to draw pictures of the ships and the river. Sadly none of those masterpieces survive.
We were always warned about the dangers of the water but I never knew of anyone drowning. I think we kids had a healthy respect for the area and were always careful.
Doreen Purvis
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