Trespassing at 'danger' factory

EFFORTS to make a derelict factory safe have seen a dramatic drop in the number of vandals and children going on it.

Greatham parish councillor Mike McKie is leading the scheme to secure the former Sharwoods food factory since falling into a dangerous state of disrepair.

The 30-acre site in Greatham was left covered in broken glass, open doors and dangerous drops after being targeted by vandals.

But Mr McKie says the number of incidents has drastically fallen in the last couple of months since efforts to improve security started.

He said: "We have secured all the doors.

"We've dramatically reduced the number of people going on to the site which is brilliant.

"It has gone from daily cases of children and adults on the site to only two reports in the last two months."

Mr McKie raised concerns over the number of children using the factory as a playground and is involved in talks with the owners to come up with a long-term plan for the site.

He has been working with Hartlepool Borough Council, Hartlepool Police and the owners to improve the safety of the site.

An outside gangway linking two sections of the factory and a diesel tank has been removed from the site and new lighting has been added.

Coun McKie added: "We are still proceeding with the lock down of the site. It is a massive task, but bit by bit we are getting there."

Developers had hoped to build housing on the site, but when that was not possible, put the factory into the name of a charity.

A council spokesman said: "We have been working closely with parish councillor Mike McKie and we are pleased that there have been some improvements on this site in terms of the demolition of potential unsafe buildings, reducing vandalism and unauthorised access.

"We will continue to offer our support wherever possible to bring about longer term improvements including further demolition of some buildings and the reuse of others."