Safety warning after factory fire

Greatham Parish Councillor Mike McKie at the former Cerebos factory site, Greatham. Picture by FRANK REID
Greatham Parish Councillor Mike McKie at the former Cerebos factory site, Greatham. Picture by FRANK REID

FIRE chiefs and a parish councillor are warning people to stay away from a derelict factory after youths started a fire inside at the weekend.

Vandals set light to makeshift skateboard ramps and other rubbish inside a building at the former Sharwoods factory in Greatham village on Saturday afternoon.

Firefighters say the building is dangerous even for the emergency services, and are urging people not to enter for their own safety.

Andy Robinson, a watch manager at Hartlepool’s Stranton Fire Station, said: “It is very dangerous for kids to be playing inside and is extremely dangerous even for any emergency workers to go inside.”

Mike McKie, a Greatham parish councillor, is leading local efforts to make the factory more secure and decide its long-term future.

Coun McKie said the factory has seen a spate of incidents recently.

He said: “We were down to about one or two incidents a month but in the last three months we have had incidents practically every day.

“If it’s that dangerous that police won’t go in there is no way that children should be playing there.

“The message is for everybody to keep out, adults as well.

“The local police are helping us keep a little bit better eye on it.

“I’m waiting for a meeting with the owners.”

Coun McKie said a number of doors at the factory have been blocked off and shutters repaired to try and stop trespassers from getting in.

He has also been in contact with a number of schools after students were seen on the site.

Cerebos first opened a factory on the site in 1906 and employed hundreds of people over the years.

In the 1970s, it was taken over by RHM making cereals, soup and soft drinks.

In 1997, Sharwoods bought the site and made chutneys until it closed in 2001.

Hartlepool Borough Council has been in talks with the owners to advise them of possible ways of redeveloping the site.

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