Councillor calls for action over Hartlepool ‘death trap’

Firefighters fight a fire in a empty building in Owton Manor Lane
Firefighters fight a fire in a empty building in Owton Manor Lane

A CONCERNED councillor has issued fresh calls for immediate action to be taken at a derelict historic building labelled a “death trap”.

Labour councillor and ceremonial mayor Stephen Akers-Belcher wants to see something done with the old manor house, near Manor College of Technology, in Hartlepool, which has been a regular target for arsonists.

Coun Akers-Belcher, who represents the Manor House ward, has called on officers at Hartlepool Borough Council to see if more can be done to make the building safe and bring it back into use in some form.

He raised concerns about the amount of time police and fire crews had to spend at the site.

Coun Akers-Belcher said: “There has been fires there and my concern is somebody is going to get trapped and die.

“That may sound dramatic but there is a real risk that somebody could die.”

Coun Akers-Belcher was speaking at a meeting of the council’s regeneration services committee.

Damien Wilson, the council’s assistant director of regeneration, said he was happy to support the comments and said there has been a lot of concentrated action.

But said it would be “inappropriate to comment” further as there was “layers of complexity” about the site and ownership.

It was agreed to hold a meeting between the chairman of the committee and ward councillors about the issue.

In May, four fire engines spent an hour tackling a blaze at the derelict historic building and Owton Manor Lane was closed to traffic as firefighters fought flames at the old manor house.

At the time fire chiefs urged people to stay out of the dilapidated building.

It is believed arson was the cause of the fire, which happened in an old out-building which used to be a garage and utility rooms, where lots of waste material, such as wood is still present.

Meanwhile, the Mail also reported on Easter Monday that the building was targeted by arsonists and in 2010, 12 nearby homes had to be evacuated after an explosion ripped through the manor house in a suspected arson attack.