End of an era for Hartlepool cabin owners as they leave site

It is the end of an era for a community of Hartlepool cabin owners as they leave their home of the last 20 years.

Tuesday, 23rd April 2019, 6:00 am
Ron Clark the Middleton Cabins. Picture by FRANK REID

The Middleton cabin holders have until midnight tonight to leave the site, off Ferry Road, as their lease with Hartlepool Borough Council comes to an end.

The council has decided not to renew their 10-year lease with landowners PD Ports due to budget pressures.

Ron Clark the Middleton Cabins. Picture by FRANK REID

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In total, the cabin holders have occupied the site off Ferry Road for 20 years and existed as a community for like-minded individuals for 70 years.

Some of the 36 cabins have been dismantled while others are still standing on the site.

Five have been moved on to the neighbouring Old Yacht Club where there are also hopes to site a further 10 pending planning permission.

Some owners are reported to be looking into who owns a small parcel of land within the current site with a view to gaining possession.

The Middleton Cabins. Picture by FRANK REID

Ron Clark, a director of Middleton Cabin Owners Ltd, said: “We have been given instructions by the council to vacate the site completely.

“I’m expecting that we won’t be able to get access after midnight on April 23. People are attempting to get the cabins down. The average age of the cabin owners is 68 and some people haven’t got the means so they are struggling.

“There’s only so much the council tip can take. That’s where we’re taking it.

“Apart from that we are controlled burning cabins at the bottom end of the site. It’s over 70 years of history coming to an end.”

Ken Rochester (68) photographed insides his cabin. Picture by FRANK REID

The cabins have provided a place for people to socialise, work on hobbies or store boats.

Under the lease the council charged a subsidised rent to the cabin owners which cost the local authority £10,000.

Ken Rochester, 68, has had a cabin for 25 years.

He said: “I am clearing the cabin and going. Everyone’s fed up. We are all pensioners or disabled. We have tried to get grants and all sorts but without luck.

Billy Naylor photographed at the site of his cabin. Picture by FRANK REID

“It is just somewhere to come and have a bit of patter and a few drinks with the lads or repair engines.”

Billy Naylor, 76, has demolished his cabin.

“I have had a cabin for 40 years all together,” he said. “It stinks.”

Mr Clark said some of the cabin owners are trying to establish the ownership of a piece of vacant land although he himself is not involved.

But he said an attempt in 2012 by cabin holders to gain possession of the land in question was rejected by the Land Registry.

Last week, Brian Callan, of The Old Yacht Club, moved five of the cabins onto his site.

He has also met with Hartlepool Borough Council about plans to move a further 10.

Mr Callan said: “I have offered some of this land. I have moved five but any more else need planning.”

A Hartlepool Borough Council spokesperson said: “The Council has for a number of years subsidised the rent of Middleton Cabin Owners Ltd (MCOL) by virtue of paying a higher rent to the sites owners PD Ports than that charged to MCOL by the Council.

“In the present financial climate and with difficult decisions needing to be made on Council funding priorities, it was considered that this generous subsidy could unfortunately no longer continue.

“The Council is now looking to work with the cabin owners to aid the removal of the cabins ready for the lease ending in April 2019.

“Whilst the existing site is unavailable going forward, if a new site is identified by MCOL and the cabins can continue to be located on a nearby site then the Council will work with MCOL to ensure that all necessary planning matters are addressed in due course and, if appropriate, that the provision can continue in the long term.”