COUNCIL chiefs have promised to speed up efforts to allow sea coalers back on to Hartlepool’s beaches amid mounting pressure.
Workers who collect the coal from Seaton Carew beach have recently been blocked from taking their vehicles onto the sand by Hartlepool Borough Council.
Allow them just to earn an honest livingSeaton Carew councillor Paul Thompson
Meanwhile coal has been mounting up on the beach after going uncollected for several weeks.
It has been while the authority seeks to amend its lease with beach owners The Crown Estate to allow vehicular access.
The council said the driving of motor vehicles across the foreshore was prohibited under the current lease agreement.
But sea coalers say they are being denied their living by the legal wrangle.
Senior council officers agreed to chase up the Crown Estate’s agents and that sea coalers will be allowed back on the beach as soon as they receive official confirmation.
It was after calls for action were made by independent Seaton councillor Paul Thompson and supported by fellow councillors at Thursday night’s full council meeting.
Coun Thompson said: “I propose we return the key to Newburn Bridge and allow them just to earn an honest living.
“We are in a situation where Seaton beach has got an inch and a half of coal dust. That can’t continue.
“We are approaching Easter which is one of Seaton’s busiest weekends.
“People are quite literally going hungry by not being able to bring money to the household table.”
Hartlepool sea coaler Tony Reed, 53, who has worked in the industry for over 30 years, said: “The council said the Crown Estate haven’t given them permission to go on the beach with a vehicle and they don’t have public liability cover.
“But we have our own public liability. I am pretty skint at the moment and the other lads are all in the same boat.”
Council chief executive Dave Stubbs said: “The Crown Estate’s agents have indicated to us that should the council be prepared to take responsibility they would be in favour. We need that in writing.”
Gary Jackson, whose family worked in the industry, started an online petition calling for the council to allow access again.
The petition at www,change.org has been signed by almost 300 people.
Today, people are invited to show their support by collecting the coal in buckets with proceeds going to charity.
Meet at the car park near Newburn Bridge off Coronation Drive, at 2.30pm.