‘Questions to be asked’ over Hartlepool sea defences work after beach ramp closed for investigation

Calls have been made for questions to be answered by engineers involved in a sea defences scheme after issues were reported with paving blocks.

Hartlepool Borough Council said investigations are underway after two coping stones on a ramp leading to the beach on the Headland became dislodged, which has resulted in them closing the ramp.

The council obtained planning permission for £9.5million work to strengthen the area’s sea defences for the full length of the Headland.

It comes as part of long-term work to protect residents from rising sea levels.

Headland and Harbour Councillor Shane Moore said questions need to be answered over the latest problems with the work.

He said: “It’s incredibly disappointing to see, it’s a significant amount of money that’s been spent on the process and it’s all supposed to work.

Retaining bolts that held missing blocks from the North end of the Headland Promenade. Picture by FRANK REID

Retaining bolts that held missing blocks from the North end of the Headland Promenade. Picture by FRANK REID

“You’d expect a few teething problems but when blocks are falling questions have got to be asked.

“We do need to look at the outcome of this investigation and make sure it’s done correctly.

“The reaction from the public has not been great.

“People have been told this is going to protect the promenade and when it’s falling to bits quite early on questions quite rightly are being asked.”

Councillor Shane Moore.

Councillor Shane Moore.

Coun Moore also said complaints had been made about ‘noise and vibrations’ from those living in streets near to where work has been taking place which are being investigated.

He added the blocks above running along the promenade are different and does not expect the same issues to occur.

Hartlepool council said they have closed the ramp while they investigate how the coping stones became dislodged.

A council spokesman said: “Engineers are working closely with the contractor and relevant suppliers involved in the Headland sea defences scheme to determine why the coping stones on the new ramp opposite Vane Street have become dislodged.

Missing blocks from the North end of the Headland Promenade. Picture by FRANK REID

Missing blocks from the North end of the Headland Promenade. Picture by FRANK REID

“Until investigations are complete, the ramp will remain closed and there will be no public access to the beach at this point.

“We apologise for any inconvenience this might cause and are working hard to identify a solution.”

Other work carried out as part of the sea defences project has included installing new concrete block facing and rock armour between the Heugh Gun Battery and Marine Drive, and replacement of the parapet wall, including coping stones between the Heugh breakwater and Redheugh Gardens.

Questions had been asked earlier this year after it was decided to not upgrade a final stretch of the wall – from Thorpe Street to the end of Marine Drive.

Council bosses denied it was due to a lack of funding and was instead because the wall from Thorpe Street was in better condition than other parts of the Headland.

The work has been funded by the Environment Agency, the council and PD Ports.

Nic Marko , Local Democracy Reporting Service