Seacoaling concerns are raised

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CONCERNED councillors have called for more work to be done into the number of reported accidents and complaints around seacoaling activities.

Hartlepool Borough Council’s neighbourhood services committee met after concerns were raised by residents at several neighbourhood forums.

But senior officers said that while historically there had been issues, they reported the number of complaints was on the decline due to a reduction in the commercial trade.

They said no incidents relating to seacoal vehicles had been reported, that the cleansing section didn’t believe mess left by seacoal vehicles was a “particular problem”, while the police pledged to take action against unroadworthy vehicles carrying seacoal.

But residents raised concerns at the meeting over noise and vehicles driving on the beach – and as a result more work is to be carried out.

Officers stressed that there had been no recorded complaints during 2013, and that there had been no recorded incidents or damage to private property involving seacoalers in recent years.

Alastair Smith, the council’s assistant director of neighbourhoods, said: “Although historically there have been issues around the practice of seacoaling, these have now been mitigated. In addition, the trade is coming to a natural cessation due to a decline in the quantities of coal available.

“The council will continue to monitor the situation. However, due to financial constraints this issue cannot be considered a priority at this difficult time.”

Resident Alan Vale said there had been six incidents since 1952 while he also raised concerns about the condition of vehicles, the risks of overloaded vehicles and the behaviour of sea coalers.

As a result, the committee, chaired by Labour councillor Peter Jackson, called for more statistical information and clarification on the number of complaints.

Labour councillor Allan Barclay said: “We should investigate this further.”

“More information should be gathered over the next month or two.”