Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Redcar Flood Alleviation Scheme Complaint Part.Six


Below is our latest reply and images sent to the Environment Agency regarding our Redcar Flood Alleviation Scheme Complaint and Alan Cadas very swift and welcome reply.



"Dear Mr. Cadas,

Thank you for your reply. 

We very much appreciate your response to our complaint and grievances. This will be discussed at our next open meeting next Tuesday. 

We are also thankful that you will ensure we are contacted in plenty of time to enable us to work together with RCBC, EA and Birse to reach a solution to rid our beach of the incredible amount of debris left behind.

With respect, we have always accepted that there had been masonry on the beach along the promenade previous to your work being carried out. However this was sporadic and a minor issue along the sea defences. We'd agree that the old defences required repair and updating and had had previous touch ups. 

However, having used the beach for many years and spending summers down there with my children (barefooted), as well as jogging across the beach on a weekly basis, I can advise you that prior to your work the old sea defences were not as suggested in your picture. The image portrayed was not observed by anyone we've spoken to including fishermen, RNLI employees, beachcombers or residents who walk their dogs on a daily basis prior to your work beginning. I was certainly on the beach in the months before work commenced and my experience and memory is the same.

Secondly this image is isolated in an area near the Park Hotel where the issue is not such a concern. I want to show you some images that reveal that 1. We're not just talking about brick and concrete - there is building felts and fabrics, buried bags of set concrete, buried bags of building sand, iron rods etc  and 2. Much of the masonry is not just from the break up of the old defences but is new as it has nylons for strength (not used in the previous decades). 

If you ever get the opportunity to come to Redcar we would welcome you to join us and view the damaging effect our beach has been left to bear. We are certain that you would recognise that the clean up operation was wholly inadequate and that much of the material belongs to Birse as well as what was broken up by them.

Between our group and the RCBC alone we must have already cleared coming on 40 tonnes between us. This doesn't include what Birse managed to do in their own 'sweeps'. This in itself should suggest to you that the clean up effort was not good enough. Our beach is still littered with so much of this material that parts of our beach along the defences is dangerous and unusable. It is far too much a burden for our small group to manage without heavy gear, diggers and tools."


"Dear Carl

Thank you for your reply.

I will try to come to Redcar for the walkover with Birse and Redcar and Cleveland Council so we can meet and discuss further. James - can you include me in the invite please. 

If I am not available for that date I will arrange a separate visit.

The erosion in the photo I sent was repaired as emergency works by the council very shortly after it happened which might explain why not many people witnessed it.

Hope to meet soon. In the meantime please contact me again if you need anything further.

Regards

Alan"


For the rest of this series check the links below. We'll as always keep you posted.








Thursday, 20 March 2014

Redcar Flood Alleviation Scheme Complaint Part.Five

With respect to our continued plea to get diggers and tools to shift the mess our beach is in we have had a follow up from Environment Agency (joint project managers). I shall post our response soon.


“Dear Carl

Thank you for your email of 3rd March 2014 regarding your concerns over the condition of Redcar beach following the completion of the sea defence works. This has been passed to me to investigate in line with our complaints procedure. I would like to provide you with an update on current plans to assist in remedying some of your concerns and hopefully clarify our position on ongoing responsibility.

As you will hopefully have been informed already your Freedom of Information request for contractual information will be dealt with separately.

Firstly I am sorry you were not informed of the date of Birse’s October revisit to the beach to carry out further cleanup works. This was purely an oversight, and James Mead, the project manager for the scheme, will ensure that you are informed of the date of the return visit in good time. Before we fix the date, we will be carrying out a join site walkover with Redcar & Cleveland Council and would be happy to meet with you to discuss your concerns on this date. I can confirm that we still intend to arrange the clean up visit for April or May this year, weather and other works permitting, but it will certainly be before the summer. If you would like to discuss this with James he can be contacted by email at james.mead@environment-agency.gov.uk or by telephone on 01138196250.

I have looked a bit further into the source of the materials on the beach. I know from my involvement in the scheme that the revetment along the whole of the sea front was in a really poor condition. This was one of the main reasons that the scheme was constructed. Because of the poor condition, there were a number of failures in localised places which required emergency works. One of these failures happened just a few months before the scheme started on site, and the photograph below shows the extent of the failure. If you look carefully you can see that the hole goes right underneath the footpath, so a lot of material will have eroded as a result. You can also see patches of concrete next to the hole which shows where other repairs have been carried out, and similar repairs were carried out along the length of the promenade. This series of failures will have caused debris to have been spread across the beach, and may explain why there is unweathered debris present on the beach.

I am also confident in our contractor’s methods. We employed our own site supervision staff during the construction phase to ensure that this was the case. The sea defence elements of the works were completed in November 2012 and Birse carried out a number of sweeps of the beach between this time and the completion of the whole project in June 2013. Combined with the October 2013 revisit and further visit this spring we are satisfied that the beach cleanup carried out is thorough and is certainly beyond that contractually required and envisaged. I must conclude therefore that a substantial quantity of the rubble left on the beach must have arisen from the previous damage to the revetment, and that the contractor’s efforts have more than made up for any material which might have escaped as a result of the works.

I do however greatly applaud your efforts and desire to see the beach at Redcar kept in good condition. I would therefore like to offer the support of some of my workforce to join Birse when they carry out the spring sweep of the beach.

This project has been delivered in partnership with Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council and not, as you suggest, solely led by the Environment Agency. As an integral part of this relationship, it was agreed that the responsibility for ongoing maintenance of the defences and surrounding area would remain with Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council. I know that everyone would want to see the seafront maintained well following such major investment and a suggestion of increased investment was raised, by the project team, with Redcar & Cleveland’s Neighbourhoods team at numerous points through project development and construction. Any queries about the future maintenance of the beach and surrounding area therefore will need to be directed to that team.

Please contact me again if you would like any further information."



We have replied and will be adding this to our Streetclub. It is free and easy to join.

Here are previous links from our initial complaint to date.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Dear Friends of Redcar



Dear Friends of Redcar,


Can YOU help us? 

We want to hold safe events on our beach such as sandcastle competitions, Easter Egg and Treasure Hunts not rubble collection.



We also have the British Land Sailing Championship coming in June. We don't want spectators sat amongst rubble! And we want to attract more entertainment to our greatest asset - the beach.

Below are contacts that may hold answers or assistance and who we've had direct dealings with during our plea to the Environment Agency to bring Birse back with their diggers to clear Redcar beach of their building material.

gary.flynn@redcar-cleveland.gov.uk is the Regeneration Operations Director for RCBC
james.mead@environment-agency.gov.uk is the project manager for the EA
simon.kirtlan@birse.co.uk is the project manager for Birse Civil
darren.edmunds@redcar-cleveland.gov.uk liaison officer for RCBC

Can you write to ask them when Birse (Balfour Beatty) are coming back? Can you let them know what you think about the mess left on our beach? And can you share your request and any responses with us?

Here’s an example of a letter you could write. Or you could copy/paste and modify just as easily.

“Dear Sir,

I wish to make a complaint. We are disgusted at the amount of broken masonry and building materials along the stretch of the new Coastal Defences on Redcar beach. We respectfully request that Birse (now Balfour Beatty Construction UK) come back to clean up. This work is necessary and will benefit the local residents, businesses, visitors, tourist and community event organisers coming into Redcar. We understand that Friends of Redcar (friendsofredcar@gmail.com) have been in contact throughout and have requested a return by the contractor that has been agreed. Please can you pursue or advise when the return date will be and what action will be taken.”

You could also send this message to these contacts below - the more awareness and strength of feeling the more our community will be represented in the places that matter. We need an elected champion.

george.dunning@redcar-cleveland.gov.uk   Leader of RCBC
ian@ianswales.com            MP for Redcar
annaturley@hotmail.co.uk  Candidate for Labour and Co-operative

Relevant councillors :-

irene.curr@redcar-cleveland.gov.uk and josie.crawford@redcar-cleveland.gov.uk (Coatham Ward)
ron.harrison@redcar-cleveland.gov.uk and josh.mason@redcar-cleveland.gov.uk (Zetland Ward)

RCBC, EA, and Balfour Beatty’s complaint process and the quality assurance groups Birse are associated with are below.

link: https://www.redcar-cleveland.gov.uk/Forms.nsf/ComplaintForm_3?readform
(check box for complaint about “the Regeneration Project”)

link: http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/contactus/36316.aspx
link: http://www.balfourbeattycsuk.com/contact-us/make-an-enquiry/
email: enquiries@birsecl.co.uk

email: alan.cadas@environment-agency.gov.uk
Operations Manager, North East Area, Environment Agency,  North  East

email: enquiries@environment-agency.gov.uk 
email: newcastle@environment-agency.gov.uk
email: enquiries@ccscheme.org.uk “Considerate Constructor Scheme”
email: lrussell@cic.org.uk “Construction Industry Council”
Will you help?





Can YOU help us love our beach again?





We're considering opening a petition to show our disgust at the state of our beach. Show yours too and perhaps this will prompt our council and the EA to bring back their contractor Birse - (Balfour Beatty) to come back and clean up their mess. Do you think a petition will help?

Will you help Redcar? 




For more information check our links

Redcar Flood Alleviation Scheme Complaint Part.One
Our beach, our town, our home - Redcar

Thank you,

FRED








Redcar Flood Alleviation Scheme Complaint Part.Four



Following our winter hibernation we have jumped back on the horse and are galloping through to advise you of how Redcar beach is doing. It's not doing well to be honest. 

Redcar beach resembles a hideous building site along the Coastal Defences following the work carried out by Birse. It is laden with rubble, masonry, building felt, scaffolding parts, bricks, iron rods and that’s before we get to the litter issue. And it’s here to stay unless you act now.

It’s important that we as a small community pursue continued assistance and support by the contractor to remove this problem before the final contract between Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council (RCBC), The Environment Agency (EA) and Birse (now Balfour Beatty) is signed off.

As a community group, Friends of Redcar (FRED) doesn’t believe the contractor is being pushed hard enough by RCBC to pick up its responsibility to the clean up and that the quality of the contractors work as a responsible and considerate construction company is questionable. If we allow this to go unchecked they will shortly be able to leave us with a beach that harms our enjoyment of our major asset, is unsafe for our kids and diminishes our flailing tourism economy even more so.

We are passionate about our beach. We want to take our children there and feel confident that they are safe in bare feet. We want to sit and have picnics and eat ice creams on the sand while enjoying our surroundings. We want to build sandcastles without fear of what we might dig up. We want to lay out our towels and sunbathe in a relaxed and popular setting. We want tourists to come in and spend their money in our town and caf├ęs and to want to come back.

We are disgusted that our beach has been left like this. We have requested that the Final Contract with Birse (Balfour Beatty) should not be signed off until they commit to clearing the beach of their broken masonry, cement sacks and building materials that was buried there and has been revealed by dissipating sand and tides.

Last year we did indeed get the contractor to come back and they hand-picked some of this masonry up. It is nowhere near enough. We need heavy equipment down here and we need them to do it now before another summer is lost. We were assured last year that they would return. As yet we haven’t had a response to let us know if this will happen or when, so we can make arrangements to assist and observe.

With the lack of information coming from Birse, the Environment Agency and Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council regarding our call for Birse to help with cleaning up and because of the overwhelming amount of building material  that's been uncovered over the winter we've decided to push forward our complaint to the EA and follow the official avenues.


“Dear Sir,

Following on from our initial complaint regarding our beach and having had contact with James Mead the Project Manager for the Environment Agency (EA) we would like to pursue our complaint further. 

We appreciate that the EA, Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council (RCBC) and Birse answered our call to agree to an inspection in October 2013. Following on from that inspection, Birse through Simon Kirtlan, did carry out an initial sweep of the beach as a side issue to their intended reason for being in Redcar - namely the positioning of the seafront sculpture art. We thank them for this even though we had requested to be kept informed when they were coming so that we could join in and observe but were not. 

We also look forward to greeting them again in April or May to carry out another sweep AND even though we have not received any details following our requests to be kept informed (so we can build an event around it and observe, advise and assist) AND even though we are left to assume this will be another side issue to why Birse are expected to be in Redcar AND even though we again have no knowledge as to the extent of work they intend to do - we thank them.

To this end though we truly feel marginalised and discounted at the operation level of the Coastal Defence project and as residents who volunteer our free time to remove the vast amounts of building materials left behind by Birse, we are not satisfied 

- at the efforts to clean up our beach of the remains of the overwhelming evidence against Birse's regarding buried building material and masonry and therefore their commitment to behaving as a considerate constructor. 
-  with the lack of information from the EA regarding the intention to manage a clean up as the Project Leader.
- that we have had no official report from the EA following the October inspection and therefore no clear intent of how you will deal with our complaint in order that we can consider our future actions.

I'd also like to draw attention to a comment made during October's inspection, towards our problem by the Environment Agency in that "it isn't an environmental problem". In that case why are the Environment Agency solely given management over building projects in a built up area that relies on tourism? If the attitude is, it doesn't matter that the beach is left as a rubble land fill then who manages that side of the project?

We recently wrote requesting all public details of the contract between the EA, RCBC and Birse. Regarding the Flood Alleviation Project and any additional contracts for projects associated with it and any details regarding tthe intended final sign off we would exercise our right as set out in the Freedom of Information Act 2000 Part One and look forward to receiving this information along with any dated amendments. Please can we have an assurance that we receive this in a timely fashion and advise accordingly.

We are also pursuing our complaint through the RCBC, Birse and all associated professional and quality bodies.

Thank you and we look forward to hearing back from you.”



We've had a response and have added this to our Streetclub . Joining is free and simple. We will post the response here too at a later date. 



We have compiled a blog with links to key persons who can be made aware and an example letter to help you complain with us. 

http://friendsofredcar.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/dear-friends-of-redcar.html

Here are the links to the rest of this series so far :)


Tuesday, 4 March 2014

FRIENDS OF REDCAR - FRED NEEDS YOU

 


Dear Friends,

Are you a research student?
Are you a person who likes looking into issues and analysing data?
Are you retired and enjoy reading about history or local issues?
Are you knowledgeable and love to share your smarts?
Are you a graphics artist, artist, doodler or someone who loves creating personal art for your facebook pages, blog etc?
Do you enjoy writing?
Do you blog or would you like?
Do you like working with children?
Are you good at presentations?
Have you ever run an event or would like to be part of the organisation of an event?
Are you good at selling, negotiating?
Do you want to meet new people?
Do you enjoy walks and community spirited efforts.
Do you love your local community and want to do something meaningful to reflect this?
Are you fed up of reading these questions? :/

Ok I'll cut to the chase.

We're looking for people who are keen on working on small, medium and large projects that benefits Redcar. This is purely voluntary but very rewarding if you want to become part of a team all fighting for the same thing. A community that cares about their home and delivers - better.

As you know FRED works first and foremost towards a clean beach through our Beach Action Group. However our efforts require much more than litter picks.

We;

- lobby our council and government on local issues
- write letters to organising bodies and authorities
- research issues regarding the seafront, environment, local issues, local history, local politics, local community, industry, business, tourism, fund raising, infrastructure, everything!
- run family orientated events and competitions
- work in and with the schools/ colleges
- market and promote ourselves around the region
- fund raise.

Ok - You get the picture

FRED needs you. We have so many ideas and plans that we have no way of realising OUR potential without YOU. There's no pressure and you can be involved with as much or as little as you think you can do in the area of interest that suits you. We're interested to hear your ideas too.

Whether you're starting out in life and looking for a project or retired and looking for community work to occupy you - Give us a call, email us or come to our next and subsequent meetings.

Really - Friends of Redcar is only as good as the help it gets. We want to be good and for you to be a part of it.



07966985444 ask for Carl
07753374710 ask for Ang
friendsofredcar@gmail.com
pm us on facebook
Join our StreetClub www.streetclub.co.uk

Our next open community meeting is the 18th March at 6:30pm in Roseberry Library, Redcar. Come and listen and have a chat.

Please share across your own fb, twitter, blog etc., and if you think this may apply to someone you know please pass forward.

Thanks for reading.

Our beach, our town, our home - Redcar

Monday, 3 March 2014

Friends of Redcar Beach Action Group March 2014




The place was Redcar Beach, to the left of the Redcar Regent Cinema. Our challenge to build a big "Rubble Sandcastle" out of the building material we could find much of it left behind and buried during the Coastal Defences work last year by Birse Coastal (now Balfour Beatty Construction UK) 



Following our rally call we gathered a hardy bunch of volunteers. Thanks guys you were great as always. We're always so inspired by these local residents who give up their Sunday morning to help their community.


It was a cracking morning and we got straight down to it. Amongst the usual bricks and masonry we also found large boulders of slag from British Steel and high volumes of half buried building felt and material. Unfortunately this stuff we couldn't move.


While we were at it we had a peak around the other side of the cinema too and it was equally as bad. Lots of building material impossible to shift without lifting equipment.



We weren't just there to shift rubble. Through their hard work the volunteers collected around 15 bags of litter.


As the time kicked on our rubble castle grew


And grew


And grew - Not entirely sure what was going on here? Trying to smuggle rubble off the beach? :D






After just an hour and a half we had our "Rubble Sand Castle". Imagine what 50 or 100 volunteers could shift in that time? We can but dream. 

Why not join us next time. On Saturday 5th April we'll be at the Caravan Park end of Majuba working our way down to the bandstand.