The South Gare, Redcar – Beautiful, loved and abused

THE TEESMOUTH AREA dogged by dog waste, Fly tipping and ASB

The South Gare – Fisherman Huts from 2018.

This morning I received another complaint about the South Gare area. This one to say dog walkers are again throwing their dog waste bags next to the bags I collected up ready to be picked up at the top of the access steps to the beach. They take great effort in scooping up the waste, putting it in a bag and then leaving it a steaming pile with a hundred other bags that stinks to high heaven, attracts flies and is at the location where parents encourage their children to take their shoes off, so no to get sand in their shoes. It beggars belief that these same dog owners are happily using this area to enjoy the sights (and smells) of this area, blissfully content with their surroundings and ignoring not only the illegal act but in the knowledge that no one is coming to collect, it other than other folks who conscientiously use the area. It is selfish beyond compare because they will know its wrong and the only real reason for not taking it home is because they are lazy, selfish and don’t want to dispose of their crap responsibly.

Dog waste mountain has been an issue since it became law to bag up dog waste. This area needs constant attention from volunteers. Img: Me about to clear this in 2018
And the aftermath. Note that 90% in the bags are dog waste bags. Note also the unsuspecting family coming to the beach with their toddler barefooted
This is James Gilbert in 2017 who uses this area to surf. He works with Surfers Against Sewage to keep this area clean. He has cleaned this area and all over the Gare many many times.
This one from earlier this year which PD Port staff cleaned up themselves with the hire of a skip too which kept the area clean for a couple of weeks
A couple of weeks after the PD Ports clean up the skip proves to be effective.
Latest dog waste bags collected up just last week 09/08/20

I run an environmental community group called Friends of Redcar (FRED) and we have organised a number of litter picks in this area. I also go down regularly and collect a bag or two. I have written on this subject numerous times and you can probably tell it is tiresome. And it isn’t just tiresome because of these awful people making the mess. It is tiresome because the issue is never addressed aside the perpetual cycle of voluntary clean up and no consequences felt by the perpetrators. Redcar residents and visitors who use the area are passionate about this quite rightly react to these posts on social media. Many blame the council (and the councillors) for the lack of bins, or that CCTV should be installed. Others will call to barrier it off at Warrenby over night, while others will be completely opposed to restricting access. The simple fact though are the public shouldn’t have to foot the bill and THIS IS NOT COUNCIL LAND. It is PRIVATE PROPERTY and the fact is if you haven’t got a reason for being there you are actually TRESPASSING. Speaking with the CEO of PD Ports though, this isn’t something they would chase after. They recognise that the public have accessed this point since it was created and the reasons they come. It is stunning – if it wasn’t for the fly tipping.

South Gare and Teesmouth and tyres from 2017
Fly tipping during the lockdown. There are a number of areas still waiting to be cleared up. No one is likely to do this work aside volunteers
Voluntary collecting up of fly tipped tyres from the South Gare by James Gilbert 2020
Tyres and containers retrieved by James Gilbert 2020

Talking of tiresome (see what I did?) there was a large amount of tyres fly tipped recently down a bank and documented on facebook. The majority of these were picked up a couple weeks ago by James Gilbert who lives outside of the area but travels to the Gare regularly for windsurfing. This was heavy, gruelling work on a hot day which took him 3 hours on his own. He is one of the most active users of the area amongst a number of others who regularly look after the area. If the volunteers didn’t bother cleaning this area up, I can assure you that the Gare would look horrific. These people work down here, they use the huts, they use the area leisurely, they fish, they surf and they litter pick. All this goes on week to week. I too go down with a picker and generally have a clean around. Volunteers have been picking up rubbish here for years. Our (Friends of Redcar’s) first major organised litter pick here attracted so many caring residents of Redcar and beyond, we managed to clear over 50 tonnes of rubbish and decades of detritus was removed. Subsequent picks have always been heavy. A lot of the fly tipping is too much for us to manage ourselves and these aren’t litter picks. This is land clearance which at best we can collect up reading to picked up by the council who don’t own the land but appreciate the environmental damage being done here.

Fly tipping from 2017
Fly tipping from 2017
One of Friends of Redcar litter picks from the past five years
Friends of Redcar litter Pick on the South Gare is tough work and we are joined by all ages
A great education for the children. Community, environment, waste and pride in your home
Hard work but rewarding. Litter picking is one thing, but this is land clearance and hard and sometimes dangerous work.
January 2020 saw a great crowd descend on the South Gare
January 2020 and the stream of rubbish continues
Containers dumped in 2020

Since our big clean ups, collectively we have tried to keep on top. The lockdown and closure of the tip did not help the Gare becoming a dumping ground for illegal fly tipping and disreputable waste removal operations. It also prevented groups like mine, Friends of Redcar being able to gather it up and get rid so we have a growing problem and one I am addressing on different levels. Through Friends of Redcar we are organising three events around the Gare area for September 6th, 13th and 20th. The first will trawl the roadsides, the second will be a general clean up around Paddy’s Hole and down to the lighthouse and the final one which will be on the 20th September will be along the beach from the “dog waste” steps all the way back to Majuba. This final event will be part of the Great British Beach Clean which we partake in every year along with RCBC, Marine Conservation Society and Surfers against Sewage. We will be contacting partners and working with other groups and businesses too and this year I’m looking forward to meeting and greeting members of the Walk n Talk group, who focus on men’s mental health and led by Gareth Howell who does so much to promote this. If you are interested in being involved please let me know here or go to the Friends of Redcar facebook page for details coming out THIS WEEK.

Surfers Against Sewage are an active group of volunteers who support efforts across the coastlines and seas throughout the country. They also successfully lobby government for changes in the law

The other way I am addressing this is through partnership agreement and engagement with PD Ports, The South Tees Development Corporation and Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council. The South Gare came into the Coatham Ward following the boundary change two years ago. At that time I requested this area along with other areas to be part of Coatham due to the access and connection to the ward. I had also been working towards bringing the concept for a visitor centre that supported interest in the environment, wildlife, marine life, Teesmouth work, and history. Kind of a Saltholme on the coast. This had enjoyed a number of meetings with stakeholders such as the South Gare Marine Club and included the landowners with some great work by River Tees Rediscovered being developed. This was driven by the CEO of Redcar & Cleveland, Amanda Skelton. Credit to her for listening to my previous concerns around the Gare and my drive to make some of this area ‘public’ land. The significance of making this area public? It means we manage it. Put in bins for example and empty them. All the users were involved in these meetings which were positive albeit tentative recognising this is new ground. Unfortunately this drive has halted since the departure of the council CEO and has not been picked back up.

So to conclude, for now, I have requested that the new Managing Director of Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council set up a meeting with myself and the heads of PD Ports and STDC and the harbour police to discuss; the historic and current issues; the options to do something to control all the ASB including fouling the area with dog waste and fly tipping and other problems not policed; and to determine if there is scope for a partnership agreement to manage the area better along with community. The main issue for RCBC is that it isn’t their land so they have no rights to prosecute or monitor. The private landowners do not want to encourage or discourage people onto the land. My drive is to have a clean, controlled and safe area that is beautiful, loved and protected so these actions do not have to be carried out so often and isn’t such heavy work for volunteers of all ages. Until then you’ll continue to see similar scenes to the ones in this post and our gratitude to the council teams who join us, as they will in September, because we all care about it.

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