Investigation into pipe blunder that saw raw sewage spill on popular Yorkshire beach

Redcar and Cleveland Council is yet to conclude an investigation into a blunder which saw one of its external contractors damage a main sewer pipe adjoining a popular seafront car park.

The incident in February, which caused raw sewage to spill onto a beach, forced the closure of the council owned and operated Cat Nab car park in Saltburn.

Northumbrian Water subsequently had to carry out lengthy and complex engineering work lasting for about six weeks with its engineers building a mini-treatment works from scratch, carrying out damming to redirect water flows from the nearby Skelton Beck and eventually installing a custom made new pipe and fittings.

Its wastewater director Richard Warneford later confirmed that “we intend to recover our expenses from the party liable”.

The incident caused raw sewage to spill onto a beach

The Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) has requested information from the council on the responsible party, the costs and who will pick up the bill.

Former cabinet member for highways and transport, Councillor Julie Craig said in March an investigation had begun with the LDRS being told in April that this was being conducted by Patrick Rice, the council’s director of adult services and communities.

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In a statement, Coun Craig’s successor Councillor Cliff Foggo said: “An investigation into the circumstances that led to the sewer pipe being broken is being finalised and until we have the completed report we are unable to comment any further with regards to who was involved and who is liable for the costs of the repairs.

Northumbrian Water subsequently had to carry out lengthy and complex engineering work

“We are still waiting for all bills to be received in relation to the incident and so can’t confirm the total cost at this stage.”

The contractor had been carrying out excavations associated with an extension of the car park, which was granted planning permission in January.

This work was delayed as a result, but it is due to be completed before the start of the summer holiday season next month.

Saltburn ward Councillor Philip Thomson said: “Sometimes investigations and inquiries do seem to take an inordinate amount of time.

“A lay person might think if all the parties got round a table and didn’t leave until all questions had been asked and answered we might be able to live in a more productive world, but that isn’t how life works I’m afraid.

“I cannot even guess when the outcome of this internal query will be concluded.

“At the end of the day there needs to be absolute clarity in terms of a report that will show that due diligence has been undertaken to identify what procedures should have been in place, were in place, and anything not addressed, method statement, risk assessment, etc, all that would be associated with any civil works.

“Hopefully we will see why we ended up where we did when the inquiry has concluded and all members would undoubtedly expect to be privy to the results of that.”