Jul 09 2015

Roker Pier may close due to vandalism


SUNDERLAND City Council is considering options on whether to close Roker Pier during its latest round of restoration works because of repeated vandalism.

A longer-term option on whether to ban fishing could also be considered because of recurring problems.

Public access, subject to heavy seas, was restored in  November last year after a  £850,000  programme of repairs to the Grade II listed structure.

The pier’s lighthouse is currently being restored in the latest work.

Both the lighthouse and the works compound for contractors have suffered with fixtures and fittings vandalised, arson attempts and tools being stolen. Despite warnings, members of the public have also climbed works scaffolding and put themselves in danger.

The latest incident happened last week when the lighthouse was broken into and tools were stolen and damage was done to the site .

Northumbria Police received reports of anti-social behaviour in the area and are investigating a burglary where workmen’s tools were stolen, along with reports of damage caused within the work-site.

​Neighbourhood Inspector Tony Carty said:” Local officers are aware of the issues and have increased patrols in the area. Officers from the Neighbourhood police teams have also provided crime prevention advice on the site and made suggestions around how security could be improved.”

Councillor John Kelly, Portfolio Holder for Public Health, Wellness and Culture, said: “There appears to be a tiny minority of the public, some who claim to use the pier for sea fishing, who are determined to spoil this restoration project.

​”There have been more than a dozen incidents of theft, vandalism and trespass during the works along with threats and verbal abuse to the contractors.

” These problems are wasting both council tax payer’s money and the grant that came through the Heritage Lottery Fund causing serious delays to the restoration work.”

Cllr Kelly added: “The incidents have all been logged with the police and we are now considering whether or not the pier should be closed to the public until the works are complete and possibly even introducing a by-law to stop fishing altogether.

​” The pier is one of the city’s best-loved landmarks and is there for the enjoyment of everyone, so closing the pier for any amount of time will be a sad step we have been forced to take. It would also badly affect local businesses at a time of year when they rely on an increase in trade with more people visiting the pier and seafront.”

​Secretary of the Northern Federation of Sea Angling Clubs, Andy Rutherford said: “I’m sure that the vast majority of responsible anglers who use the pier will share the council’s concern and understandable anger at the actions of these mindless idiots who threaten to spoil things for the rest of us.

” I’d hope that we can all work together to prevent this kind of irresponsible and anti-social behaviour from happening again, so Roker Pier can remain open for everyone to enjoy while restoration work continues.”

Roker Pier and the lighthouse are Grade II listed and restoration work are being carried out by a a specialist contractor – William Anelay from North Yorkshire.

Spokesperson for the company, Sam Weller said: “One of our contractors is devastated because some of the tools he has had stolen are ones that he has been using for more than 30 years.

” I’m sure there are many other people out there, who take great pride in their work and skills, would be equally upset if the ‘tools of their trade’ were stolen.”


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