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'Death trap' warning as old shipyard hit by fires.

Byline: JAMES HARRISON Local Democracy Reporter

FIREFIGHTERS are pushing for a "death trap" former shipyard to be redeveloped or even demolished in a bid to stop blazes at the site.

Hawthorn Leslie, in Hebburn, has been left derelict following its closure in the 1980s.

And since then the former maritime works has become a magnet for arson and other anti-social behaviour.

"We've had issues at Hawthorn Leslie, the old shipyard," said Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) station manager Andrew Blower.

"We're currently discussing with the local authority because several planning permissions have been put in over the years to get it redeveloped. We're seeing if we can get something done with those old buildings, or even get them demolished."

Mr Blower was speaking at this week's Hebburn Community Area Forum meeting as part of a regular update from the fire service to councillors and residents.

Since the beginning of 2017, there have been at least 15 fires at the former shipyard, which was branded a death trap in 2009, following a warning over the dangers of youngsters breaking in.

Previous plans to demolish the works were held up the site's listed status, which was removed in 2014, paving the way for redevelopment.

Lancashire-based property development firm MMC Development Limited, which owned the building, previously claimed a planning application was being worked on, but in 2017 the company called in administrators. A spokesman for South Tyneside Council said: "We are aware that there have been instances of young people entering this site and will contact the owner of the land to ensure that the site is appropriately secured."

"Trespassing, deliberate fires and anti-social behaviour has been an ongoing issue at this site for several years," said Richie Rickaby head of fire safety at TWFRS, who said firefighters were working with police to "show a more visible presence".

He added: "Parents can't always know where there children are, but they can talk to them about the risks - risks that could leave them scarred for life or end up with a criminal record.

"Deliberately starting fires can quickly turn into something very serious.

"If we are attending deliberate fires, we are unavailable to attend other fires or emergencies."


Firefighters at the scene of the fire at the old Hawthorn Leslie works in Hebburn. Right, the former yard yesterday

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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jun 8, 2019
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