The main access to the Redcar Beacon has been closed with immediate effect after youths were spotted climbing over safety barriers at the top of the 80ft high structure.

Councillor Carl Quartermain had called for the attraction to be “locked up before someone is killed” in order that a full risk assessment could be carried out.

Images seen by the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS), some of which were taken over the weekend, showed grinning youngsters brazenly clambering over barriers and perching precariously on the outside of the structure.

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In one a hooded youth waves to the camera in acknowledgement.

The Northern Echo: Redcar Council leader Mary Lanigan Redcar Council leader Mary Lanigan

The LDRS has been told of other recent incidents, including missiles being thrown from the top of the beacon and smashing onto decking below, fires being set in toilets and criminal damage being done to the lifts.

A council spokesman said: “The Beacon is a well-known and well-used landmark in the town but, as always, safety must be the first priority and the main access to the building has been closed following reports of people taking part in highly dangerous activity. 

“A number of options to prevent people climbing over the barriers will now be considered and the upper floor of the Beacon will remain closed until a solution is found.”

The spokesman said a café and bar on the ground floor would continue to operate as usual and it was still possible to use the public toilet on the ground floor.

Cleveland Police confirmed that they were aware of a number of incidents of anti-social behaviour in the vicinity and a dispersal order affecting central Redcar had been sanctioned over the weekend. 

The Northern Echo:

A spokeswoman said: “A dispersal order was put in place on Sunday (3 July) which looks to disperse large groups from the area following a number of incidents reported over the weekend. 

“Neighbourhood officers will look to make further use of these powers and take appropriate action should there be further reports of antisocial behaviour or crime.”

Cllr Quartermain, who represents the Coatham ward on the council, said he’d had “numerous complaints” and had organised a meeting on the 14th of this month to discuss what action could be taken.

He also said the images taken had been passed onto police who had been called to the Beacon.

Cllr Quartermain said: “This is a security issue where life is in danger.

“If someone falls or someone gets injured, or is killed by missiles thrown from the top, it will not be because the authorities didn’t know what was going on.

“One slip and they’d be dead.”

The former Labour group leader said a “better solution” needed to be found to the problems that were occurring.

He said: “The council did have security on there all the time, but for whatever reason it was taken off.

“It seems ridiculous.

“They [youths] have been throwing projectiles from the top and narrowly missing people and one was so heavy it left a big hole in the decking below.

“It’s a good result that the building is being shut, but we now have to look at a solution.

“One of my ideas is that the upper floors are barriered off somewhere and you have to put a token in to get in which could be redeemable in local outlets.”

The Northern Echo:

What is the Redcar Beacon?

Previously known as the vertical pier before a name change that was put to the public vote, it opened to the public on March 28, 2013 and cost about £1.8m to build.

It was part-funded by the Labour-run council at the time, the former regional development agency One North East and the European Regional Development Fund.

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It has seven floors and 132 steps with four floors of business space and a ‘sky lounge’ for meetings and events, which also has a licence for marriage ceremonies.

The top floor is an open roof terrace and offers 360 degree views over Redcar and the seafront.

The Beacon has ‘eco’ features including an energy heat recovery system and solar reflective glazing and is included in an LED lights installation which runs the full length of the seafront to the nearby bandstand.

Before it opened the council employed structural engineers to carry out a survey after claims it was leaning to one side.

Former cabinet member for economic development, Mark Hannon said it would provide a “vast boost” for the borough’s tourism sector and create scores of jobs, and in its first six months opening it attracted about 100,000 visitors.

But it has also been ridiculed by critics, with some councillors referring to it as a “white elephant”.

One review from a member of the public on the Trip Advisor website describes the Beacon as an “abomination” and a “giant carbuncle”.

It was also previously shortlisted for a national ugly building prize – The Carbuncle Cup – organised by Building Design magazine.

After the council posted on Facebook news of the main access being closed, one wag said: “So we have a new cinema on the seafront that’s not open and a pier that nobody can use.”

 

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