COUNCILLORS in Hartlepool met yesterday to start a process which could see an agreement reached on sea-coaling.

For decades, residents have complained that sea-coalers cause more harm than good as they make their collections from the town's beaches. Others argue that sea-coaling helps to keep beaches clean and provides vital income for some families.

Hartlepool Borough Council's policy scrutiny forum looked at the issue in depth, in a bid to map out how an agreement could be reached.

They agreed a scrutiny exercise should include briefings from council officers on the issues and the council's responsibilities, site visits by councillors, representations from sea-coalers, the community's views and meetings with bodies such as English Nature and the Environment Agency