David Heggarty, Head of Regeneration at Flintshire County Council has had some pretty tough questions asked of him today about the possible regeneration of The Duke of Lancaster, beached at Llanerch-y-Mor since 1979, by a group currently looking to regenerate the site as a viable tourist attraction.
DuDug, whose proposals are to turn the ship and dock into the largest open air art gallery in the UK has learnt that one of the key fundamental issues raised by the council affecting the regeneration of the site, would appear not to be an issue at all in reality.
For many years it has been on public record that Flintshire County Council claim Railway Bridge No. 67A which affords access to Llanerch-y-Mor Dock has a 10 tonne weight limit and is not strong enough to enable access for the full range of emergency vehicles which is considered to be an essential requirement.
For many, many years variations on this statement have been used by one official or another as the key issue behind the inability to use the site for tourism.
However, The DuDug Project has been made aware of major repair works to the sea defences taking place along a section of the River Dee between Mostyn Dock and The Duke of Lancaster.
Over the course of the last few days extremely large machinery and equipment has been delivered to the Llanerch-y-Mor dock, the current home of The Duke of Lancaster, in order to facilitate this work. This has included a 26 tonne diesel tanker, a 13 tonne JCB and a 20 tonne low loader delivering a make shift canteen and toilet block.
All of the equipment has been captured on camera being delivered to site using the Bridge 67A via the cob road aka coastal path/sea defence road although the council claim the bridge and road is incapable of carrying a 12 tonne fire engine.
It is expected that the plant and machinery will be followed later this week with materials to facilitate this work, and due to the timing of the tides the work could take place during early morning or late into the evening.
DuDuG Project Director Maurice Blunt said of this recent development “We are absolutely stunned. We have repeatedly asked David Heggarty to explain why the 10 tonne bridge is continually put up as an issue thwarting the regeneration of both The Duke of Lancaster and Llanerch-y-Mor Dock as it also serves the nearby sewerage works.
“When challenged he has been either unable or unwilling to justify the 10 tonne claims and for some reason it would appear he has obviously not investigated the claim to any great degree. In fact he has now taken to ignoring our group completely and hasn’t even had the decency to respond the last twice to our correspondence”
The owners of the ship are remaining tight lipped over the repair work but it is obvious they have given permission to use their site as a make shift yard and compound to assist with the storage of plant, equipment, materials and even a staff canteen. This activity highlights the issue regarding the weak bridge and it having to be restricted to 10 tonnes is clearly a fallacy.
The owners of the ship have had a series of well documented legal battles with the council in relation to their operation of the ship and site since they first docked The Duke there in 1979 and it would appear that there is still great resistance from the council to support any venture involving The Duke of Lancaster.