Seaton 'neglected' after Napoli drama

PUBLISHED: 12:29 11 November 2008 | UPDATED: 22:35 15 June 2010

CONFUSION and commun-ication were at the forefront of the problems which caused thousands of people to ransack Branscombe beach after the MSC Napoli was beached, an official inquiry heard last week.

CONFUSION and commun-ication were at the forefront of the problems which caused thousands of people to ransack Branscombe beach after the MSC Napoli was beached, an official inquiry heard last week.Professor Ian Mercer, who chaired the inquiry into the disaster, said that he believed a lack of communication was the vital link in the chain which had caused such uncertainty following the deliberate beaching of the 62,000 ton container ship.The public hearing, set up by Devon County Council, heard from over 30 representatives, including Councillor Margaret Rogers and Sandra Semple, chairman of Seaton Town Council.Councillor Margaret Rogers said that indecisive control was a major issue in the initial stage after the ship was beached.She said: "I did deeply wish someone would take charge, even if they were ruffling feathers as the feeling of the community would be someone would have a grip on the matter."She added that although the police taped off the beach there was no one there to implement the barrier so people "disregarded" it.Professor Mercer said that Monday was the "crisis day" as people from all over the country descended on Branscombe beach to take what they could.He said there was confusion between local authorities and agencies, particularly the police, as to who should deal with the situation and, as a result, there was no clear chain of command.The inquiry panel was also concerned with the lack of communication between parish councils and other local authorities.Sandra Semple, a representative of the residents of Seaton who were affected by the grounding of the Napoli, said she felt there had been a "neglect of information". She said: "It would have been helpful to know what we were getting was clear information."Mrs Semple told the panel that when debris from the ship came ashore on Seaton beach the town council did not know who to report it to and other local authorities "overlooked" the town.Professor Mercer made clear that in his recommendations he will propose an effective chain of communication between grass-roots council and further afield agencies to avert the confusion which occurred during the Napoli episode.


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