Napoli: time to learn lessons, not to make idle swipes

MADAM - I write in response to comments online at www.sidmouthher concerning the Napoli Inquiry.

MADAM - I write in response to comments online at www.sidmouthher concerning the Napoli Inquiry. Let's turn the clock back two years, to the beaching of the MSC Napoli off the coast of my home village Branscombe: the initial confusion on land as the vessel began to spill its cargo; the looters who descended and the clear disregard for people's personal possessions and property.

There were calls from local people for answers - why has this happened, could it have been avoided, how can we minimise chances of it happening again and what would we do differently next time?

By initiating a local public inquiry the county council sought to answer these questions and publicise the findings.

To the critics on your message board, I ask: do you care so little for local residents and businesses who felt they wanted to give evidence to this Inquiry? Do you care so little for our local environment that you believe nothing can be learned from this incident?

Devon County Council honoured its promise to hold an inquiry if, as in 2001 over the Foot and Mouth Disease epidemic central Government failed to do so. It was Professor Mercer then who led that inquiry on behalf of the county council, and I value the consistency in this Napoli Inquiry report of his objective chairmanship.

What we should all hope from this inquiry is that if an incident like the Napoli should happen again then responsibilities are clearly defined, and any muddle is avoided.

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This inquiry has been about learning lessons that are relevant to all coastal communities around the UK. Your correspondent, who called this process a complete and utter waste of time, is so wrong. Now is the time for the report's recommendations to be acted upon, not the time for idle snipes.

Thank you to all who took part in whatever capacity and to all those who can see the value of the findings and the recommendation that there should be a Supreme Commander on land as the counterpart to the one already identified for incidents at sea.


Devon County Council for Seaton Coastal