Fifth Response to Freedom of Information Request re ‘potentially fatal’ defects – Sept 2017

The fifth FOI Response to the 16 original questions asked in the Open Letter. Scarborough Borough Council didn’t answer them but you can read it online. SBC’s Response to Fight4Whitby makes interesting reading:

FOIA 5192
F4W Request: The Royal Haskoning 2009 Report on Whitby Harbour lists defects to ladders and wire rope railings on both the Piers and on their Extensions (Page 64, items L1, L2 and L3) and warned that ‘Public, operational and maintenance staff will fall from ladders leading to severe injury, potentially fatal’. Please provide details of when and how each and every one of these ‘potentially fatal’ defects (above) was rectified.

SBC Response: I can inform you that the wire ropes were replaced in 2009 immediately following the report. However please note no recorded information is held for this work due to a change in the Council’s financial records system in 2010. The Council has searched the recorded information it does hold and has identified the following works which have been carried out:
Date                   Work undertaken
29/10/2010     Provide new safety ladders
25/11/2010      Supply and fit new galvanised safety ladder with extra section to West Pier
26/5/2015       Repairs to ladder rungs

My reaction:
OK then, so there is absolutely nothing to worry about? Well, if you think that, then please take a walk along the West Pier and on to the very end of the West Pier Extension – as I did just last week. Weather permitting, of course, because if you fall in you may have some trouble getting out again. I took a pair of good binoculars for a closer view of the East Pier and its extension:

‘Wire ropes replaced’ – you will see that all the wire rope railings are on the lower decks of both Pier Extensions. The ‘replaced’ ones are only on the very last 20 paces of the West Pier Extension. The remaining 75% of the West Pier Extension, and 100% of the East Pier Extension have absolutely no sign of recently replaced wire ropes at all. In fact, there are dozens and dozens of dangling ends of very elderly wire ropes, completely rusted through, parted and hanging over the sides of both Extensions. Some spans between the pairs of wooden legs have one very rusted wire rope on both sides of the Extensions, some only on one side and quite a few with no sign of any wire rope at all.

‘Provide new safety ladders’ – I wonder how many? All of them? Some of them? On your stroll along the West Pier you will see several newish wooden ladders but the lower rungs are so festooned with long brown seaweed that anyone in the water might struggle to cling on, never mind climb the ladder to safety.

‘Fit new galvanised safety ladder’ to West Pier – yes, it is there, thanks. On the outward side, near the very far end of the West Pier, and it looks very substantial and reassuring. Just the one, then?

‘Repairs made to ladder rungs’ – How many rungs had to be replaced on how many ladders, exactly? Were these repairs made to the wooden ladders (3 of them on the inward side of the East Pier)? Or to the original metal ladders (5 of these on the inward side of each Extension, a total of 10 )? These old metal ladders look like original ones and are very, very rusty. So rusty, in fact that at least 2 of them have several missing rungs each. Completely rusted through, missing and making it very difficult to climb to safety. There are also 2 original ladder alcoves in the East Pier stonework, with absolutely no sign of any metal ladder remaining at all.

Still reassured by SBC’s answer? How about the fact that ‘due to a change in the Council’s financial records system in 2010’ there are NO RECORDS HELD FOR THIS WORK ?!? Our Strategic Harbour Authority is Scarborough Borough Council and they changed their financial records system in 2010 to a system where ‘no recorded information is held for this work’. Call that an improvement, or a better system than before??

And what about the safety of the ‘operational and maintenance staff’ who have to make regular inspections of the both Piers and their Extensions, and even work on them? Or perhaps they don’t??

This is just the fifth of the 16 questions SBC hasn’t answered. These were sent in an Open Letter from Fight4Whitby to The Leader of SBC in April 2017. They failed to answer any of the questions. Several months, and Reminders, later the Open Letter was published in a News Release. You can read it at the top of the Latest News section of http://www.fight4whitby.com and still SBC has provided no answers. So now Fight4Whitby is asking via the Freedom of Information Act. Isn’t this more like getting blood out of a stone, than open and transparent local government?

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