Truth or Spin? Last Friday’s Whitby Gazette included an article entitled ‘Piers tests ahead of repairs. Restoration set for next year.’ Scarborough Borough Councillor Cockerill portrayed the load testing on Whitby Piers as some sort of major step forward. In fact, these tests are a preliminary and precautionary measure that any responsible contractor would carry out before starting work, especially on piers riddled with voids and walls bedevilled with defects.
Furthermore, because SBC now has a restoration scheme and a quotation for the work, will not by themselves advance the restoration works. The fact remains that until SBC commit funding and/or secure grants from other sources, work will not begin next year, or indeed any other year. Ironically, if SBC had not chosen to ignore an Act of Parliament and to divert monies which were ring-fenced for the maintenance and development of Whitby Harbour, to other projects, then the necessary money would now be readily available.
If we move on to the Pier Extensions, we now know that SBC have not, despite giving undertakings, carried out a Dive Survey since 2008. Consequently, they have no idea of the current extent of the excessive corrosion, holing nor disintegration to the protective metal sheet piling. Nor how much existing voids have enlarged, nor what new voids have been created. Therefore they are unaware if any emergency works need to be carried out. That is unforgivable.
In 2009 the consultant Royal Haskoning, advised SBC that 11 specific ladders on the 2 Whitby Piers and their 2 Extensions were either extensively corroded, or missing rungs, or weakened by rotten timbers and loose fittings. The wire rope rails on the 2 Extensions were also significantly corroded. Urgent repairs were required to protect ‘the public, operational and maintenance staff from falls leading to severe injury, potentially fatal.’ Eight years later much of this vital work has still not been addressed, apart from some new wire ropes at the North end of the West Pier Extension.
Sadly, it is now some 15 years since the link between the East Pier and its Extension was ‘temporarily removed’ in 2002. Townsfolk often wonder if we will ever see it’s like again.
What the people of Whitby are looking for from SBC is not another meaningless Press Release. They already have files full of those. Rather than just another false dawn, Whitby is desperately praying for some serious financial commitment from SBC and some contractors’ boots on the ground.
Letter to the Whitby Gazette, from V McLaughlan, Egton.