Several questions are raised by the welcome news that Scarborough Borough Council (SBC) plans to repair Whitby’s crumbling piers. SBC has now applied to themselves for planning permission, including a ‘works compound’ on Endeavour Wharf:
- The already approved SBC Finance Strategy 2017-2027 scheduled the work for 2019/20. However, the planning applications advise that the work will start in December 2017. Then last week Councillor Cockerill (SBC Portfolio Holder for Harbours) talked about starting work in 2018. What’s going on?
- Without funding, dates are meaningless. Have SBC now committed or secured the additional £3.5m to carry out the Phase 1 repairs?
- Councillor Cockerill also announced that surveys carried out earlier in the year suggest that there are now fewer ‘voids’ than Royal Haskoning’s previous estimate of 12,000 cubic meters. The Compliance Assessment within the planning applications now quantifies the voids at 7,500 cubic meters, a volume equivalent to 77 double decker buses. The cost of filling such a void is circa £3m. Has such a cost been included in Balfour Beatty’s final quotation?
- How are materials for concreting and grouting going to be delivered to the East Pier? If they are to be taken along the designated route of the Swing Bridge / Church Street / Henrietta Street, then further questions arrive: What measures will be taken to comply with the 7.5 tonne weight limit on the Swing Bridge? How will pedestrians on this route be protected? How will access be maintained for authorised residents’ vehicles and shop deliveries? Will the cobbles be protected?
- Materials for the West Pier are to be delivered along Pier Road. How will the numerous pedestrians be protected and how will disruption to businesses be minimised?
- In 2009 Royal Haskoning condemned 4 defective ladders on the main piers, because falls could lead to ‘severe injury / potentially fatal’. Why are these ladders not being replaced as part of the Phase 1 works?
- Under current Health and Safety legislation, what justification can there be for not providing handrails on the East Pier?
- The seaward side of the East Pier is exposed to the very worst of the elements. Much of the stonework with open joints is to be pointed with specialist mortar. What is the anticipated life of such pointing?
- The current state of the Whitby Piers is the result of inadequate inspection and a total lack of maintenance. Would it not be prudent for SBC to instigate a disciplined, meaningful and scheduled inspection and maintenance regime, to avoid the piers falling into such disrepair in the future?
V McLaughlan, Egton, Whitby (Letter to The Editor, Whitby Gazette).