Whitby is its harbour. Surrounded by the jumble of cottages clinging to the cliffs on either side, the harbour is the heart of the town and the reason for its existence. Whitby Urban District Council (WUDC) recognised that the economy of the town was dependent on maintenance and continued investment into the harbour. By means of an Act of Parliament, WUDC purchased the harbour in 1905 to safeguard its future.
The 1905 Act requires that all income from the harbour (including adjoining land forming part of the harbour) must be ring-fenced for harbour use. If harbour funds are insufficient to meet annual maintenance and running costs, the shortfall must be met from the general funds and rates of the council. But any surplus made by the harbour cannot be transferred to general council funds. It must be reserved in a renewal fund to meet costs such as major repairs to the piers or harbour walls. Such repairs may only be needed once in every twenty years or longer, but involve a huge investment each time.
The Fight4Whitby group was formed to raise funds to pay for expert legal advice on whether the 1905 Act was still applicable to SBC. If so, then all of the harbour income over recent years should have been reserved for harbour use – which it has not been. The general state of disrepair of the harbour is raising safety concerns and adversely affecting harbour-related businesses. In particular, major structural repairs are overdue to the piers but SBC has repeatedly delayed the works for more than ten years, pleading insufficient funds. This is despite millions of pounds of income from the car parks on harbour land having been taken into SBC’s general funds over recent years.
Lots more information on www.Fight4Whitby.com