THE council and Whitby Harbour Board were aware of the state of the footbridge linking the west pier and the extension four months ago.
It has been revealed a visual inspection was carried out of the walkway back in May as part of the asset management plan for the Whitby Harbour Board.
But it was only a week last Monday that a further inspection was carried out and the decision taken to prohibit access to the extension – a move which has outraged locals and visitors alike.
Despite a series of questions being put to Scarborough Borough Council (SBC) by the Whitby Gazette it has only added to the confusion about who will take responsibility for fixing the problem.
Brian Bennett, head of tourism and culture for SBC, told the Whitby Gazette SBC was responsible for the maintenance of the footbridge but that it would be separate body, the Whitby Harbour Board, which will decide what course of action to take.
It also emerged English Heritage has also been asked to get involved with the replacement of the footbridge which is a listed structure so listed building consent will also have to be obtained.
Mr Bennett said: “In addition we will have to comply with our statutory procurement procedures.
“The bridge will be procured on a design and build basis but English Heritage will approve a preliminary design and the bridge manufacturer will be providing all the detailing and structural calculations.
“Once designed in detail the bridge would be manufactured off site and then delivered and installed.
“Correctly following these statutory procedures will take time, the full extent of which is not known at present while investigations are on-going.”
He added Whitby Harbour Board will consider a further report at its meeting on 3 October and in the meantime SBC is looking at a temporary solution so access to the West Pier extension can be re-opened to the public.
But Whitby Town Councillors were confused as to why English Heritage was involved.
Speaking at WTC’s harbour committee, Coun Ian Havelock said: “I am surprised English Heritage will have very much impact.
“They can advise but they can’t enforce.
“SBC can enforce action on a private owner and therefore enforce action on themselves but they don’t.”
Also speaking out was town councillor Sean Rixham-Smith who said the whole episode was “scandalous”.
He told the Gazette: “I am 46 and was eight when we went in with SBC.
“As council tax payers we have paid for a new sea wall at Scarborough, this that and the other and they have simply just let this neglect go on and on.
“You can’t tell me for a second they weren’t aware of this for months, it does not happen overnight.
“They have let hundreds of people walk over that this summer.
“As a town we should be up in arms about it.
“How long have they known about it and not bothered to inform any of us if it was in such a dangerous state of disrepair.
“This is scandalous.”