Town councillor’s plea for lighthouses

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A BID is being made to save Whitby’s lighthouses and the Town Council is going to be asked to step in.

Whitby Town Councillor Ian Havelock will raise the issue at the next full council meeting on Tuesday evening.

He hopes the town council will be able to highlight the plight of the light houses and ultimately would like to see them both, which are owned by Scarborough Borough Council (SBC), brought back into public use.

He said: “I am raising it for publicity purposes. The town council could make the public aware of it and shame the responsible body into at the very least a site meeting.”

Coun Havelock says he has already approached English Heritage and SBC about a local group or organisation taking over the maintenance and running of them.

He said: “I have been in touch with English Heritage, they are saying it is grade two listed so they will not commit too many resources to either a survey of its condition or what I suggested.

“SBC have officers over here on a regular basis, they don’t have to make that extra journey and we could meet on site and have a discussion about what should and could be done. They are steadfastly refusing to do anything.

“SBC have done no maintenance in reality since 1974. I don’t know what happened before then but it is in a very poor state of repair. It puts health and safety very much in doubt.

“The lighthouse is part of the landscape and should be looked after but I have been banging my head against a brick wall for many many months.

“There are provisions for local groups to take over responsibility for any of the important buildings. If it is superficial I would hope it could be relatively straightforward and easy to put right. It would be nice to see them brought back into public use.”

John Riby, head of technical services for SBC, said the authority was aware of people’s concerns and while the East Pier lighthouse wasn’t in perfect condition it was inspected and is structurally sound.

He added: “There are no plans at the moment to carry out full restoration work either inside or out, but any essential maintenance is carried out as and when necessary so the lighthouse’s status as a listed structure is duly recognised. We will continue to work with English Heritage as necessary on such issues.

“We were approached last year by someone who wished to explore with us the possible takeover of the lighthouse, but no firm proposals have since been brought forward. “The council, in principle, has no objections if a community group was interested in taking it over, despite the fact that by its very nature the lighthouse would have limited uses.