THE future of the whole of the east side of Whitby is under threat from landslips, fear residents and councillors.
It is now thought that movement has happened in Blackburn’s Yard over previous weeks while water continues to seep through the cliffs, bypassing the drains, above the historic Henrietta Street.
Whitby Town Council (WTC) held an extraordinary meeting on Tuesday following the landslips which have led to the demolition of five houses in Aelfleda Terrace, damage to properties below and has threatened the future of Fortune’s Kippers, one of the town’s oldest businesses.
Questions are now being asked about the long term management of the cliffs on the east side and how the councils and water and utilities agencies will deal with extreme weather well into the future.
One resident, who did not want to be named, believes a grass banking half way up Blackburn’s Yard has started to dip in two places and that steps leading to East Abbey Terrace are also on the move.
She told the Gazette: “Something is going on but I can’t quite decide what.
“There was never that dip in that banking, the flags on the path to one of the houses are wobbly.
“You go past things and don’t think about it but this makes you think.
“Some of the cracks are bigger than they were and something is on the move.”
Mayor of Whitby, Coun John Freeman said it was difficult for anybody to take responsibility for the cliffs but added that long term planning for climate changes needed to be put in place.
He said: “People are saying we have not seen rain like this before.
“What worked five years ago does not appear to be working now.
“Everybody has cutbacks and I can understand agencies not leaping forward but we are more than a little concerned about the fabric and structure of this town.
“You only need a situation where the wind comes in, the tide comes in and the water comes off the North York Moors and that will be a whole different ball game.”
Concerns were also raised about who will maintain the donkey field and its drainage systems now it has been classed as a village green and whether the new potash mine, set to be constructed just a few miles away
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will affect land stability.
Coun Mike Murphy said: “This a very naive question but should we be thinking about the consequences of blasting a mine not far away from where this is slipping - should that be put on hold?
“I just worry about it and want to put it in people’s minds.”
After the meeting Coun Mike Cockerill, portfolio holder with Scarborough Borough Council for harbours, assets, coast and flood protection said an emergency plan had been put into action but it couldn’t cater for every eventuality.
He added: “The monitoring by structural engineers carries on and they will be looking, when the houses are down, what work, if any needs to be done.
“The borough’s responsibility is to make the area safe, that is as far as we can go.”