WHITBY’S West Pier extension is set to close to allow the installation of a new permanent link bridge, but local anglers say they are outraged by the council’s timing.
The temporary link bridge was installed by Scarborough Borough Council at a cost of approximately £10,000 following public outcry after the old bridge was found to be unsafe and closed last September.
Construction on the new bridge is expected to begin on 11 June and the extension will be closed for six weeks, timed to avoid the half term school holidays and the start of the main tourist season.
However Whitby Angling Supplies owner Jackie Greaves said that the closure will once again ruin the town’s popular mackerel fishing season.
She added: “Their timing is unbelievable and will again totally ruin this important leisure sporting season which is a huge boost to the economy of the town and which supports many businesses and jobs.
“Whitby businesses don’t just have the recession to contend with, they also have SBC.”
Harbour Board chair Coun Mike Cockerill, said: “There will be some inconvenience to people while the new structure is installed and I can empathise with those anglers who will temporarily lose access to the pier extension.
“However, I firmly believe the overwhelming majority of people in Whitby and the many thousands of visitors who come to the town every year will be delighted to see this new bridge installed, on schedule and on budget.
“In terms of timescale, there has been no deviation on what we set out to achieve. We have had to work within prevailing legislative and consultative requirements. The pier is a listed structure so we have had to get consent from the Secretary of State and we have had to follow the tender process.
“Our aim is to get the bridge installed and opened to the public before the start of the main summer holidays and while there will be short term disruption, there will be long term benefits for Whitby and I hope the vast majority of people will understand that.”
The existing link bridge is thought to have been built in the late 1940s.
After the council was forced to close the bridge, councillors and officers stating categorically from the outset they wanted to see the structure replaced.
In the meantime, a temporary structure was quickly sourced and installed in December, with the money to pay for it coming out of Whitby Harbour Board reserves.
At the same time, the council began looking at permanent solutions.
The new bridge is being funded by Scarborough Borough Council out of the local authority’s Capital Development Reserve Fund.
Check out next week’s Gazette for more reaction or visit www.whitbygazette.co.uk for regular updates.