Action to save Whitby’s rusty and crumbling piers moved a step forward this week as the borough council met with contractors to plan refurbishment, at an estimated cost of £8.6 million.
But the work will not begin for another year at least.
Cllr Mike Cockerill, the borough council cabinet member for harbours and flood protection, said he is “reasonably confident” that work can commence by the first quarter of 2018.
Cllr Cockerill said that the full extent of necessary works and firm costings of the repairs cannot be known “until investigations are completed.”
Speaking at Tuesday’s cabinet meeting, he said: “I am pleased to inform cabinet that Balfour Beatty are meeting with officers and myself later today to begin the first stage of this exciting and important project.”
The scope of the piers refurbishment scheme will involve strengthening and maintaining the existing structure, including removing damaged masonry blocks and replacing them with sandstone blocks.
The work will also require the cleaning and removal of all marine growth and the repointing of voids between stones.
Cllr Cockerill added that this plan “will reaffirm the council’s commitment to one of its key priorities, strengthening and maintaining Whitby’s piers”.
Cllr Cockerill told the Gazette that organising the funding for such a project is “very frustrating, as there are hoops we must jump through,” but he added, “we are talking about very large amounts of public money”.
He also said that the funding will come in large part from the Environment Agency, with other beneficiaries being contacted, such as utility companies and the county council.
He said that the shortfall on the exact amount of money needed cannot be known until the consultants come up with a firmer figure.
The next stages will involve a survey comparing historic photographs with images taken recently during exceptionally low tides, along with a review of laser scans of the piers.
This information will then be used to pinpoint areas where changes have occurred and action is required.
Balfour Beatty are now required to submit a programme of works within three weeks which will set out the next steps.
But the Fight4Whitby group remains unconvinced that the work will be completed on schedule.
Spokesman and committee member, John Freeman, said: “Have they got the money? That’s the reason that it hasn’t been started before. We will believe it when we see it.”
Referring to the fact that work will not start for more than another year, he added: “This should have been well and truly done by now.”