Public pressure the key to replacing pier bridge

PUBLIC pressure is being credited for action being taken by the council to replace Whitby’s stricken West Pier footbridge.

At a meeting scheduled for early next month, senior councillors are expected to give the go-ahead for £182,000 to be spent on reinstatement works on the bridge following a recommendation from the Whitby Harbour Board.

It will be funded by the council’s capital programme and in the meantime officers are also working on a more permanent solution to fixing the link between the West Pier and the extension.

They are preparing an application for Listed Building Consent for the structure and are also drawing up tender documents for a scheme to replace the existing bridge which was closed last month with immediate effect after an inspection deemed it dangerous.

The move sparked a public outcry and led to a dedicated Facebook page being set up, a protest on the pier and more than 2,700 signatures on petitions organised by the Whitby Gazette as well as almost 1,700 names being added to an online petition.

Phill Smith, who launched the Facebook site with daughter Kayleigh, said: “It is absolutely fantastic.

“It is a good start and I hope they are not just going to stop with the West Pier and get the East Pier running as well.

“When the East Pier bridge was removed 10 years ago we did not have the power of the internet.

“I think it is public pressure that has forced them into doing it.

“If it was not for the internet and getting word out to that amount of people it would have been exactly the same.”

He added that backing for the campaign to Protect Our Piers came from as far away as America, Australia and New Zealand.

It is thought tender documents will be issued to companies bidding to do the work in November and Coun Joe Plant is hopeful it might be completed by next summer.

He told the Whitby Gazette: “They have acted as fast as they can since they knew it was in a dangerous condition.

“They have gone out to tender but my view is we should give it to a local firm, there are two or three good firms in this area.

“I am pretty confident it will be open by summer.”

Scarborough Borough Council Head of Tourism and Culture, Brian Bennett, said there had been a positive response to the plans from the members of the public.