THE MAYOR of Whitby has slammed council workers for putting the iconic gold fish weather vane back on the old town hall the wrong way round.
Coun John Freeman has labelled the blunder “embarrassing” and said residents made repeated attempts to point out the mistake.
But the famous vane, which has been replaced this week as part of extensive refurbishment work on the historic Grade II listed building, remains 90 degrees out.
“We have either got to change the weather vane or move the town around,” said Coun Freeman.
“The annoying thing is coastguard Rob Parkin pointed out to the guys putting it into place using his Geo Navigational tool that they were wrong and they ignored him.
“I don’t know how costly it will be to fix it or why the council has left it like that but it’s embarrassing to say the least.”
The rotting weather vane has been completely restored after it stopped spinning and it now boasts striking new gold leafing.
Coun Freeman said: “If you are going to spend several thousand pounds refurbishing something, it’s got to be right. It’s an absolute classical piece of navigation that our harbour mouth faces due north.”
However Scarborough Borough Council insists it has been deliberately put back facing the wrong way to provide easy access to the clock tower.
A council spokesman said: “The weather vane is currently out of position while work is ongoing inside the clock tower. But once the mechanism has been collaborated and work is nearing completion, it will be reinstated to its correct position.”
The refurbishment of the old town hall in Whitby’s Market Place began just after Easter and work was predicted to last around three weeks.
But months down the line, Coun Freeman, who owns an art gallery overlooking the town hall, is still waiting for the scaffolding to come down.
He said: “It has been terrible. It’s one of the most photographed examples of Whitby architecture and it has just been enclosed in scaffolding.
“There has been a very sporadic working pattern and a lack of work force and I think there was more damage and repair required once they started looking at it properly. It’s another example of poor maintenance actually ending up costing an awful lot more.”
The complete clock mechanism has been removed from the tower and taken away to Smiths of Derby to be fully cleaned and overhauled.
It is understood that the mechanism was severely damaged by pigeon droppings due to the birds nesting in the clock tower over a number of years.
The tower will be cleaned of the pigeon guano and netted internally to prevent further infestation. The clock mechanism will then be replaced.
The borough council spokesman said significantly more work needed to be done than first envisaged.
“We are treating the building with the respect it deserves. There is a timescale on this from the mid to end of July,” he said.