Fury at Whitby’s ‘Mumbai’

The pile of rubbish at Wharton Skip Hire in Whitby
The pile of rubbish at Wharton Skip Hire in Whitby

PEOPLE have reacted with anger as a mounting pile of rubbish has built up at a Whitby skip hire business.

The waste disposal site on California Road has been leased by family-run business Wharton’s Skip Hire for the past three years.

In January, the Whitby Gazette reported how fears were raised about the waste and possible pollution at nearby Calla Beck - a site of scientific interest as it is the only salt water marsh along the east coast for 100 miles.

The firm said it submitted a retrospective licence application at a cost of £6,000 last year to the Environment Agency so it could use a machine called a Trommel to sift through the waste.

However, owner James Wharton said it has still not been granted which is why they have allowed the waste to pile up so high.

At a meeting of Whitby Town Council on Tuesday, councillors agreed to write urgently to the Environment Agency to oppose the firm’s licence application and Natural England.

The council agreed if it was granted, which they fear could add to more problems, the council will seek legal advice on the matter.

Deputy mayor Heather Coughlan compared the site to a third world city in India.

“I think we should change its name from California to Mumbai,” she said.

Coun Dennis Collins said: The problem is it’s a danger. I propose we get in touch with the Health and Safety Executive and have it stopped and secure that site.

“There’s going to be an accident.”

Coun Phil Trumper added: “It’s a disgrace this situation has been allowed to happen in the first place.

“There seems to be complete inaction from the authorities regarding this.”

Whitby Mayor John Freeman branded the site a “nightmare.”

Brigitta Ward-Fox who has lived at Spital Bridge and can see the pile of rubbish from her window told the Whitby Gazette after the meeting: “It’s an absolute disgrace.

“I think the Environment Agency should be doing more.

“In Whitby, you can see it from the main road and from the car park in the marina because it’s so high now.

“Nobody should be allowed to have something like this within 200 metres from where you live.

“I’m also worried about the pollution, you can see it in the beck. Things are falling off the pile and going into the beck and there are plastic bags getting stuck in the trees.”

An Environment Agency spokesman issued the same statement it released back in January.

He said: “We are working with the site operator to solve the problems and make improvements, whilst investigating all possible options.”

James Wharton, who owns Wharton Skip Hire, which has been trading for the past five years, said the situation was regrettable and but his hands were “tied.”

“I feel embarrassed about it and I can appreciate people are upset about it,” he said.

“We realised we needed the permission but we didn’t realise how long it would take.

“I am apologetic to the people of Whitby.

“The initial licence we had was to sort waste and the retrospective license we have applied for allows us to treat waste. It’s stupid because we are not treating it, we are putting it through the machine.

“We have two lads from Whitby that work for us part-time. We should be employing more and we can’t.”

Mr Wharton said there was no hazardous waste on the site as it is domestic waste and they are not polluting Calla Beck.

He added they will be using another machine, which they are allowed to use, with the aim of reducing the height of the mound and in the coming week improvements will be visible.