Landslip fears

ACTION needs to be taken to prevent a potential landslip disaster on the East Side of Whitby, a town councillor claims.

Coun Tom Brown believes it is only a matter of time before the already subsiding land at Boulby Bank Top crashes down the bank.

He blames the land shift on a water build-up caused when Scarborough Council installed the car park in Abbey Fields in 1997.

He said the workers disturbed the drainage system put in place by Whitby Urban District Council in the '50s which allowed the historical water collection area to become soaked.

Town councillors agreed to write to the borough council and ask to see the plans for the car park.

Coun Brown said: "This is the ancient side of Whitby and there is movement in the land.

"Stones that have been in place for 900 years have been pushed forward only in the past few years and cracks have appeared in the paths and road.

"When it rains heavily we have water pouring down the fields like white water. We have got a disaster on our hands and something has to be done."

Coun Brown believes the problem could be exacerbated if the borough council goes ahead with plans to build a small car park for residents on the bank above the old seamen's hospital.

He has written to Scarborough Council about the issue but he claimed they chose to "stonewall" any enquiries or complaints.

He also sent a letter to the Government Office for Yorkshire and the Humber but a reply stated it was down to Scarborough Council, and if not them the Environment Agency to which he is now in correspondence.

Coun Brown, who lives at Boulby Bank Top, raised the matter at last week's town council meeting, which agreed to ask the borough to look into it.

Coun Brown said a geophysical survey is needed with respect to the Abbey Fields area.

Rev David Smith, the Rector of Whitby and a trustee of the Whitby Merchant Seamen's Hospital Home, played down the threat of a major landslide.

"When we had a slippage at the church it was down to water and I guess this is the same problem.

"But this is just Whitby, this is how the land is here.

"If the borough council are putting in the residents' car park above the home then we expect that it is surveyed and drainage is properly installed."

John Riby, Scarborough Council's head of engineering and procurement services, said: "I am not aware of any correspondence from Coun Brown but will certainly respond to any letter he sends and, if he prefers, would be happy to meet with him to go through the issues.

"The car park at Abbey Fields is positively drained and we don't believe at this stage that it is contributing to any problems. However we take on board Coun Brown's comments and will carry out an investigation as soon as possible."