I refer to Sam Jones’ excellent article on the Whitby Piers in the Gazette of 23 February, which invited readers to express their views on the piers current situation.
The management of these historic piers has always required rigorous scheduled inspection and a strict ongoing maintenance regime.
Scarborough Borough Council (SBC), as the harbour authority, has failed miserably on both counts.
The eight metre long by 6m deep by 2m void under the landward end of the East Pier extension and the extremely corroded structural steel supporting the walkway between the West Pier and its extension, were overlooked until both structures were on the very cusp of collapse.
Silent witnesses to the lack of maintenance are everywhere: collapsing/damaged/misaligned stonework, disintegrating and missing scour protection, and even life threatening rusting safety cabling and damaged ladders that were condemned 10 years ago.
Despite having given specific undertakings SBC have not carried out a dive survey on the two pier extensions since 2008.
They are therefore unaware of the current state of the surviving scour protection and any real threat posed by consequential voiding in the mudstone. Without this information they cannot even determine if emergency intervention is required.
Without hard cash, the recent rash of self-awarded planning permissions take us nowhere.
The idea of SBC fighting valiantly for the last six years to secure funding is smoke and mirrors.
In 1905 Whitby’s council leaders managed to secure an Act Of Parliament which ensured that monies generated on Whitby harbour land, would be used exclusively on the maintenance and development of the harbour.
However, SBC chose to ignore this fine piece of Edwardian housekeeping and reallocated most of the monies to other projects. These missing monies would have paid for the refurbishment of the four piers many times over.
A report prepared for an SBC meeting records that if the current applications for funding fail, then one of the options open to them is an approach to other beneficiaries eg Whitby Town Council. That is what genuine desperation looks like.
SBC is simply not fit or equipped to act as the Whitby Harbour Authority and Whitby is the victim of all this so in my view, the matter has been managed very badly.