The man who pushed for ‘eyesore’ railings along the sea wall in front of Whitby’s iconic beach huts, has defended the decision saying the council could have faced a corporate manslaughter charge if someone fell over the edge and died.
This week some beach hut owners hit out at the temporary crowd control barriers which have been erected along the entire length of the sea wall by the borough council amid fears over safety, after the tide and weather reduced the level of sand on the beach increasing the height of the drop between the promenade and the beach to four metres.
The authority has now gone out to tender to seek a contractor to install permanent railings in the autumn.
Mike Nicholson from Whitby who has had a beach hut for six years said: “It was with utter dismay that we found ‘safety’ barriers had been erected along the sea wall.
“They are an eyesore and are already rusting. The once colourful and perfect view, along the sea wall, towards Sandsend from Whitby, has been destroyed all in the name of health and safety.
“The council says that it’s reacting to concerns from beach hut owners, but as far as I’m aware no-one was consulted. No-one wants them and no-one has had an accident there while we’ve been here.
“There hasn’t been any form of barrier there for at least 50 years. We have two children who’ve grown up without barriers and have never had an accident.
“It was sufficient to tell them not to cross the yellow line near the edge.”
Maggie Hall, whose family have had a beach hut for 65 years, added: “I know there are many things to worry about in this world but it breaks my heart to think that Scarborough Borough Council has robbed us of that pleasure.”
However, chalet user, Debbie Hall from Windsor Terrace for who has had a beach hut for seven years welcomed the railings.
“I think they are very good for safety. I don’t think it spoils the view. You can stand up and look at the view over the railings. I’m pleased they are there and a lot of my friends and family can come here knowing it’s a lot safer.”
In response coun David Chance, portfolio holder for Tourism and Culture, who was instrumental in getting the barriers erected said: “I pushed for it and I make no bones about it. It just happened that I was in a position to do something.
“They are crowd control barriers, we keep them for events and we had to get one or two more. For me the barriers are a no brainer - there’s a 16 foot drop and the council could face a corporate manslaughter case if a someone fell off the sea wall and died.
“People will have to get used to them until the railings go up.
“ The town council have been asking for it for years.
“It’s a safety issue.
“If a child had gone over there or someone’s dog we would be pilloried.”
Andy Skelton, Scarborough Borough Council’s director of service delivery said: “Chalet users have expressed mixed views about the temporary railings.
We have had a positive response from families with children who value the reassurance that the railings give them and clearly appreciate the steps we have taken to protect their children from the sheer drop a few metres from their chalet.
We have had some adverse comments, particularly from older chalet users, who feel the temporary railings have affected the view.
We hope that the appearance of the railings and their effect on the view will be improved when the permanent railings of the standard seaside design are installed in the autumn.”
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