'The piers are not in imminent danger of collapse' - Councillor issues piers update

Cllr Mike Cockerill has issued a statement to the Gazette on Whitby's piers.
Cllr Mike Cockerill has issued a statement to the Gazette on Whitby's piers.

The borough council’s portfolio holder for harbours and flood protection has issued an update on the planned refurbishment of Whitby’s piers.

Cllr Mike Cockerill submitted the following statement to the Gazette: “The submission of the planning application for the work to the piers at Whitby is a significant and very welcome step forward.


It is worth mentioning some of the work that has been undertaken since the turn of the century. There has been much mention about the findings of the report published around the turn of the millennium.


That report raised doubts as to the ability of the piers to continue to withstand the ravages of mother nature in the long term.


The report suggested that major work would be necessary within 10 years.


Since that time there have been a number of further investigations and associated reports of varying intensity and complexity.


Providing the planning application and funding bids are successful, the current programme to which we are working shows a start of work in 2018.


l am aware of the high degree of concern in Whitby as to how long the piers will continue to protect the town, particularly harbourside dwellings and businesses as well as the harbour itself.
The latest investigative work is the most intensive and uses the most technologically advanced equipment.


So much so that, earlier this year, significant new information in relation to the original construction of the walls of the piers was brought to a meeting in the Town Hall.


The findings have shown that the original method of construction was far more robust than initially believed. The survey also showed that areas originally believed to be voids were areas of less dense infill and small gaps between walls of blocks forming the outside of the piers.


The seabed survey provided clear evidence that the priority work is required around some stretches of the toe of the structures.


This information has led to far more efficient use of the allocated funding to be planned, this forms part of the current planning application.


A major milestone was reached when the quotation for the project, based on the latest information, was received and is currently being independently validated.


Having this firm cost has allowed discussions with other potential contributors to be progressed.


Finally, it has been erroneously suggested that the whole piers are in imminent danger of collapse – the latest surveys categorically prove that this is not the case, plus the piers continue to withstand all that mother nature throws against them.


This does not mean that there is any complacency in our ongoing efforts to secure the remainder of the funding necessary to carry out this vital project.”

Campaigners have been highlighting the state of Whitby’s piers, calling for urgent action from the borough council.


In March, the Fight4Whitby group penned a letter to council leader Derek Bastiman, setting out a series of perceived issues, chiefly highlighting structural concerns, drawing on a report by Royal Haskoning, published in 2009.


At the time, committee member John Freeman told the Gazette: “There has been a catalogue of false promises. This is deadly serious for Whitby, yet the borough council can find money for other things.”