Agreement drafted over swing bridge

A NEW agreement over who is responsible for the maintenance and running of Whitby’s swing bridge is being drafted.

Scarborough Borough Council (SBC) and North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) have been in talks about a proposal which would see SBC take responsibility for the day to day running of the swing bridge and NYCC carry the repair and maintenance costs.

Under the plans SBC will cover the salary costs of the swing bridge operatives which is £74,650 and electricity and phone bills, which is £660 while NYCC will be responsible for repairs and maintenance.

Proposals mean for the 2011/12 financial year costs to SBC will be around £80,000 including a £5000 contribution to long term maintenance costs - £28,000 over the current budget.

For the 2010/11 financial year SBC incurred maintenance costs for the bridge that were £25,000 over budget and it is hoped this new arrangement would make clear the responsibilities for SBC and NYCC.

A council report presented to a meeting of Whitby Harbour Board on Tuesday says while there is an increase in the commitment to revenue expenditure NYCC would foot the bill, instead of SBC, if there were any unforseen repair works needed.

The report adds: “A benefit of this arrangement is that responsibility for long and short term repair and maintenance resides with one public body, in place of the present split responsibilities.

“The day to day management of opening the bridge is more important to the borough council’s longer term aspirations for the development of the port.

“These costs and the potential benefits are more manageable for the borough council. The repair and maintenance costs are less certain and are potentially a drain on the budget.

“The costs vary from year to year and there is potential for a significant increase in costs in any year, as was experienced in 2010/11.”

The previous agreement between the two authorities for management of the swing bridge had been entered on 30 December, 1983 but it expired in 2008 and the bridge is now over 100 years old and maintenance costs have steadily grown.