PLEAS have been made to the Government to provide funding of £3.8m to help save two historic piers at Whitby amid warnings that the town’s future could be at risk from battering by the North Sea if they are not restored.
Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss is being urged to back the restoration of the East and West Piers by the town’s MP, Robert Goodwill, Minister for Transport, and leading member of Scarborough Borough and North Yorkshire County Councils for the leading tourist spot, Coun Joe Plant.
The landmark piers have been protecting Whitby harbour and the town’s maze of harbourside cottages and passageways since 1545, when they were built of timber.
They were rebuilt in 1632 using stone and today they are officially recognised as listed buildings by English Heritage.
Coun Plant, who is the Borough Deputy Mayor, said the piers had been given a life expectancy of 10 years in 2002.
“The situation is now critical,” he added.
“All the evidence has been collated and surveys done. The work must be done – we cannot put the future of Whitby at risk which is what would happen if the piers are not renovated.”
Coun Plant, who has been one of the leaders in the Scarborough Council initiative to carry out the work, said that while a total of £10m was due to be invested in the two piers, they had not be renovated since 1910.
“Two years ago it was found that the East Pier could collapse at any time,” he said.
The Environment Agency is supporting the work which involves matching £4.8m in grant funding.
The West Pier was completely rebuilt in 1814.
The inner harbour – pictured on chocolate box lids and calendars world wide – has three other piers, Tate Hill, famed for featuring in Bram Stoker’s classic horror story Dracula, Bridges Pier and the Fish Pier.
Coun Plant, who has been working alongside Mr Goodwill in trying to secure the funding, said while he insists work is going on behind the scenes to try and secure the funding, there needs to be public patience, despite the urgent need for the work.
“We have not left it as it is,” said the Borough Council representative. We have done a lot of work on funding and strategy, and people are working very hard to get something done behind the scenes, but it takes time.”
Last year £4.8m was gifted by the Environment Agency for the work, but budget cuts have shelved the work.
The borough council had set money aside that it was to hoping to generate through the sale of land on Dean Road in Scarborough to Tesco.
But when this deal collapsed due to public protest, Whitby lost this source of funding and the project has now stalled.
The work is on ice, despite the authority shelling out millions for Scarborough projects, including the Open Air Theatre and Scarborough Spa refurbishment.
Comment: Page 10.