A REPAIR programme costing tens of thousands of pounds is due to be given the go-ahead to ensure a cliff lift in a popular Yorkshire seaside destination is operational for next year’s main tourism season.
The lift on Whitby’s West Cliff has been closed since the Spring Bank holiday in May after a safety inspection revealed corrosion on part of the shaft lining, prompting anger and a petition from beach hut users who called for a refund of half their annual £521 rent.
Members of Scarborough Borough Council will meet on Monday next week when they are expected to give the go-ahead for repairs costing an estimated £85,250 to be carried out over the coming months before the lift is expected to reopen next spring.
Options to close the lift altogether or for works to be carried out to decommission the facility at an estimated cost of £57,500 had also been considered, but council leader Tom Fox stressed that it is vital to the resort’s tourism industry and would be repaired.
Coun Fox said: “The lift on the West Cliff is important not just for the beach chalet users, but for many other people who come to the town especially if they have mobility issues.
“It has been used by many people over the years, and we recognise how important it is for the town’s tourism.”
After the initial safety concerns emerged a series of further inspections was carried out and engineers have said that all of the lift’s bolts – more than 3,000 in total – need replacing.
They also recommended that the replacement of the bolts is done slowly and methodically to ensure the lift shaft is not weakened while the works are carried out.
The proposed programme of repairs will be discussed at a full council meeting on Monday next week, when members are also due to approve plans to authorise the procurement process to begin to sign up contractors and enter into a contract to complete the works.
Councillors in the cabinet had approved the cost of the repairs in July, but the scheme needs to be rubber-stamped by the full council.
Whitby’s tourism industry is worth about £40m a year to the local economy, and provides an estimated 2,000 jobs – almost 30 per cent of the town’s overall workforce.
The coast, beach and harbour are the focal point of the port’s tourism, with around half of all visitors to Whitby heading to the beach.
The town’s West Cliff lift opened in 1931 and provides public access from the promenade at the top of the cliff to the beach below.