A NEW footbridge extending to Whitby’s famous West Pier could be built in preparation for the resort’s busy summer season after it was controversially sealed off amid health and safety concerns.
The chairman of Whitby Harbour Board, Coun Mike Cockerill, announced yesterday that a contractor had been selected and work on the replacement structure’s design had begun.
Despite an official contract not yet being signed, Coun Cockerill said a letter of intent had been offered to the new tender in a bid to slash through red tape and ensure building work starts as soon as possible.
“We want to move it along as quickly as possible, which is why I asked if there was a way forward without having to wait for a formal contract,” he said.
“By doing it this way, we have saved at least a month in the timescale. We realise how important it is to Whitby, as well as the harbour.”
Scarborough Council closed the footbridge, which links the West Pier and the West Pier extension, at the beginning of September over fears for public safety after an investigation revealed it had deteriorated beyond repair.
A £10,000 temporary walkway was installed over the existing footbridge last month after the decision caused a massive outcry among residents and visitors who demanded immediate action and questioned how long the council had known the bridge was in a state of disrepair.
The closure was the final straw for campaigners, who continue to wait for repairs to be completed on the cut-off East Pier extension after it was shut in 2001.
In October over 300 people gathered on Whitby’s West Pier to protest against the partial closure of the town’s iconic piers.
While Coun Cockerill said he couldn’t reveal the cost of the scheme, he claimed the contractor’s estimation for manufacturing and installation work was “significantly below” the council’s £182,000 budget.
He said: “We are well within our budget. At the moment there are indications that the footbridge will be in place for the summer season. However, it is difficult to say as we have to get listed structure permission to do the work and that can take up to eight weeks.
“But we are pushing ahead and doing everything we can to get it in place as soon as possible.”