Council chips in to help save Scarborough and Whitby jewels

Scarborough Spa and the South Cliff
Scarborough Spa and the South Cliff
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TWO of the crown jewels on Yorkshire’s coast appeared to be on firmer footing last night after North Yorkshire County Council stepped in with a £2m grant towards their preservation.

The crumbling cliffs above the Spa on Scarborough’s South Bay, and the decaying piers at Whitby are both said to need urgent repair work. Scarborough Council, which is responsible for both projects, has put a combined price tag of around £25m on the work.

Its leader, Coun Derek Bastiman said yesterday’s funding decision by the county authority would guarantee the work in Scarborough, which has also attracted £11m from the government’s Environment Agency.

Coun Bastiman said: “I am grateful for the county’s offer. The two authorities are working together much more closely now.

“This clearly demonstrates the importance of county and district councils working in partnership to protect the area’s infrastructure and environment for the benefit of local residents and businesses.”

Coun Carl Les, leader of North Yorkshire County Council, said the funds would come from its cash reserves, built up from what he called “cost savings and prudence”.

He said: “They asked for a contribution and we felt we could commit close to £2m.

“These are two of Yorkshire’s jewels. If the cliffs crumbled away above the Spa, you would lose the whole of the Spa complex.

“And if you lost Whitby piers, the port would be finished because the tide and the heavy waves would just come straight up into the town.”

But Coun Les warned that the engineering work to stabilise the cliffs, which could begin as soon as next month, was hard to budget accurately.

He said: “The money from us certainly helps to get the project over the line. But the difficulty is that we’re just not sure what murky things might happen when they start.

“We think what we have given is adequate for the scheme as it is envisaged, subject to their being no nasties.”

A report to Scarborough Council three years ago warned that 380 properties on the South Cliff were under threat from increasingly heavy seas and the risk of landslides, which had the potential to cause £100m of damage.

Homes, hotels and businesses are threatened by the North Sea tides all along the Yorkshire seaboard and the erosion of the fragile boulder South Cliff is the main focus of a project to help protect the coastline for the next 50 years, in an attempt to ward off any repeat of the Holbeck Hall Hotel collapse of 1993.

In Whitby, a 2015 report warned that the east and west piers, which help to give the town its distinctive character, could have a remaining lifespan of only 10 years, without remedial work.

The proposed repairs include putting in a floodgate and repairing the top surface of the piers to prevent water seeping in during rough seas.

A planning application for the pier repairs has been lodged. If approved, it would see the work start next spring.