Surge of protest at Scarborough Spa wall rock plan

The Spa Complex at ScarboroughThe Spa Complex at Scarborough
The Spa Complex at Scarborough
Moves to install rock armour around the cliffs beneath Scarborough Spa are facing a wave of protest from hundreds of residents who have branded it a “crime against tourism”.

Council bosses say the venue could become a casualty of a massive landslip without the boulders to protect it from battering by the sea.

But a growing army of objectors is criticising the £16.6m scheme as a massive waste of taxpayers’ money which will scar the listed building.

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Objectors are calling for a “make do and mend” approach involving improved maintenance of the existing sea wall.

Opposition to the scheme was underlined when a presentation at the Spa was packed by hundreds of protesters.

Mandy Harrow, 53, a lifelong resident and former Miss Scarborough, said: “There were so many people down there who have lived in the town all their lives.

“We are not talking about a rabble of people just interested in having a go. No-one is against the fact the cliffs need underpinning.

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“But everybody is against the rock armour around the Spa wall and they are being run over roughshod.

“It would look like a giant scab on the side of a Victorian landmark.”

Steve Crawford, of Surfers Against Sewage, is concerned about the safety of surfers, kayakers, and other water users.

He said: “At the moment, the South Bay is the safest place in the country to teach surfers because the waves are so gentle.

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“The sea defences will make the currents stronger and force people onto the rocks – where it would be very difficult to rescue them without a helicopter.

“We are really trying to promote surf tourism in the town and this will also reduce surfing time so people will spend less time on the beach.”

He argued that the scheme would change the tidal patterns so, while waves breaking over the seafront would be reduced in some areas, it would make things worse on other parts of the prom.

Acting chairman of Scarborough Civic Society Adrian Perry said: “I can’t find anyone who thinks it is a good idea. People at the meeting were very angry and irate.

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“The fundamental problem is the appearance of all this rock sat in front of a two-star listed building.

“It is a very delicate situation for the council. They have a duty to maintain the sea defences.

“They have come to the conclusion this is the cheapest long-term solution. The fact everyone hates it may or may not change their mind.

“The rock armour will obviously spoil the appearance of this beautiful building.

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“On the other hand, if it is not protected and does get damaged by the sea everyone will be wringing their hands because there won’t be the money to repair it.

“However, everybody in the Civic Society thinks there must be another way to protect the Spa.”

A spokesman for Scarborough Council said the authority would take objectors’ comments on board.

“While we fully understand people’s concerns and emotions about the proposed scheme, we cannot avoid the fact that there are some very big issues that we must tackle in the area surrounding the Spa,” he said.

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“Significant erosion of the toe of the cliff after failure of the sea wall would trigger a large-scale landslide, putting homes and businesses on the Esplanade at risk.”

He added: “Our aims with these proposals are to achieve long-term stability of the cliffs behind the Spa, reduce the wave over-topping to acceptable levels for pedestrians to address current safety issues, to prevent a collapse of the sea wall, to provide a coastal defence asset with a design life of 100 years and to continue to defend South Bay in a cost effective way.”