West Pier: “Carry on Regardless!”
North Yorks Enquirer Harbours correspondent ALLAN ROBERTS reports on an apparent disregard of reality on the part of Scarborough Borough Council (which will cease to exist on 31st March 2023). The Council seems to be in denial of the fact that a combination of the Local Government Reorganisation (LGR) – which will transfer all of the Council’s assets and liabilities to the new unitary authority, North Yorkshire Council – and the formal Objection raised with External Auditors MAZARS LLP, which is preventing the ‘signing off’ of SBC’s accounts for another years. The Council’s accounts have not been ratified for 8 years.
An extraordinary consultation meeting of the Scarborough Harbour Users’ Group and the West Pier Regeneration team took place on 30th January 2023, the Agenda for which was circulated less than 2 hours before the meeting.
I have spoken at length with one of the Users’ Group reps who took part in that meeting, heldover ZOOM. In the absence of any minutes/notes of the discussions, here is my brief summary of just one of the important issues discussed.
My informant tells me that it is the Council’s intention is to relocate the tenants of the existing warehouses on West Pier into a new block.
The scant design details released so far are little more than artist’s impressions of a ‘vision’; very basic outline drawings.
Admittedly, there is no doubt that the present buildings are far from perfect. Particularly, the problem of getting gear up into the warehousing is one that should be addressed in the design of the new-build.
The present warehousing provides just one narrow access to the quayside, through which any gear has to be manually hoisted by rope and block-and-tackle.
Fork-lifts are available. However the doors are too narrow for a standard-size pallet to be used:
On the opposite side of the warehousing is a narrow balcony that provides the only access to the entrances:
Again, there are no mechanical means of lifting gear up to the individual warehouses, except by manhandling each piece of gear individually, by carrying it up the steps, or by hauling it up on ropes, over the balcony railings.
The images show pots standing on fork-lift pallets, a standard procedure for fork-lift transportation, which would make the task a simple one, if only the access doors on the quayside were sufficiently wide – which they are not.
For comparison this is the Councils vision of the new block:
There is only one access route to the entrances of the first-floor warehouses, via a balcony overlooking the quayside.
I understand that Project Manager Gary Collinson told the meeting that the balcony is there to deter tenants from hauling gear up on ropes, as previously described, and indeed labelled that activity as “beyond bad practice”.
Instead, the plan is to install a 1-tonne lift large enough to accommodate a pallet, at the seaward end of the building.
However, as both of the Users’ Group reps pointed out, that is not the ideal solution, as the gear still has to be transported manually from the lift, and along the balcony to access individual warehouse entrances, when it could be delivered far more directly (and safely) into an individual warehouse by fork-lift.
It was suggested that a better, and less expensive, design would be to have doors large enough to accommodate a standard fork-lift pallet on both the harbourside and the entrances and balcony on the other side (facing the car-park).
I envisage the doors would be similar to these in the first-floor of the block that is soon to be demolished – if the sea does not demolish it first!
The meeting apparently ended, with no decision made on the design of the new block. However, the Project Manager told those present at the meeting, that the Council intends to carry out one final round of individual consultations with tenants within the next two weeks – and no more, as that would be at a cost to the Council.
Could the true reason for this indecent haste be that the Council is more interested in meeting deadlines than considering the views of the Users’ Group representatives?
Is there a risk that the design is choosing ‘form over function’, with more concern being given to producing a ‘pretty’ building – rather than a functional one?
My informant tells me that the most telling statement that came out of the discussions regarding the concerns of the Harbour-users on the West Pier Plan, including the impending legal Objections by a prominent local business man and boat owner, came from Project Manager, Gary Collinson, who told the meeting: