Monday 20th August 2018,
North Yorks Enquirer

“High Risk – Low Safety Standards”

Guest Author ALLAN ROBERTS reports on another SBC organisational fiasco, this time down on Scarborough’s West Pier.

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The recent article published by NYE and written by Ali Wilkins entitled “Talk to the Wall” and dated 31st May 2018 – (note that date) – which contained details and images of the apparent disregard for public safety on West Pier Scarborough, prompted me to ask SBC for a copy of the Risk Assessment ( RA) and Traffic Management Plan (TMP) for the West Pier.

In view of the safety concerns involved on West Pier, on 10th July 201, I wrote directly to the SBC Health and Safety Officer, Robert Webster asking for the following information,

Mr Webster. 

There have been concerns raised regarding the apparent risk to the public using the West Pier car park, and I have attached several images for your convenience. As this is a safety issue may I ask that you respond to the FOIA request, below, as a matter of urgency. I would also appreciate any comments from yourself on this issue.

Please provide copies of all risk assessment’s carried out for West Pier car park between the dates of 1st Jan 2011 until the present time. Please provide copies of all traffic management plans formulated for West Pier car park between the dates of 1st Jan 2011 and the present date. 

Please accept this request as made under the FOIA Act 2000. 

Please provide me with a FOIA number.

Regards

Allan Roberts

 I received an immediate standard computer generated acknowledgement and FOIA number.

Thn on 18th July I received this response from Mr Webster, 

Response

We do not have any historical risk assessments or traffic management plans as they are destroyed when out of date. We have a current traffic management plan and risk assessment but these are under review at the moment.

I considered that Mr Webster had not answered my FOI correctly, my view being:

  1. That any ‘current’ Traffic Management Plan is applicable until it is rescinded, and replaced by an updated assessment and plan.
  2. That any Traffic Management Plan is useless unless it is published for the public to read digest and act upon.

I immediately contacted Mr Webster asking for the current RA and TMP, and provide him with further images of West Pier activities.

I received no response from Mr Webster, which I happened to mention to Cllr Vesey who, to his credit, told me by email on 23rd July 2018 that,

“The harbour office is putting a response together for your foi request so I will be copied into it regarding the traffic management and safety on the west pier.

Puzzled as to why the Harbour Office would want to respond to a FOIA made directly to the SBC Health & Safety Officer, I made this immediate reply.

Cllr Vesey,

Thank you for your help.

Robert Webster, the SBC Health and Safety Officer, has confirmed that there is already in existence, a traffic Management Plan, and Risk assessment for the West Pier car park.

However, and despite the attached FOIA request from myself, you will see that Mr Webster declines to provide a copy of those documents.

My view is:

  1. That any ‘current’ Traffic Management Plan is applicable until it is rescinded, and replaced, by an updated assessment and plan.
  2. That any Traffic Management Plan is useless unless it is published for the public to read digest and act upon.

 I have contacted Mr Webster again, asking for a copy of the current RA and TMP as at the time of my initial FOIA, ie 10th July 2018, however Mr Webster has thus far chosen not to respond to that request.

As the main holiday season begins it seems there is no sense of urgency to address what is clearly, in my view, a serious safety problem on West Pier.

I attach for your convenience a coupe of images of holiday makers who are probably not aware of the dangers surrounding them.

May I say how disappointed I am at the apparent disregard to public safety on the West Pier, and by the single response of the SBC Health and Safety Officer.

I understand that I cannot approach the Information Commissioners Office, until I have exhausted the complaints procedure provided by Scarborough Borough Council, which will be long drawn out process I am sure.

As this is a safety matter I would appreciate your help in dealing with this issue as a matter of urgency.

Regards

Allan Roberts

Toddlers wandering unaccompanied between commercial vehicles

 

Pedestrians passing through industrial areas

 

Fork-lifts manoeuvre in areas accessible to parking and pedestrian traffic

 

The next day, 25th July 2018, Cllr Vesey made this reply,

Thank you Allan for raising this concern. I have emailed the chief executive Mr Dillon and the leader of the council requesting urgent action, ie temporary fencing to be installed.

I will let you know of any reply.

On that same day, in what seems to have been a damage limitation plan, Mr Webster informed Cllr Vesey that work was due to begin on 1st August 2018 to re-mark the West Pier car park, and provided him with a plan, which Cllr Vesey has kindly shared with me.

This is the plan, dated 8 June 2018.

I replied to Cllr Vesey, copying Mr Webster into that reply, on 26 July 2018 at 3.57pm:

Cllr Vesey,

Thank you again for your help. 

After looking at the revised parking proposals, my view is that the proposed changes do little to alleviate the problems on West Pier.

My view is that if the public are to continue to be encouraged to park amongst the trucks, vans and HGV vehicles that use the industrial part of West Pier as their business base, then the parking places need to be enlarged, if that park is to be used in safety. 

I enclose for you three images taken today, which clearly show that the present layout of parking is totally inadequate and the parking places too small.

I am also reliably informed that not all of the processors named on the rough sketch/plan, dated 8/6/2018, have been consulted, as the wording states, which makes me skeptical of the validity of that claim.

Parking bays too short, leaving cars over-lapping the throughway

My understanding is that a Traffic Management Plan cannot be formulated without a formal Risk Assessment. If so, then Mr Webster’s reluctance to provide copies of any formal Risk Assessment leaves me rather skeptical of the value and validity of any changes he is proposing. (Indeed does one really exist?)

Clearly, Mr Webster must have been stung into action; to my surprise I received, at 3.59pm, within two minutes of my email above, this response:

Mr Allan Roberts,

Please find copies attached of the reviewed and finalised Risk Assessment including the planned layout of the West Pier demarcation.

Kind Regards,

Robert Webster

Health and Safety Officer

Download the PDF file WPRA_2018.

DOWNLOAD

This response is the only communication I have received from Mr Webster during what should have been a straight forward request dealing with a very real, and ongoing, public safety concern.

I wonder:

  • Was there ever a risk assessment or Traffic Management Plan for West Pier, prior to this present ‘fag packet’ production?
  • Why did Mr Webster choose not to provide the ‘current’ RA and TMP, that he said existed but has so far never produced?
  • Why did Mr Webster claim that the risk assessment was ‘under review’ when in fact it is dated 30 May 2018, 41 days prior to my FOIA request dated 10 July 2018?
  • Is it coincidence that the date of the Risk Assessment is 30 May 2018, just one day before the article “Talk to the Wall” was published in NYE?

Perhaps Deputy Harbour Master Chris Burrows knows?

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