Scarborough Council approves further £3.9m funding for West Pier regeneration scheme despite public objections
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The authority’s cabinet voted unanimously in favour of increasing the funding of the Scarborough Harbour West Pier regeneration scheme by £3.9m to allow pre-construction works to begin.
The cabinet meeting on Tuesday February 14 saw the public gallery of Scarborough Town Hall’s chamber packed with people objecting to the proposal, many of whom said they had business interests in and around the West Pier.
Those in attendance objected strongly to the proposal, stating that the council had not conducted an adequate consultation.
They also raised concerns about a perceived lack of transparency, and accused cabinet members of “lying”.
The strength of feeling among members of the public attending the meeting was such that the meeting was suspended for more than 25 minutes.
During the adjournment the cabinet left the council chamber and a few opposition councillors chatted with those in attendance.
Sitting in the gallery, local boat owner Bob Roberts said he was not happy with the way the council had conducted its consultation, adding that a public meeting with locals and council officials coming together would have been preferable.
He said: “We never get to see the full picture until the end and by that time it’s over. What we need is a full consultation like we had on the Argos, with everyone there, including councillors, the public, and the regeneration team to answer the questions.”
Speaking to The Scarborough News, he added: “It's been shocking the way they’ve handled the consultation.”
A spokesperson for Scarborough Council disagreed with suggestions that the authority had not conducted a thorough public consultation, stating: “There have been many opportunities for views to be shared and listened to.
“Activity has included individual and group information and engagement sessions, design consultation and other ad hoc meetings and briefings.
“More sessions are planned for this month, March and April. Engagement will also continue up to and beyond planning application stage.”
‘An exciting process’
Speaking at the meeting, council leader, Cllr Steve Siddons said: “I think it starts an exciting process as we move forward with this and provides additional facilities for all those harbour users who have long requested them, and desperately need them, so I’m pleased to see that happening.”
However, some of those in the public gallery followed this by shouting “you should be ashamed of yourselves”, “terrible”, and “we’re all against it!”
Accusations of lying were also made before and after the meeting was suspended.
Someone in the gallery exclaimed “you’re telling lies”, to which Cllr Siddons replied, “no one is telling any lies”.
The spokesperson for Scarborough Council said: “While we realise passions run high about the scheme, we firmly reject accusations of cabinet members lying.”
The regeneration scheme is seeking to create “modern, fit-for-purpose facilities for the fishing industry, and new hospitality and retail opportunities” as part of the historic West Pier in South Bay.
According to a council report, the funding will be used to create new, purpose-built warehousing, bait sheds, workshops and processing units for the fishing industry, modern trader kiosks, a restaurant, new public toilets, and “a high-quality public realm”.
However, those in attendance questioned the way Scarborough Council has gone about the process, with retired fisherman Allan Roberts describing the plan as “gentrification”.
Following the cabinet’s approval of the plan – which established an £8.9 million budget with a bid for a further £3m of funding from the UK Sea Food Infrastructure Scheme currently underway – the planned works seem set to go ahead.
Speaking after the meeting, Allan Roberts, said the “only hope” left to those objecting to the plan was a legal challenge.
However, in a statement, Scarborough Council said that “objections to how harbour income is used now and in the future have no legal bearing on the progress of the scheme” and said it is “a separate issue”.
The council has so far entered into the first part of a two-stage design and build contract with William Birch and Sons.
A report states that “some early and enabling works will start ahead of the main contract” while the main works are scheduled to take place between December 2023 and April 2024 subject to approval by North Yorkshire County Council.