Warnings over chalet landslip were 'ignored'

The chalets as they are now
The chalets as they are now

A landslip threatening to  destroy Scarborough’s South Cliff beach chalets could have been avoided after cracks in the area were reported two years ago.

The claims have come from the proprietor of the Clock Cafe and a Scarborough councillor, and now the borough council has promised to look into what went wrong.

The chalets are netted over after a retaining wall at the rear collapsed following a landslip in March.

Labour deputy leader Cllr Tony Randerson raised the issue during Monday’s Full Council meeting, laying the blame squarely at the door of the town hall authority.

He said: “This defect was brought to the attention of Scarborough Borough Council some two years ago by the proprietor of the Clock Cafe. It was also raised by myself around one year ago only to be informed that it was just grass coming through the crack in the pavement and nothing to be concerned about.

“What if any actual inspection and investigation took place two years ago and one year ago when it was brought to the attention of Scarborough Council?

“It strikes me as a real possibility that this landslip could and should have been avoided.”

Cllr Randerson added that the location, not far from the Holbeck Hall landslip disaster in 1993, made concerns over cracks appearing even greater.

The Labour deputy leader has now called on the authority to make public the details from any inspections and surveys that took place into the crack “as a matter of urgency”.

Conservative councillor, and former leader of the authority, Tom Fox, called the claims “concerning” and agreed more information was needed.

Jackie Link, the proprietor of the Clock Cafe, confirmed that Scarborough Council was warned previously about cracks appearing in the paths below her business.

She told the Scarborough News: “One of our customers spotted a crack in the path two years ago and reported it to North Yorkshire County Council.

“There was then a bit of a disagreement with the county saying it was the borough’s problem, and SBC saying it was the county council.

“Then a year ago we told Councillor Tony Randerson about and he reported it to the borough.

“Someone came out and told us it was an old crack as it had grass growing through it.

“We told them it wasn’t, we use that path every day and knew it was a new crack, but nothing happened.” The cafe is now facing the prospect of having to carry all their deliveries by hand for the next 12 months.

She added: “Well, we have two options, close or keep going and we’re Yorkshire lasses so we’re not closing.”

Responding to Cllr’s Randerson and Fox, Cllr Mike Cockerill, cabinet member for major products, who has responsibility for the chalet situation, said he would seek information from council officers about what surveys had been carried out in the past two years and what was found.

He added that contractors would be drilling boreholes later this month to assess the ground conditions before deciding on the next stage of action.

His report into the current situation added: “Currently the chalets are providing support to the retaining wall and therefore they have been left in place.”

“The netting is being used in case of collapse to stop debris flying into the air.

“It does look a mess, I don’t deny it,” he added.