Spa: answers needed

Anyone with an interest in our fine resort (and that ought to be each and everyone of us but...) can’t fail to have noticed the furore surrounding proposals to protect The Spa from the all too obvious pounding it gets from the North Sea.

At least, that’s what we’re supposed to think. I love a good conspiracy theory and I certainly don’t have all the facts available to back up what I’m about to say. Instead, I’m making a public request for a whole lot more information than we’ve so far been given.

There’s been a string of letters complaining about what little seems to have been done to the Grand Hall, given the sum of around £6 million we keep hearing got spent on knocking out the fabulous long bar and installing instead a daft thing in a cold corner with a till the bar staff have to bend down to access. The £6 million that got spent on what looks suspiciously like laminate flooring in the hall, on a stage extension that’s complemented by some curtains tacked to the ceiling either side to make it look more like a theatre. That got spent on dressing rooms with no soundproofing..., etc. Why, when huge sums of public money were being spent, were the services of an acoustic specialist not part of the deal?

Six million pounds?

The Spa, I’m told, was built on wooden framework now suffering from the effects of salt water penetration and increasingly unstable as the years go by. I suspect some of the money went on lots of concrete to stabilise the basement. Why? Because as has been well-documented, the cliffs behind the Spa are waterlogged and no-one, least of all the property owners on The Esplanade, wants a repeat of Holbeck Hall. How did the water get in? When the paths started cracking, the finger was pointed at Yorkshire Water, owner of much ancient pipework. Was any leak ever found? If it was, presumably that was fixed. But for several years, a small team of workers has been toiling away, pumping the cliffs at the top above The Spa with something that needs abseiling equipment and safety harnesses and thin nozzles and pipes connected up to something parked on the roadside; stabilisation with concrete or resin? That would make the £6 million seem more realistically accountable.

And there’s the question of the Spa itself; the baths beneath the car park at the entrance to the Grand Hall area. I had a guided tour some years ago, with several days notice given to allow gases to dissipate.

What a privilege and what a fabulous sight, several different baths with different treatments and a rusty pipe leaking onto the steps outside that I, as a little boy, believed to be the waters our Victorian forebears must have drunk for their health. (In fact, it’s rust and there’s a warning notice now, but for a 10-year-old potential Del Trotter, it was a water bottling opportunity that never got off the ground, thank heavens.) Perhaps we could be told if those baths have also been filled in with concrete; I have no idea if that is the case but you have to ask, don’t you? Because no-one’s rushed to tell us the historic feature hasn’t been included in the money ill-spent.

A big concrete doorstop at the bottom of the cliffs, on the beach or in front of the Spa wall would perhaps help hold off minor land creep or cliff collapse for a while. It wouldn’t look at all nice but if any reader can remember the massive court battle over who should pay for what happened when the Holbeck Hall collapsed, it’s not surprising Scarborough Borough Council wants to avoid a repeat, especially if they thought it might just happen again. But until someone tells us the truth, which might be a bit scary, all we have is conspiracy theories.

The only reason for a huge mass of rocks, acropodes, whatever they choose, would seem to be desperation. Can we have some real answers, please? And will our elected representatives ask the questions right away. Now isn’t soon enough, I reckon.

Mat Watkinson

Stepney Road