The Poor Piers Of Whitby By Maggie Hall

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The Poor Piers Of Whitby By Maggie Hall

The Yorkshire Post published this letter, from me, Sept 13th:

The poor piers of Whitby! Now, through total lack of maintenance, care and attention, it’s not possible to access either end of the iconic twin piers.

And Scarborough is to blame. Whitby’s governing town is only 22 miles down the road. It might as well be a million. The needs of the jewel of the Yorkshire coast are constantly ignored. While the coffers are dug into to fix, renew and enhance, the infrastructure, facilities and attractions of Scarborough.

Years ago, a storm put an end to the narrow bridge leading onto the East Pier. The understanding is that around £40,000 would see it replaced. But even that meagre amount of money is not forthcoming.

Now the end of the West Pier is out of bounds. Apparently the girders, holding the access bridge in place, are so severely corroded it’s not deemed safe to have people walking on it. A notice declares that this shocking damage was spotted during “a routine” inspection. And access was banned within hours. I – along with most residents – suspect there was nothing “routine” about this inspection, on the basis there has neither been regular checks, or maintenance work (ie repainting of the girders with marine paint) to keep this severe corrosion at bay.

So yet again historic, quaint, charming, Whitby, is swiped with a bully-punch from Scarborough.

A symbolic act of abuse, several years ago, signaled the beginning of the poor-cousin era. Whitby lost its “town hall”. Scarborough sold the magnificent Georgian property (deeded to Whitby for the use of it residents), that housed it, to a property developer – and shoved the town’s business into an empty shop-front.

Whitby is forever being cited in tourism top-ten lists, for all the best reasons. But the huge fear now is that it will soon make the top-ten for “most neglected”.

Closure For Whitby's West Pier

Closure For Whitby's West Pier - Where Will The Anglers And Visitors Go Now ?

By |2011-10-11T16:52:14+00:00September 13th, 2011|Categories: Featured, Letters|Tags: , , |40 Comments

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  1. admin September 13, 2011 at 4:40 pm - Reply

    Couldnt have put it better myself. Thanks for sending this In to us Maggie. Great reading, I just hope it makes them move a bit faster at SBC, but as the east pier has been shut for 10 years now, I doubt we will see the west pier open any time soon.

  2. Nigel Ward September 13, 2011 at 4:43 pm - Reply

    I now have it from TWO sources (one inside the St Nicholas Strasse Town Hall; the other, an elected member) that discussions have apparently been taking place with a ‘preferred contractor’ regarding the possible DEMOLITION of the top decks of BOTH Pier Extensions – on the basis that there is no money available to repair (much less restore) them, and the risk to shipping of pieces of timber etc falling off poses too big a liability.

    And I can confirm that a Whitby Town (Parish) Councillor has heard exactly the same from a separate, independent source.

    Extensions, Bridges, Lighthouses, Piers, Swing-Bridge, Harbour Wall, Lighting & Seating – ALL rotten – ALL neglected for the last 37 years (in fact, since SBC took over from Whitby Urban & Rural District Councils on 1st April 1974).

    Now we know why they did it on April Fool’s Day!

    Meanwhile, umpteen million OVER BUDGET on the North Bay Sea Defences in Scarborough (the infamous HighPoint-Rendel scam); the lavish bottomless pit revamp of Scarborough Spa; the black hole known as The Sands project; the white elephant Open Air Theatre; on and on and on it goes.

    And SBC’s David Kitson (the ‘SS’ – the Senior Solicitor) has the nerve to accuse ME of ‘alleging’ (yes, ‘alleging’) that there has been, as a matter of practice and policy, a BIAS against investment in Whitby! I’m not ‘alleging’, David. It’s as plain as the nose on your face. The Harbour is in ruin!

    Not just any old harbour, mindst – WHITBY HARBOUR. Cook’s Harbour. One of a handful of the world’s truly historic launch pads to global discovery. And these upstarts have plunged it into ruin!

    Shall I tell him? Or will we ALL tell him together?

  3. admin September 13, 2011 at 4:44 pm - Reply

    [strong]If you visit Whitby you will realise most of it is a complete dump now.
    This once jewel of the north has been left to rot by Scarbrough council.[/strong]

    Quote from here :

  4. admin September 13, 2011 at 5:17 pm - Reply
  5. Tom Brown September 13, 2011 at 5:25 pm - Reply

    I’ve seen hard nosed Whitby old hands close to tears with this news’ Its choking its hard to comment, its beyond belief. I’ve been trying to comment and I’m lost for words.

  6. Tom Brown September 13, 2011 at 5:32 pm - Reply

    What about a vigil? Shall we not gather on the West pier to demonstrate our concern. Lets hear from you all

    • admin September 13, 2011 at 5:59 pm - Reply

      I will and I think we could get a few of the fishing lads there. Whoose organising it ?

  7. […] As I posted earlier, it soon won't be worth visiting Whitby. The Poor Piers Of Whitby By Maggie Hall – Real Whitby | Whitby News | Real Whitby | Whitby News Read Nigel Wards comments after the article. Reply With Quote + Reply […]

  8. Nigel Ward September 13, 2011 at 6:16 pm - Reply

    I have emailed English Heritage. It may be that the Extensions are Listed. That said, EH has been unable to intervene in the dereliction of the East and West Pier Lighthouses, so there may be no help coming from that quarter. Still, it’s got to be worth worth an ask:

    —– Original Message —–
    From: Nigel
    To: EMERICK, Keith
    Cc: Whitby Town (Parish) Councillors
    Sent: Tuesday, September 13, 2011 7:09 PM
    Subject: WHITBY – Pier Extension rumours

    Dr Keith Emerick – Inspector of Ancient Monuments – North Yorkshire and the City of York – ENGLISH HERITAGE


    I draw your attention to the following information:

    It would appear that rumour is rife, and apparently well-substantiated, that SBC/Whitby Harbour Board is contemplating the demolition of the upper decks of the West and East Pier extensions. The explanation offered is that the parlous state of the upper decks is such as to preclude repair or restoration in the present financial climate, and the risk to shipping engendered by the possibility of large timbers falling into the sea is an unsustainable liability.

    I have been unable to determine, based on an admittedly perfunctory search on Google, the status of the upper decks of the extensions. Could you please oblige me with definitive information on that? Thank you.

    Kind regards,


    Cc: Whitby Town (Parish) Councillors

    • S.P. September 13, 2011 at 6:57 pm - Reply

      The ” shocking damage” was spotted during a routine inspection, but, that was earlier in the year, not hours before they closed it.
      The Council was well aware of the problem but chose to leave the West Pier open till the end of the main holiday season.
      I wonder why?


      • Francis L. Chalmers September 13, 2011 at 8:55 pm - Reply

        A very good question.


        One which a lot more people are beginning to ask, thankfully.

  9. Richard Ineson September 13, 2011 at 7:47 pm - Reply

    And what have our elected representatives being doing whilst the town has been falling down round our ears?

    I think that we should be told.

  10. Francis L. Chalmers September 13, 2011 at 8:53 pm - Reply

    “While the coffers are dug into to fix, renew and enhance, the infrastructure, facilities and attractions of Scarborough.”

    Something missing off the end of that sentence…

    “The facilities and attractions of Scarborough – it should be noted that these are usually those whose STAKEHOLDERS are related to or actually are Borough Councillors, Officers, or others connected to the Town Hall”.

    There seem to be a disproportionately high number of Councillors (present and former) and Council officers who have interests, of one form or another, in businesses that receive benefits (of one form or another) from the Town Hall etc.

    Of course this is all just my opinion, and none of it can be proven because all the evidence is well hidden, and the trail of money cannot be followed easily – allegedly.

  11. J.S.Fawcett September 13, 2011 at 8:59 pm - Reply

    I ear-wigged some of this in the Leeds last Friday. It seems that the Coastal Strategy budget can be squeezed to cover the base structures, but the upper decks are classed as “superstructure” because they provide no protection to the harbour mouth. In other words, they are considered a “luxury”. Same with the bridges. The so-called portable bridge is apparently not suitable. Jobs a bad un all round. What might have cost thousands years ago when it first needed sorting will be millions now. No can do. Game over.

  12. Nigel Ward September 14, 2011 at 9:53 pm - Reply

    Having attended the Meeting of the Harbour Committee of Whitby Town (Parish) Council this evening, I can now disclose that SBC’s Head of Tourism & Culture Mr Brian Bennett has emailed the Deputy Clerk offering assurances about the future of the West Pier to West Pier Extension footbridge. It had apparently been indicated that the email was not for public circulation. In my view, the extraordinarily high levels of public interest fully justify the immediate release into the public domain of Brian’s email. So here it is, whether SBC likes it or not:

    From: Brian Bennett
    To: Whitby Town Council
    Sent: 14th September 2011 12:05
    Subject: RE: Whitby West Pier footbridge

    Dear Anne

    Whitby West Pier footbridge update

    Firstly officers are investigating if there is a short term solution to temporarily re-open the bridge to limited foot traffic. We initially need to obtain access to the underside of the structure to carry out more detailed checks, measurements and structural calculations, and once these are assessed it may be possible to implement a preferred solution of a walkway across the bridge to allow it to re-open. It was intended to erect scaffolding slung under the footbridge earlier this week to facilitate the inspection but this was postponed due to the high winds. Subject to favourable weather conditions the scaffolding should be erected by the end of this week.

    Officers have been in touch with both English Heritage and a bridge manufacturer to begin the process of the permanent replacement of the bridge. The bridge is a listed structure and Listed Building Consent will have to be applied for and obtained. In addition we will have to comply with our statutory procurement procedures. The bridge will be procured on a design and build basis but English heritage will approve a preliminary design and the bridge manufacturer will be providing all the detailing and structural calculations. Once designed in detail the bridge would be manufactured off site and then delivered and installed.

    Correctly following these statutory procedures will take time, the full extent of which is not known at present while investigations are on-going.

    The Whitby Harbour Board will be considering a report on the matter at its meeting on 3 October 2011 by which time we will have made further progress and have a clearer understanding of costs and timescales.

    I hope this information is helpful, and that you are assured that officers are actively working on solutions to mitigate the impact of the closure.


    If the East Pier to East Pier Extension bridge closure (also a Listed Strcuture) offers any guide as to how long the re-instatement process is likely to take . . . . . . . zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

    • admin September 14, 2011 at 10:03 pm - Reply

      Well it has a hint of promise. But having witnessed the council sheer neglect of the east pier and ten year failure to replace that bridge, I hold little hope for any quick solution to the west pier bridge. Fingers crossed though Nigel.

  13. pete.budd September 15, 2011 at 12:08 pm - Reply

    Scarborough Borough Council is a danger to Whitby and must be demolished for public safety. Unfortunately there is no longer any scrap value in redundant local authorities.

  14. Nigel Ward September 15, 2011 at 3:28 pm - Reply

    Good to see the Whitby Gazette getting behind our efforts to rescue Whitby Piers, Lighthouses and Harbour: wee done Jon Stokoe:

  15. admin September 15, 2011 at 8:31 pm - Reply

    Well Im shocked. I never believed he had it in him. Not before time that the gazette spoke out against sbc.

    Start a conversation in a Whitby cafe or pub and drop in a mention of Scarborough council and listen to the reply. Real Whitby people are fed up to the back teeth of sbc and their neglect of our wonderful town.

    Finally the gazette climbs down off the fence where its been sitting for far too long and sides with our town. This does make for very pleasant reading. So well done Mr Stokoe.

  16. Cliff Street September 19, 2011 at 11:21 am - Reply

    I was aware that the old stone piers were listed but not that the newer extensions were. If this is so, the Council should have obtained listed building consent for demolition of the east pier bridge. Is anyone aware of whether they did get permission? If they didn’t, demolition of the east pier bridge was illegal.

  17. Nigel Ward September 19, 2011 at 11:37 am - Reply

    I have asked EH about the East Pier footbridge situation.

    —– Original Message —–
    From: Nigel
    To: GREEN, Diane
    Cc:Whitby Gazette; Real Whitby
    Sent: Monday, September 19, 2011 12:24 PM
    Subject: Re: WHITBY – Pier Extension rumours

    Dr Diane Green – Inspector of Historic Buildings – North Yorkshire – English Heritage


    Many thanks for your email and attached Word documents, which I will peruse in detail in due course.

    I am perplexed as to how it could have arisen that your email should have bounced back earlier but arrived without impediment now. Most curious.

    You will perhaps be aware of the 2,700+ strong FaceBook Group entitled “Save Whitby Piers!!”.

    Members are now asking how it is, given that it would appear that the East Pier, the East Pier extension, and the link bridge are all Listed structures, that ten years has elapsed and English Heritage has not been able to succeed in persuading Scarborough Borough Council to implement the necessary repairs to the link bridge – which, as you may know, has been, and remains, out-of-service.

    Would you please be so good as to provide me with a comprehensive explanation of that circumstance, together with supporting correspondence/documentation etc, so that I may transmit that information into the public domain? Thank you.

    This request, of course, is quite separate to my FOIA request, emailed to your colleague Dr Keith Emerick on 17th September 2011:

    Please provide copies of the information contained in any/all communications between English Heritage and Scarborough Borough Council (and vice versa), be they in whatsoever format (email, letter, SMS message, fax, etc) for the time period 1st January 2011 until the date of your response, in which reference to any part of Whitby Harbour is made, explicitly or implicitly. Thank you.

    In the interests of transparency, I can tell you that I am looking in particular for any communication in which reference is made to Whitby Harbour Piers, Pier Extensions, Footbridges, Beacons, Lighthouses or other maritime structures. Specifically, I want sight of any discourse concerning the possible demolition of all or part of the remaining Footbridge (West) and/or the upper decks of the East or West Extension, or any other of the aforementioned assets. Thank you.

    If you are unsure about the precise nature of my request, please feel free to inquire – by return. Thank you.

    I would appreciate the statutorily required acknowledgement and designated FOIA number, also by return. Thank you.

    Notwithstanding the provision of the FOIA for 20 working days in which to respond, I would urge you (being mindful of the furore surrounding the closure of the West Pier Extension) to respond as quickly as possible. Thank you very kindly.

    I look forward to the acknowledgement of that request, accompanied by a designated FOIA number.

    Thank you.

    Yours, with very kind regards,


    “For too long those in power made decisions behind closed doors, released information behind a veil of jargon and denied people the power to hold them to account. This coalition is driving a wrecking ball through that culture – and it’s called transparency.” – [David Cameron]

    “If councillors and council officers are to be held to account, the press and public need access to the information that will enable them to do it. If town halls want to reduce the amount they spend on responding to freedom of information requests they should consider making the information freely available in the first place. The simple act of throwing open the books, rather than waiting for them to be prised apart by the force of an FOI, might even save a few pounds in the process.” – [Eric Pickles]

  18. Nigel Ward September 19, 2011 at 4:11 pm - Reply

    It’s a funny old world. Last week, trying to extract information from EH was like trying to draw teeth with plasticine pliers. Now we have all this public scrutiny going on, they are coming back to me within a matter of hours (ie: as soon as their lawyers have checked it over). Please see Dr Diane Green’s response email, below:

    —– Original Message —–
    From: GREEN, Diane
    To: ‘Nigel’
    Sent: Monday, September 19, 2011 4:30 PM
    Subject: RE: WHITBY – Pier Extension rumours

    Dear Nigel

    Thank you for your e-mail.

    When English Heritage considers that a Grade II* or Grade I listed building is at risk it is able to place that building on its Heritage at Risk Register. However, Grade II buildings are the responsibility of the local authority. This is the case for the Grade II listed piers at Whitby, which are the responsibility of Scarborough Borough Council.

    The two letters I forwarded to you in my recent e-mail (re-sent today) were written in the context of the Whitby Coastal Strategy and both supported the principle of repairing and extending the life of the historic piers at Whitby.

    English Heritage would be happy to highlight to Scarborough Borough Council the concerns of the public in respect of the condition of the piers and to ask the Council what its strategy is for them.

    With regard to your request for a comprehensive explanation as to why English Heritage has not been able to succeed in persuading Scarborough Borough Council to implement the necessary repairs to the link bridge, together with supporting correspondence/documentation etc. over the last 10 years, I am referring this to our Freedom of Information Officer, to be read in conjunction with the FOI request you have recently made.

    With best wishes.

    Diane Green
    I have replied:

    —– Original Message —–
    From: Nigel
    To: GREEN, Diane
    Sent: Monday, September 19, 2011 4:58 PM
    Subject: Re: WHITBY – Pier Extension rumours

    Dr Diane Green – Inspector of Historic Buildings – North Yorkshire – English Heritage


    Thank you for making the effort to get back to me so swiftly. On behalf of the Whitby public, I sincerely thank you.

    Please ensure that my FOIA acknowledgement and designated number is duly forthcoming.

    Thank you.

    Kind regards,


    • Nigel Ward September 20, 2011 at 4:05 pm - Reply

      —– Original Message —–
      From: Nigel
      To: FOI ; QUELCH, Frances
      Cc: ; EMERICK, Keith ; GLENN KILPATRICK ; ; Paul Baird ; John Freeman
      Sent: Tuesday, September 20, 2011 5:02 PM
      Subject: Re: WHITBY – update – plus FOIA – FOI 11/1294 [1]

      Frances Quelch – Access to Information Assistant – English Heritage


      Thank you for your emails acknowledging my requests for information and providing a designated number.

      I trust that you appreciate the depth of public feeling on this issue. A FaceBook Group has attracted almost 3,000 members; an e-petition, over 850 e-signatures (in 72 hours); the Whitby Gazette is running a hard-copy petition the numbers of which are presently out-stripping any accurate tally.

      I rely on you to do your best to fulfil my requests and, with the foregoing in mind, I thank you in advance for your best efforts.

      Kind regards,


      PS. You may wish to contribute:

      I shall watch for your name . . .

      Cc: Dr Emerick; Dr Green; Cllr John Freeman (Mayor of Whitby); Jon Stokoe (Editor: Whitby Gazette); Glenn Kilpatrick (Webmaster: Real Whitby); Paul Baird (Reporter: BBC Radio Tees).
      Bc: Undisclosed Recipients

  19. Anthony Littlewood September 19, 2011 at 4:22 pm - Reply

    I would say Mr Ward could do with a few lessons about being polite. Instructing people to do something is a sure fire way of getting their backs up. How about politely asking Dian to provide you the foi number rather than instructing her. What a very rude man you are Nigel.

  20. Tom Brown September 19, 2011 at 4:30 pm - Reply

    POLITE!!!c Since where did polite get anyone? If indeed Nigel is impolite, can you think of any other way of getting attention?

  21. J.S.Fawcett September 19, 2011 at 4:40 pm - Reply


    You clearly lack Mr Ward’s experience of having been given the runaround, often for weeks on end. You will not find the words ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ absent from his correspondence. But if you feel that you know better how to elicit information that should rightly be readily available to the public, please apply yourself as diligently as Mr Ward does.

    I am not a fan of David Cameron, but he spoke very wise word when he uttered the remarks Mr Ward quoted above.

    “For too long those in power made decisions behind closed doors, released information behind a veil of jargon and denied people the power to hold them to account. This coalition is driving a wrecking ball through that culture – and it’s called transparency.”

    I am not a betting man, but I would place a small wager on the fact that you are a troll, Anthony.

  22. Cliff Street September 19, 2011 at 4:57 pm - Reply

    Does not the letter from Diane Green cast some doubt on the contents of Brian Bennett’s letter insofar as Diane Green says that Grade 11 structures are the responsibility of the local authority whereas Mr Bennett suggests that English Heritage approval is required for the repairs to the west pier bridge.

    SBC will need to apply to itself for listed building consent.

  23. Anthony Littlewood September 19, 2011 at 4:58 pm - Reply

    Where did polite get anyone. Well ask yourself where does impolite get you. Likely it gets you ignored and shut out Tom Brown. Since finding your site via the facebook piers group I have read it extensively. It appears that Mr Ward is frequently given the runaround as you so rightly mention. Maybe it is time you people asked yourselves some serious questions. Have you stopped to think that it is the manner in which you address your emails that could be the problem. If you walked into any publically owned building such as an NHS office, council offices, local courts, and started being rude to the staff there you would be asked to leave and the police may even be called to deal with you. You would I hope believe this to be the right policy to protect public service staff. So why then do you feel it is acceptable to be rude via written correspondence. Have you asked the agencies you deal with what their policy is for dealing with such correspondence. Perhaps this is the reason you never get any replies. It may be that your emails are being placed in some sort of spam folder. Could it even be that the staff even delete some of these emails on purpose. I hope this is not one of those sites where anyone daring to offer a differing opinion is called a troll and their comments removed or edited. Could I also point out that many of Mr Fawcetts contributions appear very similar in nature to mr wards, could it be these are the same people.

  24. Nigel Ward September 19, 2011 at 5:16 pm - Reply


    Is this article about saving the piers, or is it about attacking me? But whichever, it does you no credit, Anthony, suddenly to appear on the site addressing the regulars as “you people”. If you have a contribution to make, try to stay on topic. I do not know JSFawcett, but he makes good sense in many of his postings. People in Whitby know who I am. I post in my own name and I use my own image as profile pic. Who are you? It would be polite to introduce yourself.

  25. Anthony Littlewood September 19, 2011 at 6:06 pm - Reply

    No Need to be so defensive Nigel,It is not my aim to attack you, I am merely trying to help you out with your problems in dealings with your local council and other public agencies. My comment was based on observations from the emails you send to public staff where you do (like it or not) portray yourself as rude and abrupt. Perhaps this is how you desire to be perceived, and if that is the case then please ignore me. If you dont wish to come across in that manner then you could change your style slightly. You may wish to listen to what I have to say, or you may wish to cast me as an evil troll pushing this discussion off topic. For the recordy name is Anthony Littlewood, I work in a call centre and I live near Nottingham. I visit Whitby on half dozen occasions each year and although I do not see the town every day like you people I do love it very much. I met my wife in Whitby and we were married there back in 2001.

  26. Chris Brown September 19, 2011 at 6:11 pm - Reply

    I am not sure how familiar Nigel is with internet chat rooms, debate sites and forums. Most discussions are well away from the precise topic after about a dozen contributions. This is the way of the internet. Get used to it rather than stressed by it. Arguing with the person you don’t agree with takes the discussion further away from the original topic still. Also it makes you look as bad as the person your arguing with.

  27. Nigel Ward September 19, 2011 at 6:12 pm - Reply

    Then I wish you would sign the e-petition. That would be a helpful contribution.

  28. Chris Brown September 19, 2011 at 6:38 pm - Reply

    That page makes my computer freeze. Do you think the council have hacked it.

    • Nigel Ward September 19, 2011 at 7:20 pm - Reply

      Glenn tells me that those with IE have been experiencing problems. Firefox seems to be okay. Just a suggestion, but perhaps those who cannot get on could email the webmaster, asking to be added manually?

  29. p.boiston September 20, 2011 at 6:50 am - Reply

    I think you would get a lot of support from the people who attend the Goth Festivals. With the Dracula connection surely that is tourist business which seaside towns like Whitby need if they are going to survive.Just seems crazy that Scarbrough Council have now let the East and West Piers to be washed out to sea .

  30. Colin Winspear September 23, 2011 at 3:00 pm - Reply

    I could suggest saving a few quid by removing the railings, put there to stop people falling in to the sea. As a few people seem to take no notice of them at all.

  31. Colin Winspear September 23, 2011 at 3:06 pm - Reply

    Is there a vetting system in place now? I have just tried to add my comment to this thread, and been told I’ve already made it, can’t see where though. Is it a hiccup or a polite way of saying “Shut up?”

  32. Colin Winspear September 23, 2011 at 3:32 pm - Reply

    oops there it is Sorry,,

  33. admin September 23, 2011 at 5:07 pm - Reply

    If there was a polite way of telling you to shut up Colin, I would have done it already. When you get messages like that whilst you are using the site, they are automatic, built in to stop you making the same comment twice.

    With regards to commenting in general, Once you have 2 comments passed on the site we do not moderate you any further unless it is felt you are breach the site rules, trolling or trying to drive discussion way off topic. Whilst I disagree with a lot of your comments, the site is here for everyone to have their say so it would be wrong of my to censor you. Please carry on your welcome to your say as much as the next man and I think some of your comments could be quite good in terms of promoting debate as I find the site boring when no-one offers a different perspective.

  34. Colin Winspear September 24, 2011 at 11:18 am - Reply

    I did apologise for my 2nd comment as soon as I realised my error, and accept my comment was a tad over the top. My pc has a habit of freezing now and then so hadn’t caught up. As for your disagreeing with my comments. May I ask you this, do you condone the total disregard of the safety railings by the individuals in the photo? Do you also condone the use of images that are misleading, to put a point across to further generate ill feelings? As far as I can see, sadly, the only debate I have prompted is whether I am nit picking or not. I will say again. I fully support the cause, but not some of the means used to achieve it’s outcome.

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