Article By Jackie Greaves
It’s coming up to that exciting time of year again when dads, grandads, enthusiastic children and even the girls, often with pink spinning rods, are planning their first mackerel fishing from the pier.
Piggy banks are being raided to buy spinners and feathers. Bright little faces are waiting for the first mackerel to be caught off Whitby’s West Pier and the word will spread and everyone will head for the pier.
Except Scarborough Borough Council are depriving Whitby of this popular sport throughout June and July.
They have ‘chosen’ and planned these months to close the pier and install the new bridge. Why on earth would they choose June and July to do this, we ask ourselves?
It can’t be the weather and sea conditions as they were able to install the temporary bridge in the dark winter month of December. There are eight months of the year when they could have chosen to install the new bridge. Does anyone know the answer as to why they want to do it in June and July?
The Government have turned to retail expert Mary Portas to identify what government, local authorities and businesses can do to promote the development of more prosperous and diverse high streets.
That includes you SBC. What on earth would she say if she arrived here? What advise would she give to Scarborough Borough Council? Mmmm, possibly keeping Whitby’s pier open during the busiest fishing season of the year and not to drive our customers away would be a start.
She says, “I am calling on businesses, local authorities and shoppers to contribute their ideas on how we can halt this decline in its tracks and create town centres that we can all be proud of.”
We are proud of Whitby. Please SBC, please let us keep our lovely town and all of the attractions that bring people back year after year to visit it. Why aren’t you proud of Whitby?
Whilst most councils are doing their best to regenerate town centres, SBC would appear to be trying to close ours down. We are a seaside/fishing town and we are having our prime tourist attraction closed by our council at the most important time of the year.
Last year SBC told us that they had to shut our pier during the mackerel-fishing season due to safety reasons. They told us that the timing was beyond their control.
This year they have actually scheduled the pier closure during the mackerel-fishing season. They have chosen to do so without thought for the many, many people whose simple pleasure is to go mackerel fishing on the pier; without thought for the businesses that need the trade it brings to get them through the long winter months.
How many of them will still be here next year? Small independent traders who make Whitby the individual place that it is and the very reason that people come in their thousands to Whitby.
When the streets of Whitby are empty and the mackerel have long gone, SBC will have presented us with a shiny new bridge on the pier. But too late for the lost days of June and July and the memories of happy fun had on the pier.
What will be the excuse to close the pier next year we wonder? Maybe the lighthouses, owned by the council, that have received no maintenance and repair will be declared unsafe for the public to walk near.
Maybe the rotting timberwork on the piers due to lack of maintenance will be deemed unsafe for the public. We wouldn’t leave our garden sheds and fences totally unprotected against the elements, let alone timbers that face the lashings of the North Sea.
Our telephone is already ringing with distant anglers enquiring if a mackerel has been caught off the pier yet before making the journey to Whitby.
My own son has been waiting for the first moment when he will be out of bed at 5am to go and catch some fresh mackerel and triumphantly bring them home for breakfast.
Simple pleasures in life that are going to be snatched from us by SBC. They won’t have to face the disappointed faces in our shop asking why the pier is closed. Or mop the tears of little people whose day out has been cancelled.
Nobody will be walking along the pier with their fish and chips. On still, peaceful evenings over the next few weeks take a long look at our sad, lonely pier and think about the laughter and fun that should be happening there.