Small Considered Investment, Not Grand Follies

Over the weekend I managed to get myself engaged in a small disagreement about a proposed redevelopment of the local seaside town Redcar with Steven Goldswain, Joe Anderson and by extension put myself somewhat in the middle of an argument they are having with the local Liberal Democrat MP Ian Swales.

A Little Background

For those of you who are not locals, Redcar is a once proud Seaside resort that is now in a slow, steady decline; despite it having one of the best beaches in the North East, a beach that stretches some 12 miles, all the way to my current home in Salburn-by-the-Sea. Over the past decade that my father has lived in Saltburn and I have been a regular visitor, then resident, we have watched its decline with dismay.

The sandy beaches of Redcar.

Acting like a feudal overlord the local council, Redcar & Cleveland, has made decisions time and time again for the town without real consideration and regard for the residents, public opinion or the long term impacts of these decisions. All of them have been grand in scope, few, if any, have succeeded and those that have, have actually hastened the town’s decline (see here).

The latest of these grand follies is the so-called “vertical” pier:

Redcar Vertical Pier

A view of the

which is intended to replace the two piers original piers:

Coatham Pier was problem struck from day one and after a devastating boat strike in 1891 the pier itself was abandoned and replaced at the Pier head by a glass house for concerts, which in 1928 became the New Pavillion Theatre and in the 1960s was converted in the locally popular Regents Cinema.

Redcar Pier

The Original Redcar Pier

Redcar Pier fared much better, though was not without problems suffering boat strikes in the 1880s and 90s, it survived WW2 despite being weakened by a mine explosion and being sectioned. In the 1970s and 80s it suffered for a lack of maintenance after storm damage and was pulled down in 1981.

So now the very same council that demolished the pier now wants to undo the harm it did to Redcar nearly thirty years ago, for want of spending £155,000 then by spending upwards of £30m now or even as much as £50 million by the construction of this newly proposed “vertical” pier.

This was the same council that also pulled down Saltburn’s famous Ha’penny bridge for want of the cost of the maintenance:

Demolition of Penny Bridge

Saltburn's famous Ha'penny bridge being demolished.

And Now…

It seems to me that the “vertical” pier itself is a grand, egotistical statement by the Council that I believe is a reaction to the shaming humiliation the Council experienced at the hands of local protesters who fought them all the way to the Supreme Court of England to stop earlier plans to renovate Redcar by selling off part of the town’s seafront to Persimmion Homes for a controversial development. (See here).

And from the tone of Steven Goldswain’s tweets it seems that the council is having somewhat of a struggle putting together the funding for their folly and Mr. Goldswain has launched (or is promoting a site and a facebook fan page) that is petitioning the local MP Ian Swales to ask Mr. Cameron for the money to complete their folly. It was the content of this website that provoked my ire. And this is why:

The site starts by saying:

Whilst Ian Swales’ Liberal Democrats claim they want Redcar to have a pier, they are unwilling to find the money to build one.

and goes on to say:

This group has done some independent research of its own. The Lib Dems have been misleading people on the cost of a ‘traditional pier’. Cllr Chris Abbott claims a pier would only cost £3.1 million; yet, in reality, a pier with facilities comparable to those of the proposed ‘Vertical Pier’ would cost an amount close to £50,000,000. Weston-super-Mare’s replacement pier, recently built, cost over £51,000,000. Perhaps the figure of £3.1 million cited by the Lib Dems is little more than a political ploy?

“We can’t afford a pier unless MP Swales can get £50,000,000 for Redcar from his government”, said deputy council leader Sheelagh Clarke.

Thought they say they’ve done “independent” research of their own, they don’t provide any of this “independent” research on the site, instead prefering to rely on their own assertions and a statement from the deputy council leader; nor do they permit comments on the site or on the facebook fan page wall, both of which I found suspicious. So what of their claims?

The dismissal of of Cllr Chris Abbot’s assertion that a new traditional pier would only cost £3.1 million to build, this actually seems reasonable if you’re a local and recall that the Saltburn Pier was entirely dismantled and restored in 2000 at a cost of £1.2 million  (see here). They go on to justify this assertion by comparing the new “vertical” pier to the rebuilt Western-Super-Mare Pier, which they say costs some £51 millions to restore.

At this point they justify their assertion by saying that the “vertical” pier will have “facilities comparable” to that of Western-Super-Mare, though I didn’t see any details of a theme park being planned for the “vertical” pier, which cost £8-9 millions at Western-Super-Mare, within the council’s press release. The Guardian also reported the cost of the rebuild as £30 millions (see here), not £51 millions, and they had to deal with restoring a grade II listed pier.

There does indeed seem to be a lot of political smoke going about, however, it seems to be coming from this group and the Labour cabinet member; perhaps still smarting from the last election result where Mr. Swales was swept into power in one of the most significant swings in recent years against Labour in a traditional stronghold.

So what would I do?

Well I think if we have to have a pier, why can’t local residents have a traditional or rather a true pier (by definition) back? Personally I can say that it’d look quite handsome from my balcony’s sea view of Redcar, even though it might provide some competition for Saltburn. Even if it cost £3.1 millions, or even £5 millions, which I doubt, that’s a tenth of the cost of this project.

A birds eye view of the original Redcar pier.

Some of the money saved from the original budget could then be spent on improving the cohesion of Redcar overall by tying the town and the high street back into the sea front, something perhaps akin to the re-development proposed by local architects DKS during the competition. The council could also actively work with owners of derelict and closed properties along the front to help bring them back to life through generous loans and grants.

What I think Redcar needs is a helping hand, over a long period of time that would help businesses to get themselves back on their feet and make the seafront an attractive place to visit again. Such small, considered investments would not only be affordable but they would be infinitely more likely to succeed than a grand folly to this council’s arrogance.

This entry was posted in Local and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.
  • [New Post] Small Considered Investment, Not Grand Follies – via #twitoaster http://www.progressivechange.org.uk/2010
    via Twitoaster

  • Here's my semi-considered response! (Personal capacity etc etc, I hope I don't get told off by cllrs for this!)

    I have my doubts that building a Saltburn-style pier would really be wise for Redcar. Rather than trying to duplicate provision that already exists, it's my personal view that it would be best to develop something that does not have any local competition. Hopefully this would be a win-win (excusing that horrible phrase) situation rather than seeing a minute improvement in Redcar at the expense of Saltburn (realising that if what was a minute 'gain' in Redcar was matched by a similar-sized 'loss' in Saltburn, it would be relatively more for Saltburn's local economy). As for costings, Cllr Abbott's figure is highly suspect. Local cllrs, from different parties, say for a Saltburn-style pier, we would be talking about an amount well in excess of Abbott's quote. According to the Lab cllrs I have spoken to, we'd be talking a bottom-end price of about £6 million. The 2007 estimated cost to repair the 351m (Saltburn is c. 200m) Birnbeck Pier alone was £4 million.

    I think Redcar definitely needs a 'helping hand', and I absolutely agree that businesses should be helped to help themselves. have often considered simplistic measures for improving Redcar, like giving it a much needed lick of paint; whilst nowhere near enough in itself, I think the 'Uplifting our Town Centres' programme is a welcome move, but such programmes should be done in parallel with capital spending. Capital investment provides short-term advantages, such as providing temporary constructions jobs, but should also leave a lasting (hopefully positive) legacy (providing councils were to maintain it, a task which itself provides employment!).

    The site Steve set up I think was a reaction to the Lib Dem attempt to set the agenda about the developments. Mr Swales campaigned for a pier before the election (http://www.tinyurl.com/yeczm7a) yet has remained silent since and to my knowledge has done nothing to attempt to see one be built in Redcar. Their sudden change in stance about the Vertical Pier consultation is a classic attempt at a diversion from the cuts, his shallow campaign and his sell-out. I suspect many Lib Dem cllrs are fearing for their seats, but suddenly making this an issue could weaken the position of the Tories and Labour in Greater Redcar.

    The £51,000,000 figure comes from local and regional press in the South West. See http://www.southwestbusiness.co.uk/bristol/West…. Also, see the Guardian's article from 5 July 2010 which also uses this figure.

    With my being a young whippersnapper, the limit of my involvement in Coatham was going to school with Chris McGlade's daughter. Feelings in Redcar still seem to be split over it and FoCC; councillors fear that such things could happen in the future but perhaps have not fully learnt their lesson from the shenanigans.

    A major culture change is needed in Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council. It's pretty damning that the youngest councillors I can think of are in their 40s, and some have been members since time immemorable. There seems to be a huge gap between the Council and the public, and an unacceptable mistrust. Labour has not done enough to bridge this gap, but I don't think Cllr Abbott's superficial (remember he did not vote on his own motion against the Consultation process!) u-turn on the Vertical Pier consultation really helps matters

    • And here's my semi-considered response to your reply, which was much appreciated.

      I appreciate your concerns about building a Victorian style pier at Redcar and I don't necessarily think it'd be a great idea either, however, I think a real pier would probably be good for both Redcar and in turn Saltburn (we'd welcome the competition) and could be very modernly styled, not dissimilar to the art deco style that Weston-Super-Mare has developed in it's re-construction.

      The proposed “vertical” pier reminded me very much of the white elephant put up in Portsmouth in 2000, which I don't believe has made the long-term promised impact on tourism to the region. Having looked at the plans I'd also be concerned about it's durability in the North East climate, I've lived near such Will Alsop style buildings before and they don't last well and that was in London without the addition of the sea air.

      As for the costings, I'm in the development game and they seem reasonable to me. All of the other examples were for restorations, to listed buildings, which are infinitely more expensive to achieve, whereas in Redcar we could start with effectively a clean site and a new structure; always much cheaper. But either way it is still less than the proposed cost for the current “vertical” pier.

      Whilst I was writing this I was reminded of the 'Uplifting our Town Centers' program, which I think has done a great deal towards improving the appearance of derelict and abandoned shops and buildings. I was however thinking of more direct help for businesses, with the council actually starting to work with individual businesses particularly those on the seafront itself.

      As to the site I think that it's all well and good to challenge an opponents party and I welcome sites that do that. However, if you do so without quoting sources; restricting commenting for visitors; and then cherry pick statistics, which a few minutes on google will prove to be unfounded; is not the way to do it.

      With regards to the Western-Super-Mare redevelopment, a few minutes looking at the photos and reading the articles about the specifications of this private re-development will make it very clear that it is a completely different beast from any “traditional” pier at Redcar and the comparison itself is quite unfair.

      As to the FoCC I also wasn't here at the time, I was living in London; however, once I heard about it, met some of the people involved (including people at the developers) and read the publicly available material it was clear to me that the council was in the wrong from the start and acted as an indicated like feudal landlords rather than servants of the people and it doesn't seem to have changed.

      With respect to the goings on in the council I really don't think that most people take notice of this, especially in places like Redcar, although after the debacle at Brockley Hall in Saltburn I don't think they do here either. And I don't think that this process has helped either Cllr Abbott or his opponents cause; the smoke on both sides puts off people like me, never mind the public.

      • You should join Labour and stand ;P

        I think it's questionable if having two 'simple'-style piers only a few miles apart is really a viable option. Even if a pier could be built for £3.1 mil, which I doubt, I don't know if I'd want one that *only* cost £3.1 mil

        Do you know how much the 'Vertical Pier' will cost? I can only seem to get figures for the wider seafront scheme, including the sea defences and 'The Hub'. For 'The Hub' and the 'Vertical Pier' combined, North East Access to Finance said in April that RCBC would be paying less than £3mil, with the remainder coming from the RDA, the EU and LEGI.

        The 'vertical pier' aims to complement the provision for creative industries in 'The Hub', its aim isn't one purely of tourism.

        Visitors are free to comment on the associated Facebook page, but I don't think the provision for comments was available in the script Steve used. Ian Swales' pre-election campaign for a pier did have a comment facility, although his petition seems to input into his party's databases, in order to target mailings and campaigning.

  • Pingback: Twitted by hopefulvoter()

  • Tristan Learoyd

    This was an interesting, albeit strange, account of the situation.

    “Redcar Pier fared much better, though was not without problems suffering boat strikes in the 1880s and 90s, it survived WW2 despite being weakened by a mine explosion and being sectioned. In the 1970s and 80s it suffered for a lack of maintenance after storm damage and was pulled down in 1981.”

    I don’t think that these facts are 100% accurate. Firstly, I have been told the pier was weakened in the Second World War to prevent U-boat anchoring? Consequently, the structure was never returned to its full tensile strength.

    “So now the very same council that demolished the pier now wants to undo the harm it did to Redcar nearly thirty years ago, for want of spending £155,000 then by spending upwards of £30m now or even as much as £50 million by the construction of this newly proposed “vertical” pier”

    I don't think any of the existing council served in 1981; so this was a bit sensationalist.

    The funding for the pier renovation was absent due to the Thatcher government; just like now where the Lib-Con government have removed North East tourism and development money.

    The phrase “vertical pier” is unhelpful. Looking at the image you have brought up I wouldn’t describe the building as a ”tower” or as a “pier”.

    “It seems to me that the “vertical” pier itself is a grand, egotistical statement by the Council that I believe is a reaction to the shaming humiliation the Council experienced at the hands of local protesters who fought them all the way to the Supreme Court of England to stop earlier plans to renovate Redcar by selling off part of the town’s seafront to Persimmion Homes for a controversial development. (See here).”

    It’s not an egotistical statement by the council, neither of the names Anderson or Goldswain appear onthe council; it’s potentially a fact of the current situation. We have an MP in Ian Swales who is using the pier as a smokescreen. The smokescreen argument of a pier for £3.1M, a laughable figure, while his sell out to the Conservatives means that the NHS is currently spewing out unemployment.

    [I note Mr Selmer is watching this thread and he will remember our little discussion where about the NHS – the one were he couldn’t answer my questions; so, his partner threatened me with a kitchen utensil on a Marske street? A rather unorthodox campaigning tactic, but we are talking about individuals who lied over a post office closure in Marske.] Mr Selmer who works for and MP who had put “jobs” as his number one priority. Oh dear…

    I share frustrations over the council, but it is simplistic to say “Labour did this”. Cllr Abbott was hardly a FOCC was he?

    The issue is much larger than the 26 or so Labour cllrs – who alone don't even form a majority on council.

    The problem is we suffer a brain drain, and we suffer from political capital. The issue is that our talented youngsters have to leave the area to find employment. Older generations then fight it out on council, in an almost amateur manner. Cllr Abbott putting in a motion and then not even voting for it last Thursday is a prime example. If we can harness our talent and get our area moving forward through clever planning by younger enthousiastic cllrs and MPs, like Tom Blenkinsop MP over in Middlesbrough South, we will move forward as a borough.

    Arguing over a pier and seafront development is not the way forward. We all need to stop this, have a development of whatever kind and stop the decline. This government will not give us money for a regeneration unless people inside the government recognise the need. Ian Swales is not making his case heard. He is in power and needs to stop attacking the 26 or so Labour councillors and get on with his job.

    “And from the tone of Steven Goldswain’s tweets it seems that the council is having somewhat of a struggle putting together the funding for their folly and Mr. Goldswain has launched (or is promoting a site and a facebook fan page) that is petitioning the local MP Ian Swales to ask Mr. Cameron for the money to complete their folly.”

    Redcar and Cleveland was giver a £23,100,000 cut from this government. Of course they are having problems finding funding.

    “The dismissal of of Cllr Chris Abbot’s assertion that a new traditional pier would only cost £3.1 million to build, this actually seems reasonable if you’re a local and recall that the Saltburn Pier was entirely dismantled and restored in 2000 at a cost of £1.2 million (see here). They go on to justify this assertion by comparing the new “vertical” pier to the rebuilt Western-Super-Mare Pier, which they say costs some £51 millions to restore.”

    £1.2 million is not a realistic price to bring in specialist steel and dig into rock under water. In addition, and to add to Joe Anderson’s comments; a £3,100,000 pier – if at all possible – will not bring people to Redcar.

    My honest suggestion is that we should develop specialist crafts and sports – such as kite surfing – have continental style open front bars and cafes and go for experiences that can’t be found online. I’ve been saying this for years – through Lib Dem and Labour controlled councils.

    “There does indeed seem to be a lot of political smoke going about, however, it seems to be coming from this group and the Labour cabinet member; perhaps still smarting from the last election result where Mr. Swales was swept into power in one of the most significant swings in recent years against Labour in a traditional stronghold.”

    Can you explain to me that while R&C has 39% employment in the public sector Mr Swales' government has started to haemorrhage the public sector? Can you explain to me why, while 1000s lose their jobs across the region – including many of Mr Swales constituents – Mr Swales is going on about a pier?

    I put it to you that this group is trying to remove the smokescreen? I put it to you that Mr Swales is using the pier situation to keep himself in power? I put it to you that Mr Swales has sold-out to the Conservatives – and now regrets it but hasn’t got the bottle to go against the Consrvatives?

    I put it to you that if you are a progressive Peter, and like Joe has already said, you need to stand for the only major progressive party we have left in this country and help us change it; so that the Labour party starts to work for us. It can only do that if it has the breadth in age and background that it requires. We've started working on this, but it's a long process.

    • “I don’t think that these facts are 100% accurate. Firstly, I have been told the pier was weakened in the Second World War to prevent U-boat anchoring? Consequently, the structure was never returned to its full tensile strength.”

      I did read and reference a number of historical articles, from which I sourced my “facts”, but the weakening you refer to is the “sectioning” I mentioned, where a portion of the pier was removed to prevent it being used as staging post by the enemy.

      “I don't think any of the existing council served in 1981; so this was a bit sensationalist.”

      It was in essence the same council, though it was not unitary at the time, it was the borough council of Langbaurgh at the time. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Redcar_and_Cleveland

      “The funding for the pier renovation was absent due to the Thatcher government; just like now where the Lib-Con government have removed North East tourism and development money.”

      From reading the various accounts of the demise of Redcar pier, I simply don't believe that this is an accurate assessment of the situation, though I'd be happy to be corrected. See this account: http://rememberwhen.gazettelive.co.uk/2008/10/t

      “The phrase “vertical pier” is unhelpful. Looking at the image you have brought up I wouldn’t describe the building as a ”tower” or as a “pier”.”

      I couldn't agree with you more. It doesn't look like either to me. However, I was simply using the accepted terms used by local politicians of both sides to describe the project, hence my placing the terms in inverted commas.

      “It’s not an egotistical statement by the council, neither of the names Anderson or Goldswain appear onthe council; it’s potentially a fact of the current situation.”

      Ah, by this I meant the actual council. I didn't mean the members of the discussion. I do wholeheartedly believe that this IS an egotistical statement, born of a council that is so far abstracted from public opinion, it no longer considers it and only considers the legacy of its members.

      “We have an MP in Ian Swales who is using the pier as a smokescreen.”

      I can't comment as to this, though I can say I haven't seen Mr. Swales comment at all on twitter about the topic, whereas I have seen a great deal of discussion from Labour party members.

      “The smokescreen argument of a pier for £3.1M, a laughable figure, while his sell out to the Conservatives means that the NHS is currently spewing out unemployment. “

      Again, I will reiterate my position that as a developer the figure of £3.1 seems sound to me. But to make sure I called a structural engineer my firm contracts this morning and asked him if it seemed a fair assessment of the cost of constructing a new pier and he agreed with my initial view that for a new build it was probably a reasonable assessment.

      “The issue is much larger than the 26 or so Labour cllrs – who alone don't even form a majority on council. “

      I appreciate this. I was merely commenting on the only side of the argument I have seen and it did not have much to recommend it either in fact or in presentation. I agree that the rot in the borough goes deeper than the Labour councilors, it seems endemic in the approach of the entire council. I'm not sure what happens once someone is elected to this body, but once they are it seems that they are infected by the councils sheer “we're right, you're wrong” bloody minded approach to dealing with the public.

      “£1.2 million is not a realistic price to bring in specialist steel and dig into rock under water. In addition, and to add to Joe Anderson’s comments; a £3,100,000 pier – if at all possible – will not bring people to Redcar.”

      I refer to my earlier comments about viability, but I agree with you that simply building a pier will not be enough. There needs to be an integrated re-generation of the entire town that will re-link the high street back to the seafront. Did you look at DKS's plans submitted to the competition? They were much closer to I think your ideas and mine to provide long term re-generation to the town.

      “My honest suggestion is that we should develop specialist crafts and sports – such as kite surfing – have continental style open front bars and cafes and go for experiences that can’t be found online. I’ve been saying this for years – through Lib Dem and Labour controlled councils.”

      These are great ideas. It's a shame that the council does not listen. Really they need to look at both Redcar, Marske and Saltburn and develop and integrated tourism plan for the three towns that will bring more people to the area and give them something to do, particularly the kind of events and possibly competitions that would draw the sort of numbers that the tall ship race did to Hartlepool, but on a regular basis.

      “Can you explain to me that while R&C has 39% employment in the public sector Mr Swales' government has started to haemorrhage the public sector? Can you explain to me why, while 1000s lose their jobs across the region – including many of Mr Swales constituents – Mr Swales is going on about a pier?

      I put it to you that this group is trying to remove the smokescreen? I put it to you that Mr Swales is using the pier situation to keep himself in power? I put it to you that Mr Swales has sold-out to the Conservatives – and now regrets it but hasn’t got the bottle to go against the Consrvatives?”

      I am no supporter of Mr. Swales nor a defender of the hopeless new coalition that is needlessly cutting our public services to cut the illusory deficit directly caused by the two banking bailouts. So I can't answer your question other than to say that I think it is madness too.

      I do not however agree with your assessment of Mr. Swales actions. I really don't think at the moment any of the Liberal Democrat MPs are thinking immediately of their re-election, after all they intend to pass legislation in the autumn session that will keep this coalition in power until 2015; only the House of Lords can save us from this now.

      I also do not think that one party conducting a campaign you believe is misleading as justification for their opponents to launch a similarly misleading campaign (see the claims of £51 millions, without presenting evidence to back the statement up), whilst suppressing rather than encouraging free speech on the platforms that choose to make their stand (Why no ability to comment on the site? And platform choice, as explained by Joe is not enough).

      “I put it to you that if you are a progressive Peter, and like Joe has already said, you need to stand for the only major progressive party we have left in this country and help us change it; so that the Labour party starts to work for us. It can only do that if it has the breadth in age and background that it requires. We've started working on this, but it's a long process. “

      If I believed Labour was that party then I'd agree with you, however, I don't. All I hear from them is the same old, tired bullshit that I hear from the other parties and this campaign has only confirmed this impression.

      I also have to observe that this is the same party that ceaselessly fought amongst itself and catastrophically undermined their leader, the excellent Gordon Brown, causing us to have to live with this diabolical coalition and thereby screwing country.

      • Tristan Learoyd

        “It was in essence the same council, though it was not unitary at the time, it was the borough council of Langbaurgh at the time.”

        I should have clarified, I meant the actual members serving on the council not the structure.

        “born of a council that is so far abstracted from public opinion, it no longer considers it and only considers the legacy of its members.”

        I agree with this in part. There are a number of ageing personalities on all sides; there is a real problem with introducing younger people to the council.

        “Again, I will reiterate my position that as a developer the figure of £3.1 seems sound to me. But to make sure I called a structural engineer my firm contracts this morning and asked him if it seemed a fair assessment of the cost of constructing a new pier and he agreed with my initial view that for a new build it was probably a reasonable assessment.”

        I find this very hard to believe. If an eight floor building costs £3.1M how can a pier that goes out to sea? But as I alluded to, I remain unconvinced that a pier of any description is what Redcar needs at this moment in time; whether it is a small jetty style pier or a Weston style pier. The Liberal Democrat argument was that people wanted a pier; following the inception of this campaign, I remain unconvinced. I think people just want Redcar to have a facelift and the see the sad decline reversed.

        “There needs to be an integrated re-generation of the entire town that will re-link the high street back to the seafront. Did you look at DKS's plans submitted to the competition? They were much closer to I think your ideas and mine to provide long term re-generation to the town.”

        Agree.

        “If I believed Labour was that party then I'd agree with you, however, I don't. All I hear from them is the same old, tired bullshit that I hear from the other parties and this campaign has only confirmed this impression. I also have to observe that this is the same party that ceaselessly fought amongst itself and catastrophically undermined their leader, the excellent Gordon Brown, causing us to have to live with this diabolical coalition and thereby screwing country.”

        In terms of the campaign, it is political argument versus political argument. In terms of the Labour party, and more specifically the Redcar party, it is an uphill battle; but if characters like me and Joe do nothing the Redcar decline simply continues. Labour is the party that Redcar tends to lean towards; so a lot depends on Labour getting the decisions right. In the past 10 years both the Labour and Lib Dem coalition councils have got decision after decision wrong.

        • I'd only point out with respect to cost the Saltburn pier was completely rebuilt in 2000, which consisted of:

          – all the stanchions were removed, shot-blasted, re-painted;
          – then the holes re-drilled and re-fixed into position;
          – all of the handrails were dissembled, shot blasted and re-painted;
          – all of the wood was replaced with hardwood.

          This project cost £1.2 million pounds, paid for by a grant from English Heritage (I believe).

          Such restorations, especially to listed piers, are complex and expensive. Building a new pier from scratch is considerably easier and could probably be done for much less than you'd imagine. £3.1 million is after all the price a council would pay rather than a private developer (at least a 25% markup here).

      • “I do not however agree with your assessment of Mr. Swales actions. I really don't think at the moment any of the Liberal Democrat MPs are thinking immediately of their re-election, after all they intend to pass legislation in the autumn session that will keep this coalition in power until 2015; only the House of Lords can save us from this now.”

        I think Mr Swales will be particularly concerned about his future, even if a General Election is 5 years away. If the Lib Dems were to get slaughtered in the 2011 locals, I think many of what are currently Lib Dem councillors would wake up and become much more questioning of the government. This would not serve Mr Swales well; it'd threaten his reselection and weaken the campaign force he would have behind him in 2015.

        “I can't comment as to this, though I can say I haven't seen Mr. Swales comment at all on twitter about the topic, whereas I have seen a great deal of discussion from Labour party members. “

        Mr Swales rarely uses Twitter, unless to encourage childish campaign tactics, to personally attack young Labour members or to praise the government. Whilst his campaign for a pier has suddenly become silent since the election (which in itself is questionable!), he has u-turned over the vertical pier, culminating with a unconstructive article full of his views (it'd seem the Council had not been asked for its response) on the front of the 'Coastal View' newspaper.

    • Just a quick factual FYI. Mr Selmer doesn't work for Ian Swales; Mrs Selmer does though I believe.

  • I thought it worth while to update the comments to note that according to my father – I don't watch the travesty that is Look North – apparently the other day they featured a story on the proposed pier that said that in a local poll of Redcar residents over 90 percent of respondents had said that they do not want this travesty to be built at all; not that this seems to be causing our local council to reflect upon their decision – some things never change eh?