BALUSTRADES: Re-construction is not just cosmetic

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I write following the article ‘Cuts expected as council has to save an extra £12m’, this following yearly cuts in previous budgets. (News Guardian, August 13).

I have heard the mayor say at various events that everything the taxpayers wish to have must be set against the constraints.

She has also had to deal with a no doubt worthy campaign by a group wishing to see certain features at Whitley Bay’s coastal promenades retained instead of removed as part of more important work to ensure the safety of sections of sea wall.

I am, of course, referring to the Lower Promenade and, it now is proved, ‘less’ historic balustrades.

The letter pages of August 13 showed that the mayor’s letter on coastal consultation had particularly interested residents who knew the background of these concrete balustrades from the 1950s.

A correspondent on August 20 chose to deal with my contribution of August 13 on the Lower Promenade issue.

I am bound to say this G Swanson has a very quaint elementary take on the contributions of people like me, who often attend listening events promoted by the administration of North Tyneside Council and offer our supposed expertise, as well as voluntary work elsewhere on similar projects, ‘really historical’, at the Fish Quay.

I understand that though I am described as apparently ‘misinformed’, the existing, very heavy, concrete balustrades are not reasonably recoverable during the major reconstruction, which is necessary and not just a cosmetic exercise.

However, the listening mayor has intervened to provide replacements of the same general pattern when the really important work is done. That will be the only variation to the re-modelled coastal work in this immediate area, I suggest.

G Swanson implied that the responsible council staff and their professional associates had not selected the best options as reported by the consulting engineers, and, of course, any contributions by me and my kind who just might not agree with the balustrade admirer.

I may also have been a slightly professional person, aware of some ‘sagging’ conditions in engineering and the hazards of differential settlement, requiring, for example in 1958, the replacement of the beams in the Lower Promenade area.

I have also done a bit on the use of metal handrail standards and the use of non-tubular materials in highly corrosive environments worse than the quite demanding anti-corrosion needs in metals facing the North Sea.

I and others have quietly told the council’s officers that parts of their very largely railings need a bit of maintenance, even total replacement.

I trust I have made myself clear, at present.

AM Johnson

North Shields