the3towns this week reveals the shocking level of damage caused to Saltcoats’ East Promenade during the storms that battered the Ayrshire coast last December 28.
The following day, North Ayrshire Council closed the prom in the interests of public safety. However, the3towns understands a Saltcoats resident has now raised concerns with Network Rail in relation to the integrity of the main Glasgow-Largs railway line, which runs adjacent to the promenade, immediately behind the wall in the two photographs, above.
In response, Network Rail state, “As with many other assets the maintenance regime is fit for purpose, within the constraints of our funding determination. Site investigation is underway including underwater inspections which unfortunately have also been hampered by the severe weather conditions but are now being concluded. We have a team of engineers and designers working on repair solutions and site work will commence in the coming weeks. However, repairs will depend on a number of factors including results from our site investigation and access in any further inclement weather. In the meantime the promenade will remain closed for safety reasons.”
In October last year, the3towns revealed North Ayrshire Council had set-aside £50,000 for repairs to the East Promenade after it became clear surface maintenance of the road and walkway was the responsibility of the local authority. Prior to this, the Council had believed Network Rail was responsible for all aspects of the sea wall and promenade. At the time, NAC’s Corporate Director (Education & Skills), Ms Carol Kirk, said “the damaged surfacing presents a considerable risk to public safety,” and stated repairs were required “as a matter of urgency.”
With the further significant damage caused in the December storm, the Council and Network Rail will now have to liaise to co-ordinate repairs.
Saltcoats & Stevenston Independent councillor Ronnie McNicol told the3towns, “The decision to close the prom in December was taken jointly by the Council and Network Rail. The Council is only responsible for the surface of the prom, but clearly the entire structure needs rebuilt in certain areas before surface repairs can be carried out.”
Cllr McNicol has asked NAC officials to ensure Network Rail is made aware of the urgent need for infrastructure repairs, so that the period of closure at the promenade is kept as short as possible. Ronnie McNicol added, “As the prom forms part of the Coastal and Cycle paths, I’ve also asked that signs are erected showing an alternative route.”
Concerns were also expressed this week that a lack of general maintenance may have exacerbated the damage caused last month. the3towns has seen copies of minutes from meetings of Saltcoats Community Council, dating from May 2008, where it is recorded that a Community Councillor raised with North Ayrshire Council “the poor state of the promenade between Saltcoats Harbour and Stevenston Shore.” the3towns understands the Community Council were advised there were “two main problems to upgrading,” namely a lack of money and the fact the prom is owned jointly by North Ayrshire Council and Network Rail.
At a subsequent meeting of Saltcoats Community Council, in September 2008, members again highlighted concerns over the condition of the East Promenade, with minutes recording the view that, “the close proximity of the railway to the sea mean that passing trains could become even more susceptible to the force from strong waves,” and posing the question, “Would this area benefit from more sea defences being put in place to break up the tidal force?”
In a response to concerns raised by a Saltcoats resident, the Office of the Rail Regulator this week stated they were “not in a position to comment” on whether or not the damage evident at the East Promenade “may ultimately pose a threat to the safety of the operational railway.”