You can see the problem in the picture above, click on it to enlarge and then click on it to enlarge some more.
We overcome this problem by having signs saying don’t sit under the cliff. Lets say for example we have a bit cliff where bits fall off about four times a year, there are 525600 minutes in a year, let us also say that the danger posed from a fall lasts for 15 seconds so that in the course of a year there is a minute where you could get hurt being under this bit of cliff.
You can see that the danger of getting hurt is relative to the time you spend under the bit of cliff, walk under it occasionally and the chances of being hurt are thousands to one. Sit under the cliff every day during the summer and you start to get to something like a 1 in 4 chance of being hit by a bit of falling cliff.
Build your house under the cliff, or start on a 4 year contract to work under the cliff and you can see that a serious problem emerges.
With the Pleasurama site we have a situation where parts of the cliff wall have visible problems and parts periodically drop off, in fact a classic do not sit under the cliff situation.
The bit in the pictures above with the masonry falling off is part of the old railway tunnel entrance, bridge and steps, built in the 1840s.
There are several factors that cause large collapses, one being building cliff walls as they hold back smaller falls until there is sufficient weight of chalk to cause the wall to fail.
Another factor is surfacing the top of the cliff, as when the surface cracks the rainwater is concentrated in one place, the crack, causing localised damage to the chalk below.
The main cause of cliff falls though is poor drainage of the surface above the cliff.
The other bit of the cliff wall, that has problems that are visible, is at the other end of the Pleasurama site
The right hand panel is the new one and serves as a control in this instance.
I was, as some of you will know an engineer before I became a shop assistant and over the years I worked in engineering it was constantly drummed into me that safety was paramount.
I was also told that safety was everyone’s responsibility and so I felt obliged to report the situation on this site to the Health and Safety Executive.
On Monday I telephoned the HSE and asked them to go and have a look at the situation there as I thought aspects of it were potentially dangerous.
On Wednesday they phoned me up and told me that they had telephoned the council and Cardy Construction whose workers are on site and had been assured by both of them that the cliff was safe.
I am afraid at this point I became rather annoyed and I discussed the matter further with them.
I am also afraid that they assume that I am some sort of nutcase, who knows they may be right.
My point here though is that if someone reports something they consider may be dangerous to the HSE and asks them to go and investigate it, then instead telephoning the organisations reported as having something potentially dangerous and asking them if they thought it was dangerous, they perhaps ought to have considered some sort of alternative action.
There is always the possibility that possibility that the person phoning them wasn’t a nutcase.
Anyway after further discussion the HSE told me that Cardy Construction had also voiced concerns about the stability of the cliff with the council and that the council had assured them that there was nothing wrong with the cliff or the cliff wall.
Now either there is nothing wrong with the cliff wall or there isn’t, if there is there is a good chance that part of it will collapse once again, if there isn’t then it won’t.