Boxing Day raft race under threat

RAFT RACE --- Raft race around Scarborough Harbour which happens ever year on Boxing Day. The racers try to stop rival rafts with egg and flour bombs. Saturday 26th December 2015. HARRY ATKINSON
RAFT RACE --- Raft race around Scarborough Harbour which happens ever year on Boxing Day. The racers try to stop rival rafts with egg and flour bombs. Saturday 26th December 2015. HARRY ATKINSON

Scarborough’s annual Boxing Day raft race could be cancelled following a row between the council and the organisers.

Scarborough Sub-Aqua Club’s event, held to raise funds and awareness for the Fishermen and Firemen Charity which supports local fishing families and their elderly dependants, may not be held this year due to over-riding problems with the Risk Assessments for the event and associated matters.

The club is now looking for someone to come forward to offer help.

In a statement the club said: “The Sub-Aqua Club has been responsible for organising the event safely for over 40 years and are extremely saddened to make the decision to withdraw as organisers.

“The Sub-Aqua Club has always adhered to the strict health and safety procedures, risk assessments and public liability insurance required for the actual in-water activity within the harbour, including safety boat and first aid cover through the generosity of volunteers who have given their time free of charge to support a great local cause.

“The commitment for the event has increased year on year to include more Risk Assessments for Crowd Control and all that is implied by this.

“The Sub-Aqua club has been liaising with Scarborough Borough Council, which is insisting that the crowd control for the event must be the responsibility of the club.

“Whilst the council is willing to provide uniforms and equipment to rope off the harbour quaysides, the Sub-Aqua Club does not have the expertise, funds or manpower to provide crowd control for the whole harbour area.

“The responsibility has grown each year to include most of the Vincent and Fish Piers, Timber Wharf and the Golden Ball Slipway and the club does not feel it can sustain an effective level of supervision of such a large area with untrained volunteers. The event is not aimed at raising funds to pay for such supervision but a fun spectacle to support a much loved local charity.

“The Sub-Aqua Club has always hoped to proceed on the basis of joint responsibility; the Club for the in-water activity, the council for crowd control but this is unacceptable to the Council and so the sad demise of the event in 2016 cannot be avoided.”

SSAC Club Chairman Matthew Newsome added: “We are quite happy to continue to organise the in-water activity but the only way the raft race will go ahead this year or in the future is if we can find volunteers to organise and marshal the crowd control side of the event.

“We are, therefore, appealing to the wider community for volunteers and anyone interested should contact me at Scarborough.diver@gmail.com.”