A dispute has broken out in the Old Town over an application to close The Bolts passageway at night.
A team of local residents have launched a petition to save the historic passageway behind Sandside, which they feel is a ‘big part of the town’s heritage’
However two local businessmen, who have submitted the application for after hours closure to Scarborough Council, say shutting The Bolts is a must to make the area safer.
Guilian Alonzi, who runs the Harbour Bar ice cream parlour, said he and John Senior, who owns neighbouring restaurant The Golden Grid, fear for the safety of their staff who use the concealed walkway after dark.
Mr Alonzi says his CCTV cameras have captured numerous fights and incidents of antisocial behaviour.
However Old Town residents fear a night time gates will lead to a more permanent closure of The Bolts.
Laurin Mainprize, who lives in the only residential property in The Bolts, and who is heading the petition, said: “The Bolts are a part of Scarborough’s heritage, how dare anyone try to shut them off. I have never felt in any danger down here. You get fighting everywhere, just shutting an area off isn’t the answer.”
Also against the proposals is Rachel Jenkinson, who has lived in the Old Town all her life. She said: “The Bolts have been used by our families for hundreds of years.
“In the summer when the seafront is packed locals use The Bolts as a quick route. They use it when the weather is bad and they need sheltering.
“It is one of the few remaining quirky things that remains from our heritage and we feel passionate about protecting it.”
The objectors are being backed by the Scarborough Civic Society, which has submitted a statement to the Council saying: “This is an ill conceived proposal which takes away part of the Old Town from the general public for questionable benefit.
“While we have some sympathy with the applicant we don’t think that gating this public right of way is the answer to solving anti-social behaviour.”
Speaking about the application Mr Alonzi said: “I take the health and safety of my staff very seriously. In the summer time, when the staff work evenings, that stretch of path is a mess and unpleasant.
“It is part of the Old Town which people are proud of, and I understand that, but that does not stop this being a dangerous place at night, and I am trying to protect my business and my staff from that.
“I just don’t want a situation to happen involving my staff, or anyone for that matter, which leaves me saying I told you so.
“This is only a night time proposal, and if I could figure out a guarantee to show that then I would do it.”
Mr Senior added: “As nextdoor neighbour I am really supporting Mr Alonzi’s application, as they as well as us on occasions, have had several issues with unsanitary behaviour in The Bolts.
“We want to work closely with the residents to find a suitable way of making the area safer for everyone.”
The planning application has received numerous public comments, some in favour and some against, including several from Harbour Bar staff.
One says: “I have witnessed many different kinds of unsociable incidents in the Bolts namely drunks urinating and vomiting, fighting, unruly behaviour and people sleeping rough because the passage is overbuilt. These incidents often cause distress to the staff especially in the evenings.”
Another member of staff states: “I feel it is of utmost importance these evening curfew gates are installed. I have frequently witnessed people intoxicated with alcohol, swearing, shouting and fighting; amongst other things.
“It can at times be frightening for the safety of staff working on the evening shift.”
The planning application, numbered 12/02476/FL, is due to be determined by January 17.