Scarborough Council is to renew plans for a women’s refuge in the town as it looks to help those fleeing from domestic violence across the borough.
Land at Danes Dyke in Newby is to be offered to registered service providers for the purpose of developing a refuge, a plan that was first mooted in 2015.
Scarborough Council’s cabinet granted “in principle” use of the land for the women’s shelter today as it approved the authority’s homeless strategy for the next four years.
The council’s housing manager Andrew Rowe told the meeting that Scarborough had the highest domestic violence rate in North Yorkshire.
He also cautioned members that the success of providing the refuge would depend on the support of North Yorkshire County Council.
The cabinet voted to put the plan to full council for approval.
Cllr Liz Colling (Lab), who was standing in for council leader Steve Siddons at the cabinet meeting, said she was pleased to move forward with the scheme.
She said: “I have said that it is a stain on this borough that we do not have a women’s refuge so I’m pleased with today’s decision.
“We now have to lobby the county council for its support.”
In 2015 Scarborough Council had agreed to sell the land at Danes Dyke to the Home Group to create 10 secure flats for women and their children escaping violence in the home.
Almost 100 residents objected to the plan along with then-leader of Scarborough Council, Cllr Derek Bastiman (Con) whose ward the refuge would have fallen within. Cllr Bastiman told residents that he would “fight [the plan] all the way”.
The scheme was granted planning permission but the refuge was scuppered when the council’s cabinet decided to put the land back out to tender after a revaluing showed it had increased in value well above the offer from the Home Group, a registered charity.
In response, the Home Group hit out at the council, saying it had worked with 200 local authorities and it was “unheard of” for a deal to be changed at such a late stage.
Speaking at today’s meeting, Cllr Michelle Donohue-Moncrieff who now sits as an Independent but was a member of the Conservative cabinet in 2015 said she “regretted” her vote to not sell the land to the Home Group.
She added: “Of all the votes that I’ve took on the council the one that I think was morally repugnant was the vote not to sell that land for a lower price.
“My vote would not have swung that decision and it doesn’t mean [the Home Group’s] business case would have come through.”
Cllr Dononhue-Moncrieff said the refuge was “a matter of right and wrong” and the council had a “moral obligation” to provide the facility.