Scarborough Council’s cabinet has agreed to back a group trying to secure much-needed funding for Raincliffe Woods.
The four-person cabinet agreed to act allow the council to act as a “cashflow facility” to the Raincliffe Woods Community Enterprise (RWCE) group as it bids for £800,000 in funding to replace its crumbling boardwalk.
The borough council will cover losses incurred in the bidding process in a fifty-fifty split with the North York Moors National Park Authority, though the park authority’s liability will be capped at £10,000.
A report, which went before the cabinet today, said that the boardwalk is at the end of its usefulness.
Report author Jo Ireland, the council’s customers, communities and partnerships manager, told the councillors that without the funding it was likely the boardwalk would have to be removed.
The Forge Valley Boardwalk is situated at the East Ayton end of Raincliffe Woods, within the North York Moors National Park (NYMNP).
The 19-year-old wooden structure is approximately 2.3km long and provides a popular walkway through a natural environment alongside the River Derwent.
The Raincliffe Woods Community Enterprise took over the running of the woods from Scarborough Council via a Community Asset Transfer in 2016,
However, under the terms of the lease responsibility for the maintenance or removal of the boardwalk will revert back to the council if the application for funding is not successful.
If the bid to the European RDPE Growth Programme is successful it is hoped that works on the boardwalk could commence in early 2020.
When the RDPE money is secured repayments will then be made to the council to cover any loans it has made for the project.
At today’s cabinet meeting, Conservative Cllr Heather Phillips, the ward councillor for Derwent Valley and Moor, said there were “very differing” views about the project from people in her ward.
She said: “I know [the report] we have just read through says the majority of people are supporting the scheme but I’ve had quite a long relationship with Raincliffe Woods Community Enterprise and the lack of engagement has been stunning over the last few years.
“We understand one of the main bases of this project going ahead is to boost rural tourism, we don’t have a problem with that, but it is to do it in a sustainable way. Access to the project is poor and [East Ayton] becomes a rat run, residents of one particular road have to bear a lot of the traffic.”
Cllr Phillips also said more needed to be done by the community enterprise group to address litter being left in the woods and also a plan to combat “mini-raves” which have been taking place.