A generous benefactor has pledged £1,000 to navy veterans who have been forced to quit Scarborough after 22 years due to soaring costs.
The anonymous South Bay trader, who is a leading player in the leisure industry, put the cash forward in a bid to keep the 8th Destroyer Squadron Association in the town.
It comes after the Scarborough News revealed that members will hold their annual reunion in Bridlington as a result of them not being able to afford a £1,000 levy to use the Spa.
The donation was offered through Heroes Welcome and the South Bay Traders Association following last week’s report.
John Senior, founder of Heroes Welcome, said: “A sum of £1,000 has been pledged as an open offer due to a family connection with the military
“We are delighted it has come through as it shows the generosity of people and of Scarborough.
“We understand if it’s too late but it shows the town is willing to support and look after our veterans. If they are looking to return in the future that offer will still be there.”
Scarborough has always welcomed the parade, with the public lining the streets to applaud 200 veterans as they march by, with some members booking the same guest houses year after year.
But a question mark has been hanging over the three-day event since organisers were told they would have to pay the Spa fee from 2013.
As a result they have signed a new four-year deal with the Bridlington Spa - for free.
Peter Lee-Hale, association chairman, said: “Sadly it’s too late as we have already signed a contract with Bridlington. Obviously we are very touched by this and we are very grateful. We will miss coming to the town as it has been like a second home.”
Scarborough Council, which is running the Spa until private operators take over next month, has maintained the levy is fair.
Brian Bennett, head of tourism and culture, said the authority had a responsibility to strike a balance between the cost paid by users of the facility and the subsidy of the venue that is funded by tax payers. But Scarborough taxi driver and former councillor Phil McDonald has described the move as a “backward step for Scarborough” as the event brought vital trade into the town.
He said: “It’s very bad for Scarborough. As a seaside town you need all the tourism you can get. It’s a step backwards and the council should think again. Many traders look forward to this time of year when these people arrive because it’s extra business. Who is going to replace them?”
However, Scarborough Hospitality Association, which represents a number of the town’s hotels and guest houses, has backed the council’s stance.
Secretary Allison Barnes said: “While we are sad the veterans parade will not be held in Scarborough next year, it is understandable they want to try somewhere new, especially if the facilities for this conference are being offered to them free.
“The charge of £1,000 by the Scarborough Spa for 200 delegates over a three-day period still only works out at £5 a head, which is extremely good value for money considering the excellent facilities provided.
“We hope that regular visitors to the town will still choose to stay in Scarborough during next year’s conference.”
Mr Bennett added: “It’s a generous offer that’s very much welcomed. It’s now a matter for the 8th Destroyer Squadron Association to consider.”