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Bayfair Editor’s Twitter Feed:

“CHAMPING” at Old St Stephen’s Church has caused a great deal of controversy, but following the Open Meeting on 3rd of July, the old church has been re-opened to the public. “Champing” has been suspended for the present.


The online petition objecting to Sustrans plans for the old railway line numbered over 2500 signatures by late July. It can be found by clicking the following link: change cinder track petition

This, and the paper petitions in local shops and pubs, clearly shows the strength of local and visitors feelings against the proposals.

Sustrans Revised Proposals were published on 21st June. They can be found at (password cindertrack): https://share.sustrans.org.uk/share/Handlers/AnonymousDownload.ashx?folder=68fde0ca

Scarborough Borough Council’s response to the petition is that petition is misleading and full of inaccuracies. The primary concerns appear relate to the transfer of ownership of the track, proposals to tarmac the full length of the track and potential environmental damage. SBC Officer Paul Thompson has provided a series of FAQs in response to questions being asked on social media.

Cinder Track Restoration Plan FAQ’s
Sustrans, the leading cycling charity, secured some grant funding to develop a Restoration Blue Print for the Cinder Track. As part of this work, Sustrans consulted widely, receiving over a thousand responses which were broadly in support of restoring the track. Unfortunately, direct consultation with the local Parish Council’s was not undertaken but this is now being rectified. There are some widespread mis-apprehensions of the restoration plan. Key issues are addressed by the FAQs below:
Is the Borough Council planning to transfer the ownership of the track to Sustrans?
No. The track has been managed by a multi-agency management board over recent years. This board has representation from Scarborough Borough Council, North York Moors National Park, Friends of the Old Railway, Whitby Gateway and Sustrans. It is envisaged that this board will continue to oversee the management of the track in the future.
Will the track surface be tarmac throughout?
No, this is not the case. Throughout this project the clear direction has been to ensure that the track retains its rural character and will continue to provide an environment which will enable a number of users; walkers, cyclists, horse riders, emergency vehicles, to make use of it. There are, however, certain small sections of the track which suffer significant erosion problems and it may be that a hard surface is the only suitable surface in these areas.
Will the restoration of the track result in widespread environmental damage.
This is not the case. As part of the restoration process full ecological surveys will be undertaken to mitigate the impact of any development. The track is a very important wildlife corridor and there will be a commitment to maintain or improve the site's ecological importance moving forwards.
Why can’t the Council just maintain what is there?
There is no specific maintenance budget for the Cinder Track. The Council has a ‘global’ parksand open spaces budget to cover general maintenance but this is not sufficient to undertake proactive maintenance across all our sites. As such general maintenance on the Cinder Track is reactive and is prioritised against other budget demands. The only exception is a £105k capital investment which has been in place over the last two years. This is one off funding that has been used to complete urgent, major repairs to two sections of track located south of Ravenscar and
immediately north of Robin Hoods Bay.
Will the track will become a cycling “super-highway”
The management board have no intention to create cyclists's race track. Rather the restoration of the track will aim to provide a high quality multi-user environment which can be enjoyed all year round. Improved signage emphasising responsible shared use will be an essential part of any improvements. The need for a Code of Practice for users including cyclists has been discussed.
There has been a lack of consultation about the proposals.
As part of this project, Sustrans consulted widely, receiving over a thousand responses which were broadly in support of restoring the track. Further consultation with the local Parish Councils will take place on the final draft over the coming weeks.
The proposals will then be considered, in public, by the Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Board prior to any recommendation being taken to the Council’s Cabinet.
Why do anything with the track - just leave it as it is?
The Council is committed to an ambitious plan which seeks to deliver prosperity and a high quality of life for all. There are specific aims under this plan to improve the quality of our open spaces, to improve people’s health and to develop sustainable tourism. The restoration of the Cinder Track would deliver on a number of these aims.
The consultation process at the beginning of the work on the proposals showed a range of differing opinions on the Cinder Track, but many recognised a need for investment in the fabric of the track in problem areas. Rather than continue to reactively patch up areas where issues keep recurring it was felt that a longer term vision to make the route fit for the future was a more appropriate response. Predicted growth of tourism and of local users in growing settlements at either end and along the route will stretch the current capacity and the user experience if significant improvements are not addressed in the next few years.

SBC’s Paul Thompson advises that: Sustrans final proposals are due to go before SBC’s Overview & Scrutiny Committee on 13th September, with a view to a report being presented to Cabinet in October. This report will ask Cabinet to determine whether they wish to adopt the restoration plan.

This decision will have no immediate financial implications for SBC but will enable applications for various funding streams and well as a coordinated approach from all stakeholders.

There are significant funding streams currently available for a project of this type. One of note is the RDPE Growth programme which has £3.5m of funding available to support growth in rural tourism. This is 100% funding and does not require any match funding from SBC. The funding guidance specifically references rural cycle paths throughout the document and SBC have been advised that a bid along those lines would be very appropriate.

View from Old St Stephen's

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