Group’s dismay as land ‘left to rack and ruin’

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A VOLUNTEER Whitby gardening group which had to abandon land at Stainsacre Hall when owners Middlesbrough Council decided to sell it, is claiming it’s now been left to rack and ruin.

ParticipAction, which is a charitable horticultural scheme for people with mental health problems and learning difficulties, had the site at Stainsacre Hall for 12 years.

They had greenhouses, polytunnels and sheds on the land which they used to grow vegetables as well as about 4,000 bedding plants each year, which they sold to help finance the scheme.

But earlier this year the council decided to sell the hall, which was used as an outdoor education centre but saw the number of youngsters using it fall dramatically.

More than £400,000 was needed to be spent on it to bring it in line with present day standards.

The group appealed through the Whitby Gazette for help in finding a new site for them.

Barrie Shade, chairman of the ParticipAction committee, said: “It was a shock to us to be thrown off the site after 12 years because everybody enjoyed being there.

“It was an important social activity and some people didn’t garden but just came to enjoy the company.”

The group has now been given a new site by North Yorkshire County Council at Larpool Elderly Persons’ Home in Whitby following their plea.

Mr Shade said: “We’re pleased we’ve got a new site but it is smaller than the other one and we’re presently waiting for planning permission to erect our new greenhouse, given to us by Scarborough Borough Council, as well as our sheds and a new summerhouse that will be used for horticultural training and as an additional community amenity.

“We’ll continue with our provision of horticultural therapy to those with mental health problems and learning difficulties and we’ll also endeavour to establish a bond with the residents of the home and perhaps get their involvement with gardening.

“But I was dismayed to see that our former site has been left to rack and ruin.

“It’s just been abandoned and no doubt before long it’ll be vandalised if something isn’t done with it.

“In addition, Middlesbrough Council agreed to give us £4,000 in compensation and for the structures we left but we’re still waiting for our money.

“The new site is fairly shaded so we won’t grow vegetables but concentrate on flowers to go in tubs and possibly a sensory garden.

“There’s also a wooded area that could be a sanctuary for wildlife but it needs a lot of work on it.

“We need help from active volunteers to lay foundations and erect the structures.”

A spokesman for Middlesbrough Council said: “Significant council budget reductions, falling use and increasing running costs meant there was little alternative other than to close Stainsacre Hall and put it on the market.

“As a gesture of goodwill, the council agreed to pay ParticipAction compensation to help them re-locate.

“There has been a slight delay in the payment of this compensation for which we apologise and have made arrangements to pay this as soon as possible.

“Stainsacre Hall is now on the market with Strutt and Parker.”

Anyone interested in supporting ParticipAction is asked to contact Nicki on (01947) 820172.