Colony of newts on move as resort builds brighter future

ONE of the last reminders of Scarborough's 1980s holiday scene is about to be swept away by the £150m Sands Project – but only after a colony of great crested newts is sent on vacation.

During the heyday of the resort's Mr Marvels fun park, visitors were taken up the North Bay cliffs to the site by an elaborate chair lift which looked as though it would be more at home in the Swiss Alps.

Although Mr Marvels shut years ago, the rusting pylons that carried the chair lift still march up the North Bay cliffs, carrying a system of wires and cables that has not moved in a decade.

It has been casting an air of dereliction over an area of the Promenade known as the Bulge, where Benchmark, Scarborough Council's private sector partner in The Sands, wants to install an attraction which changes with every season.

The authority's Sands Project manager Colin Eastwood says he has been trying to dismantle the chair lift for the past 18 months. "But there are great crested newts on Marvels and that is where all the connections and the wires to the cable car are," he added.

No one expected the boating lake at nearby Northstead Manor Gardens to attract newts because it is man-made. But because it was regularly drained for cleaning by Scarborough Council there were very few fish in it to feed off the newts.

Breeding unchecked, the population spread to other parts of the site.

Developers have spent months digging and cultivating an array of wildlife ponds to transfer the newt population. Licensed newt handlers were needed for the job which involves building fences to steer the newts into buckets set in the ground.

Many of the newts have awoken in spring after hibernation to a new life in areas such as the North Cliff golf course. Once the area is clear, the chair lift can be dismantled, and The Bulge will be used for a feature that changes every season, such as a steam attraction or carousal.