Barnsley events company hits back at 'influential' residents of Whitby who blocked their plans for a pop-up zip wire and called it crass

An events company that wanted to set up two 340-metre zip wires in Whitby has hit back at suggestions that the idea was “crass”.

Whitby

Barnsley-based Big Bang Promotions had approached Scarborough Council about a plan to install the two lines leading from the Whitby Pavilion car park to West Pier in time for the summer season when coronavirus restrictions are lifted.

The proposal, which had drawn criticism from local groups, one of which branded it “awful” and “crass”, would have taken thrillseekers 300 metres from the West Cliff to a landing spot in front of the lighthouse on the West Pier until the end of September.

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Last week, the council confirmed it had decided that it could not support the idea, ending any chance of it progressing.

In a statement to the Local Democracy Reporting Service the company said it was “disappointed” by the decision of the council and blamed “influential” members of the Whitby community for spreading misconceptions about the pop-up attraction.

A spokesman said: “We completely respect the decision made by Scarborough Borough Council and the feelings of the local community are of course extremely important to any smallbusiness looking to invest in the town.

“We are obviously disappointed, as a Yorkshire-based leisure company who have been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic and were looking at opportunities that would get us on the front foot again.

“Despite our experience of running pop-up zip wires around the country, which in the main are welcomed by stakeholders, this is the first time we have come up against such strong opposition to the activity especially given that this was never going to be a permanent fixture.

"The proposal definitely polarised opinions, the objections were widely reported on but as social media shows there were also a large number in favour as well, especially from the younger generations and families looking to do an activity together.

“The strength of feeling against the proposal seems to in the main have come from certain influential members of the community who were very much led by pre-determined misconceptions of the activity and the customer demographic the activity attracts.

“However, that said we did not actually have any contact from anyone from Whitby to discuss the proposal formally or to ask any relevant questions.”

During the consultation John Freeman, chairman of the Whitby and District Tourism Association, had called the proposal an “awful idea”.

He added: “I find it amazing that anyone could even think of such a crass idea.

“It is totally out of keeping with the image Whitby wishes to project. We are not Blackpool or Scarborough and certainly do not want to go down that road.”

In response, Big Bang Promotions said that the comments were “misguided” and “disparaging”.

The spokesman added: “Our customer demographic is in the main families, mums and dads with teenage children, charity fundraisers doing a challenge activity to raise money, gift experience voucher holders, local businesses doing team building events, school groups doing educational workbooks as well as people already looking to visit for the day.

“It was mentioned that Whitby did not want to attract ‘those types of people’ in reference to people who participated in zip wire activities, which we feel is misguided.

“Zip wires are currently operated at various locations around the country including seaside resorts such as Bournemouth, to call them ‘crass’ which was the word used in this case we feel was a little disparaging to the places which have them, the participants, and the activity itself.”