A district council embroiled in a long-running row with a town council over cobbles has taken the extraordinary step of withdrawing its £110,000 grant offer for repairs to the feature at the heart of a historic town.

A meeting of Hambleton District Council’s cabinet heard the authority was convinced that it was not responsible for covering the £215,000 of remedial works that Stokesley Town Council was now seeking to return the cobbled area back to a safe condition for residents and visitors.

The authority’s deputy leader, Councillor Peter Wilkinson, told the meeting its grant offer for the repairs was being withdrawn “due to a lack of progress”, despite the two authorities holding numerous discussions over the past few months.

Cllr Wilkinson said Hambleton council had rejected the town council’s move to get the issue resolved through arbitration after taking legal advice that it would be premature and unnecessary.

Unanimously approving the withdrawal of the grant offer, cabinet members said it was disappointing that the cobbles dispute between the authorities had rumbled on for almost 14 years.

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They said they were confident Hambleton had made a fair funding offer and that North Yorkshire Council would have the time to resolve the issue when it launched in April.

The authority’s leader, Councillor Mark Robson, said if the town council had got on with the job when it was offered the £110,000 grant in 2018, the cobbles repairs would have been completed long ago.

Rejecting an appeal to continue talks with the town council, he added: “With only six months of this authority left, there’s no time left for it to be dealt with.”

However, Stokesley councillor Bryn Griffiths said the repairs had been delayed due to the town council having been given incorrect information about transferring a traffic parking order, which was related to the £110,000 grant.

Cllr Griffiths said Hambleton council had “dug their toes in and refused to move” as the repair costs spiralled.

He said: “Stokesley Town Council has spent two years to become the first third tier authority in this country to be able to enact a traffic parking order, which is linked to us taking back the lease.

“That was a period when deterioration continued to take place on the cobbles and hence the price of remedial work has gone up significantly.”

He said in the meantime the low quality of the repairs the district council had made to some areas of the cobbles had led to the cost escalating.

Cllr Griffiths said: “It’s going to leave this legacy, ongoing saga, to the new unitary to sort.

"I’m disappointed and I’m sure the residents of Stokesley will be even more disappointed.”

Cllr Robson replied that Stokesley residents might want to take up the issue with the town council, saying the district council had gone to significant efforts and expense to move the scheme forward.

He added once the grant was withdrawn, the council’s officers would draw up and cost a programme of permanent repairs to the cobbles.

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