Redcar and Cleveland Council plans to map out a strategy for arguably its most popular tourist attraction – the Saltburn cliff tramway.

The historic asset, which has now been given a travellers’ choice award by TripAdvisor, continues to attract thousands of visitors.

But in previous years it has been beset by extensive closures caused in part by repeated maintenance issues.

Last year Saltburn councillor Philip Thomson said well over a million pounds had been invested in the facility, which is one of the oldest water-balanced cliff lifts in the world and carries passengers back and forth to the seafront.

Darlington and Stockton Times: The famous Saltburn cliff tramway

He has repeatedly requested a business plan from the local authority – which he said was lacking – setting out how it is being managed and what strategies are in place to ensure its future success.

Such a document has yet to be produced, although Cllr Thomson recently said he was told it is pending.

Meanwhile, fellow Saltburn councillor Craig Hannaway previously told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that staffing continued to be an issue and suggested the Victorian-built tramway would perform better in the hands of a community interest organisation.

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A spokesman for the council suggested management oversight had recently been shifted between departments in the local authority.

He said: “It’s importance as a tourist attraction has recently led to its management being transferred to the council’s culture and tourism team and the business will be assessed ahead of the next full season opening.”

The spokesman described the tramway as a “wonderful asset for Saltburn and the wider borough” which brought tourists in from across the country. 

The cliff lift, which originally opened in 1884, was taken out of action during the Covid-19 pandemic with the council extending its closure for a period to the frustration of some despite restrictions being lifted.

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In its last full year of operation before the pandemic it attracted more than 150,000 visitors.

The TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice award places the seaside attraction among the top ten per cent of listings on the site and app, based on reviews and opinions from travellers, and is said to acknowledge a “commitment to excellence” in terms of visitor experience.

The council said it was a “testament to the consistent dedication” of those working on the tramway.

Councillor Carrie Richardson, the cabinet member for climate change, environment and culture, said: “We take immense pride in our heritage and continue to strive for excellence in every aspect of our operation.”