GAYLE Mill near Hawes was showered in accolades when the former 18th century cotton mill reopened in 2008 as a visitor attraction.

In 2004 it had been a finalist in the BBC’s Restoration series and following a national campaign it gained a Heritage Lottery award.

Now, ten years after opening and the plug has been pulled on the attraction and the situation has deteriorated rapidly.

Gayle Mill Trust has been told it must move out of the mill as it is to close for remedial work to ensure it complies with health and safety rules, while the Gayle Mill Trust claims the closure is unnecessary. Now the local parish council is accusing the civic trust of bullying and urging the Charities Commission to investigate.

The North of England Civic Trust claims it will announce new plans for the mill in April, once the Gayle Mill Trust has moved out.

But these plans appear to overlook one very important factor; they will need the local community onside.

Whether that’s volunteers to help run the attraction, local trades people, local teashops or B&Bs to promote the attraction to visitors or local fundraising.

Whatever the plans, they will require their goodwill. And at the moment, as Cllr John Blackie explained, they feel they have been treated with “disdain and contempt”.

The volunteers were on the ground day in day out working hard to make the venture was a success, for free, in their own time. Attractions like this need so much more than just bricks and mortar to be a success, they need an army of people on the ground as well. It would be foolish to forget that.