Bridlington residents, business owners and civic leaders have hit back at a regional news article that has ‘degraded’ and ‘belittled’ the town.
A report which has been published on numerous news websites and publications, paints a bleak picture of town centre streets in Bridlington that are claimed awash with Class A drugs, anti social behaviour and ‘a fertile ground for drugs gangs and other criminals to thrive.’
Bridlington Mayor and ERYC councillor Liam Dealtry was incensed at the negativity of the story.
“I cannot believe that there isn’t a single positive part to the story… it is so one-sided it’s untrue.” said Liam.
“Every single town and city has problems – and Bridlington is no exception, but I was born and brought up here and have travelled around and seen other places which have bigger problems and far less to offer – Bridlington is a fantastic town.
“It’s just degenerating Bridlington and this report would surely make visitors think twice before coming to the town if they haven’t been here before”
“Just looks at the Old Town, the area has a real buzz and businesses are buying and investing in their future as well as the area.”
“The reporter must have either ignored any positive comments or just picked out negative snippets to generate click bait and belittle our town – it has no balance or accountability whatsoever.” said Cll Dealtry.
Kay Wardle, who is the co-ordinator at the town’s Gasworx skatepark which featured in the report, commented:
“My role is for 8 hours a week and the park is open access. So as in any area with unsupervised teens, there can be elements of antisocial behaviour. There is live monitored CCTV at the park, and we work closely with the police who monitor the footage.We do suggest that younger children are supervised as you would in any area after dark.”
On claims that the park was heavily vandalised by graffiti Kay responded by saying:
“Graffiti is an integral part of the skate scene and is a skilled and legitimate artform, we have been lucky enough to receive funding and have offered workshops at the park with urban artists.
“The Gasworx plays an important role especially over the last 18 months . For children who aren’t attracted to traditional team sports we provide a challenging place for them to express themselves in an individual and athletic manner.
Kay added: “Getting children involved in a personal and esteem-building activity like skateboarding/riding helps build the confidence to do well in other aspects of their lives. We provide a place for local youth to meet, socialise, and develop friendships based on a common, healthy interest.”
“After skateboardings’ debut at the Olympics I’ve already had 2 girls request lessons We are lucky enough to have a really well designed park that will attract and engage with more riders and young people and we should be proud of it.”
Local business owner and resident Martyn Coltman, who is a member of several forums and regeneration projects in Bridlington, was scathing of the ‘one-sided’ story claiming it was ‘irresponsible councillors grabbing headlines from a negative story.’
Martin said:“Having read the article recently published in The Hull and East Riding Daily Mail and then subsequently other publications across Yorkshire – I wanted to put my own version of what Bridlington has actually become over the last 20-plus years – not the warped version we read about in the article.
“Sadly some councillors seem to want to try and grab headlines and make out that they have all the answers to problems that they’ve suddenly just identified.
“However there are many of us who have been working tirelessly (including many many volunteers) for over 25 years to address a great many of the deep-rooted issues that all U.K. coastal towns have faced and that are discussed in the article.
“Bridlington is almost unique in having identified these problems way back in the 1980s when our unique triple wammy of decline began – The white fish industry collapsed; cheap foreign holidays boomed and the mining community disappeared (they had great wealth and came to spend lots of it in Bridlington each year).
“But since then a huge holistic regeneration plan has been rolled out, addressing entrepreneurial business creation, industry shift support and subsequent job creation investment.
There have been many public realm improvements, major tourist attraction investments, greatly improved education and further education provision, major transport improvements, major fishing industry support, long term and ongoing social deprivation support, several grant schemes for business improvements, greatly improved targeted marketing and many other supporting investments – too numerous to mention.
“Our industrial estates are now thriving (not in decline as the councillor suggests) – with many more smaller but equally successful industries – with a specific shift in strategy, to ensure we didn’t lose one huge employer overnight (ie like Lada Cars or Sara Lee). This has created thousands of new jobs.
“Well over £400 million has been invested already in the town since then and there’s still more to come. Yes, there are still some issues that blight Bridlington – which are mirrored in every town and city across the UK.
“It is totally unfair to suggest Bridlington is suffering these issues in isolation. Yes, specific parts of Bridlington are identified in the Government’s Indexes of Multiple Deprivation (as is almost every urban centre across the UK – including locally Scarborough, Whitby, Hull, Beverley, Withernsea and Hornsea – all have those similar areas of deprivation) and other resorts across the UK have far worse deprivation – Great Yarmouth and Skegness for example are far higher up those deprivation indexes, but that does not make Bridlington a community that is eternally blighted by these issues.
“The town has always had a tremendously supportive community and the efforts going on to improve the town, by hundreds of volunteers across every sector, has been ongoing for decades.
“It’s extremely unhelpful and totally irresponsible of Ward councillors who should know better, to cast such a misguided and badly researched shadow over our traditional and unique seaside resort, especially in the middle of a massively important ‘Staycation‘ season. Hard-pressed businesses have the biggest opportunity to recoup some of their previous losses in what should be the busiest summer season since those pre-1980s boom years.
“Shame on certain Ward councillors and shame on the Hull Mail and other media for printing a badly-researched, imbalanced and irresponsible piece of journalism.
“Where were the counter views in this piece? Where were the interviews with those who have been working so hard at ERYC regeneration, foreshores, highways, housing, street scene and many other departments.
“Why did the journalist not ask those who work tirelessly, alongside well-informed and passionate volunteers, trying to make Bridlington better day-by-day, instead of sound-bites from individuals who really haven’t got the bigger picture.
“As a partnership we will continue to strive, quietly and methodically to address Bridlington’s problems, with dedication, passion and tenacity. We know that problems exist, but blowing those issues out of all proportion in an attempt to grab negative headlines doesn’t help anyone – least of all those who need that support.
“Positive dialogue, partnership working and a long term commitment to succeed is what has driven this investment. Talking things up gives confidence to investors – Take note some Ward councillors.”
The Bridlington Echo contacted the author of the article – Joseph Gerrard – who is a Local Democracy Reporter* based in Hull.
We voiced our dismay at the story and why he has selected Bridlington as he could have written this story about many seaside resorts in the region.
In a statement Joseph sent to the Echo he said:
“The article I wrote following a visit to Bridlington took as its starting point the high levels of deprivation, particularly in the ward of Bridlington South, as attested to in the Office for National Statistics’ Index of Multiple Deprivation.
“The Index shows the ward is among one of the most deprived in the East Riding, and among the 10 per cent most deprived nationally. The Index takes into account outcomes on health, employment, housing and crime among other areas.
“I understand that the article has caused offence to some who feel it was wholly negative, or did not portray the town in a positive light.
“In response I want to say that it was not my intention to do Bridlington down, cause offence to locals or to scare off tourists and investors. In the article itself, I explained what I was told were some of the reasons for high levels of deprivation in that part of Bridlington and towards the end featured quotes from residents discussing what could be done about it.
“While I appreciate that Bridlington is not unique in terms of deprivation seen in other coastal towns, I feel the fact that Bridlington South is one of the most deprived in the East Riding merited investigation. I spoke to residents who shared concerns with me about crime, employment opportunities and access to health services and I feel that their voices deserve to be heard as those in any other town or city would.
“Part of my job as a journalist is to highlight such concerns and elevate such voices. If those problems and concerns exist, concerns that have a real, material and often damaging impact on people’s lives, then I have a responsibility to report on them regardless of where they may be.
“But I accept that constraints in that job mean that not every aspect of a story can be covered all the time, and that as someone not from the town I will have my blindspots as anyone else would.
“Since the Hull Daily Mail and others ran the article I had attempted to reach out both to Bridlington’s mayor and to a reader who wrote to me highlighting concerns to follow up on the issues raised and to see what they had to say. I made those inquiries earlier this week and as of today (Wednesday) I am yet to receive a response.
“Regardless, I would again like to underscore that it was not an exercise in bashing the town, I have no motivation or interest to do so and I have in fact visited Bridlington myself as a tourist when I was younger and have fond memories of my time there.
“I take full responsibility for an inaccuracy concerning Bridlington Skate Park which mistook a graffiti style mural for graffiti. I understand it caused upset and I apologise for that, and take responsibility for any others there may have been.
“I would also like residents to know that my door is open to anyone who would like to approach me to highlight other aspects of the town, as I attempted to do with the follow up.”
Story Link: https://www.hulldailymail.co.uk/news/hull-east-yorkshire-news/darker-side-once-thriving-yorkshire-5688317.amp
Mike Rubery, who runs the Bretlinton B&B on Meadowfield Road on the Southside of Bridlington is also a committee member of the BTA (Bridlington Tourism Association). Mike branded the article as disgraceful.
“I was born and brought up in industrial West Midlands and was introduced to Bridlington by my wife Anne who used to holiday here in the 60s and 70s.
“Having been in the Royal Navy for almost 20 years, I have visited many seaside towns and cities including larger ports like Portsmouth, Plymouth, and small towns such as Helensburgh and Gosport and numerous others.
“I have to say Bridlington comes out high compared to these other maritime towns.
“The opportunity arose eight years ago to move to Bridlington and buy a small bed and breakfast on the south side.
“There’s so much to do here for not only our guests but also ourselves, we love it. From the glorious beach and harbour to the splendour of the Old Town there’s always something to do.
“The majority of our community are friendly, welcoming and always willing to help each other.
“Every where I’ve lived and worked has its problems but the one sided opinion put over by the news article was disgraceful.
“If you want to find downsides to any town or city you’ll find them, not least in Hull.
“Those that live in glass houses should not throw stones….
“I for one am happy to live and work in such a beautiful environment. If you were lucky enough to have been born here please try living in other cities and towns before running our wonderful town down” said Mike.
Cllr Andy Walker is a ward councillor for Bridlington South on ERYC, and whose ward covers ,what has been described in the article, as ‘one of the most deprived areas in the country’
Cllr Walker, who was quoted extensively in the article, said:
“I feel I should clarify a few points: I didn’t write the article .We (Cllr Walker and the reporter) spoke at length about the deprivation issues which led to discussions on the drug problems.
“The deprivation issue saddens me greatly. All UK seaside communities are challenged – both in living standards and health inequalities. I believe that the Unitary Authority, ERYC, could have done more and that is one of the recurring themes when I speak at Council – especially when budgets are set.
“ I value the town, its residents and its reputation – very highly. I certainly would not set out to damage it and I will not shrink from discussing the hard truths of coastal deprivation. I will discuss – and journalists will publish – but I know these are issues that must be recognised before they can be tackled. I also promote my town warmly whenever I can.”
In stark contrast the Guardian newspaper and website this week ran a feature on the delights of Bridlington and the area, describing the town ‘Regenerating, like a Time Lord’ and describing the resort as ‘quintessential English seaside.’
*WHAT IS A LOCAL DEMOCRACY REPORTER?
In 2017, the BBC struck up a deal with regional press to create the LDR roles, with the aim of strengthening local news coverage in the UK.
This is from the BBC website.:
The journalists are funded by the BBC as part of its latest Charter commitment, but are employed by regional news organisations.
A total of 165 reporters are allocated to news organisations in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
These organisations range from television and radio stations to online media companies and established regional newspaper groups.
Local Democracy Reporters cover top-tier local authorities, second-tier local authorities and other public service organisations.
There are now at least 165 LDRs covering regional news across the country.”
**The Bridlington Echo does not use Local Democracy Reporters and we source and generate news content from our Bridlington- based office.
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