Locals hit back as writer pans town - Have your say on our town

Sunny weather today, but rain stopped play on the final stage of the restoration of the Spa Bridge. 'The rainy days this week came on the days the final, buff coloured surfacing was to be laid on the bridge walkway, pushing back the opening from Friday to next week.'101437c pic Andrew Higgins in News 08/04/10
Sunny weather today, but rain stopped play on the final stage of the restoration of the Spa Bridge. 'The rainy days this week came on the days the final, buff coloured surfacing was to be laid on the bridge walkway, pushing back the opening from Friday to next week.'101437c pic Andrew Higgins in News 08/04/10

SCARBORIANS have leapt to the defence of their town following a damning essay in a national magazine.

Writing in The Spectator at the weekend, respected essayist Theodore Dalrymple rips into Scarborough, saying it has become “spiritually and materially impoverished”.

In the 1,000 word essay entitled Scarborough Unfair, Dalrymple writes: “Nowhere in the world do you see such a concentration of people who have given up on themselves, or rather, who never had any self-respect to give up on.

“The lack of pride, egotism and cheap commercialism are evident everywhere.”

However Cllr Janet Jefferson, who held the Scarborough Council cabinet portfolio for tourism until last week’s elections, said the millions of visitors who flock to the town each year are “living proof” that Dalrymple’s views are not shared by the majority.

“I think he has shown a total lack of knowledge,” she said. “He has entered Scarborough with a blinkered view.

“We have a beautiful, enterprising town which has received a lot of private and public investment over the last two decades.

“I do not agree that we are spiritually impoverished. The vast majority of people in Scarborough are wonderful.

“We may not have the highest average wage in the country but we are a real community.”

In the article, Dalrymple criticises many of the structural changes which have been made in Scarborough since its Victorian heyday.

“The magnificent architectural heritage of Scarborough has been not so much destroyed as comprehensively spoilt,” he adds.

The mansard roof is a particularly unsightly feature common to Scarborough according to Dalrymple, who also had unkind works for the modern-day Grand Hotel.

“Now the marble pillars of the portico are used mainly to support bronchitics, exiled from indoors, as they puff desperately at their fags,” he writes.

“Criminally vulgar posters, advertising cheap meals and rooms, are posted on the dirty windows, surrounded by finely crafted architectural detail.”

His views are not shared by Adrian Perry, chairman of Scarborough and District Civic Society, who called Dalrymple “Mr Grumpy”.

He said yesterday: “He is just trying to be provocative and has not looked at any of the good things. It is ridiculous to have that focus.

“He hasn’t been to Woodend and looked at what has happened to that building.

“He hasn’t made any comments about the job they’ve done on the Rotunda or the marvellous job the county council did on the Spa Bridge.

“How many regional towns have an international theatre? There is no mention of that.

“He wanted to be controversial and he has been controversial. We could do with someone from The Spectator coming back and putting a different hat on.

“I think we would get a different report.”

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