In answer to The Scarborough News ‘What is “Real Scarborough?’:
Scarborough (with the possible exception of Whitby) is the best town in Yorkshire which is the best county in the best country in the world.
The inscriptions on benches dedicated to Scarborough lovers on the Esplanade bear testament to the place Scarborough has in the hearts of visitors and locals alike.
Having holidayed in the town, many choose it as a retirement haven. People who have made career moves away also return at the end of their working lives. The amazing achievements of our award-winning parks and gardens department deserve some of the credit for this.
Reports often focus on the demise of traditional coastal towns with phrases like “Costa del dole” and although we do share some of the problems some other seaside resorts have, we are, in many respects, bucking the trend.
Unemployment is running at an encouraging 4.5% and the number of out-of-work claimants is 441 lower than a year ago. Yes, we have lost important companies such as Greaves but others such as Plaxtons are on the up.
Other small service and engineering companies are developing world-beating ideas and products and with superfast broadband, our remote location is less of a barrier.
That does not mean, by the way, that we should let up on our campaign to improve the A64! The good summer has prompted a boost for tourism but there are still problems to address. Visitors are more likely to stay for a couple of days than a whole week and day trippers are more careful not to overspend.
The night-time economy is a challenge. The smoking ban has resulted in revellers spilling onto the pavements outside bars. This can be intimidating for older people wending their way back after a leisurely meal.
The advent of ever later licensing hours has been a disaster. Continental drinking hours have not ushered in continental drinking moderation in the way the previous government forecast.
In fact, this has just pushed the time people venture out until later and later as they “pre-load” on cheap super market booze in their guest houses or bedrooms at home.
We need to review pub, bar and club licensing hours and also revisit the subject of supermarket minimum alcohol pricing. It is sad that we will lose the Futurist but, I think, we all knew there was no prospect of being able to plough
millions of pounds into this crumbling building. Instead we are moving forward with the new water park as a wet weather attraction.
We also desperately need a multi-screen cinema within walking distance of the seafront. I am pleased that we have not developed an out-of-town retail park near Morrison’s as many suggested.
The new Tesco off Dean Road will bring people into the town where they will be in easy reach of other shops and businesses. This increased footfall may bring other retailers such as Primark to Scarborough and certainly secure the continued presence of important outlets such as Marks & Spencer and Next.
Recent horrible incidents have shocked us all, particularly as this is against the general trend of falling levels of crime. Drug addiction spawns acquisitive crime and although the police have been very successful in busting drug pushers of late, this can give rise to violent confrontations when new dealers from out of town try to muscle in on the vacuum created. Communities such as the one in Trafalgar Square are playing their part in improving the local environment and working with the police and council to reduce anti-social behaviour associated with drugs and alcohol. The vast majority of young people in the borough work hard to get good exam results and go on to further education or careers.
Unlike a few years ago, all our secondary schools are “firing on all cylinders”. Scarborough sixth form college is superb. The problem is that when our most gifted youngsters go away to university, far too few return back here to work. We must attract more businesses that employ graduate-level staff to rebalance our local economy. The prospect of a new potash mine is an excellent step in the right direction in this regard.
“Real Scarborough” is about the people who live here. People who work hard to bring up families. People who help with youth groups.
People who care for relatives or other older people in their neighbourhood.
These are people who, because they feel part of a real community, give freely of their time to do this and yes, I would include people of all political persuasions who stand for election and try to improve our town – often withlittle thanks. These are people who roll up their sleeves and get stuck in. Not those who just knock others’ efforts and make negative comments on the Scarborough News or other websites.
Scarborough is greater than the sum of its parts and it is a privilege to represent it in Parliament.