Scarborough does seem to be rather more ‘layered’ than many places I’ve been. On the one hand, we have a huge problem with social depravation, which is only being worsened by policies such as city prison leavers being offered a
brighter future by the seaside.
We seem to have more violent crime than I remember from my days of going out on the town, although there were still plenty of punch-ups and the odd glassing, but isn’t there everywhere. Then we have the beauty of a natural harbour, overlooked by a picturesque old-town and surrounded by fabulous countryside with attractions and activities galore.
Almost everyone I know who comes here for the first time falls instantly in love with the place and pledges to come back.
There is another aspect, however, that lots of people don’t often see much of, which is the thriving business community. Last time I checked, non-tourism based commerce accounted for at least 50 per cent of the town’s economy and comprises a highly diverse mix of pioneering companies and global brands.
Not only is the business community in Scarborough significant, but it is also very well-connected. There are very few towns in the country, if not Europe, where the business leaders meet as regularly as they do here; where they do business together as much as they do here and where many of them put effort into the community like they do here.
We have thriving business organisations, like the Federation for Small Businesses, but we also have our own, the Scarborough Business Ambassadors, who put on events such as Engineering Week, which is solely for the purpose of trying to persuade a few more youngsters to consider a future in engineering.
Looking to the development of the town, it is quite clear that the halcyon days of renaissance funding are over and the council is now pared back to a minimum infrastructure, making it impossible to deliver projects on the scale and number as we had at the time (Woodend, the Rotunda, the harbourside and plenty more).
So it must come to the business community and interested individuals to make things happen. We can’t sit back and hope that Europe is just going to keep sending us money to spend on shiny new things – Europe has its own problems! Scarborough was built in this way; by industrialists who saw potential in the place and who wanted to make it great.
Herein lies the conundrum, because we do have such businesses and individuals and we have the projects sitting there ready to be reaped to the benefit of the town and yet we seem incapable of taking the bull by the horns (pun intended!).
I am talking about developments such as the potash mine, the water park, the offshore wind-farm, North Street car park and, dare I say it, the Futurist. I’m sure many people will have their own to add to this list too. All we need is to get a few of these off the ground to generate much needed funds for the area, because I’ve seen the good that local community groups and organisations can do with a little bit of funding and the impact this can have on deprived communities.
There are many confounding factors, of course as to why these projects are not happening; Planning, NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) attitudes, lack of focused political campaigning, poor project management and, of course, Europe!
If only we could all pull together to overcome as many of these as possible to release a goldmine of potential for the town and surrounding areas – potash alone could mean a £9 million community fund in cash each year, let alone all the jobs, tax, supply chain benefits and international status it would bring! Come on Scarborough, see the light and grab these opportunities.