A leading sports writer has criticised Scarborough for the “general grottiness” and seafront tattoo parlours he found while visiting for the cricket festival.
Writing in The Times on Saturday, Michael Henderson said Scarborough was in effect two towns – the cricket ground and the rest of the town itself.
The Manchester-born journalist pilloried the town and the council, pulling no punches in what he found on his visit. He attacked the pubs, hotels and business of the town.
But local tourism chief Cllr Andrew Jenkinson has hit back, saying that Mr Henderson had been very harsh on the town, and adding that he should stick to writing about sport.
Mr Henderson wrote: “The town, first: what a sad place it has become.
“What a sad place it has allowed itself to become. Charles Laughton was born here, and another actor-manager Sir Alan Ayckbourn has brought it world fame through his superb tragi-comedies. Those are things worth bragging about, if only to supply a fresh coat of varnish to a town that urgently requires a
restoration that will never come.
“While Yorkshire were toying with Nottinghamshire at North Marine Road, eventually winning a match they should have completed on the second day, Scarborough gave its familiar impression of a town that has mislaid its identity and doesn’t seem to care.
“The grand hotels have not been grand for decades, yet, like a fading actress, each one imagines that a spot of rouge will mask the passing of years. It’s terribly sad.
“A walk to the seafront revealed an art gallery full of kitsch that marked its ‘final season’, putrid pubs and, by the score, tatty shops in buildings that used to be handsome.”
The journalist, whose Wikipedia page reveals he once described people who do not watch cricket from ‘The MCC Presidents box’ as ‘Riffraff’, refers to “tattoo parlours and body piercing for teenage girls of the parish, by way of initiation into the adult world.
“A painted body and ripped nose is clearly as desirable for these modish cases as a bonnet and dance card used to be in the Regency Bath.”
He ends his convoluted article by stating that Scarborough could be twinned with “Chavsville, Kentucky”.
In response, Scarborough Council’s cabinet member for tourism, Cllr Jenkinson, said: “I think he was very harsh on the town.
“I believe he is meant to a sports writer and I think in
future he should stick to trying to write about that rather than travel writing.
“Scarborough is undergoing a renovation but that does not happen over night.
“Our visitor figures show that people are coming to the town and are returning, that would not be the case if they were not liking what they found here. He may have some points about some of the seafront but once the Futurist is sorted out then the area will start to improve, but you only have to look at Sandside to see the improvements that are being made. The area down there used to be a bit of a mess and now it looks fantastic.
“I think in future this guy needs to stick to cricket.”
However, one reader contacted The Scarborough News stating that he hoped the council would act on the issues raised.
Richard Bedford of Cayton said: “One can only hope some of our elected members may have read [the article] as its contents are in no way conducive to encouraging tourism in Scarborough.”