Bridlington residents are fearful that the town’s image could be damaged if it is made the subject of a new ‘Benefits Street’ style TV show.
Bridlington Tourism Association is leading the call for residents to ignore an invite from Channel 5 for people on benefits in the town to come forward to star in a new documentary.
The only details released by the TV station are that the programme would focus on benefits and employment, sparking concerns that it may reflect badly on the town.
Channel 5 has not confirmed whether the programme would be similar to Channel 4’s ‘Benefits Street’ but a lack of information has fuelled speculation that it would only focus on negative aspects of Bridlington.
Members of Bridlington Tourism Association say such a documentary would misrepresent the town, when it is in fact taking great strides forward with major regeneration plans.
Bob Hillary, president of the Bridlington Tourism Association, said: “It’s just bad news, not just for the town but also for the people on benefits.
“Most people on benefits are decent honest people and are in that situation through no fault of their own and this programme will undoubtedly just focus on the bad guys, it’s cheap TV.
“It’s not going to have a good effect on the town, obviously we’re against it and hopefully the people of Brid will say they are not interested in taking part and they won’t bother coming. We need all the groups in Bridlington to come together to help get this stopped.”
It is not just the tourism association that is unhappy with the idea. Julie Saxby, who runs Bridlington’s Big Local App, a smartphone marketing company which designs apps to promote local businesses, has launched an online petition opposing any potential documentary.
The petition on the website www.gopetition.com went live on Friday and has already attracted over 160 signatures. Julie said: “Just recently we have been working closely with the Bridlington Tourism Association members and other local businesses and feel like it is an injustice to allow the holiday accommodation and local businesses to suffer. We feel the documentary will be a misrepresentation of what Bridlington is really about.
“We want the community of Bridlington to work together and make Bridlington great. Why can’t they come and do a documentary about the regeneration, beaches, fantastic holiday accommodation and businesses on offer here in Bridlington?
“We plan to forward the petition to Channel 5 in the hope they decide not to come and do the documentary. Coun Jane Evison, who represents East Wolds and Coastal on East Riding of Yorkshire Council, said: “It paints the wrong picture of the town. This is a time for looking forward, we’ve got new investment coming into the town. We know unemployment exists in Bridlington and that is something we are looking at. These type of programmes want to sensationalise and will only focus on the bad things which skews the real picture in Bridlington.”
A spokesperson for Channel 5 said: “We can confirm we are in the process of filming a show in Hull on the topic of benefits and employment, it will feature as one of several locations in the UK within a series. The programme is in early stages, and will follow people’s lives in these areas of the country. As yet we do not have a confirmed title for the series.”
The spokesperson said Channel 5 had not yet done any filming in Bridlington but that they were potentially looking for people from the town to take part.