The leader of East Riding of Yorkshire Council, Cllr Stephen Parnaby, has sent this open letter to Bridlington Free Press readers, following the collapse of the Yorkshire Marina project.
“Last week, I delivered a speech to the elected members of East Riding of Yorkshire Council informing them that plans for the Yorkshire Harbour and Marina would have to be put on hold – following the results of feasibility work that indicated that, in the current economic climate, the scheme being pursued by the council and Bridlington Harbour Commissioners would be unaffordable.
“This is extremely disappointing news after so much hard work and effort from both this authority and the commissioners over recent years.
“Let me be clear. This council is as frustrated as anyone that this game-changing development cannot proceed. I have always said that an economically vibrant Bridlington is important not only for the town and its residents but for the wider East Riding.
“When this council was formed in 1996 a choice had to be made. Did it simply manage the decline of Bridlington – like so many other coastal communities around the country – or did it invest and develop the town’s economy?
“The right decision was made in option two.
“From the turn of the millennium and up to 2020, more than £100 million has been invested or will be invested in Bridlington by the public sector – with an astonishing amount of this coming from East Riding of Yorkshire Council.
“Notably, the fantastic Bridlington Spa (£22 million) was successfully redeveloped and turned into one of the most revered entertainment venues in the UK.
“The council worked with the Heritage Lottery Fund to transform the interior of Sewerby Hall and Gardens (£2.6 million) – the jewel in the East Riding crown – to help boost tourism numbers and ensure a first-class visitor experience and, most recently, the outstanding East Riding Leisure Bridlington (£25 million) was built, probably one of the best leisure facilities in the country.
“Thanks in part to the proactive actions of this council; around £75 million has been secured from partners and the private sector, including from many local businesses that have stepped up and invested in the town.
“A good example of private development is the opening of Bridlington’s first purpose-built hotel in 83 years in Premier Inn (over £7 million), supporting the construction industry and creating new jobs.
“Bricks and mortar isn’t the only thing the council has invested in. The council also supports and sponsors a number of large events that bring visitors to the town and promotes Bridlington to national and international audiences, from the British Darts Organisation Open Championships and Winmau World Masters to the phenomenal Tour de Yorkshire
“I am not naive enough to think that the council doesn’t make mistakes or that it should be immune to criticism, but to hear some people doubt the commitment of this authority to Bridlington or that it doesn’t have its interests at heart is simply untrue and, frankly, it is a disservice to the hard working men and women of East Riding of Yorkshire Council and its partners who deliver vitally important services to the town’s residents every single day.
“Regeneration does not consist of spending one-off sums on a project; it is a constantly evolving process that requires careful planning and delivery. Doing it right takes time.
“Given the challenging financial backdrop faced, not only in the UK but around the world, it is remarkable that this council has been able to achieve so much in Bridlington over the past two decades.
“Simply put, attracting large amounts of investment is not possible if you do not have a good track record and deliver projects on time and on budget.
“For the avoidance of doubt, this council is committed to Bridlington. It is committed to delivering high-quality services to the town’s residents and is committed to building Bridlington up to what we all know it can be.
“The council is even now delivering schemes in the town that will benefit residents and visitors in the future, from the Gypsey Race Park (£5 million) to the Bridlington Integrated Transport Plan Phase 2 (over £10 million) works that will open up a number of town centre sites for new private sector development – boosting the local economy and creating new employment opportunities for local people.
“With regards to the town’s harbour, the council will continue to work closely with the harbour commissioners to explore the potential for an in-harbour development to help secure the long-term future of Bridlington’s vitally important shellfish industry and develop the potential for improved berths for leisure craft.
“This would reinvigorate this key area and create a fantastic seafront from the south beach right through to the north side of the town.
“I would urge residents to support the work of this council as it continues to invest in Bridlington.
“This council takes its responsibilities in Bridlington seriously and will continue to do all it can to make the town a place that residents can continue to be proud to call home and develop its tourism offer further so that visitors will come back again and again for years to come.”