Happy New Year to Free Press readers and I hope you all had a lovely Christmas.
The festive period is always a good time to reflect on the year just passed and the year ahead.
When I looked back over the previous 12 months, it was with a feeling of real pride about the achievements of East Riding of Yorkshire Council in the face of austerity and funding cuts from central Government.
Despite the huge financial pressures on local government, we have not only continued to provide quality services for residents and businesses but also continued investing in the East Riding’s infrastructure and facilities.
In Bridlington, you can see evidence of this all around.
In May we opened the superb East Riding Leisure Bridlington – a £25million leisure centre which I reckon is the best in the country with its state-of- the-art facilities and stunning location.
Town centre regeneration continues apace with the work in Hilderthorpe Road and Beck Hill which will improve traffic flows and be a catalyst for business investment and jobs creation.
The Gypsey Race Park will open up a long swathe of town centre land to make the area more attractive and the council and harbour commissioners’ plans for the marina are closer to fruition than ever before.
Bridlington Spa has enjoyed an exciting rebrand and will lead the way when it comes to Hull UK City of Culture 2017 celebrations in the East Riding.
This year should see the start of work to expand South Cliff Caravan Park which, when complete, is expected to generate an extra 158,000 visits and increase visitor spend by about £1.8million a year.
Last year saw Bridlington hosting the regional premiere of the Dad’s Army movie which showcased the area to a worldwide audience. And speaking of global audiences, 2017 will see the return of the Tour de Yorkshire to Bridlington.
Like the inaugural race in 2015, the tour will again start outside the Spa this year, with tens of thousands of people expected to watch some of the world’s top cyclists in action on Friday 28 April.
The race will attract national and international publicity, which is excellent exposure for Bridlington and the East Riding as a first-class visitor destination.
East Riding of Yorkshire Council agreed a three-year commercial partnership with Welcome to Yorkshire to support this event and it’s worth every penny in terms of the positive impact on tourism.
It is estimated that the amount of money generated by the tourism industry in the East Riding is worth about £500million a year and East Riding of Yorkshire Council works incredibly hard to contribute to this remarkable statistic.
Tourism is the lifeblood of thousands of people in East Yorkshire – it supports 11,000 jobs and 1,800 businesses – but everyone in some way also reaps the benefits of a thriving tourism industry and the healthier our visitor statistics are then the better off the whole economy of the East Riding is.
Events like the Tour de Yorkshire help to put us on the international map and resorts in other parts of the country must be green with envy when they see our beautiful coast and countryside showcased to millions of TV viewers around the world.
Publicity like that means 2017, and the years to follow, will see many people returning to Bridlington and the East Riding.
And we should see lots of new visitors too, to discover what we already know … that the East Riding really is God’s Own County.