Changes in Seaside Towns
Hope that everyone is well. It has seemed to be so long since I last wrote and published a blog that I decided time enough and I had to write down some of my thoughts from the weekend.
Last weekend I was in the Southwest of England visiting family and having a day out. We drove to one fairly well known seaside town and I found out how much that it had changed since I was last there. It was quite shocking and I think provided an insight into the ways in which society is changing and the effect that it is having – I think that this is the death of the high street amplified and now to include whole towns.
As we drove through the number of closed shops was quite shocking; one whole shopping mall was empty, paper and plastic bags blowing through, no life there; a scene from an apocalypse type movie. As I approached the sea front, the number of hotels that were boarded up and closed really did suggest that the town was beginning to suffer what will be a long and slow decline – I am unsure how that this can be turned around.
The reasons for this? Well, Skegness was listed in 2013 as Britain’s most deprived seaside town followed by other famous resort towns, and it is reported that only 250K people will visit the UK’s remaining 55 piers. So what is going on? I think that it is possible to understand that the rise of the ‘staycation’ and flights to the Sun have had a dramatic effect and started the decline – trains cancelled, hotels beginning to close, shops without the footfall to service and then there’s the internet shopping; those that remain or live in the town now shopping from home for the same reasons as everyone, value, ease and convenience – just that in the seaside towns it is having an amplified effect on the commerce of the area. It was reported that the highest rates of insolvency per head of population are located in these seaside resorts i.e Blackpool, Lancashire; Torbay, Devon; Scarborough, North Yorkshire; Denbighshire; Hull, East Yorkshire; and Great Yarmouth, Norfolk
How will the areas improve? There is a plan to invest in these areas, improving accommodation, more events, new all year facilities, improved infrastructure and improved marketing. Will this work? The signs are positive, but are there any other reasons for the continuing decline? Have the resorts simply failed to change with the times?
Certainly Britain is now more cosmopolitan than ever before and so those traditional days out now not so ingrained – but then what about the majority of the population? There is a view that there is a widening economic gap – the wealthier middle classes using the holidays to travel to the Sun and the rise of flexible working perhaps suggesting that ‘time off’ can be saved and banked to be used to lengthen holidays in the summer months? There is also a thought that the lower paid may well be saving or spending on necessities rather than entertainment and days out? There is another way of thinking too. When I was a child, a day’s entertainment was a bike ride out in the country with friends… today, perhaps an Xbox or PlayStation experience with virtual friends over an internet link while playing call of duty? Do today’s generation really want to go to the penny arcades?
I have reflected on this while sitting at a café eating chips – which were very nice actually – the way that this has happened actually has a message for everyone. My recommendation is that every once in a while we should sit and have a think about our own situation. Are we in decline? Should we take action to change now before it is too late? What investments should we make to ensure that we remain on the top of our game? Lots to think about and that really was the reason for the blog, to provoke some thoughts on the subject.
Until next time,