Mercury Column – September 2016

The Bank Holiday weekend may be over, and it’s time to go back to school or work after our summer breaks, but those working in our local tourism industry are still busy as they make the most of the tourist shoulder season. They will also be planning ahead for next year. Although the devastating fire on Regent Road shook the town’s confidence, we are a resilient community ready to bounce back with plans for the future. The council is developing a town centre masterplan to make the whole town centre more attractive for both visitors and local residents. 

The Prime Minister also understands the importance of the tourism industry for areas like Great Yarmouth saying, “The British people’s decision to leave the European Union creates real opportunities for growth and we will work in close partnership with the tourism industry, to ensure it continues to thrive as negotiations on the UK’s exit progress.” She’s backing up those words with actions, signalling a cut in red tape for our B&B and guest house owners. We’re sensibly changing licensing regulations to allow B&Bs to offer a welcome drink to their guests. And they will be able to pick up guests from the train station, as vehicle licensing rules are relaxed. 

There are other things around the area that need improving if we are to give visitors the best welcome possible. Highways England continues to neglect the grass verges and roundabouts on the approaches to the town. When local volunteers, through the “In Bloom” committee go to so much effort to provide colourful displays, this neglect by the roads authority is letting us down.

In a flurry of publicity, Abellio announced the refurbishment of stations across East Anglia. Yet again, I am disappointed that they have failed to fully recognise the importance of Great Yarmouth. Instead, it seems our station will simply “be refreshed or refurbished and receive a deep clean.” I’ve asked the company exactly what that means, as I am not prepared to allow our town’s gateway to be missed out again on the investment it desperately needs. I will be pushing the company to deliver on what they promised me some time ago with a new franchise. I will keep residents up to date on this in the months ahead.