Leader's Blog - 2 July 2020

Another milestone weekend lies ahead.  It will see pubs, restaurants and other hospitality businesses open once again.

Now that many high street retailers are trading, we inch closer to where we were before March and the introduction of coronavirus restrictions.

As a council we are definitely in more of a recovery than response phase now, but we acknowledge that we are not back to ‘normal’ yet.  We need to continue to stay safe and observe the social distancing rules, despite the easing of lockdown.

While we continue to support the borough’s most vulnerable people with the ongoing pandemic, we’ve been increasing our focus on getting the local economy back on track.

You’ll recall from my last blog that ahead of the reopening of non-essential retailers, we provided practical advice and guidance to help shop owners get themselves ready to trade.

Our special toolkit was distributed to hundreds of organisations.

We’ve extended our support to hospitality businesses as they prepare to open.  We are working with our colleagues at North Yorkshire County Council to look at the potential for allowing cafes, pubs and restaurants make more use of outside space.

This will mean social distancing rules can be maintained and outlets can maximise the opportunity to welcome back as many of their customers as possible.

We’re doing everything we can to provide a boost to our town centres.

Retailers and hospitality firms need our help more than ever before, so I encourage you to think - and shop - local please.

That said, this coming weekend, I hope people who do venture out to take advantage of these new-found ‘freedoms’ do so responsibly and that they respect others at all times.

The sad fact is that people are still dying from the coronavirus and we need to remember that we all must play our part to minimise the risk of the virus spreading.

Some licensed premises have chosen a staged approach to reopening so may remain closed this weekend, and some are operating a booking system.

You should check in advance to see if your favourite pub or restaurant is trading, what arrangements it has in place and plan your journey there and back in advance.

Don’t forget that if you travel on public transport, you’ll need to wear a face covering.

You may have seen some of the fantastic media coverage we secured last weekend for our virtual Armed Forces Day.

If it hadn’t been for lockdown, we would have welcomed thousands of military personnel, and many more visitors, to Scarborough for the national celebration.

We didn’t want to let the occasion pass without doing anything, so we created a virtual event to mark the contribution of servicemen and women past and present.

If you visited our Scarborough Armed Forces Day website you will have seen a host of amazing content which has been created by people across the borough.

Last Saturday, I attended the flag-raising ceremony at Scarborough Castle to mark national Armed Forces Day.  Granted, the weather was rubbish, but the occasion was very special.

Fellow councillor, Tony Randerson, who has done so much to bring Armed Forces Day to the borough, was also there along with the Lord Lieutenant of North Yorkshire, Jo Ropner.

Representatives from all three services were also involved.

If you had a particularly keen eye, you would have noticed a large shape on the horizon offshore.  That was not a container ship, it was HMS Queen Elizabeth!

Senior navy officials had arranged for the new aircraft carrier to be in the North Sea on Saturday morning and I hope she is able to return next year when we host Armed Forces Day for real.

A rather unexpected treat on Saturday was the Red Arrows flypasts over Scarborough and then Whitby.  It had only been confirmed the night before.

I was slightly worried that the low cloud and rain might scupper the flypast, but it went ahead as planned.

It was thrilling to watch the world-famous display team from the vantage point of the castle.  When the aircraft roared over, it felt like you could reach up and touch them.

There are several videos of the flypast on our Armed Forces Day website including some brilliant footage filmed from the cockpits of two of the Red Arrows aircraft.

I thought Scarborough looked amazing from the air, despite the cloud!

Although we couldn’t celebrate the occasion for real, we’ve had some fantastic coverage on national and local media channels.

Our special website has had thousands of views and our Facebook content has reached close to 260,000 people with 4,500 likes.

More importantly, it has been a great showcase of our borough. 

That’s a good thing, especially if we are to encourage people to think about the Yorkshire coast if they make staycation plans this year (as I hope they do).

And, of course, next year, when we celebrate Armed Forces Day for real, it’s going to be spectacular.

Until my next blog, enjoy this weekend safely.

Cllr Steve Siddons

Leader of the Council