Cleethorpes Renaissance: "Town Team"
The Town Team is a self-selecting group of citizens and councillors meeting to discuss the regeneration of Cleethorpes. For more background, see below:
Updated July 2010
Results of RailTour Survey
The Transport Sub-Group of Cleethorpes Town Team had discussed why there were not more rail tours arriving at Cleethorpes as a destination. As a rail tour can bring up to 400 passengers into Cleethorpes this would obviously be desirable. To answer this question, we wrote to thirteen Rail Tour Companies asking for their opinions. Nine replied and their answers are summarised below.
1: How many rail charters have you organised with Cleethorpes as a destination?
Only three of the companies had organised tours to Cleethorpes (ten, four and two or three since the 1980's)
2: If none, what would make you consider this in future? What are the biggest barriers?
Three companies felt Cleethorpes was not far enough away from their pick-up areas to give a long journey (A charter costs roughly the same whether it travels 200 or 500 miles.). One said there are no facilities to water up to 13 carriages (for steam tours). Three said there was no interest in seaside locations. One said that, "Passengers like a feature, such as a festival or airshow. To make a tour to a place such as Cleethorpes we believe this is essential."
3: If you have organised rail charters to Cleethorpes in the past - what was your experience like. What would you need to organise future tours to Cleethorpes?
One answered that Cleethorpes was dry but cold and windy. One said that Cleethorpes was very welcoming, especially the C.C.Light railway. A third alleged that "railway staff do not like steam trains - they get in the way" and added that they can no longer coal the engine. A third added that watering facilities were needed.
4: What do you look for in a rail charter destination?
One said the destination needed a "pull" factor. Several mentioned diversity or variety of attractions "Preferably a couple of options to drop off (eg York & Scarborough)". Two mentioned the ability to fit and service a railtour locomotive. One mentioned "Wet and dry attractions", while another mentioned "central location of station." Another respondent cited a "Scenic or entertaining route to reach the destination eg Settle & Carlisle".
5: In your opinion what is the best rail charter destination in the UK?
Settle and Carlisle got three votes. Edinburgh and York got two votes each. London, Inverness, Plymouth and Kingswear were also mentioned.
For some of the companies, Cleethorpes is too close to make an attractive destination - passengers like a long run and there is not cost saving in a short journey.
For those that would consider Cleethorpes, a variety of attractions, something for the wet weather and something with a "pull" factor - perhaps a festival or airshow are needed. While Cleethorpes scores in having a centrally located rail station, the station must provide appropriate and welcoming facilities.
March 2010: Town Team welcomes rail trip to Cleethorpes!
As one of the first "quick wins" for the Town Team, Highland Piper John Best welcomes 400 visitors to Cleethorpes on Saturday 6th March. Passengers from as far away as Devon had left Euston station aboard the UK Rail Tours "Coast to Coast" trip earlier that morning, pausing at Cleethorpes before departing again for Blackpool. The passengers were met by members of Cleethorpes Town Team, offering a cheery greeting and directions.
Co-ordinated by the Arts and Heritage Sub-Group, the greeting aimed to encourage visitors to come again to Cleethorpes. Earlier in the morning, UK Rail Tours had distributed a "Cleethorpes in 30 minutes" heritage trail leaflet, devised by Grimsby & Cleethorpes Civic Society and printed free of charge by Grimsby Institute's "e-print" unit. With only 45 minutes before the passengers had to board the train again, the leaflet aimed to help them make the most of their visit. Before the train arrived, town team members had alerted businesses in the station vicinity to the possibility of an influx of visitors.
As the trippers left their aptly named Royal Scot carriages to the sound of the bagpipes, members of the Town Team answered questions about the nearest shops, toilets and even local bed and breakfast accommodation. Town Team member Mike Mason, got talking to one visitor from Devon about the National Bus from Cleethorpes to Westward Ho. "I was able to tell him where it went from and what time it ran. " He'd never thought about it before, but may well make a return trip now. As the trippers departed to walk the sea front, buy a pint of beer or a bag of fish and chips, or pose for photos with the Piper, members of the town team delivered "Visit Cleethorpes" brochures donated by Cleethorpes Tourism to the train carriage.
Updated February 2010: Sub-Groups are now being formed covering areas such as Heritage and Arts, Festivals and Events, Environment and Recreation, Youth, Transport, and Image. The intention is that the sub-groups will meet to work on each particular area and report progress to the main meeting.
If any Civic Society members would like to get involved, contact us and we'll try and put you in touch with the right people.
Updated December 2009: Click here Scarborough to see a report on a visit to a town where a renaissance project had delivered results.
Updated November 2009: Interim Chair Mark Hodson put forward several suggestions for revitalising Cleethorpes including revitaising the Illuminations and celebrating the Meridian line. Interim Vice Chair Mark Webb made the point that this has to be a partnership and we will lose if we think regeneration is driven just by the council or Yorkshire Forward. Scarborough was cited as an example of success being driven by the private sector as well as the public sector. Presentations were given on a logo for the Town Team, and a potential re-use of the former Lindsey Lower School site. The meeting was enthused by a suggestion from Ann Reavey of GCD Civic Society that regeneration efforts could be focussed on 2013 as the 150th anniversary of Cleethorpes. The next meeting will be on Wednesday 16th December - 6.30 pm at Cleethorpes Town Hall. Transprt will be one of the subjects under discussion.
Updated October 2009: Mark Hodson and Mark Webb have been elected as interim Chair and Deputy. The Charter has been published. Bids have been put forward by NELC to fund the Renaissance Shop. We are now reaching the point where the consultants will have fulfilled their contract and the Renaissance effort should be self-steering. One positive note - it was announced at the meeting that Trans-Pennine Express have signed a work order to fix the clock at Cleethorpes Station. At one of the earliest meetings it was pointed out that first impressions count, and if visitors arrive to see a broken clock it gives the impression of a town stuck in the past. So, it looks like the Town Team may have got one of its first "early wins".
Background on the Town Team below -
As reported here in the Grimsby Telegraph article, the team is being set up with the backing of Yorkshire Forward to try and push forward the regeneration of Cleethorpes. As a dissenting voice pointed out midway through the meeting, there have been grand plans before. If some of the early visions had been carried through Cleethorpes might now look like a city out of the art deco future of "Things To Come". And indeed, the day after the meeting, North East Lincolnshire Council announced that the re-development of Dolphin Square would have to be put on hold. But as one of the consultants pointed out, change happens inevitably and if you don't actively plan for the town you want, you're sure to get the town you don't want.
As related here in this Property Week article , Yorkshire Forward has financed a "Renaissance Towns and Cities" programme to regenerate areas within Yorkshire and Humberside. Architects John Thompson and partners have been hired to draw up a "masterplan" in collaboration with North East Lincolnshire Council, transport planners, economists and landscape planners. This is just the first step. The "masterplan" will enable North East Lincolnshire Council to apply for funding in order to put the "plan" into action.
The important point which came out of the meeting, is that (at this stage at least) the "Town Team" is open to the public. While it is likely that there will be an executive committee to sign off decisions, there is still a forum for the man and woman on the beach to have their say. The next meeting is at 7pm on Monday 27 July at Cleethorpes Town Hall. Several members of the Civic Society executive attended, but this was not by selection. Like everyone else, they just decided to turn up.
After a presentation on the results of the public consultation held at the Memorial Hall ( outlined here on the Yorkshire Forward website), attendees were invited to split into groups to consider the issue they felt was most important. At the table considering transport and accessibility a number of ideas were exchanged, which could broadly be called the lack of an integrated transport strategy.
Everyone complains about the Sunday traffic jams on Cleethorpes Road, but there's no signage directing traffic to alternate routes within the town. Similarly, while it's possible (when the line is not being repaired) to get a train direct from Cleethorpes to Manchester, the route from Cleethorpes to Lincoln requires a change and wait at Grimsby Town Station. Trippers arriving at Cleethorpes are not clearly directed to taxis or buses for Thorpe Park - it's not uncommon to see trippers dragging their wheelie cases along the route towards Pleasure Island. Similarly, an opportunity is being lost by not promoting links to Cleethorpes at Pleasure Island (a family at the Coast Light Railway was heard debating whether to buy a single or return ticket to the Leisure Centre station - "Is there anything at the other end?" they asked). Everyone at the table agreed that, where once they used to know the bus services and times in their head, now it's anyone's guess even if the buses are on time and haven't been pulled out of service. And while the long flat promenade should be a selling point for wheelchair and scooter users, the lack of disabled changing facilities tends to counteract this.
These are all personal opinions on one subject (other groups covered business, arts, planning etc). If you disagree, come along to the next meeting and give your views.