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Question of the Week
How much would you accept for Omar Bogle?
Mentioned Part 58
By: Rob Sedgwick
"No disrespect to the likes of Grimsby..."
sunday 11th january
Cleethorpes Bucks Trend of Decline
From The Guardian
You can buy the Titanic in a bottle for a knockdown Â£9 on Cleethorpes' prom, and some would call that symbolic of the fate awaiting Britain's kiss-me-kwik seaside towns.
A report from the countryside agency this week highlights a 4% fall in visitors to places such as Blackpool and Bournemouth, and at first sight the sunlit, empty beach overlooking the Humber bears that out.
"I'm from the town and I sometimes wonder why people come here," Liam Ardito, a refuse collector, says as he untangles a wild loop of broken cassette tape from a signboard about Birds You Can See On The Beach. This announces that "lugworms come to the surface every 40 minutes which is when the bar-tailed godwits snap them up" - much the most exciting thing happening at the time on the four miles of golden, impeccably well-kept sand.
But wait until the sun climbs higher over Bull Sand Fort, a relic of the first world war in the Humber shipping lanes which is earmarked for conversion into a nightclub.
Here is Wayne Mackenzie unhooking his jet ski from his new Volvo, driven over from Leeds on his day off.
Here, too, are globetrotters, Jamie and Aurora Stones who rank a day out in Cleethorpes alongside safaris in South Africa and tours of the Australian outback.
"It's unbeatable for a bit of quiet on a warm day like this," says Mr Stones, a financial consultant from Doncaster. "Sand and sun, all for nothing. Mind you, I don't think I'd want to stay for more than a day."
Adjusting to such novel customers after the days of the "millweeks", when towns would empty into Cleethorpes' boarding houses, is the key to the way the resort is bucking the trend.
"We had a rough time a few years ago," says retired nurse Dorothy Jenkins, digesting the Bellybuster Breakfast on offer for Â£2.20 at the pier. "But you should have been here on bank holiday. You couldn't move. It's not quite back to the old days, but it's getting there."
The key agents in this revival come in the unlikely shape of Brussels bureaucrats. They haven't actually rolled up their trouser legs to paddle in the silty (but award-winningly unpolluted) sea but their influence reaches all the way to the five-room Abbeydale guesthouse, which is run by Barry and Laraine Inskip.
"They paid for half our brochure," Mr Inskip says, still slightly disbelievingly. In return for Â£18,000-worth of improvements to the guesthouse by the Inskips, the EU contributed Â£6,000. "The brochure costs about Â£4.50 and we got Â£2.50 back from Brussels," he adds.
Their grant was part of Â£140,000 negotiated from the EU by Dawn Glaves from North East Lincolnshire council. "We had to satisfy them that the money would safeguard jobs, create new employment and improve the quality of facilities," she says.
A second, similar coup has now been arranged with Yorkshire Forward, the regional development agency, which is paying Â£290,000 to regenerate the seafront.
But the stringent quality conditions are too much for some businesses. "That's partly why I turned down the grant scheme," says another landlady, Josie Cocks.
"I'd have had to buy new double beds, because they say mine aren't big enough, and there'd have to be a bedside cupboard on both sides of the bed, not just one. They even specify that all the curtains must be lined."
But the prosperity of the town demands higher standards, says Mr Glaves. In 2000-01, the year of the countryside agency's 4% fall, the resort had 2.4 million visitors who put Â£136m through its tills. Numbers have risen since.
What do they come for? With his bucket and spade, Tobias Twycross says: "My first favourite is swimming in the sea and my second favourite is swimming in the sea."
But perhaps more symbolic here than the bottled Titanic, don't miss the fecund guinea pigs of Jungle World.
There were six at the beginning of last year's season. Now there are 70.
Spotted by Mike Worden.
From The Observer
Grimsby say rumours about their six-figure sponsorship deal with Jarvis are 'way off', despite the man who set it up going missing, with police 'concerned for his welfare'. The Jarvis employee is said to be suffering from 'acute stress'. 'There's no problem with the deal,' says Grimsby chairman Peter Furneaux. 'I've never even met this man. I hope he's OK and we wish him the best, but it's nothing to do with Grimsby.'
Spotted by Pete K.
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