Optimism in Norfolk resort despite gloomy report on Covid recovery

It will cost more to park your car in seafront car parks in 2020/2021 Picture: James Bass

Great Yarmouth is said to have the 4th weakest economy in the country, although business leaders say the amount being invested will help it to recover from Covid. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2015

A seaside resort poised for millions of pounds worth of investment has been ranked among the least likely to bounce back post-Covid.

New research has revealed Great Yarmouth was a low-scorer when it came to the strength of its local economy .

The report, compiled by savings platform Raisin, based its findings on the number of large businesses, business survival rates, birth and death rates, rates of people in employment, amount of the population receiving income support, and the average government spend per head.

It then used the results to decide which economies were in a good position to recover once restrictions were lifted - and which ones would struggle.

According to the data Yarmouth was number four in a top ten list of those most likely to find times hard, just behind Blackpool at number three.

The top ten strongest economies were all in the south, topped by Tewkesbury.

Chris Starkie, chief executive of the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership.

Chris Starkie, chief executive of the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, has countered the Raisin report by pointing to a raft of investment being made in Great Yarmouth. - Credit: Archant

However Chris Starkie, chief executive of New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, said that while seaside resorts had been hard hit, there was every chance of "a very successful" summer season.

Most Read

He said: “The coming year will be challenging for many places.

"Resorts like Great Yarmouth, which have a significant level of employment in sectors like tourism and hospitality, have been very hard hit by the coronavirus restrictions, but we hope that attractions and accommodation will be able to reopen in line with the Government’s roadmap and that they will have a very successful summer season.

“There is significant investment already under way in Great Yarmouth.

"Work on the third crossing has begun, the town’s market is being revamped, and a new water leisure centre on the seafront, supported by our Getting Building Fund, is already taking shape.

“With further investment coming through the Town Deal and the Future High Streets Fund, there are many exciting projects in the pipeline and we continue to work with local public, private and education sector partners to make sure our region’s places and businesses recover from the impact of the pandemic.”

The report states: "There are problems for Blackpool where a lack of seaside tourism has seen businesses suffer and trade grind to a halt.

"Great Yarmouth is another seaside resort to take the full force of Covid lockdowns, with 8pc fewer large businesses in operation than there were six years ago."

Locally, however, the mood is more optimistic.

Carl Smith

Great Yarmouth Borough Council leader Carl Smith has hailed the Town Deal vision as "a chance of a lifetime." - Credit: Archant

Council leader Carl Smith said all the pumps were being primed for a successful season ahead of an expected staycation surge.

He said he was proud of the town for its resilience having beaten back various coronavirus spikes and that work had been going on "shaping a vision" for recovery which had successfully drawn down many millions in investment.

He went on: “We have long recognised that coastal towns like ours with seasonal economies are more vulnerable, and we’re acutely aware that this last year has been a challenging time for all businesses."

However, he added investment worth £200m over the next  three to four years would help put the town on a firmer footing, as well as the more than £40m handed out in business grants and the £42m secured for the town in the last seven months.

The Big Wheel is already prominent in the seafront skyline as it stands 50m tall

The Big Wheel is prominent in the seafront skyline as it stands 50m tall - Credit: Victoria Pertusa

Town centre manager Jonathan Newman said unlike other high streets Yarmouth's had already been through the mill and was ahead of the curve in planning its recovery.

The top ten strongest economies:

1. Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire 

2. Winchester, Hampshire 

3. Bristol 

4. St. Albans, Hertfordshire 

5. Test Valley, Hampshire 

6. Sutton, London 

7. Hackney, London 

8. Cheltenham, Gloucestershire 

9. Sedgemoor, Somerset 

10. Havering, London  

The economies most likely to struggle:

1. Hartlepool, County Durham 

2. Forest Heath, Suffolk 

3. Blackpool, Lancashire 

4. Great Yarmouth, Norfolk 

5. Glasgow, Lanarkshire 

6. Redcar & Cleveland, N. Yorkshire 

7. Rossendale, Lancashire 

8. Middlesbrough, North Yorkshire 

9. Torfaen, Monmouthshire 

10. Bolsover, Derbyshire