Covid on the coast: Seaside town 'well-placed' to recover from pandemic

Carl Smith

Council leader Carl Smith says he is proud of how the community has pulled together during the pandemic. - Credit: Archant

At the height of the first lockdown it was reported even the seagulls were keeping away from Great Yarmouth's famous market square.

But the motivational mantra that 'there's always someone worse off' rings true in a town which considers itself well-placed to benefit from a staycation surge - and has a few pounds in its pocket too.

The town has been awarded £20m Town's Fund cash from the government, and £13.7m from Future High Streets.

A range of schemes already in the pipeline pre-Covid including a new market, the £26m new Marina Centre and a £121m third river crossing are well-advanced.

Overall it has been handed £42m in the last eight months - funds that will help it to bounce back.

Quite how things will go as lockdown eases remain uncertain but there are reasons to be optimistic, according to town centre manager Jonathan Newman, as long-empty shops become occupied and existing businesses prepare to re-open.

"The town was already going through a challenging period before Covid, and plans were already being drawn up," he said.

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"There are still a lot of unknowns. Have people become dependent on Internet shopping or are they going to drop that and start shopping again in town?

"It will be for the retailers and businesses to put on a good offer to get people back.

"It is an opportunity and a challenge - people will be coming for the first time and we need to capture them."

Council leader Carl Smith said the community had proved itself to be resilient and caring during the crisis which at times saw infection rates spike beyond 500 per 100,000 in January, the worst in Norfolk.

He said he was proud of how everyone had pulled together and that the good working with communities would continue through to recovery.

Plans that had been in the pipeline for years were now coming together just as the borough needed them most, he said.

"Residents will see lots of changes and hopefully all for the good," he said.

"We have got to think about everyone that lost loved-ones and friends," he added. "It has been a difficult 12 months and we are not out of the woods yet, but there are signs things will get better."

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