‘We either save the town or turn out the lights’

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FOR businessman David Dowson the stakes could not be higher.

He is a veteran of the campaign to regenerate Bridlington and helped lay the ground for the Area Action Plan by funding independent research into the town’s economy in the 1990s.

While many others have fallen by the wayside, Mr Dowson is still fighting for a better future for the resort and remains one of the plan’s most vocal cheerleaders.

But as decision day approaches – the results of an inquiry into the plan’s soundness will be published on August 20 – he admits to being anxious about the result.

“I have been at this for 15 years,” said Mr Dowson, who is chairman of Lloyd Dowson Accountants in Station Avenue. “It’s going to change the town inside out, upside down and point it in the right direction.

“We are biting our nails at the moment because the result is going to come out soon.”

Yet he is barely able to conceal his frustration at the time it has taken to reach this point. “Fifteen years ago this month we went round this town with a begging bowl and raised £15,000 to get a feasibility study done by an international firm, and here we are nearly 15 years to the day waiting for the result.”

Despite his trepidation, Mr Dowson has complete faith in the vision set out in the 144 pages of the plan, approval of which could herald a new dawn.

“It’s a fantastic plan for the town. I believe in every word that’s written in it,” said Mr Dowson, who chaired the Bridlington’s regeneration partnership for 10 years until 1997.

In anticipation of what he hopes will be a positive outcome, Mr Dowson is already making plans to get the ball rolling, organising the relaunch of a business group of like-minded people.

It will have already had its first meeting by the time the report is published. He said: “We have just re-formed the Bridlington Business Forum, an offshoot of the Chamber of Trade, and we will hold our first meeting on Tuesday, a week in advance of getting the decision.”

But Mr Dowson issued an apocalyptic warning for Bridlington’s future if the planners are forced back to the drawing board by an unfavourable report from the planning inspector.

“We either save the town and lead it forward or we might as well pull the drawbridge up and turn the lights out because it’s on a slippery slope,” he said.

The plan has divided opinion in the town, with town councillors, other businesses and residents among the detractors – whom Mr Dowson gives short shrift.