Star Inn The Harbour closure: Council defends record after being criticised over support

Scarborough Council has defended its record following The Star Inn the Harbour’s announced closure and accusations that not enough support was given to the business.

Members of Scarborough Council’s cabinet have defended the authority’s record in supporting businesses following an announcement that the Michelin-listed Star Inn the Harbour, in Whitby, would close. Restaurateur and director of Star Inn the Harbour, Andrew Pern, has blamed the borough council for the closure of the restaurant, stating that it did not receive adequate support during the Covid pandemic.

Mr Pern stated that the “main reason we are closing is the almost utter lack of support we have received from Scarborough Borough Council during Covid – just two months’ Covid business support”. However, speaking at a full meeting of the authority on Monday (Nov 7) Coun Janet Jefferson, the cabinet member for corporate resources said: “On the finance side, to the best of our abilities we helped them with all the available grants.

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“I’m sorry I can’t give the figures for what they would have received, but everyone in business got free rates, no matter what size they were. I’m really sorry that the situation is as it is, they’ve had a lot of unfortunate incidents, haven’t they? Not least their other businesses as well, so I’m very concerned. It was a prominent site.”

Andrew Pern at the opening of The Star Inn the Harbour in WhitbyAndrew Pern at the opening of The Star Inn the Harbour in Whitby
Andrew Pern at the opening of The Star Inn the Harbour in Whitby

Coun Alf Abbott said: “We’ve lost 30 good jobs with The Star closing and there has been a lot of publicity with The Star blaming this council for not supporting them. Can the portfolio holder assure us, that they were supported and can you give us some insight on the support that we have given them?”

The cabinet member for inclusive growth, Coun Liz Colling replied to Coun Abbott, stating that “we are all really sad that The Star Inn is closing”.

She said: “I would like to emphasise that this council has worked collaboratively with them on the issue of rent, obviously I won’t talk about that in a public meeting. But we have really negotiated with them on rent and done everything that is within our power, given that we cannot give them rent-free because we are a landlord for lots of other properties as well.

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The cabinet member said the authority had “accommodated their requests” and believed it was in negotiations with business in the hope “that their business would pick up”.

Coun Colling added: “They made the decision to close. As I say, we were dealing with them all the way along and in good faith, and we really hoped that they would stay.”

In a question to the council leader, before the meeting had to be adjourned due to a disruption in the public gallery, Cllr Bill Chatt said: “Then my biggest shock was that Star Inn The Harbour in Whitby was pulling out [and] pointing the finger directly at this administration.”

He added: “We had a restaurant with a Michelin star, that’s not a guy with a frying pan, that’s something really important pulling out of Whitby. Somewhere that is a destination town for this entire coast.”

The Star Inn The Harbour has announced it will be closing for business on November 12, 2022.