Could ‘Scarborough Fare’ branding boost historic harbour?

Scarborough's harbour
Scarborough's harbour
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Traditional maritime industries have for centuries been at the heart of Yorkshire’s coastal economy, with tourism and fishing synonymous with the classic seaside scene.

Now, as efforts are made to capitalise on this rich heritage, it could see the creation of a trademark ‘Scarborough Fare’ to rival the likes of the Cornish Cream Tea.

Such branding for the town’s famous shellfish, say those charged with securing a future for its historic harbour, could bring a huge boost to coastal communities.

And it could only support the shellfish trade, they say, which lies at the future of Scarborough’s fishing industry and adds to its tourism offering.

“The harbour is alive and well and the future looks positive,” said Coun Mark Vesey, chairman of the Scarborough Harbour Task Group.

“But we need to keep the investment in the harbour. And we need to keep ahead of the game - there is competition up and down the coast.

“We could have our own brand - a Yorkshire Coast Crab or Scarborough Fare, like the Cornish Pasty or Roquefort Cheese.

“We’ve a really high quality product, which brings in a lot of money. We need to make the most of that. All these things add to the attraction for visitors.

“It’s about capitalising on a product that could help the future of the harbour.”

The task group, set up last September to forge a future for the port and Scarborough’s fishing sector, has drawn up a draft plan to be presented in coming days.

A raft of suggestions have been put forward, from improved machinery to access and the reconfiguration of buildings.

And, the report concludes, more could be done to focus on the local shellfish industry.

The full scope of the review has been huge, members meeting with industry experts, fishermen, traders and academics over the course of recent weeks.

Scarborough is now the second largest shellfish port in the country, it found, ploughing millions into the local economy and indirectly employing up to 300 people.

Not only has it economic worth, the report to be considered on Wednesday found, the harbour is a huge draw to tourists who visit to see working ships in action.

And while there are opportunities for growth, the report concludes, any development must be about maintaining its fishing activity, seeking to continue investment and maintenance.

“The harbour is crucial, absolutely critical to people coming to visit,” said Coun Vesey.

“People come to the beach, but if they’re here to buy fish and chips, they want to look at fishing boats.

“It’s not an area that is in decline. The harbour needs investment, to be kept up to date, and to improve and grow.

“Traders don’t want to see the harbour covered in burger vans and bars. We need to keep the harbour and the boats and fishing facilities.

“There’s a really clear message that fishing needs to continue and to be invested in. The fishing industry must be supported.”

The report from the Scarborough Harbour Task Group is to go before the town council’s overview and scrutiny committee on Wednesday.

The full action plan seeks to ensure that any development in the harbour area maintains levels of fishing activity, and seeks to continue investment and maintenance.

In particular, this would consider a new davit, improving HGV access, facilities for boat maintenance, and potential reconfiguration of the buildings on the West Pier to make better use of space.

It would also put a particular focus on the success of the local shellfish industry, perhaps through the pooling of resources and driving value out of a shellfish brand.

If passed, the action plan will go before the council’s cabinet for approval as part of the area’s development plan.