G P Taylor: Why claims that my hometown of Whitby is a rip-off are accurate

Whenever something is a success, there are always those who want to have a go and tear it down.

In this age of TripAdvisor and other social media outlets, any keyboard warrior can hide behind their anonymity and give a place a bad rating.

Living in Whitby, I am proud that it is the must-go place for staycations in Britain. By the crowds of people that crammed into the town this year, I can see that this is true. The number of visitors has been record-breaking, but that is no excuse for them to be ripped off.

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Is Whitby really a rip-off? We investigateI feel that in some cases that is what is happening in the town. If business owners and politicians are not careful, the much-needed tourist trade will vanish as quickly as it appeared.


There has been comment in this newspaper about ‘rip off Whitby’ and I have to say that to some extent, I agree. It is now time Whitby residents start calling out those places that they feel are ripping people off.

My first visit to Whitby was in 1960 and I came to live here in 1995. The place has changed considerably since then. Due to its success, it is now a premier destination, with shops and eateries as good as London's. Mademoiselles on Skinner Street is as good as The Ivy.

However, I find it wrong that tourists should be charged London prices. I can never understand why a fish and chip restaurant has to make customers pay a service charge that you only discover in the small print of the menu. I don’t mind leaving a tip if the service is good, but please don’t hide it in the bill.

It’s also not good that some of the fish and chip shops soak the chips in a potato whitener that has ‘harmful if swallowed’ on the side of the packet. I don’t want my chips soaking in a sort of bleach and then pay a premium price for them. Nor do I want to ask for cod and be given cheaper pollock instead, as some tourists have alleged.

Whitby isn’t all doom and gloom on the food front and has many great places to eat and drink. I have noticed that even these are edging up the price of their products to a point where you don’t want to pay £3 for a cup of coffee.

Photos show crowd chaos in Whitby on Easter Bank Holiday weekendIt is even worse when you have stood in the queue of your local budget supermarket next to the owner of a local restaurant who is buying up all the cheap wine. This, you know, will be sold later at triple the price as their house wine. It certainly sticks in your throat.

If you have a drink in one of the bars, heaven help you find a place for a pee. In a town that welcomes visitors, it doesn’t welcome those who need the loo. There is no such thing in Whitby as spending a penny. I believe the going rate set by Scarborough Council is around 40p, that’s if you can find a public loo.

When the tourists get here they are also ripped off by the price of the car parks. If you can find a space in one, you have to pay a premium fee.

Whitby wasn’t made for cars and the parking is expensive and inadequate. The trouble is, Scarborough Council are in charge and I believe that Whitby is seen as a cash cow to fill their coffers.

Residents have to pay for parking on streets that they may never be able to find a space on from April to November. It is not unusual for locals to park up to a mile from their homes. Parking has an impact on tourists and the lack of it puts people off.

It isn’t fair that garages hike the price of petrol to sometimes as much as 5p more than in Scarborough. The visitors Whitby relies on might not want to come back if they realise they are being ripped off. Even the charity shops seem to be more expensive than in other towns.

But, the cost is well worth the price when you live or visit here. Whitby always has something going on to attract people from all over the world. It was amazing to see the swing bridge so full of people throughout the summer that cars couldn’t get across. Whitby has an atmosphere that isn’t replicated in other seaside towns. It is friendly and welcoming and you do hear a lot of laughter on the streets and see smiles on faces.

Inside the historic Whitby pub where Captain Cook and Charles Dickens once drankIf this is to continue, then business owners and council leaders have to agree to stop biting the hand that feeds them. Whitby needs repeat visitors, not the one-off who leaves with a bitter taste in their mouths and an empty wallet. Fish and chips for a family of four can often cost well over £20. That is not cheap.

Scarborough Council has to commit to Whitby and provide the town with better tourist and resident parking. It also has to have a radical overhaul of business rates and support new ventures. Business owners have to review prices for tourists and look after locals who support them all year long.

G P Taylor is an author and broadcaster from Whitby