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Negative publicity from lockdown tourists “wont make it easy” for Ilkley to recover

Negative publicity from lockdown tourists “wont make it easy” for Ilkley to recover

Published by Local Democracy Reporter Chris Young at 6:53am 10th June 2020.

Main image: The Grove, Ilkley

Councillors: 'We need extra policing'

  • Councillors in Ilkley have been expressing their concern over the impact of the coronavirus lockdown.
  • Visitors descended on the town's riverside area, flouting lockdown restrictions and leaving rubbish behind on one weekend in May.
  • At a meeting, local councillors called for extra policing, adding the issue has created negative publicity, hindering the town's recovery.

Negative publicity created when thousands of people flocked to Ilkley during lockdown will make it more difficult for the town’s tourist industry to recover – a local councillor has claimed.

At a meeting of Bradford Council’s Executive, members were discussing what could be done to help the District recover from Covid 19 and the national lockdown.

A report to the committee said of all areas of the District, Ilkley had the most “at risk” jobs due to the number of tourism, retail and leisure based businesses in the town.

It claimed one in three jobs in the ward were in these high risk sectors.

Ilkley recently hit national headlines in the final weekend of May, when images of thousands of people packed into the town’s riverside area, seemingly ignoring social distancing, emerged.

People had descended on the town from as far as Manchester and Sheffield to enjoy the sun.

When they left, they left the town’s beauty spots strewn with litter.

It led to Keighley and Ilkley MP Robbie Moore criticising those that flouted the lockdown in Parliament.

At the Executive meeting Councillor Anne Hawksworth (Independent, Ilkley) rose the issue when questioning Council bosses:

“There are two sides to tourism in Ilkley.

"There are people who come to shop on the High Street and visit the spas, and there is also the type of visitors that we have seen flooding into the riverside in the last few weeks.

“All the bad publicity that has resulted from that won’t make it any easier for the High Street to recover.

“We have to get our act together and have extra policing.”

Steve Hartley, director of Place at the Council, said:

“We are putting plans in place to deal with it.

“The people who came to Ilkley were breaking regulations, but this is difficult to enforce, either by the police or by the Council.

“We will look to put additional resources there on weekends, and how we can better enforce parking. That could potentially include the closure of certain streets if necessary in emergency situations.

“The message is this is wrong. You can meet people in the park, but you have to remember to take care of the environment.

“Some of the scenes we saw were just plain wrong. We need to have a plan to make sure scenes like this don’t happen again.”

At the same meeting Councillor Rebecca Poulsen (Cons, Worth Valley) asked what the Council was doing to support the District’s tourism industry.

Lockdown had badly effected places like Haworth, which would normally attract huge numbers of tourists over summer.

She was told the Council was asking the government for more money to support leisure businesses.

Mr Hartley said:

“We will make sure the district is promoted appropriately when restrictions are lifted further.

“We’ll be promoting tourism as soon as we can.”

Chief Executive Kersten England referred to the recent scenes in Ilkley, saying:

“The problem is the tourists had returned, but the businesses were unable to operate.”

The meeting also heard what measures were being put in place to encourage people to maintain social distancing as lockdown continues to ease.

This included new signage and “one way” areas on some pavements.