British seaside resorts should not be kicked while they are down

Search online for “What is the Worst Seaside Resort in the UK?” and the answer pops up in a fraction of second: Skegness.

The Lincolnshire resort is the latest victim of a survey by members of Which?

They comprise an interesting strata of society. In an airline poll, they awarded Ryanair only one star for “cabin environment” while Jet2 earned four stars – even though the two airlines fly identical aircraft with exactly the same number of seats.

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Which? members clearly have it in for seaside resorts that are popular with the masses. When asked “to rate the beach, attractions, seafront and scenery for more than 100 seaside towns and villages in the UK,” they also laid into Great Yarmouth, Clacton-on-Sea, Bognor Regis, Mablethorpe (sister resort to Skegness) and Blackpool.

All the resorts in the last six places in the survey have seen better days, but this summer they will provide great holidays and day trips for millions.

I fear, though, that the Lincolnshire coast may be quieter than it should be as a result of the Which? poll. You don’t go to Skegness on the way to anywhere else – except possibly poor, maligned Mablethorpe.

Which? does formidable work to provide the traveller with consumer information and lobby government on their behalf, but I suggest it reconsiders the terms of its annual seaside survey.

As evidence, I will cite a couple of examples from the Sussex shore. One of them isn’t even on the coast at all: Rye is now high and dry, two miles inland from the Channel. The former Cinque Port is a lovely town, but anyone hoping for a dip in the briny will be sadly disappointed.

Brighton, further west, has the merit of actually being on the sea. Here, I agree with Which? members that the beach is lousy.

But I am not sure that their judgement can be trusted on gastronomy and shopping. The collectively stated belief is that Britain’s most magnificently indulgent resort has worse food and drink than Southwold, St Andrew’s and Tynemouth, and that its retail offer is inferior to that of tiny Lymington in Hampshire.

A spokesperson for Brighton & Hove Council told me: “The survey does have some very odd rankings as we are given four out of five for ‘peace and quiet’ when we’re renowned for being a buzzing 24-hour city.

“Also, we’re only two out of five for ‘shopping’ when we have our world-famous North Laine and Lanes, scores of designer boutique and independent shops as well as all the usual high street favourites.

“In the end, people will make their own minds up, but we love our visitors and we’re very happy that 11 million people every year choose to come to Brighton & Hove.”

Here’s a quick survey of my own: Should Which? members really be allowed to take part in future travel polls (and even general elections)?

British seaside resorts are fragile. They need love, investment and visitors – not to be kicked while they are down.

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