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CAUTIOUS START TO TOWN’S HOLIDAY SEASON

Traders in Minehead are preparing to make the best of the holiday

season as the town gears up for a cautious return to something like

normal this weekend.


And business leaders are still hopeful of easing at least some of the

hardship inflicted by lockdown in the remaining weeks between now and

the autumn.


The reopening of Butlins this weekend will bring the first significant influx

of visitors to the town since the centre’s winter programme but coincides

with the introduction of Government instructions that face masks should

be worn in all shops as a precaution against a further spike in Covid-19

cases.


This weekend also sees the first major event on the West Somerset

Railway which has been unable to run any trains at all this year.

It is staging Living Railway Museum days at Minehead station on

Saturday and Sunday, though no train services will be running and visits

are being tightly scheduled to ensure social distancing can be enforced.

The longest heritage railway platform in the country will host a number of

attractions and there will be shunting demonstrations and a chance to

see the fully-restored turntable in action – and for some even to lend a

hand operating it.


The Turntable Café, Buffer Stop Shop and the second-hand Readers’

Halt bookstall will be operating and there will be a chance to get up close

to a steam railway engine footplate and the driving cab of a diesel

multiple unit. Qualified staff will be on hand to explain how both operate.

Staff are also organising conducted tours of the steam engine

workshops and depot - both normally out of bounds to the public - to see

engines under restoration including the Great Western King Class

locomotive, which has been hidden from public view for some time.


Visits will be in three timeslots, at 10am, noon and 2pm, each allowing

up to two hours to explore and enjoy the activities on the platform.

Admission, which will include free vintage double deck bus rides round

Minehead, is £5 for adults, £3 for children under 16 and advance

booking is recommended at www.west-somerset-railway.co.uk

Minehead BID manager Andrew Hopkins said the open days were an

encouraging example of how holiday attractions were attempting to

function within the limits of ongoing restrictions.


“Obviously this is going to be a very tough year for the railway because

there has been absolutely no ticket income at all this season, so we’re

hoping many local people as well as visitors will be showing some

support for what it is going on this weekend,” he said.


The Minehead BID consortium was set up in 2018 with the support of

more than 240 local traders to raise the town’s profile as a resort and

organise regular entertainment events – though this year’s programme

has been severely restricted by the virus.


But, as Minehead’s Information centre reopens, BID funding is also

supporting a team of Minehead Town Ambassadors who are providing a

mobile visitor information service while liaising with businesses and

carrying out a customer survey to help shape Minehead’s recovery

plans.


With its backing, Minehead has also been chosen as one of the

locations hosting a Monster Hero safari trail

https://monsterherosafari.com/locations/minehead, an ambitious new

project which will bring a fun, family experience to many of the UK’s high

streets this summer, and which aims to raise more than £100,000 for

NHS Charities Together. And it’s also underwriting the cost of the steam

lorry which will be returning this summer travelling around the town and

street entertainers who will be performing in the resort at weekends from

late July until the end of August.


Car parking in all council-run car parks is also currently free until the 30 th

August.


Mr Hopkins said for all holiday-based businesses the 2020 season

would be one like no other – for all the wrong reasons.

“No-one has ever faced economic challenges on this scale before, or

been forced to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles to getting

their business back up and running,” he said.


“But there is a tremendous ‘can-do’ spirit in the Minehead community.

We saw that during lockdown when so many local businesses managed

to find ways to carry on some form of trading to keep their customers

happy and we are seeing it again as we prepare for a limited launch of

the main season.


“No-one’s pretending any records are going to be broken this summer

but the very fact that most of our local attractions will be operating in

some way or other is a great tribute to the determination of the business

community.


“And I am confident that those visitors who do manage to get here will

find Minehead still as charming and welcoming as ever – and make that

all-important decision to come back again once things have returned to

something like normal.”



ENDS


For more information, contact Andrew Hopkins, Minehead BID Manager on 07703 668928


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Please get in touch, Minehead BID is keen to hear from you.

Contact Minehead BID Manager via email: manager@mineheadbid.co.uk

or via post: Minehead BID, PO Box 108, Minehead, Somerset TA24 9DE

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