Seaside village ‘boycott’ group rebranded after apology

PUBLISHED: 14:03 26 July 2020 | UPDATED: 11:54 27 July 2020

Beach Road in Hemsby in April 2016. Picture: James Bass

Beach Road in Hemsby in April 2016. Picture: James Bass

Archant Norfolk © 2016

A Facebook group which urged people to avoid a seaside village has been rebranded following extensive criticism.

A Facebook group urging people to boycott Hemsby has caused alarm among traders who have spent A Facebook group urging people to boycott Hemsby has caused alarm among traders who have spent "a small fortune" on PPE and sneeze screens to make it safe for visitors and residents Picture: Facebook

The group, originally called Boycott Hemsby, caused controversy after saying it wanted to “warn” locals about their behaviour.

The group claimed some visitors experienced “hostility and rudeness” from residents while visiting the village after coronavirus lockdown measures were eased.

Now, however, the group has been rebranded, with the page administrator apologising for calling for a boycott.

In a post to the group, they said it was set up in response to some reactions from local residents towards holidaymakers visiting during the pandemic.

The beach at Hemsby in 2015.  Picture: James BassThe beach at Hemsby in 2015. Picture: James Bass

Acknowledging local businesses, which have been badly affected by a lack of visitors during lockdown, the adminitrator announced the group was being renamed ‘We Love Hemsby’ to spread positivity around the village.

Now with more than 300 members, the group describes itself as a place to “share your love of wonderful Hemsby, Scratby and Newport.”

The group was heavily criticised after being created, with chairman of Hemsby Parish Council Keith Kyriacou stressing visitors are welcomed “with open arms.”

He said: “It’s just mindless stupidity.

“I don’t know why anyone would try and bring the town down like that.

“Yes, when Boris said everyone should come to the seaside, we were wary about tourists, like everyone else.

“But we welcome holidaymakers with open arms. A lot of people here rely on them and to suggest otherwise is just disgusting.”

Last week, cafe and attractions owner James Bensly said he was “heartbroken” when he found out about the group, saying: “As if this season has not been hard enough, we now have this challenge.

“Hemsby has gone above and beyond in terms of safety and we had some excellent feedback over the weekend from visitors about how safe they felt.”

In one of the first significant easings of lockdown restrictions in May, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said people were allowed to visit parks and beaches, inlcuding the Norfolk coast.

The organisers of the group have been contacted for comment.

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