Coastal retreat 'short on spirit'

ONCE the jewel of the East Anglian coast, regularly attracting the likes of Douglas Fairbanks Jr and Winston Churchill, the famous town of Frinton is in danger of withering away, according to a civic leader.

ONCE the jewel of the East Anglian coast, regularly attracting the likes of Douglas Fairbanks Jr and Winston Churchill, the famous town of Frinton is in danger of withering away, according to a civic leader.

In his latest newsletter, Jeremy Russell, chairman of the Frinton and Walton Heritage Trust, asks: “Has Frinton lost its spirit?”

He was prompted to write after fewer people than expected took part in a recent Edwardian Day celebrating 100 years of the town's renowned Connaught Avenue.

Residents were urged to dress in period costumes and recreate the halcyon days when Frinton was famed for its elegance and good manners.

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His dream was that thousands would flock to the resort – it would be an “historic” opportunity to put the town back on the map and to restore pride after recent rows over a growing yob culture.

But in his newsletter, he said: “I expected to be disappointed and I am sorry to say that my expectation was in the main fulfilled.”

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He praised local charity shops for their window displays and also event organisers who “looked resplendent in their Edwardian finery”.

“But where was the full chorus?” he added. “Where was the publicity explaining the reasons for the window displays and the costumes?

“What contribution did the local town council and Tendring District Council or anyone else make towards what could have been a magnificent opportunity to show Frinton off at its best.”

He said people flocked to Rochester in Kent for its Dickensian festivals and was sure that similar interest could have been raised if there had been a co-ordinated effort in Essex.

“This was the ideal opportunity to make the most of Frinton's tradition and reputation for elegance and dignity, for good manners and sociability,” he said.

“I cannot think of another occasion in Frinton's history that could be used for such a potentially colourful celebration.

“And it has passed with hardly a second thought.

“Has Frinton lost its spirit? We are happy to shut ourselves away with our TV and G&Ts and hope that Neighbourhood Watch will keep us safe in our personal cocoons and hope that Frinton Residents' Association will look after the rest.”

He added: “Occasionally we will go to Frinton Theatre – provided someone else organises it for us – and the concerts at the parish church and the Read House might coax us out into the fresh air.

“And the golf club still provides the venue for acceptable social intercourse, but is there really any community spirit left?” he asked.

Mr Russell said yesterday he did not expect that his comments would attract much attention, but although dismissing his notion of a general malaise in the town, Rosie de Koff, chair of the Frinton Chamber of Commerce lent him some support, agreeing that the councils had not done enough.

She said: “From our point of view there was no input from them. It would have been nice to have some help with the leafleting and the publicity.

“But let's get this in context: we're not Rochester, we're Frinton – we're a tiny little place. People were never going to flock in droves to that event.”

Terry Allen, leader of Tendring District Council and Frinton town councillor, said: “It's nonsense to say we're withering away. There's a tremendous community spirit in the place and that's what's driving out the yob culture.

“Not one person came to the council to ask for help on the Edwardian day. If they'd asked I'd have pulled out all the stops to help.”

A spokesman for Medway Council said it spent about £25,000 on its two Dickensian festivals, which are held over a total of five days in the summer and at Christmas and attract more than 60,000 visitors.

Frinton, meanwhile, has no plans for more Edwardian days.

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