Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Future of Arcades Is in the Balance; THEY Were Once as Much a Part of a Day at the Beach as Buckets and Spades, but the Future of Seaside Arcades Is Now as Delicately Balanced as Coins in a Penny Drop. NEIL MACFARLANE Reports

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Future of Arcades Is in the Balance; THEY Were Once as Much a Part of a Day at the Beach as Buckets and Spades, but the Future of Seaside Arcades Is Now as Delicately Balanced as Coins in a Penny Drop. NEIL MACFARLANE Reports

Article excerpt

Byline: NEIL MACFARLANE

FOR years, owners of arcades at coastal resort towns have been battling to save their businesses.

Budget flights took many Brits overseas for their annual holidays, and with the rise of affordable home computers, the days of the traditional amusements seemed numbered.

But the recession offered a rare slice of optimism for coastal businesses when it was predicted that holidaymakers would opt for cheaper "staycations" in the UK.

However, doubt has now been cast over the future of arcades after the Government announced that they, too, could be hit by the drive to slash the national debt.

Tax rules for gaming machines could be changed, which could mean businesses are hit with bigger bills in the coming years. Simon Zeck, who runs Play4Fun at the Esplanade at Redcar, said he would have to close if the changes come into force.

"It would kill us if they taxed us any more," said Simon, 46.

"When I started four years ago, we had four members of staff.

"Now I have one, who only works 19 hours a week. I do the rest. I'm having to put a grand a month into my business at the moment. It's a lot of stress and worry."

A rise in unemployment, caused in no small part by the loss of jobs in the steel industry, means he relies mainly on holidaymakers to keep his business afloat.

But Simon blames a drop in tourist trade on ongoing roadworks caused by the regeneration work to build a new sea wall, and the development of a shopping arcade in the town centre.

Redcar and Cleveland Council recently announced a bold plan for a new pounds 1.8m vertical pier, but that has been controversial too, and many locals would rather see a traditional pier built.

"I have never lived or worked anywhere other than Redcar seafront," he said.

"This time of year it's all holidaymakers.

I have got to make my money in these six weeks to make my living for the year.

"I'm not going to do that, I know that already. …

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