'Families unwelcome in Sidmouth' says tourism worker

PUBLISHED: 10:00 02 September 2013

Sidmouth

Sidmouth

Archant

A mum, whose job is selling Sidmouth as a destination, says families are unwelcome after her 'noisy' children were reprimanded for playing in the sea.

An elderly couple swore at Deborah Lewis and her friend as they said the youngsters’ screaming was ‘unacceptable’ and should be controlled.

Her complaint comes after a recent incident at Sidmouth’s pool in which a user complained that children were being too noisy as their parents taught them to swim.

Town councillor Ann Liverton claims there is contingent of residents who are ‘intolerant’ of children and who look forward to the end of the tourist season.

Tourism marketer Deborah, who lives in Exmouth, said: “We were dumbstruck – the beach was full of people, the crash of the waves was louder than any child and it was a sunny Saturday afternoon.

“Nobody should be sworn at because their children are enjoying themselves.

“I have never heard anything so utterly ridiculous as children being expected to be quiet on a public beach.

“I felt totally embarrassed – it’s marred my impressions of the town.”

Deborah, who actively promotes Sidmouth in her job at the Heart of Devon, was bringing her friend to the town for the first time when the incident happened.

“Sidmouth clearly wants to attract large numbers of visitors, but some residents clearly object to having to ‘share’ their town with others,” she said.

Mrs Liverton, who raised her children in the town, said she had faced the problem herself of people saying ‘youngsters behaved in my day’.

“There’s a divide in Sidmouth – establishments are all child-friendly, but there are some people who don’t like children,” she said.

“There’s a tendency to be intolerant, but when there are so many children suffering in the world, it’s lovely to see them playing happily – and sometimes they are noisy.”

Simon Pollentine, the town council’s member for tourism, said: “I can’t believe that that’s the biggest thing some people have to worry about – it’s unfortunate they can’t tolerate youngsters enjoying themselves.

“It’s harking back to Ted Pinney – we don’t want to return to those days.”

He was referring to the traditionalist former councillor, who in the 1960s said ‘the next thing we know, we’ll have people in braces on the seafront’.

● What do you think? Is Sidmouth family-friendly? Email sidmouth.letters@archant.co.uk

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