Tall Ships Information Centre drops anchor

With less than eighty days to go to The North Sea Tall Ships Regatta Blyth 2016, an Information Centre has opened to assist with the preparations for the event.

The Tall Ships Information Centre will open on Saturday 11 June at the Keel Row Shopping Centre, Blyth providing a focal point for local residents, businesses and visitor enquiries about the upcoming Regatta.

Northumberland County Council, in partnership with the Port of Blyth and Sail Training International, is hosting the prestigious Regatta which will be one of the largest events

ever held in the county and the only Regatta in the UK this year. Fergusons of Blyth, one of the UK’s leading privately owned haulage companies and the biggest in the North East, has been confirmed as the Principal Sponsor for the event in celebration of their 90th Anniversary.

Up to 30 Tall Ships are expected to gather at Blyth during the August Bank Holiday weekend (Friday 26- Monday 29 August) for the Regatta which will feature five zones of free family fun and entertainment across the town.

The Information Centre will be open at the following times for the first weeks of its operation: Wednesdays: 1-5pm; Thursdays: 1 - 6.30pm; Fridays: 9am - 5pm; Saturdays: 9am - 12.30pm. The centre will extend its opening times closer to the event.

The Keel Row Shopping Centre is supporting the Regatta by providing the space for the Information Centre and displaying the first official Tall Ships-themed banners, painted by local community groups, volunteers and schools, working with artists from Headway Arts.

The banners signal the start of county-wide plans for decorating Northumberland to welcome the Tall Ships.

Councillor Val Tyler, cabinet member for Arts, Leisure and Culture at Northumberland

County Council, said: “We need to work closely with residents in the run-up to the event and to provide a central point where visitors can get information and the Keel Row Shopping Centre is the ideal place for this.

“We are very grateful to the management of the Keel Row Shopping Centre and the Town Council for assisting us with setting up the Tall Ships Information Centre.”

The new office will also provide updates on traffic plans for the Regatta to keep local residents and businesses informed and to assist traffic management throughout the event.

Letters have been sent to residents and businesses across Blyth to keep them informed of the traffic plans for the Regatta which include temporary road closures, a one-way system, parking restrictions and parking permits during the event. Emergency access will be maintained at all times, including to the hospital and GP services.

Visitors will be directed to park and ride areas outside of the town to minimise any potential congestion in the town and on the county’s link roads during the weekend.

Martin Lawlor, chief executive, Port of Blyth, said: “With less than three months to go to The North Sea Tall Ships Regatta Blyth 2016, local and national interest in the event is growing and the Information Centre will provide an important port of call and resource for residents and visitors.”

Residents with specific questions about the event or looking for general information can call in person at the Tall Ships Information Centre at the Keel Row Shopping Centre during opening hours, or contact the council’s main switchboard on 0345 600 6400: Monday to Friday: 8am - 6pm.

Local ward councilor, Kath Nisbet, deputy civic head, Northumberland County Council, said: “The Tall Ships Regatta is one of the biggest events ever to be held in the county and the only Regatta being held in the UK this year.

“The centre staff will play an important role in informing and advising local residents and visitors, and providing a face-to-face contact point.”

Blyth Town Council is playing an important role in supporting the event as a highlight sponsor and working with the Regatta organisers to provide information and to ensure an event legacy for the town by encouraging businesses to the area and through the revival of the Blyth Carnival.

Councillor Margaret Parker, Mayor of Blyth, said: “The town council recognises how important the Regatta is to Blyth and Northumberland and we are keen to support it in any way we can, and ensure that we deliver a first-class event for the town and county.”

Trevor Gyllenspetz, centre manager, The Keel Row Shopping Centre, said: “We are delighted that the organisers have chosen the Keel Row for the site of the Information Centre and we are very excited to be working with the partners on this wonderful event.”

For more information about the North Sea Tall Ships Regatta Blyth 2016, visit the website: www.tallshipsblyth2016.com