An information centre is to open to give people more information on the North Sea Tall Ships Regatta.
With less than 80 days to go until the event in Blyth, the centre will open on Saturday at the Keel Row Shopping Centre to provide a focal point for residents, businesses and visitor enquiries about the Regatta.
Northumberland County Council, in partnership with the Port of Blyth and Sail Training International, is hosting the prestigious Regatta, with Fergusons of Blyth confirmed as the principal sponsor.
Up to 30 Tall Ships are expected to gather at Blyth during the August Bank Holiday weekend – Friday, August 26, to Monday, August 29 – 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 1pm to 5pm; Thursdays 1pm to 6.30pm; Fridays 9am to 5pm; Saturdays 9am to 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.
Coun 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 which include temporary road closures, a one-way system, parking restrictions and parking permits during the event.
Visitors will be directed to park and ride areas outside of the town to minimise any potential congestion in and around Blyth.
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 from Monday to Friday between 8am and 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.
Coun 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 at 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 www.facebook.com/tallshipsblyth2016 or on Twitter: @TallShipsBlyth or the website www.tallshipsblyth2016.com