I decided I couldn't just leave town. It's like watching a car crash, you know you shouldn't, you know people are getting hurt but you just have to watch anyway!
The Tall Ships was always going to be a success, not even the incompetence of Hartlepool Council could totally screw it up. I believe you should always aim high but you should also be realistic. The problem was always going to be making it live up to its vastly overblown hype!
At one point there were 120 ships predicted, then over 100, then up to 100 and now actually around 60 turned up! The local economy was going to benefit by £50,000,0000 then £20,000,000 then £16,000,000, ultimately who knows but I did see an awful lot of out of town burger vans, German sausage and Paella stalls! Its like the Headland Carnival, every year it brings money onto the headland, the vast majority of which leaves town when the travelling fair moves on.
The 1,000,000 visitors was always a massive exaggeration, and I know people who are not coming because they are expecting huge crowds and so are staying away. The traffic control measures are hugely over the top, I even saw Hartlepool congestion warning on the M62 near Hull last week! and the yellow lines are a comedy classic.
However, the general public in Hartlepool will never find out exactly what it cost and what benefits it did bring to the town since the Council PR Machine will bury the truth under layers of hyperbole and spin.
To use an analogy that the football supporter can understand I think the Hartlepool Tall Ships will be like a report of a match that England won 1-0. Yes it was a win and we got the 3 points. The Headline "England Win" is true and accurate and if you leave it there then you are probably very happy. However if you read the report you discover the opposition were down to 9 men, England missed 5 open goals and the star player injured himself tripping over his own lose boot lace and will be out for the rest of the tournament. The win is still a win but the performance of the team was abysmal and the result should have been 5-0 or even 6-0, something that will be extremely important at the end of the qualifying stages when goal difference might be the thing that will keep England off the top of the Group!