Ilfracombe? I still think it's a dump, says tourist put off by fish
A tourist who caused outrage in north Devon by complaining that a working harbour “smells of fish” now claims that his critics need their eyes tested.
When in a hole, David Copp just keeps on digging and has insisted that Ilfracombe is a “dump”. The father of two tells the local newspaper that people who like the seaside resort should “go to Specsavers”.
His outburst began when he complained to the harbour master that the “nauseating stench” from crates of dead fish at the harbourside spoiled his holiday and left his children “distressed”.
His comments led to a barrage of complaints from locals who asked him what he expected from a working harbour and accused him of wanting a sanitised version of a fishing village.
Instead of taking the criticism on the chin, Mr Copp, 46, from Brighton, came out fighting. He contacted the local newspaper and launched a stinging tirade.
“A lot of the comments that have been made are pretty unsympathetic, saying that Ilfracombe is a working harbour, but it is not much of a harbour,” he said. “I think it is a complete joke. If they call that picturesque, they need their eyes tested
“The high street and top of the town is a complete dump. I suggest they go to Specsavers.”
Mr Copp said that he had been to other, much nicer harbours, such as Brixham, south Devon. And they did not smell.
“I’ve been to other harbours and they are picturesque with proper facilities,” he said. “But Ilfracombe is simply not fit for purpose and smelt atrocious.”
He said that he would have felt differently if he had received an apology but all he had received were “excuses”. He also claimed that a trawler moored in the harbour, The Lady of Lundy, was surrounded by flies and had given off a foul smell for “at least eight hours”.
“I was fuming, and the harbour master didn’t do anything to sort the problem out,” he said. “One of the men on the trawlers had tattoos and looked dodgy so it doesn’t surprise me.”
Mr Copp, a former fish and chip shop owner, was staying with his family in nearby Woolacombe.
They visited Ilfracombe for the day and were “confronted” with the smell. He said: “They should have made some effort to hide them or cover them up. The children didn’t like it there, it stank.”
Mr Copp said his home town Brighton was his favourite British seaside resort.
“I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. It is so cosmopolitan and friendly. You wouldn’t get smelly fish lying around.”
Tony Rutherford, the managing director of nearby Bideford Fisheries, said most tourists visited the area to see how the fishing industry worked.
“Seeing us in action is considered a tourist attraction in these parts,” he said.
The Ilfracombe harbour master, Rob Lawson, said the trawler was being unloaded when Mr Copp complained.
“This is generally considered an asset because visitors can get a feel for how the industry works,” he said. “My response to him was: 'I’m sorry but you shouldn’t be taking your children to a harbour if that is how they react to dead fish.’ ”
Andrea Beacham, the town centre manager, said Ilfracombe had “charm”.
“It’s got the charm of the working harbour which is one of people’s favourite things when they visit,” she said. “Ilfracombe is quirky, it is unique and it is individual.”