Far more serious than it ever was

MIKE Bell in last week's Mercury makes reference to the state of Park Place putting green on the seafront. He is right. The condition is terrible and I am a little concerned

MIKE Bell in last week's Mercury makes reference to the state of Park Place putting green on the seafront. He is right. The condition is terrible and I am a little concerned that some people may think that my company is to blame as concessionaires. This is not the responsibility of Berry's retail group to whom the concession to operate was granted more than 15 months ago.With regards to the Laurel and Hardy situation I have to say it is far far more serious than it ever was, especially to the ratepayers of North Somerset. The delays which are totally the responsibility of the council, along with this flawed decision to withdraw the concession, have a cost to council tax payers of £20,000, instead of a council income.Obviously there is a cost to tourism also, as along with the wire fenced-off 'open' beach we have another attraction closed this summer directly due to delay caused by North Somerset Council.Berry's have not changed the content of the bid for the site at all. The limited food sales from the new kiosk installed by North Somerset Council and the leisure use as a putting green were submitted in February 2007 and remain today exactly as then. The only 'change' came from North Somerset Council, following queries by councillor Kimitri. They realised the planning use they had for the site restricted snack sales to putters only, not passers by, so if tourist visitors popped in for an ice cream we would have to turn them away!Despite this however, we actually agreed to continue with the lease under those terms, simply adding the ability to stop after the first year in case the changes were too prohibitive.Berry's have held the keys to the site for over six months now and, as we considered we had a 'done deal', have invested several thousand pounds and no small amount of time in the site. We are devastated by this decision, which will have a major effect on our business as it was a large part of a 15-year business plan. How do we have a situation where one man can make a decision with that cost to ratepayers and to a local business?However the main worry is that instead of a vibrant putting area with national and international competitions planned, we have a near-derelict site with no plans at all, costing the ratepayer £10,000 every year it is closed, opposite a basically closed-off beach. What damage will this do to the businesses in this area who I am sure are already finding it hard?Ah well, I suppose we could always build some flats, a hotel and maybe a cinema in 10 years' time.For my part I have contacted my ward councillors and asked them to look into this flawed decision. STEVE BERRY - Berry's Retail Group (Berry's Central News, Uphill Waterfront Snacks and Silica Creperie)


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