Return to the good old days

A RETURN to the good old days was how North Somerset s tourism chief described it, and any visitor to Weston seafront this weekend would have to agree.

A RETURN to the good old days" was how North Somerset's tourism chief described it, and any visitor to Weston seafront this weekend would have to agree.

The sun shone, the crowds arrived, and for the duration of a sizzling Easter weekend, the town resembled the thriving, vibrant seaside destination of old.

The town still boasts many traditional favourites - donkeys, candy floss, fish 'n' chips, swing-boat rides and miniature railway - but has added a new, contemporary dimension too.

Alongside a range of new seafront rides and activities sits the most conspicuous - and, if early signs prove an accurate portent, successful - new arrival.

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The Weston Wheel is the most exciting addition to Weston's seafront in years.

A spectacular sight in itself, it's also proving a huge draw to visitors, and offering knock-on benefits across the town.

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Yet those taking advantage of unparalleled Weston views from atop the wheel will see exactly how much work remains to be done to truly rejuvenate the town.

From the wheel's pinnacle, it's difficult to look away from the sad remains of two of Weston's one-time star attractions.

The fire-ravaged pier remains a bare framework, and though we all know moves are underway to rebuild, it continues to be a sad reminder of last year's devastation and the long wait for it to reopen.

Further along the seafront, the half-demolished Tropicana looks no nearer to its trumpeted rebirth than it did a decade ago.

Looking down on Oxford Street, Carlton Street and Dolphin Square, it's painfully clear exactly why plans are afoot to demolish many of these buildings and start afresh.

And that's the key point. Weston may have a substantial wish-list of improvements, but these issues ARE being addressed.

The Wheel's arrival and a successful Easter represent the green shoots of recovery, and while this is only a first step on a long path, we can be confident we are heading in the right direction.

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