Tainted by tragedy but good news still around

ALTHOUGH it s been a week when Weston has been tainted by tragedy, today s headlines contain plenty of good news too.

ALTHOUGH it's been a week when Weston has been tainted by tragedy, today's headlines contain plenty of good news too.

Town morale will inevitably be boosted by news that work on the �34million Grand Pier rebuilding project is underway, and approval for a seafront water park has also comes as a timely fillip.

It's heartening, too, to see some long-awaited acclaim for some of Weston's hardest-working and best-loved characters.

While the leisure industry and its attractions have morphed almost beyond recognition over the past 100 years, Weston's donkeys continue to prove as popular as ever.

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Being voted Britain's number one tourist attraction is a huge achievement for the donkeys and the Mager family who own them.

It is also a reminder of the simple pleasures of a trip to the seaside, at a time when Weston has reported a tenfold increase in visitor numbers over Easter.

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However, arguably the most exciting news relates to a revolutionary plan to expand the town's retail quarter and build new shopping centres.

North Somerset Council this week unveiled a tentative blueprint to add new retail areas around the Locking Road coach park and Sunnyside Road, including relocating Weston Rugby Club to a new site.

The prospect of new shops will be welcomed by bargain hunters who travel to Bristol or Taunton to spend their cash - but it's also worth sounding a note of caution.

At present, barely a week goes by without another shop going belly-up and pulling down the shutters. The former Woolworths stands empty as a dire reminder of the current financial crisis.

It's been months, and no new firm has come forward to snap up arguably the biggest and best-located of Weston's High Street stores - so what makes people think the nation's big names will be clamouring for space in a new centre?

Clearly this project is still in its infancy, but a vital first step is finding tenants before too much time and money is spent on a project which could prove a costly white elephant if the demand is not there.

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