Google under fire for pictures of pier construction work
PUBLISHED: 09:00 16 October 2011
THE Grand Pier is still a building site - according to internet search engine giant Google, which has been accused of putting off potential tourists from visiting the town.
The website’s satellite image services Google Maps and Google Earth show out-of-date images of Weston’s pier under construction, plus seafront images which pre-date recent regeneration works.
Hotels and Restaurants Association Chief Keith Fearne said hotels in Weston are being asked by people who are ringing to book rooms when the construction will finish.
Mr Fearne, the owner of the Midland and Monaco hotels, said he had done his best to assure people the works are over and the pier is now an essential sight to see.
The old pier burnt down in summer 2008 but was rebuilt for £48million and reopened last October.
The images, which must have been taken during the early stages of construction in late 2009 or early 2010, show cranes along the pier and at its base in Royal Parade.
Mr Fearne said: “It is horrendous, because people are going to be looking at it and thinking ‘why would we want to go to Weston?’
“It is showing Weston in a bad light, as a building site.
“I have had a considerable number of people asking me about it.
“One lady said her daughter had showed her the images and she was rather put off coming here.”
He said that although he stressed to everyone who mentioned the problem that the pier has been rebuilt, others may have been put off about inquiring about Weston altogether.
He said he contacted Google earlier in the year but received no reply.
Joint owner of the pier, Kerry Michael, said he was not aware of the problem but will contact Google about it.
It is not the first time the search engine has caused problems for tourism in Weston.
Earlier this year, Google uploaded images of the Midland and Monaco hotels to its street view service, showing static images of both hotels.
But the pictures were of their back entrances, showing rubbish bins and an old mattress.
Mr Fearne contacted the company and the images were changed.
But its satellite images are not updated regularly and it is not known how long it may take before the new Grand Pier shows on the site.
The Mercury contacted Google, but at the time of going to press it had failed to respond.