Is a marina election promise sunk?
ELECTION promises to look at creating a marina in Weston instead of a controversial sea wall have not been kept, it has been claimed
ELECTION promises to look at creating a marina in Weston instead of a controversial sea wall have not been kept, it has been claimed. The sea defence working party, set up to consult and look at alternatives to a 1-1.5m splash wall along the seafront immediately after the May elections, has confirmed it has not considered creating a marina.Instead, North Somerset Council, now run by an overwhelming Conservative majority, plans to press ahead with the old scheme put in place before the Tories came into power, despite it being called 'daft' by leader Nigel Ashton. Liberal Democrat town councillor Mark Canniford has accused the authority of electioneering and being dishonest. He said: "Earlier this year Conservatives at Weston Town Council put forward a proposal for a marina as opposed to a sea wall. "Now the same people are on both the town and district councils, but nothing has been done. Those proposals received support from both myself and my colleagues."I think the people of Weston have been let down because many voted for the Tories based on their opposition to the sea wall. I think it is dishonest to just go along with the plans for a sea wall."The controversial plans involve building the splash wall along the roadside edge of the promenade between Knightstone Island and the Grand Pier, increasing the height of the current sea wall and putting a series of drains between the two.The plans are aimed at protecting 4,500 properties from flooding but there has been strong opposition from traders who say it will damage tourism. The first phase of the scheme, which started this week, includes work at the Marine Lake. The lake will be dredged, new sluices installed and ramps built to replace the steps and the beach will be enlarged. The upper promenade at the back of the lake will be resurfaced and street furniture replaced. The sea wall is part of phase two. The total cost of the project is £29million, including £27.8million funding from the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and £1.2million from Weston's Civic Pride programme. Sea defence working party chairman, Ian Porter, said he and his group have been consulting with traders about the first phase and plan to hold another meeting with hoteliers and other interested parties next month. He said: "North Somerset Council has not looked at plans for a marina, but that is not to say it is off the agenda. People in Weston feel very passionately about this but they must realise it is part of a wider regeneration of the seafront not just the sea wall."He also confirmed the authority will not be directly consulting with traders along the seafront on phase two until the first phase is completed in 2008. When asked about whether there was any difference with the scheme put forward by the previous administration, he replied: "What was put forward is part of what we are trying to achieve now. Under DEFRA and the Environment Agency, there is a requirement for a splash wall but how we design it is down to us."Cllr Porter added: "There will be a unit going up near theMarine Lake where people can go and see for themselves what plans there are for the future. Nothing is set in stone for phase two.