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29 DEC 2001

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Plaza and Baths Fiasco.
SOUTHPORT CVS Forum.

The Plaza Fiasco goes on, as the three party leaders argue as to who is to blame for the flop of the year.  One of the audience in a debate held by Southport CVS said, “This is the dome of Southport, and someone has to be responsible!” 

“The youth in the town is not getting a look in. The Model Boating Lake is under threat and the ABC Cinema!” said one angry parent with his kid, who wanted to be reassured that the current plans will still get a replacement model boating lake.

To calls of hold a public enquiry, the councilors from all three parties battled to reassure the audience that the Ocean Plaza was to be completed next year.  “Most have fresh memories of the Curse of Southport hitting work on the Eastbank Street, in October and work put on hold to November!  Can we really respect what they say to us and believe that the fiasco will stop?”  One of the audiences shouted out. 

Our question to Sefton is “Is Southport being turned into a retirement paradise at the expense of the youth?” the response we got was “No, we are doing a lot for the young people of Southport, this development is one of them.”

Doris Pennington reports:-

 
The Councilors were introduced to the audience by Bert Sharples, Hon. Sec. of the CVS.

The first to speak was Councilor Bamber who informed the audience that there has been 'quite dramatic progress' in Southport and that £62million pounds has been invested in the town.
About the Baths project Cllr Bamber informed the audience that Sefton had commissioned a Survey and the majority of people surveyed wanted a Leisure Center.

Eastbank Street - Contractors were back on site 2 weeks after the DJ construction pulled the plug.


Cllr Bamber said that "some people have a wish for things to fail' however the council is investing money in the Town and all sorts of funding has been 'called in' to make things happen."

Cllr Bamber also stated that "the Town has been in decline for many years and 15 years ago he would not bring his Children into Southport, because of the state of the Town. Pleasureland was in a miserable state and there was nothing to do."

Councilor Byrom had very different views and says that "the Land and the money belong to the Public and so any discussions should not be behind closed doors and all information, regarding the Ocean Plaza, should be in the public domain." 

Although Cllr Bamber indicated that contracts and £6million have been agreed for Ocean Plaza, Cllr Byrom said that "the £6 million was not yet 'on the table'."

£800,000 is needed for the regeneration of Eastbank Street. 

Cllr Byrom asked "'Who is leading this Town and what is the vision for Southport?."

Article by Doris Pennington & Photos by Patrick Trollope.

Dave Martin then went on to talk about, mainly things that really held no interest for the forum, being mainly issues from the South end of the Borough. 
As there are no Labour seats in Southport, Dave Martin was really not terribly interested in what is happening here. (my own opinion)

Cllr Byrom disagreed with Cllr Bamber and Dave Martin on most points and in doing so had the audience on his side more than the other two. Three months ago the Ocean Plaza was going nowhere, There is a need for a Ten-pin Bowling Alley/ Waterworld/ Multi-plex Cinema, however it now looks as if Ocean Plaza will be more a Discount Trading area. 

The Baths scheme was developed over 2 years and public consultation was invoked. However he did question why Sefton are 'repeat offenders' in the issuing of contracts to firms that go bust. Les Byrom said that "An Apology should be made to the Public'. He also intimated that the Cabinet System is NOT working."

Dave Martin - said that "I would like to see something 'Positive out of this meeting". He also said that " 'Ocean Plaza has no more or less problems than the rest of the Borough". 

He did agree that Bootle has a new Leisure Center. However he did say that " things are moving forward and that Sefton Council DID consult before the baths project was started."

Dave Martin said that Les Byrom voted against Ocean Plaza and if the Conservatives do not want these schemes to go ahead he can quite easily vote against them too and spend the money in the South of the Borough as it is a region of deprivation in housing, Leisure facilities etc.

All Cllr did say that " we should be looking forward to what will be, rather than looking back to what was."

"In 1970 the Borough was going into decline and Southport had the Lowest rates and the best Education...!!!!" (I must admit I do not know what that last statement showed...!!)

Brian Naylor asked whether the Council went through "due process" before agreeing contracts with URC. URC apparently had backing from Hambro Banking and Woodrow Taylor, however these backers actually backed out BEFORE URC were appointed.

Cllr Bamber then stated the Shepherds had started building before any surety was deposited in order to ensure the Cinema Franchisee 'stayed on board'. He also stated that " NO PUBLIC i.e. (COUNCIL TAX MONIES) had been paid to Shepherds...any money that had been used was from various grants."

Many people had questions that could NOT be asked due to lack of time. 

 

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