IS tourism in Cleethorpes being undermined by North East Lincolnshire Council failings? Yes, according to the authority's Conservative oppposition group leader, Cllr Philip Jackson, who believes the time has come to get a grip. Below is the text of an open letter he has written the NELC's Labour leader, Cllr Ray Oxby.
Dear Cllr Oxby
I am writing this open letter to you because of three current threats to the vital tourism trade in Cleethorpes which your administration is failing to address. Clearly, we are now in the peak of the visitor season and these need to be resolved.
The first, and most recent threat, is last week’s closure of the paddling pool for, we are told, health and safety reasons. My colleague Cllr David Hasthorpe and I have been trying to find out what exactly is the problem. We have been told that it’s unsafe storage of chemicals, a shortage of appropriately qualified or experienced staff or broken down plant and equipment. Which is it and, if it is one of the first two reason, why were these not identified earlier? With regard to the re-opening of the paddling pool, we’re told, on one hand, that the necessary money is not available and, on the other, that remedial action is now underway. Again, which is it?
The second threat relates to public toilets, clearly a major issue in a very busy seaside resort with many day visitors. My colleagues Cllr John Fenty and Cllr Keith Brookes have been involved here, the latter recently calling-in the question of charging within the resort and, at the recent Full Council, asking questions about the physical provision of public toilets. It also emerged, last week, that there may be cuts in cleaning and maintenance against a background of existing public complaints about the standard of our public toilets.
The third threat is the ongoing saga of the saltmarsh. We have been reassured numerous times over the last few years, both at scrutiny meetings and at Full Council, that spread of the Salt Marsh is being controlled and that it remains behind the line agreed with Natural England. Following a further expression concern about the situation at Full Council two weeks ago from my colleague Cllr John Fenty, I met him on site last Wednesday when the tide was out. It was plain to see that growth has now extended well beyond the agreed line. Also, I would suggest, there is now evidence that, because the extended growth is encouraging further mud deposition, it is threatening to change the character of the beach adjacent to the Leisure Centre. Because of these concerns, I have placed an item of urgent business relating the Salt Marsh on tonight’s Regeneration, Environment & Housing Scrutiny Panel meeting agenda.
Your Administration needs to stop dithering, get a grip of these fundamental issues and sort them out! Tourism is vital to area and there’s a real danger of us losing business to competing east coast resorts.
With regard to cash to deal with urgent problems like these, in the short-term that’s why we have balances and contingencies. This Labour administration has dragged its feet with transformational projects like the Operational Services Review and Making Waste Pay and failed to introduce a much-needed Car Parking Strategy, despite considerable cross-party work in scrutiny panels and working groups. The result is failure to take out millions of pounds of costs and potentially raise extra revenue through charging which would have more than covered the cost of resolving the threats I’ve set out above.
Cllr Philip Jackson