Monday, 28 November 2011

Mixed News in Weston

Nothing like ups and downs, is there?

I began today reading this article:

explaining that the new sea front works in Weston-s-Mare had been given an award. Good. Much needed work and a much deserved award. Makes the town appear to be on the up. All very positive.

Then, this afternoon comes this:

For those of you that don't know, the Tropicana was for a few years the name for what had for years been called simply "the bathing pool". This was Weston's vast open air swimming pool (able to accommodate 1,500 bathers at a time), venue for diving displays, beauty pageants (a young Diana Dors came third in a beauty contest here!) and a valuable swimming resource in a resort where the sea can sometimes be a bit far off.

In the eighties it was redeveloped, losing the iconic art deco diving board but gaining a wave machine and some giant fruits down which one could slide into the pool. (It was better than I'm making it sound, honestly!) was closed down. We were told that it was too expensive to run, that it wasn't suited to the British climate (only being able to open for part of the year), although how that differed from the previous sixty years seemed to be a moot point.

Schemes to redevelop the pool came and went but always seemed to involve Something Else: an hotel, a bowling alley, a car park encroaching on the Beach Lawns opposite.

And since the last of those schemes fell through, the place has effectively lain derelict, used to store materials for the seafront enhancement, an ignominious fate for so fine a structure.

All the time, anyone with any sense sense (and there are plenty of those, believe me) has been saying that the answer is a remarkably simple one. Restore it as a pool, with a retractable roof, so that it could be used all year. It's in a good, accessible location and the town's only other swimming pool is well inland, on the edge of a suburban housing estate at Hutton Moor. The Tropicana site is ideal as a pool. To use modern parlance it's a no-brainer.

I've become steadily more concerned by the apparent inability of the local council to understand that any pool scheme here needs to be simple to be affordable. But somehow, I always thought that the pool would, eventually come back. So today's news that demolition is likely has come as something of a bombshell.

If these people allow (nay, cause) the loss of this facility, this monument, they will earn the enmity of all who truly love Weston-s-Mare. I for one will not forgive them. And I shall not be alone.

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