Plans to remove the flagpole at the front of the pier could
be rushed through to save money, say opposition groups.
On Monday the council’s regeneration group will discuss
getting rid of the rarely-used mast near the pier entrance and transforming the
area into an events space. Although the group has no decision-making power, it
may recommend the plans to the executive if it considers them viable.
Councillors looking to minimise cost want the proposals
pushed ahead while construction firms are still working on the seafront. They
argue that redeveloping the flagpole would replace the space lost when the
beach hut village and crazy golf course open on the pier.
Yet there are fears the plans could be approved without
consulting residents to meet deadlines of construction firms. Another flagpole
by the bandstand was taken down in January because the council said it had
“decayed beyond repair” and would cost £32,000 to replace.
Lib Dem Cllr Ron Flaherty said:
“I’m not happy about it. It is vandalism of a piece of
heritage on the seafront as far as I’m concerned. At the moment, the
demographic of the town is mainly over-55s. Elderly people, particularly, like
to sit there in the summer months facing the sun and looking at the gardens.
Will the gardens and seating have to be taken up as well? I am not convinced by
this. I wouldn’t like to see the executive rubber stamp this one without
residents’ consultation about it.”
Also opposing the idea is former town partner Geoff Wimble
of events organisation Herne Bay Group Community Projects Ltd. Mr Wimble, 65,
of Sea Street, said:
“Where the flagpole stands is a lovely garden. Is this
some kind of forward planning to develop something on the pier? They have
destroyed one lot of gardens this year where they have built the playground.
That won’t grow back this year. Talk of taking the flagpole down is barmy. At
the moment there are beautiful gardens. The seafront has got notoriety for its
gardens. Why destroy more?”
Council spokesman Rob Davies said:
“There has been a proposal to remove the flag pole near
the pier entrance, which is rarely used, to create an events space to complement
other activities proposed for the pier. This idea would allow events to be staged
at that end of the seafront, because currently these activities all take place
by the clock tower. Two new flagpoles are also planned to go on the pier
/* Style Definitions */
mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;
mso-fareast-font-family:”Times New Roman”;
The idea to remove the flagpole was first floated at a
meeting of councillors on the
regeneration committee some months ago. Cllr Peter Lee, who sits on the
regeneration committee, said:
“If we have development on the pier, with the beach huts
and a crazy golf course, it means we will have lost area to host events. We have events near the clock tower and some
businesses have said they could do with events at their end of the seafront, so
we thought why not look at removing the flagpole and creating extra open space
there. We have a contractor working on
the seafront at the moment and while someone is in place with equipment and man
power, this would be an ideal time to do it.”
It is thought councillors have investigated moving the flagpole
to the site where the one at the bandstand used to sit but have been told it
will be too fragile and old to survive.
HB Gazette 20th June 2013