The suggested demolition of the flagpole at the Pier is a shining example of some of the problems that our town faces.
Penny-pinching short-termism. Cllr Peter Lee – one of our own town councillors – decides it’s a good idea to start knocking things down on the seafront, simply because it’s cheap to do it now.
Lack of Planning. Cllr Lee claims this idea is to make “event space” that has been lost to the crazy golf and beach hut village on the Pier – clearly, this didn’t cross anyone’s mind at the time they were granting planning permissions. Anyway, there’s no certainty that the crazy golf will go ahead.
Disregard for the residents. Cllr Lee is ignoring (or is unaware of) the months of public consultation that have gone in to shaping a management plan for the new QE2 Coastal Park, which agreed to keep this flagpole. Councillor – when the people speak, it literally pays you to listen.
Greed. Cllr Lee says this will create an “events space” – translated into plain English, this is simply “a space the Council can charge for”. For the 98% of the year that it’s not being used, it will be just another swathe of paving or tarmac – not very inviting for visitors, not very good for regeneration.
Anyway, this irked me enough to write to the press (don’t know if they’ll print it).
I am horrified by the casual vandalism of Cllr Peter Lee and his regeneration committee (“Fears over plan to demolish pier pole”, HB Gazette 20th June 2013).
The Council has created a new park – the QE2 Coastal Park – that covers the seafront from Hampton to Reculver, and ran a consultation with local groups to agree a management plan for the park.
Over a period of months, dozens of residents spent hour after hour thrashing out how to make the most of this new attraction. We were keen to keep both flag poles, but the incredibly high costs (£32,000) that CCC quoted for repairing the pole by the bandstand persuaded us to lose one and keep the other.
But now one of our own councillors has taken it into his head to ignore the results of the lengthy public consultation (is anyone surprised?) and knock it down, because it’s cheap to knock it down while there are workmen on site.
The argument seems to be that it’s fine to destroy the flag pole because “it is rarely used”. This is a very odd argument. The Westgate Towers in Canterbury are completely unused since the museum there closed – will Cllr Lee propose demolition? I doubt it.
Cllr Lee says he wants to create an “events space”. We already have a superb “events space” on the pier platform… but our Council swapped that for a quick buck without a thought for the consequences.
Would you like to know what else Cllr Peter Lee and his regeneration committee have up their sleeves? Well, that’s tough – all their meeting are held in secret, and are un-minuted.