A Letter to the Editor from Scarborough resident ALI WILKINS, who has picked up on a cool half-million (or two) that will come as a surprise to many.
Nobody could fail to have noticed the changes at SBC over the last week and the words of the new Leader broadcast on Yorkshire Coast Radio. There were many topics highlighted which as a Scarborian caught my attention. Whilst all are important to the Borough as a whole, I could not help but focus on the Sands ‘development’ which you will know, from my previous articles, is not dear to my heart.
I have highlighted the length of time Benchmark has been tinkering with the Zenith/Sands project which now must be what – 22 years? You are well aware that the number of ‘attractions’ provided during this time as being Alpamare and the refurbished OAT. You are also aware of the monies involved – the £9m unsecured loan and the £3.3m loaned to refurbish the OAT, which was to be paid back. How much of this has been put back into the SBC purse is unknown. I am sure that many will agree that this cannot continue at this pace, especially with these ‘loans’, and that what we have in Alpamare is certainly not a state-of -the-art or world class waterpark. I find it extremely sad that our Town is in this state but I am hopeful that as the result of change, WE will now benefit and not party politics.
Now you may be interested to know that the Indoor Pool has been on the Benchmark plans for many years as part of the Sands Development and is earmarked for ‘Leisure’ from the pool site down to Burniston Road. This is substantiated by current interest as shown on SBC Forward Plan March/June 2019. There was a meeting scheduled for 16th May 2019 with Benchmark re:
Indoor Pool. Item 2 – The Sands Indoor Pool Redevelopment
The Cabinet meeting which was to include this Item was cancelled, just prior to the local elections…
Now marry this to the fact that maybe a couple of years ago, the previous Council set aside £500k to demolish the Indoor Pool.
This compelled me to put in an FOI question to SBC some time ago as to who paid for demolishing on sites for Benchmark developments, and I was told that as far as they could remember they demolished their own sites but records were only kept for 9 years. This was confirmed later in a response to an Internal Enquiry as the result of an ICO complaint.
I find it amazing that we can access data online which is archived – like numerous previous Benchmark planning applications – but we cannot access documentary evidence that Benchmark demolished their own sites! As far as I can remember, all the sites were cleared together, shortly after Roland Duce took over Benchmark, because I recall the outcry at us losing the outdoor pool and Kinderland. I felt sure it was the Council that filled in the outdoor pool, as rubble had to be brought in and I remember thinking there was that huge mountain of bricks from them demolishing Edghill. But that is only as far as I can remember!
If the Sands Development is allowed to continue to career unchecked along the predesignated path as previously agreed, and they demolished their own sites – as confirmed by SBC, ICO and an Internal Enquiry – then they should pull down the Indoor Pool at their own expense. And I would certainly ask the glaring question as to why the previous Council Leader had £500k set aside when the Indoor Pool site was part of the Sands Development all along!
Bearing in mind the obscene amount we have paid to have the Futurist demolished for a preferred developer, I am hopeful the new Leader will keep a watchful eye on this aspect of the Sands in his review.
ALI WILKINS, Scarborough. 12th May 2019.