Friday, 4 November
Early this morning (5am), on Radio 5 there was quite a lengthy item about Bournemouth’s Surf Reef. Though I was wide awake within a moment, it was early, and you must rely on my no doubt vague recollection. It has also been reported on Streetlife that it was on page three of The Times today.
To summarise, there was much hilarity and laughter between the presenters, and genuine perplexity and concern about the waste of money and ludicrous ineffectiveness that characterised this project. The figure of £3.2 Million was quoted, with disbelief. Further, the fact that it just went ahead without any help from experts who actually know about surfing was met with incredulity. Could any Council could be so foolish? The motivation may well have been good: it was meant to attract people from across the world, make Bournemouth into an international surfing centre. Unfortunately the planning and execution were dreadful. A local firm has said that it is useless as the waves are coming from the wrong direction, and it may not have been suitable anyway! It is not being used, and is being left to disintegrate over time, the expensive sandbags returning their contents from whence they came. The comment was made – more astonishment – that it was the local taxpayers who funded it. Was this fair? Highcliffe, and other areas around, seem to provide reasonable surfing in a great environment and at no cost (top picture, taken at Highcliffe).
We are, I am sure, all aware of the many failings of Christchurch BC – notable recently were the ludicrous beach hut project and the removal of litter bins from the Quay, though the effectiveness of the latter has been open to argument. However, the beach huts did not go ahead. Why? Because of local public opposition from our community, and the efforts of some Councillors who saw the danger to our small stretch of relatively pristine coastline and were prepared to fight to protect it.
How much more difficult would that be if we merge with Bournemouth? We would be less of a local community, just a small corner tucked away, an insignificant part of a greater Bournemouth. It is well-known that the Leader, Councillor Nottage, wants the merger to go ahead. It is also alleged that he has been promised a significant post in a new merged Council, though this has not officially been confirmed. Could you imagine Mr Beesley and Mr Nottage working together? Of course, I may be wrong. I do hope so.
We may talk endlessly about costs, about saving money, and efficiency of administration, and they are certainly important. No-one wants to see money – our Council Tax – wasted. But there is another issue here, one which perhaps more than anything else will affect our quality of life. After nigh-on a thousand years we are still a community, a community certainly changed and more fluid now, as is everywhere in the modern world, but one which still values those intangibles which even now make Christchurch a very special town. We must fight for that – or we could become a minor part of a Greater Bournemouth. It was on national radio this morning about the profligate waste of money on this one project; there are others which are just as well known – the Bank of Bournemouth being such an example. Do we want this kind of uncontrolled, even reckless influence in Christchurch?
Mistakes have been made in Christchurch, but we have local people and local Councillors who will fight to look after our town. We can – indeed must – fight our own battles!
There is an article about this in The Echo.