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News Archive > General > Resort benches set for 36k upgrade

Resort benches set for 36k upgrade

By Warren Wilkins 12th July 2017

Resort benches set for 36k upgrade
One of Newquay´s many broken and tatty benches.

CONTENTIOUS plans are underway to spend up to £36,000 improving around 100 public benches in Newquay due to their dilapidated state.

Newquay Town Council is proposing to repair or replace benches at the Killacourt, North Quay Hill, Trenance Valley, Mount Wise and the Barrowfields  despite the seating being owned by Cornwall Council.

Some town councillors are keen to enhance the benches ahead of the height of the summer season following a barrage of criticism about their rundown state, but others have raised concerns about the move as they believe it is double taxation. Cornwall Council, which has been accused of allowing the benches to fall into disrepair, says it does not have the money available to replace the seating due to Government cutbacks. Rachel Tatlow, the area network manager at Cormac, reportedly stated any damaged bench would either be removed or made safe.

Mayor Margaret North and fellow councillors believe it is now time the town council steps in to improve the benches as they are concerned the image of the town will be further damaged if the seating is left in decline any longer.

Newquay Town Council’s Footpaths, Bridleways and Open Spaces (FBOS) Committee unanimously agreed to put £8,000 towards the project from the underspend in its existing budget. The full council additionally approved releasing £28,356 from its open spaces earmarked reserves for the scheme at its meeting last Wednesday, though some of the money might not be needed.

A schedule of works is being formulated to improve the benches and the work is expected to start by the end of July, following a survey being carried out to ascertain the state of the 538 seating areas around the town. Memorial benches will not be improved in the scheme as the upkeep is paid by the families who bought them.

Cllr Zoe Dixon, chairman of the FBOS committee, said: “The benches are in a dilapidated state because of neglect from Cornwall Council.

“We have identified the key areas around the town where the benches need to be improved. We have now got £28,000 from the open spaces reserves in order to act quickly. We will access that money to put together a package of works. We want the opportunity to do as much as we can with the money available. We will not be spending every single penny unless it is necessary

“We are hoping to go out to tender next week and we want to start the work by the end of July. We will get two sets of quotes to either repair or replace the benches. We will see how much bang we get for our buck. Cornwall Council has found some money to repair the benches at the Killacourt but we are not sure what they are doing there. The town council will be tendering to improve the benches at the Killacourt though it could work in partnership with the unitary authority.”

Cllr Paul Summers stated the town council should be given ownership of the benches if the authority carries out the improvements, but fellow councillors argued it would delay the process. Cllr Summers said: “There should be a business plan and when we are spending this sort of money Cornwall Council should be giving us the benches. What consultation has taken place?”

Cllr Olly Monk replied: “Cornwall Council says any benches in disrepair will be removed or made safe. It is not prepared to do anything else. If we want anything done about the state of the benches then we’ll have to do it ourselves. I do not see the point in the town council going for the ownership of the benches because it will end being tied up into a bureaucratic nightmare.”

Town clerk Andy Curtis said: “If the town council becomes liable for the benches it will be responsible for ensuring they are maintained and insuring them.”

Cllr David Mann said: “Rightly or wrongly Cornwall Council has not been given enough money by the Government. It is commendable the town council is spending some of its reserves on the benches if Cornwall Council has not got enough money. There is no good bleating about it. Regarding ownership Cornwall Council might have the money in 10 years’ time to repair the benches. I think quite a few of the benches are in odd places. Maybe we should ask CC to remove some of them.”

By Warren Wilkins 12th July 2017

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