10 Town Council Killjoys Dear Gazette,
Brilliant news for those of us living in Swanage, our Town Hall is so quiet at the moment that they have staff sitting around waiting for YOUR phone call, and like Robin Hood, I believe they are just itching to right all your wrongs.
Someone’s car parked incorrectly? Grass too long on the verge? Street lights too bright? Neighbour’s cat the wrong colour? Give them a ring and they despatch someone within MINUTES to make your lives complete.
Let me explain; Monday (22nd August), late morning, a marching band from Brentwood, Essex entered Sandpit field for some practise, much to the enjoyment of locals and holidaymakers alike. Having travelled a long way, at their own expense they stayed for several days and raised a lot of money for the Heroes charity.
Within minutes, some jobsworth from the Town Hall stops them because of ONE complaint. (I suspect the complainer is not Swanage born and bred, as when we moved here one of the things we loved was the fact that the real locals always seem ready for a song and a dance, music/ festivals, you name it.)
The problem was made worse by the fact that the band had written asking for permission to practise in the bandstand; schoolboy error, really, no one seems to be employed to respond to letters, they really should have phoned.
This Town Hall person must be employed at Swanage tax payers expense and therefore must be at all our beck and call, after all I’m sure they wouldn’t possibly use money from ALL of us just to keep one moaner satisfied? So no need to cut expenditure, just make sure that for every problem you have, the Town Hall is your first port of call.
Yours Roger Starbuck, Rabling Road, Swanage
P.S. I wasn’t really paying attention but my wife, who for some reason was reading one of David Hollister’s articles from last month’s Gazette, managed to get nearly half way through and said something like ‘for 50p David Hollister says he’ll not come back to Swanage again’, I’m fairly sure that’s what she said. Anyway, where would you like me to send the 50p?
Does Carnival Benifit Local Economy? Dear Nico,
Judi Taylor asks (September Gazette) whether Swanage is doing something wrong in seeming to attract a lot of rude and ignorant people.
Imagine a seaside town with many quaint and charming features and set in a dramatic bay with a lovely beach, recently enhanced by being re-charged with sand. Let this town also be close to magnificent coastal and country scenery, in fact so magnificent that it has been given World Heritage Status.
Like most seaside resorts, it has lost most of its hotel beds to foreign travel. However, despite this, the town, by virtue of hard-working volunteers, continues to provide a series of entertainment and events, mostly absolutely free, and even more elaborate and expensive than in the days of all those full hotels.
The question therefore is: How much do those attracted to these events actually contribute to the local economy? A proportion will be staying in surrounding caravan parks or camp sites. Some will buy an ice cream, others a couple of pints in The Carnival Bar, but not three as they will have a long way to drive after the parade or fireworks. Others may actually stay for fish and chips or put some money through the amusement arcade, but did local restaurants actually serve an additional 250,000 meals over the period of Carnival week?
In summer, the roads close to the commercial area are restricted so that workers cannot occupy spaces that may be used by visitors for a one hour shopping spree. On the other hand, roads close to the beach, with a tiny exception, soon consumed by disabled badges, are available for beach users at no cost to them. Is this odd attitude to parking because the funds from car parks end up in the coffers of the County, rather than Town, Council?
No wonder that the slightly bohemian feel to the town of 30 years ago is fast disappearing, something which I would imagine Judy regrets as much as myself. Greggs are no fools. Their research will have shown them which way the wind is blowing.
The other driving force behind Swanage’s development is the proliferation of second homes. The owners of these may not be very popular with residents but they will contribute more to the economy than occasional day visitors. Should the streets indeed fill-up with the rude and ignorant, for how much longer would these second-homers be prepared to venture forth to patronise the restaurants and better quality shops?
It often seems that what happens in Swanage does so despite the Town Council, rather than because of it. For too long it seemed some councillors just shut their eyes and hoped nobody would rock the boat. Perhaps if the
The Purbeck Gazette
Council had been more pro-active, we might have avoided these planning stand-offs and not been bullied so much by Dorchester? Apparently the town, size for size, most dependent upon the largesse of the public purse.
I think The Council really needs to address the question of how Swanage can attract visitors, who will spend more, on the back of its wonderful natural resources, and in a way that means the money benefits Swanage not Dorchester, rather than more visitors who leave nothing behind but their car fumes and their litter.
It would not only be ironic but extremely sad if all that hard work put in by volunteers, following in the footsteps of their parents and grandparents, is actually backfiring. I like watching Rampage as much as the next person, but isn’t it somewhat perverse to entice visitors by reminding them of one of the very places from they might wish to escape to Swanage – Notting Hill? Perhaps the intention is a subtler message - to remind them how horrible the inner city areas are, compared with their then current surroundings of Swanage.
I know this will not prove popular, but perhaps it is time to step back and examine whether events put on to encourage the occupation of hotel beds in the middle of the twentieth century are still the best solutions for Swanage in the twenty first.
Surely the effort should be in promoting the natural beauty of the area, and persuading visitors to pay to experience it, not in pushing the artificial. Leave that to Mablethorpe, Skegness and Blackpool.
To answer Judy`s question – Swanage may be doing nothing particularly wrong but it doesn’t seem to be doing much right either.
Yours sincerely, David Drury
P.s. For those who think that our beaches should be available with absolutely no cost whatever, consider this. Even in the 50’s, to obtain access to the beach at Nice, one had to hire, at great cost, a mattress to place on the wooden loungers. Mind you, this was necessary as Nice is not so much a beach, as we know them around here, more a submerged gravel pit with currents whose one aim is to drown you.
What Would John Mowlem Say? Dear Gazette,
We were wondering recently what John Mowlem would think of Swanage now, and the Mowlem theatre in particular? His generosity gave this town a wonderful asset; many other places would treasure it we are sure, and yet, here we are witnessing the rapid deterioration of a place that could give us all a great deal.
The restaurant is closed; no bar for film and theatre goers, a toilet outside, the box office casually staffed, the theatre is ill-equipped, there is little advertising and a lack of promotion.
With the number of visitors each summer, the place should be buzzing – matinees, children’s shows, as well as good films and first class theatre!
Obviously, the place needs money spent on it and that can only come through Swanage people supporting productions there. Swanage has a theatre club and people travel for miles by coach to see a good show – this could be available here! Amateur dramatics do well, but are mainly of interest to relatives and friends of the cast.
We need a good marketing manager who could make the place attractive to visitors and residents alike. Some visitors don’t even know what is on offer – well it doesn’t exactly draw them in; dowdy, dated and frumpy foyer, at night the place is not even illuminated.
John Mowlem wanted the building to be used by the residents, but this doesn’t seem to happen. The Purbeck Film Festival isn’t even using the cinema this year. We have many local festivals who use other venues but not the Mowlem – why is this?
A recent television programmes ‘Village SOS’ showed what can be done when people come together with good ideas, but they did need some expert advice – perhaps we should ask the BBC to make a programme here and put US on the map.
Things can change, let’s not leave it too late for the Mowlem. Yours, Kathleen Marchant and Jill Durran.
Spare The Rod & Spoil The Child Dear Gazette,
Re: Rioting, vandalism, arson and murder. What did you expect?
The young people seen on our screens are behaving in a perfectly predictable manner given the circumstances under which they have been raised since birth.
When a series of governments over the decades since the war allowed
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