From the Surf Reef to Poole's 'Christmas Cone' - 12 council 'blunders' from past and present (From Bournemouth Echo)
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12 Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch council 'blunders' from past and present
Updated 11:33am Friday 21st March 2014 in News
This week we're looking at some council 'gaffes' of the past - with some sagas still ongoing even today.
The Surf Reef
Once described as “a £3m flop” and “white elephant”, the Boscombe Surf Reef has, to put it mildly, had its fair share of problems including the fact that it simply never worked as it was intended to.
We could give you an entire rundown of the saga, we’ll point you towards our Surf Reef section as it will probably take a lot less time!
The reef is expected to take on new life as a marine reef and will be opened up to snorkellers with dedicated zones for kite and wind surfers when the UK’s first multi-purpose coastal activity park opens in Boscombe.
Christmas decorations are banned
Bournemouth Council banned Christmas decorations for 6,000 staff in 2002, including at day and residential centres, because they were deemed a “fire hazard” during the fire service strikes.
Winter Gardens knocked down after the Liberal Democrats are elected to save it
Closed down, up for sale, saved by a change of administration, under review and then demolished.
The Winter Gardens was another of the hot political topics of Bournemouth’s past.
Years of campaigning to save the Winter Gardens came to an end when councillors voted for the much-loved concert hall to be knocked down to make way for a car park.
The Lib Dems pledged to listen to the thousands who signed a petition to save the building but after gaining power and commissioning further reports they voted to demolish it.
The building, which was once home to the BSO, was knocked down in 2006.
Once branded ‘Britain’s most hated building’, the IMAX was fully demolished last April after years of controversy.
Built in 1998, it would be 2 years and 8 months until the Waterfront complex would open with residents labelling it an ‘eyesore’ due to it blocking the much-loved sea views from the top of Bath Hill.
Less than three years after the IMAX cinema opened, it closed in 2005 for refurbishment and never re-opened.
The four-storey glass-fronted building, which was also once home to a nightclub, a KFC, a pub , Chinese restaurant and children’s soft play area, was bought by Bournemouth Council for £6.5m in 2010 so it could be demolished.
The site was used as an open-air events space last summer with council leader John Beesley saying an Imax replacement would ‘not be rushed’.
Poole’s ‘Christmas Cone’
Back in 2009, Poole’s 33-foot artificial Christmas tree caused quite a storm. The tree, which cost £14,000, was branded a waste of money and compared to a giant green traffic cone.
The conical creation caused a wave of protest, was lampooned in the national media and even resulted in the formation of a Facebook site dedicated to slating it.
After just two weeks in Falkland Square, the tree was taken down and replaced with a real tree much to the delight of its critics. The tree went up for sale in 2010, we wonder where it is now...
Food bins are binned
More than 100 brand new food waste bins were carted off to landfill after Bournemouth council staff accidentally threw them away. Refuse workers forgot to remove the food caddies that were clipped into residents’ ‘little bins’ and emptied them into the truck – food caddies and all.
Chips in bins
In 2006 there was outrage when 70,000 wheelie bins delivered to Bournemouth households were tagged with hidden microchips. The council warned curious householders who removed the "passive" computer chips that they could pick up a £28 bill for a replacement bin.
The news sparked accusations that the council was acting "like Big Brother" with councillors and residents demanding to know why they were kept in the dark over the devices.
Christchurch council's sandbags U-turn
Christchurch council was forced into an embarrassing climbdown after it refused to provide flood-hit residents with free sandbags or plastic sheeting.
Residents said they requested sandbags from the council but were told they would have to purchase Floodsacks at £30 for a pack of four.
The U-turn came after Prime Minister David Cameron publicly stated that no councils should be charging for sandbags. The council subsequently pledged to refund residents and offered to help them protect their properties.
Poole council spies on family
In 2008, Poole council used powers intended for anti-terrorism surveillance to spy on a family for three weeks to check whether they had lied about living in the catchment area of a top primary school. They hadn't.
Jenny Patton won a landmark legal ruling in 2010 when the Investigatory Powers Tribunal ruled the council acted illegally.
Christchurch raises glass to St George... in no alcohol zone
Christchurch councillors gathered with the mayor to taste a free glass of beer in celebration of St George’s Day in 2009 only for it to be pointed out that they were drinking in an alcohol-free zone. Whoops.
A major row erupted when the Conservatives won control of the council from the Liberal Democrats and discovered that the deal with the Trevor Osborne Group had been sealed that same day. It was later declared legal after an inquiry.
Bournemouth elects Labour mayor for first time in WWII
Until the 1990s, the only time Bournemouth council had allowed a Labour member to become mayor was in World War II – when Hitler had vowed to have all Britain’s mayors shot.
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