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THE company that built Boscombe's surf reef has ceased trading, it has been revealed.

ASR Limited, the New Zealand-based company which built the controversial attraction, has been in liquidation since September.

Bournemouth Council has not been listed as a creditor but is purusing an insurance claim for propeller damage to the reef.

Labour group leader, Cllr Ben Grower said this morning: “The sensible thing would be for the council to come out of its permanent state of denial over the whole project and finally admit it was a mistake.

“It would appear that everybody in Bournemouth knows it is a disaster except some of the councillors and the officers.”

Mark Smith, head of tourism at Bournemouth Council, said the liquidation made no difference to the council's plans for the reef, which are now focusing on making to a diving and snorkel attraction.

He said: “We are actively pursuing our insurance claim for the propeller damage so the necessary repairs can be commissioned and our work on developing the Coastal Activity Park can get underway. 

"The nature of these repairs does not require the specialist skills that ASR had, so the liquidation of ASR does not impact on the pursuit of our insurance claim or the plans for the reef.  The Council has made it clear that no additional taxpayers money will be spent enhancing the reef’s performance for surfing, and that position remains unchanged.”

“The reef remains a key part of the offer at Boscombe and integral to the Coastal Activity Park.  The huge potential of the reef as an all year round attraction can be more fully developed through this latest Coastal Communities Fund initiative to ensure that it contributes still more to the economic regeneration of the area.

"These plans include a commercial dive centre, a try-dive facility and a dive & snorkel trail around the existing reef, with additional submerged artefacts for more experienced divers.

“Before the reef was damaged it was being used for much more than just surfing.  Whilst it was always known that the number of surfing days would be limited by weather conditions, it was an unexpected benefit that the Reef should become so popular for other types of watersports activity, depending on the prevailing conditions on any given day. 

"Surfing and bodyboarding of course, but also, on calmer days it had become a draw for kayakers, stand up paddle-boarders and snorkelers, keen to catch a glimpse of the teams of marine life that have now colonised the reef.

"The innovative dive trail proposed as part of the Coastal Activity Park will add to the interest we already know exists on the structure, and the extension of the opportunities and facilities for newcomers to a whole range of pursuits means that more and more people will, once it is reopened, begin to enjoy the reef as a leisure amenity for a variety of watersports activities.”

The £3million surf reef has been closed since May 2011 after the bags which make up the reef were severely damaged by a boat propeller.

ASR was due to return and lay new bags by May 31 next year because the reef was only hitting four out of its 11 performance targets.

The council also wanted ASR to lay new bags to replace two damaged by a reported boat strike.

The council has submitted insurance claims for the two bags on the basis they were damaged by a boat though some councillors have continuing concerns about the stability of the reef.

A 2000 report into the reef proposals, which was carried out by maritime consultants HR Wallingford, advised caution over the use of geotextile bags.

The report said that a 1998 scientific study suggests: “The resistance of the bags to puncturing and abrasion is low and the effects of UV radiation on the material unknown.”

A council diving inspection carried out in 2011 raised concerns that some of the bag seams might have failed.

Problems have haunted the surf reef even before the contentious attraction was officially opened.

Rows over delays with work, increasing costs and accusations of spin have all been thrown at Bournemouth Council over the past few years.

Full story and reaction to follow. Read all our surf reef stories, videos and timeline at bournemouthecho.co.uk/surf_reef.