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Wrangle over call to make water park free for 2012

by mikebell on 4 November, 2011

OPPONENTS of Weston’s water park charge say the fee should be scrapped after it was revealed that it earned the council less money than was spent on employing people to collect it.

Although the Weston Town Council-run attraction brought in almost £14,000 in income from May to September, that was outstripped by the fact that £21,000 was spent on employing the two attendants who collect the entrance charge, among other jobs.

While council bosses have said the charge was never intended to cover the entire costs of the operation, some councillors have said it should be scrapped if it is merely being used to pay for attendants collecting the fee.

The Knightstone Road attraction was opened last year, but remained free for its first year with the £1 charge being introduced before the beginning of this year’s season.

Councillor Clare Kingsbury-Bell, a member of the authority who has opposed the charge, said: “We have always opposed the charge on the basis that it is a facility which should be free to use for residents of Weston.

“If the attendants who are employed to collect the charge from people using the park are earning far more than the amount brought in by the charge, then that seems to be a rather strange way of doing it.

“The people who clean the streets don’t pay for themselves, this is a council facility that should already be paid for through the council tax and should be free.”

Town council leader Keith Morris, who was one of the councillors who voted to introduce the charge, said: “We pay £7,500 in rent to North Somerset Council for the site, we also pay the non-domestic rate, interest and other payments.

“In my opinion the charge is a necessary part of our budget making position.”

Town clerk Malcolm Nicholson said: “The attendants are employed for a variety of other jobs as well as taking the entrance charge, including providing security at the site and making sure it is clean.”

Reproduced from the Weston and Somerset Mercury

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