Weston’s Grand Pier

July 31, 2008

Sadly the news this week is full of one subject, that of the demise of an old but much cherished icon from Weston-super-Mare.

No, not John Cleese but the Grand Pier.

The Pier stood as it was from 1933 to the present with very little in the way of change for most of that time. Recently, before being bought by the Micheal Family, the pavilion and the entrance both had makeovers. This saw some freshening up of the basic structures but kept to the original design character.

Since purchasing the Pier, Kerry and Michelle had spent millions of pounds in improvements and upgrades, all sympathetic to the lasting design elements of the pavilion.

The thing is this, it will be rebuilt, it will no doubt be bigger and better in keeping with the new owners previous work so will it be the same design?

Would this be an appropriate time to completely reshape the icon or, as an icon, should it be rebuilt in the same style?

Now may be the right time to rethink just what we require from a seaside Pier. This one had the largest covered pavilion in the UK, it was known for it’s entrance gate, making it the symbol for a lot of local publicity shots and logos. As it is only the end pavilion that has been ruined not the full Pier, should it be just a case of replace like for like or a completely new pier?

One more point to ponder; Does this mean new ideas forbidden to an existing structure can now be utilised?

Can the new building include previously denied improvements?

Ideas such as a casino or conference hall are being whispered. A cinema and bowling alley, a Hotel,retail units and restaurants are all possibilties that could steal the thunder from the long delayed Tropicana/Lifestation and shame the Council into some sort of action.

The Town Centre Managers should look towards this as a Golden Goose. Any attraction that brings people to the edge of the High Street can only be good, as the proposed Lifestation debacle can only take trade away from the main town centre.

The ongoing investigation into development of the area known as Victoria Square must now be linked to the Pier rebuilt so as to draw people seamlessly to the rear of the Sovereign and into the High Street.

Whatever happens, it is clear this will be and must be determined by the people of Weston , the traders and not by the elected buffoons who have so far only managed to hold back development in a manner Canute would be proud of.

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First blood

July 17, 2008

Well, the first meeting went well. So I’m told anyway.

I was a bit too nervous and panicking to notice until it was time to shut up and let other people talk.

The preliminary executive meeting was free and easy really, more of a general chat which I mildly controlled or rather steered.

The main meeting, which in all honesty we should have started a lot earlier,was late beginning. This was due to an odd number of circumstances.The first being that a few executive members arrived late for the first part of the meeting, which was held in a small staff room. The second part was that fact, that it was held in the small staff room. This meant that we had no idea that the rest of the evening was to be in the main boy of the venue itself and were oblivious to the fact that a small cluster of people had gathered and taken their seats whilst we in the antechamber were thinking of calling the whole evening a failure and wrapping it up for the night!

When I finally suggested we ventured out, after a late comer mentioned a small group he’d passed on his way to the executive, we found a ready and waiting audience, a very patient audience too.

More importantly, it was an audience containing some new faces, two of whom I’d asked along personally.

That alone was encouraging. I was also pleased to see a few new members from the previous meetings had come along.

I waffled a little and apologised for our late start then introduced our host and the first speakers. After that things seemed to flow easily enough and before we knew it, I was rounding thngs off and sending people home.

Well, so I thought. Most hung around for another twenty minutes chatting and generally networking.

That seems to have worked as I’ve since had a number of emails hoping for more events of the same and other chances to meet new faces.

As they say, first one down, roll on the next!

This is my first month as the newly elected president of my local chamber of trade and commerce and so far, it’s been busy!

I served a year as the vice president, which in itself was a surprise as I only joined the chamber a few months before.

My initial fears when it was suggested I might step into the role was that I would be hard pushed to follow the act of our previous president. He was a member, and still is, of many, many associations, including a few he runs himself.

It was due to his association that he always had plenty to do and to report back on. He was on the steering groups for many major developments and initiatives and I was concerned that I would be much less active and therefore unable to have such influence.

Well, to put it bluntly, I was as far from the truth as could be estimated.

I may not have been busy before I became President, but I sure am now.

I would advise anyone who takes on the role of vice president in the future to get as involved as possible because you will only benefit from the head start. I became a member of thr NSIA, North Somerset Industrial Association as Vice and attended a few other meetings as both vice and representing the president himself and they helped me to meet the people I would be spending a lot more time with in the future.

So far in this first month of office I have attended roughly 8 meetings this last two weeks so far, I turned down or sent apologies to several others and will be attending many more before the month is out.

Those attended have included breakfast meetings, daytime meetings, lunches and evening seminars and awards presentations.

Had it not been for a very supportive and understanding employer, I would have missed the majority of those meetings, which may go some way towards explaining why these positions are traditionally seen as roles for the elder statesmen of business. Those who are either retired or business owners or leaders who can afford the time away from the job to commit to the role itself.

A lot of my peers are in business liaison roles or employed purely to represent an employer in the various legislative circles.

It always seemed to me to misrepresent what the chamber stood for, what it was when the leading members were all retired or from funded agencies but I can fully appreciate now why that was necessary and so common.

The other thing I have come to realise is that most meetings, regardless of subject or location , will be attended by mostly the same groups of people. Council representatives, by virtue of their job definition, will generally be the same faces. Those representing concerned industries again will attend the same meetings as other groups who are likely to be affected. You all move in similar cirles and will bump into each other frequently.

The one thing I am growing to understand is how two people can be so oppsed to one thing they almost come to blows and yet be allies in another meeting when they support the same side. No matter how fierce the battle may be, it is always respectful and professionally conducted. People respect a passionate argument and a forthright view. There is never any personal side.

My first chamber meeting as President of the Chamber comes up in 6 days.

If the nerves have anything to with it, I may be conducting it from a closed cubicle…..