An attraction in Skegness that has been loved for generations is safe - despite cash-strapped East Lindsey District Council having to take a more commercial approach to surviving the financial challenges ahead.
The Fairy Dell on South Parade is to survive as part of the council’s commitment to the coastal economy, along with a number of exciting ideas aimed at revamping a “tired and neglected” Foreshore.
ELDC leader Craig Leyland wanted to reassure Skegness residents that support for the development of the coast is as strong as ever - but said the ways in which that will be achieved are facing a radical overhaul.
“My own children played in the Fairy Dell and I have lovely memories there. When we looked at how we could make savings it became clear from public reaction how popular all the paddling pools are along the coast.It is true changes have to be made, but it is still a positive time for the coast.”
The leader was speaking at a media briefing at Tedder Hall on Friday, along with Portfolio Holder for Finance Coun Richard Fry. They revealed ELDC has seen a £7m reduction in Government funding since 2010 - around 30 per cent of the money it receives from Whitehall.
That funding could reduce by a further £3.9m over the next two years. However, the deficit could top £4m as grant funding is completely phased out. Instead, all councils will become more dependant on income from Business Rates - details of which have still to be finalised.
“In reality, it costs a considerable amount of money to run the coast, but in spite of the cuts we are still emptying the bins. Our street cleaning team are out at 5.30am and do an incredible job,” said Coun Leyland. We are working with our partner Magna Vitae who, as well as growing the SO Festival, have refurbished the leisure centre in Skegness .
“We are also working in partnership with the Lincolnshire Coastal BID in delivering events, and that is now proving effective with website traffic increasing and a new video about to be released to promote the natural coast and extend the season.
“Alongside this, we have also supported private enterprise with examples being the Aquarium and Premier Inn, which have shown Skegness is worth investing in.”
Skegness is also leading the way in talks regarding transfer of assets, said Coun Leyland - with the town council tabling plans for taking over Tower Gardens, including replacing the Tower Pavilion with a community building.
Moving the town council and exploring a new commercial use for the outdated building that was costly to use, was also something a new feasibility studing would be looking at, he said.
Solar panels in car parks for electric cars was also an example of a council preparing for the future with its vision - along with offering match funding for high street businesses to improve their premises to offset the burden of business rates.
Coun Leyland stressed the council was determined to raise more income from tourism, and was ‘totally supportive’ of plans for a Coastal Highway linking the Lincoln area with Skegness.
He added: “We are very excited about all this. It means a complete change of culture, a new way of thinking. We can’t change what has happened. We have to build solid foundations for our future sustainability.”