PRIME Torbay tourist attraction Quaywest will be fully up and running this summer, its new operator pledged today.
Water park company Splashdown from Dorset has been named as the new contractor to run the park which was closed down last September and handed back to the council.
Splashdown runs a 12-ride year-round water park in Poole, attracting some 190,000 to 200,000 visitors a year, described as the south's 'ultimate' water park. They are also involved in creating a water park for a £48million proposed leisure scheme in Weston-super-Mare.
The company says it aims to have the Splashdown at Quaywest water park open in June, but is working to have the catering outlets including the shop and Octagon cafe and takeaway outlet open as soon as possible.
Alan Richmond, director of Splashdown, said they will be investing around £180,000 to bring the facilities up to scratch for this summer.
At the height of the season some 100 people could be working on site. They have already taken on three of the previous management.
"The retail shop should be open this week," said Mr Richmond. "The Octagon will open a couple of weeks later. The water park will take longer as we have to order some replacement ride sections and catering equipment.
"But we aim to be ready for the weekend of June 20. We are very aware of the importance to the council and the community of having the facilities open."
Mr Richmond said though they have signed a five-and-a-half-year contract they hope to be at Quaywest longer.
"We are putting in quite a large investment to get it up and running this year.
"We know the council has a development programme in mind for this area and are hopeful we can create a good impression with the water park for the future and hope to be here longer than five years.
"I have been in Torbay on holiday and it is a beautiful part of the country.
"I am sure with the right investment projects the whole of Torbay area can be regenerated."
Cabinet member for regeneration Chris Lewis said the contract has an option for the council to take back the lease earlier if longer-term proposals to develop the whole area requires the council to do so.
"We are still looking at the whole site, including Goodrington and Clennon Valley, as a project we are keen to do, and we don't want to do it piecemeal but to do it properly.
"But in the short term it is important people don't see a derelict attraction but that Quaywest will be open and attracting day visitors into the Bay."
Cllr Lewis said: "The council has been working extremely hard to ensure the continuation of Quaywest as a visitor attraction for future years.
"We should not underestimate the importance of this project. Despite the economic climate we have been able to successfully appoint Splashdown which has a great track record in this area and share in our vision to regenerate the Bay."
Deputy mayor Kevin Carroll said: "Having Quaywest open sends out the right message to visitors, especially if we are going to get more people staying here this summer. I think it is fantastic news."
Goodrington hotelier Tony Smyth, chairman of Torbay Accommodation Providers, said: "All credit to the council for getting someone interested in this economic climate. They are certainly planning some work there to make it better than it was and make it more upmarket. Hopefully it is going to look very good.
"I will have to let my guests know. They will be very pleased."
Barry Hawkesworth of Youngs Park People, who runs the ice cream kiosk in the park, said: "If it attracts more people into the Bay it has to be good. If the new operators are investing in the water park and updating it, that will also be good for the area."
The contract includes the water park shop, the first floor restaurant, the Octagon takeaway outlet and the adjacent asphalted. The go-karts will be let separately.
Splashdown is the trading name of Lemur Leisure Ltd which runs Splashdown at Tower Park.
In winter there is a choice of eight rides, four more outside in the summer and a beach lagoon and landings play area for the younger ones.
They will be recruiting at the site this week.