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Water park to stay shut this summer?

By This is Exeter  |  Posted: January 06, 2009

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GOODRINGTON'S flagship Quaywest water park complex could be closed for business next summer.

But it is hoped to open some parts of the Goodrington seafront facilities, including shops and go karts, to help soften the blow for local businesses.

Torbay Council is currently negotiating to take back the 60-year lease of the complex closed by boss Nigel Cousens in September.

Mr Cousens said he decided to shut the water park permanently after 15 years because for the last three years he had to pump in £100,000 a season to prop up the attraction.

In September Mr Cousens warned he may face putting the management company into administration if Torbay Council did not accept the keys back.

However mayor Nick Bye said at the time he was determined that the complex would not 'be left to rust for the summer'. He is currently on holiday.

His deputy Kevin Carroll said: "We are still negotiating. But if we do take the Quaywest keys back we have the option of demolishing it, mothballing it or running it ourselves. But running it ourselves could leave us open to public liability and health and safety issues which will have to be looked at.

"I remember when the car park used to be packed. But theme parks need to update and Quaywest never really did which I think is why this has happened.

"But we hope to have the go karts and the shops open, there is still the pub, the beach, and other food outlets. Goodrington should still be a good attraction for visitors."

Steve Parrock, chief executive of Torbay Development Agency which is handling the negotiations, said: "It does seem likely that the council will take a surrender of the lease shortly. Before it does so it needs to ensure the site is secure and safe.

"Mr Cousens has permanent security in place throughout the year. The authority is looking at what alternative security needs to be put in place when it takes over.

"It is negotiating with Mr Cousens and some work has to be done before we take back the facilities. We will not be pursuing non payment of rent.

"We will be endeavouring to enable some aspects of the water park, such as the go kart operation and shop, to reopen. We will be doing our best to find tenants where necessary so it will be business as usual, with the exception of the waterpark itself, next season."

Mr Parrock said as a result of the water park closure they are giving higher priority to the Clennon Valley/Goodrington scheme in the Mayoral Vision.

Last year, the council refused to offer Mr Cousens exclusive rights to go ahead with a £100million masterplan to create a resort with restaurants, hotel and apartments at the water park.

Mr Cousens, who also owns The Boathouse Tavern and Grill, Dawlish Warren, is continuing to develop luxury holiday apartments at Goodrington which were part of his original plans.

He said: "This has been going on for some months and I am waiting to have a meeting with the council, probably this month, to get it sorted.

"I will concentrate on my other leisure businesses, my redevelopment and then take stock at the end of the summer, see whether we have come out of the economic downturn, which I doubt, and go on from there.

"Life moves on, I gave my very best, but it wasn't to be so you dust yourself off and move on."

Chairman of Paignton Chamber of Trade Christian Seiflow Moran said it was a 'great shame' the water park would be closed.

"It is a major draw for the area. I think it needs redeveloping, it seems rather tired and old.

"When someone comes forward with a proposal for investment and saying they have the money, we should think long and hard before turning them away, especially in this economic climate.

"I understand the council has some interested developers but we can only hope it comes to fruition. It needs doing as a matter of urgency."

Lee Fleming, who with his wife Sheila, runs the Seaford Sands guest house in Roundham Road, overlooking Goodrington, said it would be bad news for some of the families who stay with them in the height of summer.

"If it stays shut it will be a bit of a blow for the area. It always seemed to be popular though there was always the problem that it was open to the weather.

"If they could update it and cover it that would be good, otherwise we need something that will be open all year round."

At the height of the season the eight flume water park employed 100 people.

The management company, Freetime Leisure Management Ltd, has taken on the 10 full-time members of staff employed.

Torbay Council will be advertising across Europe for potential developers for a series of proposals stretching from near Paignton Zoo down to Goodrington seafront.

It has been revealed that one of the developers already interested has come up with the idea of a sports stadium in Clennon Valley and has talked to Torquay United, though club bosses say it is far too early to seriously consider the proposal.

Whitbread is already considering an extension to its Inn on the Quay at Goodrington for a hotel.

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    MICHELLE BArrow, st helens  |  February 15 2009, 6:18PM

    the owners have got to take some of the blame themselves, and bad weather cannot always be to blame, as a vister to the bay several times a year many occasions we arrived at the said opening times to say it would be an hour later or closing early, many people would already be queuing, these were on days when the weather would be hot too, also closing it the first weekend in september was daft as over the years we have had better weather in septemebr than the august, bad management and lack of commitment seem to be the blame for the closure. Closing it at a time when british holiday parks are on the also seems that someone hasn't done their homework.

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    Rhiannon, torquay  |  January 21 2009, 12:03PM

    I Went to quaywest with ALL of my friends last year i loved it maybe the health and safety need to be looked at , but apart from that i love it and if you close it down i am sure not to be going to any of your facilities anymore, so i think on behalf of a lot of kids you should keep it running but change the health and safety . Rhiannon and Kids of torbay, xxx

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    Paul O, Reading (originally from Torbay)  |  January 08 2009, 12:15AM

    I remember when Quaywest was first proposed. It was suggested at the time to make it an all year round attraction by encasing it within a glazed pyramid in much the same way that Lee Fleming proposes. (Tower Park in Poole does just that.) That was rejected by the folk living up the hill who didn't want to see something beneficial to the Bay out of their windows. When it opened there was a Disney-styled programme of nightly fireworks to make the venue a real destination. That was soon prohibited because the people up the hill found a couple of minutes of free fireworks too much of an inconvenience. Whilst I agree that parks like this need to evolve to keep the thrill-factor, it was never really given the chance from the outset. Torbay has always needed tourism, even though the 80's and 90's were a far cry from the halcyon days of previous decades there were still enough people visiting the area. Today most people of my generation that I meet (mid-30's) have never even heard of Torbay or its individual towns. Since I grew up and moved away I have lived in Glasgow, Swansea, West London and Reading. When I mention where I am from, people 10 years younger than me look back with blank expressions, people my age usually retort ¿Where¿s that?¿, I reply ¿The South West¿, confidently they always conclude ¿Oh, you¿re from Cornwall?¿ (yes, it troubles me when they say that but it¿s no exaggeration that most people my age don¿t even know that Devon exists) and it¿s only the occasional person I meet much older than me that reminisces about a holiday they had there. In economic times like today I would imagine Torbay will struggle. You have the inheritance of generations of selfish people (maybe they¿re still there?) who have rejected/opposed far too many schemes that would have encouraged a new generation of visitors and now no one up the country even knows about you. Cornwall is the destination of choice for the new British coastal holidaymaker. Devon is the place they inadvertently stop for a pee, empty out the ashtray and chuck their fast food rubbish out the window. I¿m staunchly proud of my roots and this gradual decline saddens me. I read that the Council gets a lot of criticism, maybe they¿re not perfect but there¿s a lot individuals can do both in being more supportive and helping with general presentation and upkeep. Every time I return, the towns just gets shabbier and shabbier. Quaywest is still a unique proposition for a UK resort, it¿s also a great attraction to entice the dreaded new generation of holidaymaker. It¿s about the most exciting thing you see when you flick through the English Riviera brochure. Don¿t let it rust away.

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    Wayne, Paignton  |  January 06 2009, 10:22PM

    This park has been milked for all it can for many years. Maintanace has been minimal.Staff have been paid absolute min. wage. Mr Cousens has had a great return for his investment and now is trying to get the council tax payers of torbay to bail him out.

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    Steve, Kingskerswell  |  January 06 2009, 8:01PM

    What a shame! I work with kids and young people and in summer we take different groups to Quay west, it is their favorite place to visit, they really enjoyed the place. Sadly like many good things its gonna become something of the past. Of course the last two cool and wet summers have not helped. I always think they should have put a roof on it keeping it open all year! I know council are lookin for developers, but I think we have another 'Coral Island' saga repeated, any good ideas rejected by the council while the site is left to rot or demoilshed and after several years of rot we'll probably end up with another Pub, Penguin Park or houses! What a future!

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    former torbay resident, london  |  January 06 2009, 5:12PM

    I am not surprised the water park has been running at a loss over the last two years. We have had two summers of bad weather and the whole thing should have been built with a cover in the first place for all year round use. With a lack of all weather entertainment in the bay this would seem the obvious solution. p.s. miss the beauty of the bay but don't miss the feeling of living in a time warp!

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    jordan, paignton  |  January 06 2009, 4:53PM

    stadium in Clennon Valley and has talked to Torquay United, though club bosses say it is far too early to seriously consider the proposal. a stadium in paignton for torquay united? wheres the logic in that, not complaining as would be alot more convinient for me to be honest lol

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    XXX, torbay  |  January 06 2009, 3:06PM

    From the early 90s onwards the waterpark and quaywest was pretty cool when it was at it's peak, but times have changed now. THings would of been alot more boring without the water park in the early 90s and they managed to keep it going for 16 years which is pretty good.