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Funfair boss in think big plea for town

PUBLISHED: 16:24 01 November 2001 | UPDATED: 10:46 03 March 2010

FELIXSTOWE needs to build a major attraction if it is to have any future as a thriving seaside resort, a leading tourist operator claimed today.

Funfair boss Charles Manning said it was deeply disappointing that the team behind the project for a £15 million new pier complex had axed the scheme, but it was their flare and vision which was needed to stop the resort's decline.

FELIXSTOWE needs to build a major attraction if it is to have any future as a thriving seaside resort, a leading tourist operator claimed today.

Funfair boss Charles Manning said it was deeply disappointing that the team behind the project for a £15 million new pier complex had axed the scheme, but it was their flare and vision which was needed to stop the resort's decline.

Mr Manning said the town would lose out in the years ahead if it did not have an attraction to make people want to visit.

"It is a great shame that the pier scheme will not proceed. It would have been wonderful for the whole area – not just Felixstowe," said Mr Manning, who runs Charles Manning's Amusement Park in Sea Road.

"People would have visited to see the pier and use it, but also all the other businesses on the seafront and in the town.

"I know it was a high-flying scheme and very ambitious, but sometimes you have got to aim high to make something happen."

He said the summer season had been very good this year, thanks to the mainly good weather, but it was still evident that Felixstowe was losing out to attractions in towns, other resort's and inland theme parks.

"We have had to change the amusement park dramatically in the past few years – it's sort of become 'Honey, I shrunk the park'! The big rides are no longer viable for us, they are expensive to buy or hire and you need to have people coming to the seaside to use them. The pier would have brought them.

"Instead we are trying to make a niche with a mini park for children.

"We need something big, a major attraction, in Felixstowe if we are to have a good future to look forward to – to bring people here. It's a lovely resort but we just need something to make people come here and see it and enjoy it."

Felixstowe mayor Harry Dangerfield also expressed sadness at the decision to abandon the plan for a 200 yard long pier featuring the world's biggest revolving restaurant, conference centre, casino, ten-pin bowls and other attractions.

"It is a great shame and a real pity that we did not even get to the feasibility study so that we could have seen whether it would be viable or not," he said.

"I know these feasibility studies are very expensive and sadly so necessary today with every project needing to have one. It was an imaginative and very exciting project and I don't know if the charitable trust has any other supporters it could look to for funding or whether a major company would take the idea on board."

The Felixstowe Pier Trust wanted to provide a "mega experience" to bring people to the town and revive its ailing tourist industry. It reckoned the pier complex would have created 150 new jobs and injected an estimated £3.9 million in to the town each year.

But the trust had become frustrated at the time it was taking to get the scheme started – and was left deeply disappointed by the attitude of the community and councillors.

It needed to raise at least £50,000 for a feasbility study, needed to persuade the National Lottery and other grant-giving bodies to support the venture, and the failure to get the money was one of its reasons for abandoning the project.

WEBLINKS: www.piers.co.uk

www.suffolkcoastal.gov.uk

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