Herne Bay Hotels
Herne Bay does not need one new hotel. It almost certainly needs at least four. Those City Councillors, therefore, of all party-political persuasions, who last week voted to deny the possibility of a Whitbread Hotel on the Blacksole Farm site have, in my view, done our community a considerable disservice.
We have just received a considerable accolade as a "Value for Money" seaside resort and that accolade is likely to draw much-needed additional visitors to our town. Are those visitors to breeze in, sit on the beach, and breeze out? Or are we to capitalise upon their spending power and, yes, job-creation power, and promote investment in the facilities that will enable them to spend long-weekends, take second-break and even full-week and fortnight holidays in Herne Bay?
The City`s officers recommended refusal of the Blacksole Farm application on the grounds that it might undermine their cherished dream of the Industrial Estate that was backed by the Council`s previous Liberal Administration. The thinking appears to have been that jobs in tourism are "low-paid" and "not real jobs".
Forgive me. Hotel and Catering, the service and tourist industries, represent and considerable proportion of this Country`s job and wealth creation and to ignore that fact is to demonstrate a woeful lack of understanding amounting to dereliction of duty.
Where is the alternative submitted plan? Which major hotel operators are in the queue to build a five-star facility upon the Herne Bay Golf course site? And even if such a White Knight is to come riding to the rescue a single hotel on its own is not going to meet the Town`s needs. People want and deserve diversity and choice and we should be offering it to them.
Herne Bay is on the verge of a breakthrough. John Gilbey`s new Conservative administration has already recognised the importance of the Pier to the Town and I trust that a reappraisal of the need to provide first-rate indoor and outdoor sports and performance venue facilities will take place in conjunction with the publication of an exciting new Town Plan. Now is emphatically not the time to reject those companies willing to invest in service facilities and all that emerges from the "job creation exercise" at Blacksole is a series of warehouses and sheds then those that opposed the hotel plan, officers and councillors alike, will have a very great deal to answer for.