JIM PARKER: Ghost of white carpet returns
IS their something about Torre Abbey and spending money? Cast your minds back to July in 2010 when a rumpus erupted after £10,000 was spent on a 'wacky carpet' which was intended to link the seafront with the Abbey and encourage more people to walk that way from the promenade.
The white carpet — in place for all of two days — was commissioned by Torbay Council to coincide with the then opening of Damien Hirst's Mother and Child Divided cow and calf in formaldehyde art piece at the abbey.
The project was aimed at 'connecting people with places and spaces in the Bay'.
Guests were greeted along the path by a host of items, including recordings and 'white-clad guides'.
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Well, now it appears the ghost of wacky white carpet past is making a return.
Sharp-eyed locals have noticed the edge of Torre Abbey Meadows — running alongside where the seafront balloon used to be — being ripped up and the path leading from the seafront to the abbey and Riviera International Conference Centre being widened.
The extended walk way is part of improvement work aimed at again making sure that people know exactly where the abbey and the RICC are actually located.
The cost of walkway 2013? £50,000.
Torquay community campaigner and businesswoman Susie Colley is a regular visitor to the seafront and is livid with money being spent on such a project.
"It is scandalous," she said.
A Torbay Council spokesman explained: "Improvement works at Torre Abbey Meadows are currently being carried out to increase accessibility and visibility to Torre Abbey Historic House and the Riviera International Conference Centre.
"This includes the removal of ivy and tree planting, clearing of hedges to make the area safer, widening of the access, improved signage and repairs and painting to adjacent fences.
"Once completed, the pathway will be clearer and more defined and will ultimately help increase visitor numbers to both key local attractions."
She said the overall budget for the improvements is £30,000 from Torbay Council with an extra £10,000 from Torre Abbey's Phase II Restoration Fund and £10,000 from the RICC.
Susie Colley says: "With the ERC money it is really us again because we are subsiding it."
She added: "Please can somebody explain what's the matter with the current signage on the seafront?
"They are quite large and quite clear and there was nothing wrong with the path.
"The hedge could have done with a bit of trimming but it did not need to be ripped out.
"The fence could have done with some paint but why couldn't some of those on restorative justice work done it?"
She is concerned that money is being spent on projects like this while other areas of the council — she cites a threat to the number of street wardens in particular — are in the firing line due to £10million budget cuts.
She says: "I am not happy. I believe it is a total waste of money."
Do we really need to make the Abbey and RICC more accessible and visible? They kind of dominate the prom as they are.
The white carpet of two years ago was when former mayor Nick Bye was at the helm.
At the time one of the tongue-in-cheek comments to come out was 'the lunatics have taken over.'
I am saying nothing more.
LIKE him or loathe him, Mark 'Marmite' Jenkins is still obviously loving every minute of his TV fame.
The once boss of the Grosvenor Hotel in Torquay and star of The Hotel series has been up to his comical antics again.
But is everybody laughing?
He appears to have upset the boss of the country's 99p stores which has an outlet in Paignton.
During an exchange between Mr Jenkins and his reservations manager Alison he evidently intimated that buying stationery from a 99p shop was somewhat beneath him and too lowbrow.
Hussein Lalani, boss of the 216-store strong brand, was quick to point out: "We count royalty among our valued and value savvy customers.
"We are a universal store catering for universal tastes.
"Some of our products themselves have even been deemed 'posh' and featured on TV recently on BBC1."
Admittedly, I watch The Hotel, but I think the second series is nowhere near as entertaining as the first.
Tourism industry leaders are still concerned about the message The Hotel sends out and the potential damage it may do to the reputation of the English Riviera.
The hotel has to be seen for what it is — so-called entertainment.
I wish new owner and Grand Hotel boss Keith Richardson the very best as he tries to transform the hotel's fortunes.
But Mr Jenkins has to be careful what he says and does.
That includes one slot recently where he was captured on camera taking flowers from pubic flower beds.
If a guest from one of stag parties had done likewise he would have been in big bother.