Council: Waterpark is not ours

Alpamare Scarborough
Alpamare Scarborough

Scarborough councillors want people in the town to stop blaming the council for problems with the new £14 million Alpamare waterpark.

The claims were made at Monday’s full council meeting when the authority’s leader Cllr Derek Bastiman also said that although the council provided a £9 million loan it had not say over the running of the park.

The calls came after UKIP councillor Norman Murphy read out a list of complaints and questions from residents, ranging from issues with the pricing, to complaints about parking and possible increases in council tax after the opening was delayed by two days.

Cllr Murphy said: “The perception out there is, by a lot of our residents is that it is our waterpark, that it is us that is owning it and running it and we have got to try and break this link between the mindset of the residents that we have control over the waterpark and the fact it is a proper commercial, financial venture.

“It is very frustrating because any sign of the slightest mistake it’s the council’s fault.

“We’ve got to find some way to break this link in the public’s mind.

“You’ve got to say it loud and very, very long because they just can’t get it through their heads. It isn’t our waterpark.

In response the borough’s portfolio holder for Tourism, Cllr Andrew Jenkinson said: “I think there is a clue in the name - Alpamare.

“A clue like in the Sea Life Centre, it does not say Scarborough.

“It is a commercial venture and I don’t know what we can do.

"I can’t say what I would really like to say but Scarborough’s as thick as anywhere so we just have to say to them it’s not ours.”

The £14 million Alpamare waterpark, a cornerstone in the wider £50 million development of the North Bay, with the UK’s four longest and fastest water slides, is - despite widely varying customer feedback on Tripadvisor - everything from an “overpriced letdown” to “great fun and good value” - pulling in an average 1,200 customers a day.

Cllr Bastiman said the figures “far exceeded” Alpamare’s expectations and he took exception to a question posed by Mr Murphy, from several residents, that the £19 cost of a ticket would lead to the waterpark becoming an “expensive white elephant”.

He said: “The outstanding attendance figures and customer satisfaction reports submitted by Alpamare to date suggest that this statement is simply incorrect and Alpamare are very positive about the long-term success of the waterpark.

“In the first month of operation 45,000 people have been through the waterpark so rather than being a white elephant sir, I see this as being a success for Scarborough.”

He added that the council provided the loan to Benchmark, the developer of the scheme, through borrowing from the Public Works Loan board and that guarantees were in place to ensure repayment. The loan was not with the operator of the park, Alpamare.

Cllr Jenkinson added that Benchmark was unable to take any profit out of the entire North Bay scheme until the loan has been repaid.

Also at the meeting, the council said it was in discussions with North Yorkshire County Council over putting up signs letting people know how to get to the waterpark.

A number of councillors reported being stopped by people who were having trouble finding the North Bay attraction.