We always welcome a Letter to the Editor to share with our readers. If you have something you’d like to share, get in touch. This from a Ventnor resident who has asked to remain anonymous. Ed
So … our Winter Gardens finally opens its door, over three years after the council closed them in 2011.
As we all know, once the building was closed the council put it out to tender and the lucky winning bidder managed to buy it for just £1 … not forgetting the promise it would remain accessible for public use for at least 10 years!
The final stages of the tender process saw three bids battle it out for the golden prize!
Bid One: A community effort that would see the Gardens get some remedial work carried out … a lick of paint etc and continue on as before … providing somewhere for the community to gather and socialise.
Bid Two: Two locals with business skills and money behind them. They planned a pragmatic approach … keep the Gardens open over the summer of 2011 … but during the winter months spend their cash (I remember a figure of £100,000 being mentioned) on renovation … bringing the building up to standard ready to open for spring 2012.
Bid Three: The shiny, shiny, multi-million pound bid from The Hambrough Group. Total renovation of the building … two new hotel wings … two restaurants … a plush multipurpose auditorium.
What we’ve ended up with
Fast forward to May 2014 and what do we have? Pretty much the same thing we had three years ago …. and frankly, I feel conned.
I know … of course it’s great the Winter Gardens are finally open again and no longer left to rot … as they have done for the last three years …. and I know the plans had to be scaled back (what was it again, economic situation?) … but where’s “high-quality dining outlet” that was promised.
I thought this place was going to aspirational .. somewhere that makes you feel good … where staff make you feel special … not a soul-less bar where they’ve bought a few twigs of the cheapest furniture possible and stuffed some Ventnor weed in old wine bottles!
Granted … the building has had a lick of paint and the windows are no longer boarded over … but apart from that, it doesn’t look any different to how it was three years ago when it closed.
We’ve ended up with exactly what the group of volunteers offered, but two years later … and it’s not owned by the community any more, but by a bloke that only offered to keep it open to the public for 10 years!
It’s not what was promised
It’s all very well for the owner Kevin Sussmilch to cry about the economic situation … but he promised to spend £1m to 3m on this building and land that he was given by the IOW council for £1.
The way I see it, all he’s done is the same as what the other two groups had planned to do … the difference being that he’s done it two+ years later.
Mr Sussmilch needs to do a lot better than this to win back my support. I thought we were getting something better than what was there before.