Jim Parker: Dave on the warpath again as 'majority lose out to minority' in anti-social battle

Torbay Weekly

It was a few years ago now that I first locked horns - more of a difference of opinion-  with Dave Crawford.

The bone of contention was an American diner/restaurant on Torquay harbourside which had split opinions in the town because it was painted a bright blue.

I rather liked it. It reminded me of other seaside areas - fishing communities like Brixham - where properties especially overlooking the harbour were an array of bright colours.

Dave thought it stuck out like a sore thumb and was demanding enforcement action.

The story went national but kind of petered out - I didn't realise the building was now without its brilliant blue look - until Dave pointed it out as he flagged up a new issue on the harbourside getting up his proverbial.

Dave, from Livermead, is referring to the removal of the public seating looking towards Victoria Parade along side the marina car park.

Dave was never one to hold back and described the move as a 'disgrace and totally unnecessary' pointing out that the seating was much used over many years by both locals and visitors alike.

He says: "What makes this spot so popular is it gets the sun most of the day, and a small amount of shelter. It's packed in the summer with locals and visitors some taking the weight of their feet after dog walking. It is a convivial spot to chat if you wish, get a coffee or a bite to eat in the little cafe attached, and take in the beautiful view over the harbour in the sun."

He explains: "Like many areas it attracted some who prefer alcohol rather than a nice brew, some homeless who are easy prey for drug dealers and some would sleep under this small covered area. And, yes, needles were found under the wooden benches pushed down between the slats of the seats.

"A decision was taken, like so many others, to remove the seating provided, to prevent anti-social behaviour. If that was not bad enough, what has  replaced it with, is not fit for purpose.

"You can just rest a small area of your bum on a small stone wall, and the disposal of needles is far more dangerous in the earth now provided."

He maintains: "It's the reverse of our democracy that the majority lose out once again to a small minority."

He adds: "Instead of dealing with the issue of homelessness, which incidentally will inevitably rise following our imposed hibernation due to job losses, the authorities needs to be brought to task over their ill thought through policies of the removal of seating, bushes, trees and shrubs, in the name of preventing anti-social behaviour.

"This latest act of removing a much valued and well used public facility overlooking our beautiful harbour should be a fridge light moment when we say reinstate the appropriate seating back ASAP and stop removing our facilities."

He says smart lighting, the police and local authority liaising more closely together to increase patrols and act on unlawful activity should be the answer.

He also mentions the removal of seating - I would assume for the same reasons - from the public shelter on Torre Abbey Meadows. "The seats on the seaward side have been removed, but the seating that faces public toilets has been kept," says a somewhat confused Dave.

It looks as if Dave's battle over the harbour seating may not be straightforward.

Council leader Steve Darling confirmed he had been contacted by Dave and officers had been made aware.

But he added: "This is about the use of the benches - but this is MDL land. They are not council benches."

Another issue may be the possible future development of the entire marina car park area linked with the refurbishment and restoration of the Pavilion.

I just hope they include some benches overlooking the harbour!