New benches are no good for us old folk, say resort’s perennial visitors

AN elderly couple who have holidayed in Westward Ho! every year for the last 19 years say that new enhancements to the village green and seafront will turn visitors away.

Pensioners Ivor and Irene Priscott, from Minehead say that new seating installed along the promenade is unsuitable for older people and provides no shelter against the elements.

The couple, who have been married for 39 years, stay at the same Golden Bay Holiday Village chalet every September. They said they used to look forward to regular walks along the seafront and often enjoyed eating their fish and chips from the comfort of the seafront shelter.

“Us old people like to sit by the sea but this year they’ve changed all the seating and it’s no good for us,” said retired lorry driver Ivor, 80.

“The new seats are too low and many of them have no back rests – those that do have them go right in the small of your back and are very uncomfortable to sit on.

“If it was raining, we used to go get and the newspaper and sit and read them in the shelter, or get some fish and chips and watch the sea. You’d be surprised at the amount of people that would do the same.

“If you go to other seaside towns such as Dartmouth, there are places you can sit out of the weather.

“We’ve spoken to a lot of local people about the changes and they said they’d heard similar complaints from other holiday makers.

“We love it down here – we always have done. We’ll still come back but it’s just a shame the seats aren’t really designed with old people in mind.”

A spokesperson for Torridge District Council said the older benches were taken away for reasons of health and safety, and that the new ones currently there were open-backed to allow people to face seaward or inland depending on preference.

Once the promenade has been resurfaced, it is planned that “normal” benches will be re-installed along its length, as before.

Councillor Roger Tisdale, representing Westward Ho!, added: “We hope the new-look Westward Ho! village green area will appeal to the modern holiday-maker and attract more local residents as well.

“The feedback I’ve had for the ambitious plans for our village has all been very positive so I hope that they won’t be put off from coming back here next year.

“They may be pleasantly surprised if they do, as they will find the promenade to be re-surfaced and the older style benches will have re-appeared.”