CONCERNS were this week raised about a “class system” in how two of Wirral’s most popular seaside areas are regenerated – in different plans for new pavements.
Wirral council set aside £2.4m for improvements to Hoylake and New Brighton as part of schemes to spruce up the resorts.
But while Hoylake is set to be given a new “town square” near its station with high-quality stone paving, residents and businesses are angry that officials suggested replace paving stones in New Brighton with asphalt.
Doug Darroch, curator of Fort Perch Rock in New Brighton, said he welcomed investment in the town and had nothing against high-quality asphalt being used.
But he said the difference between the plans for the two resorts was “reminiscent of the Titanic” and 100 years on “different things show the class system”.
Joy Hockey, who played a leading role in fighting off the original plans by Neptune to build on New Brighton’s marine lake as part of its £60m redevelopment, said “the old existing surface is much more visually interesting”.
She said: “It is the joins between paving which add interest to large areas.
“I shall be very worried if they do put ‘flexible surfacing’ down. I hope they choose the right colour at least.
“But if they have large areas of seamless surfacing, what will happen when they need to do repairs? They can never make it look right and you end up with an ugly patchwork.”
Two reports, one each for Hoylake and New Brighton, are due to be considered by the council’s ruling cabinet on Thursday April 12.
About New Brighton, the report said the roads and pavement along the front are “in poor condition and need improving”. It added that if they are not dealt with, they could “jeopardise the future of existing businesses in the town”.
The proposal says flagstones on pavements should be replaced with “flexible surfacing” with a few paved strips to break up “the overall extensive asphalt effect”. The road will also be asphalt.
In Hoylake, where paving stones along Market Street were extensively replaced for the Open golf championship in 2006, the plan is for further improvements ahead of the event returning in July 2014.
The report recommended upgrading the public area in front of the Grade II-listed station building to create an attractive “town square”, using “similar materials and products” to the earlier work.
New Brighton Cllr Pat Hackett said it was “still early days” and the reports made it clear there would be full consultation with the public before any final decision was made.
He said: “The important thing is it shows a commitment to New Brighton’s future and attract more investment.
“I would not get too carried away – traders will have their say before any final decision is made.”