Ocean Lab funding plan ignored by council

A POPULAR tourist attraction facing eviction by Pembrokeshire County Council says it has a business plan, but it is being ignored.

The Sea Trust’s Cliff Benson, which runs the Ocean Lab at Goodwick, said that the organisation only heard of the plan to give it until the end of the financial year to come up with a viable business plan or be evicted, after the decision was made.

Mr Benson added that a business plan had been sent to Pembrokeshire County Council in March 2018 along with a revised business plan as part of a funding bid “some months ago.”

He added that following the decision earlier this month, a meeting of the Sea Trust Board had been held and a number of options discussed.

“These ranged from closing the aquarium and finding alternative accommodation as soon as practically possible, or the possibility of buying the building.

“To this end I have asked Councillor Paul Miller [Cabinet Member for Economy, Tourism, Leisure and Culture] to try to find out what price PCC would accept given that according to them the building needs £250,000 spending on repairs. We are awaiting some decisions on a price from PCC whilst keeping all options open,” he said.

Mr Benson was also critical of Fishguard councillor Myles Pepper’s role in the strategic asset management recommendation to close and evict the Ocean Lab and cafe immediately.

“I am angry that our small but extremely hard working and professional team received no credit for having saved the Ocean Lab from dereliction and performed a minor miracle of regeneration within the Ocean Lab.

“We have increased income and footfall from our Sea Môr exhibition year on year. In doing so, we have created and safeguarded jobs, and also created an award-winning visitor attraction and educational facility used by many of our local schools.”

He added that only Cllr Paul Miller, who had recommended the organisation be given three years rent-free on July 1,  recognised the hard work, with only he and council leader Cllr David Simpson visiting the Ocean Lab.

A council spokesman said that “no update has been received” following the March 2018 business plan but it would be welcome so that progress can be made.

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