The state of some of the benches in Porthcawl has sparked anger

Controversy over benches in Porthcawl is nothing new.

But this latest problem has left residents concerned that the town is giving a bad impression to the tens of thousands of visitors who flock there during the summer.

While the backwards ‘selfie’ benches on the seafront gave many a chuckle, a number of rotting benches have prompted shock and anger, with residents posting pictures on social media to draw the local authority’s attention to the issue.

The town’s Chamber of Trade and town councillors have also been lobbying Bridgend County Borough Council .

The authority has now said it “will arrange for the benches to be made safe and will add them to a programme of maintenance”, with work already being done to one of the worst affected seats.

Benches have ‘significantly deteriorated’

“Discussions were previously held about options for upgrading and maintaining the benches, but they appear to have significantly deteriorated since then,” said a council spokesman.

Steve Maitland Thomas, of campaign group Porthcawl First, claimed the lack of maintenance is indicative of Bridgend County Borough Council’s “neglect” of the town, despite its residents contributing an estimated £8.7m in council tax annually.

Steve Maitland Thomas
One of the benches on the Eastern Promenade

“It’s evident that these benches and other routine maintenance work, such as weed clearing and the rusty fence surrounding Griffin Park, have not been carried out for decades,” he claimed.

“It’s a shame that BCBC has to be embarrassed into taking action in Porthcawl and it appears to many here that the council has pawned the jewel in Bridgend’s crown.”

Since the pictures were posted, one of the benches has been repaired, much to the relief of residents.

Steve Maitland Thomas
This bench on New Road in Porthcawl has now been repaired

What happens next?

Steve said the high cost of public liability insurance prohibits residents and the town council from doing the repairs themselves, even though many have wanted to.

But he said one resident had suggested that businesses could sponsor the repairs to the benches and get a plaque carrying their name fixed to the bench in return.

The council spokesman said: “We’re happy to discuss suggestions and ideas about long-term sustainable options for looking after or replacing the benches.”

Vandals target seafront benches

Meanwhile, police have launched an investigation after two benches were badly damaged on the seafront by vandals sometime overnight between Sunday and Monday.

Chris Pugh-Bevan
The wooden slats from one bench were thrown onto the lower promenade

Bridgend council said the benches would “be removed and then repaired as soon as possible”.

A South Wales Police spokesman said: “Police in Porthcawl are investigating damage to public benches on the town’s promenade, which occurred sometime overnight between Sunday and Monday this week.

“Anyone who has any information or who may have witnessed anything which may help officers identify who may have been responsible is asked to call the police on 101 or anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 and quote reference 1600311644.”

Article source: http://www.walesonline.co.uk/incoming/state-benches-porthcawl-sparked-anger-11756315