Lake boats bombshell

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  • Delay in arrival of new motorboats at attraction
  • Older boats ruled unsafe
  • Council hoping to refurbish older vessels as a stopgap
  • Boats can earn £2,000 on busy summer days

Fairhaven Lake’s new fleet of boats have been delayed – leaving the attraction without its biggest earner throughout the summer holidays.

Ten new electric boats, costing taxpayers £55,000, were bought to replace the original fleet which was declared unsafe.

‘A large number of people who stay at the hotels as well as day visitors make a point of going to Fairhaven Lake - it is a vital part of Fylde’s tourism offering.

HALSA president Barbara Mackenzie

But issues with the supplier now mean the boats won’t arrive until September at the earliest.

And with the boats often raking in £2,000 per day for the council in the past, the council is set to lose out on a huge chunk of cash.

The council withdrew its fleet of 17 motor boats at Christmas after they were declared unsafe on health and safety grounds, announcing the £55,000 investment.

Just three plastic boats remain, and it is hoped a couple of the older motor boats can be revamped.

Tourism bosses today reacted with dismay to the bombshell ahead of the summer season.

Barbara Mackenzie, president of the Holiday Association of Lytham St Annes (HALSA) said: “This is a real blow and especially disappointing because so much effort is being made to increase the number of visitors with more and more events taking place in St Annes and Lytham.

“A large number of people who stay at the hotels as well as day visitors make a point of going to Fairhaven Lake - it is a vital part of Fylde’s tourism offering.

“The boats are one of the main activities there and visitors will be really disappointed that the motor boats will not be available.

“It seems to show a lack of foresight for this to have been allowed to happen.”

Julie Vale, visitor officer at the RSPB visitor centre, which attracts 55,000 people a year to the lake, said: “It’s disappointing as we were all looking forward to seeing the new boats, we were very pleased that we were getting new electrical boats at the lake that would be less disruptive to the birds and wildlife.

“There are four little boats still available at the lake and the teams here have done a great job keeping them going but it will probably mean more queues for visitors in the summer season.

“We recently had a very rare Red-Throated Diver bird at the lake and I am sure he will be happy to have a peaceful summer with a lot less boats on the lake!

“There are still lots of other things going on at the lake with the playground and a full time table of activities at the discovery centre.”

“But some people will be disappointed and feel let down by the news.”

And Graham Kennedy, who lets holiday flats in Fairhaven and st Annes, said the loss of the boats for the summer was a blow.

He added: “People come here to relax and enjoy the lake, taking a trip on the boats. They come back to me year after year.

“Let’s be honest, there’s not mush else to do at Fairhaven at the moment, while everything is up in the air with the Lottery bid.

“The putting and tennis courts are tired, as are the surroundings.

“I sincerely hope they get the cash to revamp the lake.

“But not having boats through the summer season is a folly - what is going to keep visitors at the lake now? It’s trade lost, perhaps for a long time if people find somewhere they prefer.”

Fylde has applied for a multi-million pound Heritage Lottery grant to revamp the entire lake, at the same time as work to repair and shore up sea defences takes place.

A Fylde Council spokesman said: “Our old style motorboats were declared unsafe on health and safety grounds.

“The council made the decision to spend £55,000 on buying a fleet of electrical boats, 10 of them.

“To date we have failed to secure any replacements. We have three plastic boats at present. We should have one of the older boats converted into electric in one or two weeks.

“If that is converted successfully, we will then do another three. It is looking like it will be a reduced presence on the lake until late summer.

“We can only appeal for people to be patient. Long-term we will have a service. We are just asking for people to be understanding. They may have to row rather than going on a motor boat.”