Extravagant plans to bring back Kenilworth’s mere have been scrapped after councillors agreed to withdraw a £120,000 spend on studies.
Members of Warwick District Council’s executive agreed not to pursue the multi-million pound project at this time after public outcry and a backlash from across the council which branded it a waste of money.
Cllr Andrew Mobbs (Con, Park Hill) told members at Wednesday’s meeting, the council may revisit the idea under a wider tourism review at a later date, but that no money will be spent at this time.
He said: “The executive has thought long and hard and are minded of the number of councillors who are not happy with the decision on this.
“In terms of spending money investigating the mere, that is stopped, full stop and there will be no further action at the present time.
“We however,recognise the importance of tourism to our district and wish to look to how we can enhance that for the whole district long term.
Cllr Ann Blacklock (Lib Dem, Abbey), chair of the overview and scrutiny committee which unanimously opposed the approved spend of anywhere up to £120,000, said they were “delighted” that the executive had listened to the majority. “We are very pleased that the executive listened to their representations and feel that by standing firm and giving sound arguments against the scheme, they have saved the council and the council tax-payers from a very expensive mistake,” she said.
The ambitious plans for the mere have been discussed for decades, but this year came close to going one step further when the district council executive approved a spend of up to £120,000 on a project feasibility study.
It was suggested that bringing back the once great mere that surrounded the castle would enhance tourism and solve flooding problems which currently plague the town. Total costs to bring back the water - which was drained over 600 years ago to weaken the castle’s defences - could ring in at up to £20million with a hotel or leisure complex considered as an option to come on board and meet the costs.
At Wednesday’s meeting, Cllr Dave Shilton (Con, Park Hill) reminded councillors they must not forget problems of flooding at the ford which should be addressed.
It was suggested by members of the scrutiny committees that this should be a matter for the Environment Agency and not council policy.