Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Is Torbay to be the new 'Monte Carlo' or another 'Las Vegas'?

Went to a very interesting debate last night with Mayor Nick Bye and Civic Society leader Ian Handford slugging it between them the question of whether Torbay needs a new 'super Casino'.

The audience were almost exclusively drawn from the congregation of St Matthias church and so it was clear from the off that they were unlikely to be persuaded by Nicks argument that Torbay needs to meet the needs of visitors and provide a wider range of leisure activities than it does at the moment.

last night was a triumph for civilised debate (even though I suspect coming out in favour probably cost me a few votes !) and was well handled by chairman David Scott.
I thought Nick was outstanding - humourous in just the right measure - but also he showed a determination and sense of purpose which went down well even with those who oppose the Casino bid.
Perhaps if we had more public debates like this critics could understand more clearly the reasons why the Bay has failed to move forward effectively in the past; it's not just a lack of leadership by councillors but a reluctance on the part of the public to make or accept change.
One benefit of having a directly elected Mayor that is becoming clearer by the day is that there is now one person to passionately and (in Nicks case) patiently put the case for change to the local community.
I believe that they are already responding more positively than ever before; even if in the case of last nights audience they weren't persuaded about this particular proposal; Nick lost the final vote by a ratio of about three to one!


Anonymous said...

The name is Bond, James Bond.

The location is... Torquay.

Mmmm, not sure.

Anonymous said...

Nick was 'brilliant' but lost the debate 3 to 1 ! And just because a number of those attending were of mature years and - horror of horrors they were Christian - Marcus can seemingly discount such opinions. Obviously the wrong 'electorate' !

Take the hint, as I hope councillors of all descriptions will, we don't want a casino !

Marcus Wood said...

Yes anonymous; you don't want a casino that is clear from your post.

But elected politicians often have the difficult task of weighing up the balance between the vocal few and what it is that the perhaps silent majority want.

In this case I think Nick is probably right to believe that most people are either not bothered or would welcome a Casino on the seafront whereas a few people passionately oppose the idea; for perfectly understandable moral reasons.

"Marcus can seemingly discount such opinions" well, maybe that has a ring of truth. I cannot agree with everyone all the time (tempting as it is to do so in this business) and in this case I hold a different opinion to you and the majority at the debate.

If there is demand from Torbay residents and visitors for a legal casino and there is a suitable site available and a good operator willing to open one then the council should support it. I don't believe it is the job of the council to be a moral guardian.
If there is a moral objection to gambling then those who hold that view have a perfect right to either campaign to have the law changed or campaign to deter people from visiting casino's.

But my view is irrelevant; it is Nick who is in the driving seat on this one.

Last point, Nick lost by 3 to 1 as I said but actually at the end of the debate I asked if anyone there had actually changed their mind during the evening.

Only one man had, from 'neutral' to 'against' everyone else had set their opinion before listening to either side of the debate.