We wish all the best to the new company running the Pyramids – but with some reservations.
Sadly, what should be an attraction to be proud of has become a political football, or perhaps that should be a political beachball.
For the last few years an argument has raged over its future. There are those who said that the £800,000 a year subsidy given to soon-to-be former operators Southsea Community Leisure Limited was far too generous, and some who say that the £400,000 on offer to incoming managers BH Live is also too high.
At a time when Portsmouth City Council cannot even afford to keep public toilets open, they say, subsidising a leisure centre is an unjustified use of council funds – and sadly, the recent report that revealed that auditors could not guarantee SCLL had used the public funds properly has only added fuel to that argument.
But the counter view holds that as a seaside destination, which trades on being the ‘waterfront city’, Portsmouth should be running attractions to the Pyramids to complement the popular beach and well-maintained promenade.
And as many have previously pointed out, the job of a local authority is to fund things that need funding – giving hundreds of thousands of pounds a year to organisations is a way of providing amenities that would not otherwise be there.
So BH Live has a tough job on its hands. It needs to restore public faith not just in the centre, but in the fact that it is worth of being supported with public money.
As we say, we wish them well. The ideal is that the Pyramids can be run as a self-financing organisation that adds to the other attractions in Southsea, and keeps life in our seafront.
We hope that the recent troubles that have beset the current operators can be left behind, and that we can be proud of the distinctive building that sits near South Parade Pier.
However, we are not the only ones who will be watching carefully. And while we keep an open mind, we hope others do not damn this new era before it starts.