Council promise over Wish Tower cafe site

Wish Tower Cafe
Wish Tower Cafe

The council has promised that a plaque in memory of the town’s wartime bombing victims will be reinstated when a new Wish Tower Cafe is built.

Their assurance follows a complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman on behalf of John Foyle, whose father, Cllr Gilbert Foyle, paid half the cost of building the original cafe and sun lounge. Gilbert Foyle’s vision was that the building should stand as a memorial to local air raid victims. The complaint was lodged for John Foyle by retired solicitor John Boyle. Mr Foyle listed what he considered administrative failings of the council leading up to the demolition of the cafe and sun lounge, and told the Ombudsman he would like a free sun lounge to be included in any redevelopment.

The Ombudsman said he was sympathetic to Mr Foyle’s wish but had no power to tell the council what it should do. In their submission Mr Boyle and Mr Foyle said the deterioration of the sun lounge and cafe was just one example of the council allowing its public buildings to fall into disrepair and they urged the Ombudsman to ask the council to improve its procedure for regular inspection and upkeep of important buildings.

The Ombudsman’s investigator was happy to put that wish on record but was unable to investigate the way the council maintains its buildings.

In the council’s response to the Ombudsman, Community Strategy and Involvement Manager Monica Ray gave an assurance that the council intended to ensure a ‘high quality offer’ for the site and was committed to ensuring that the original memorial plaque was reinstated on the site. She added, “In regard to Mr Foyle’s wishes, we can assure Mr Foyle that there will be an opportunity for users of the cafe to enjoy the sunny aspect of the site and we envisage the new design to take full advantage of the location, orientation and its extensive views, but we cannot say that this will be in the form of a sun lounge as Mr Foyle may imagine, ie a free area similar to what was there before.”