Weston councillor slams 'flawed' Which? report
Updated: May 10, 2021
North Somerset Council has strongly disputed claims that Weston is the UK's second-worst seaside town following a recent survey carried out by Which? the consumer watchdog.
More than 4,000 people were quizzed on their past visits to the seaside and asked to rate each towns' beaches, attractions, scenery, peace and quiet, and value for money.
The council's executive for neighbourhoods and community services has labelled the findings 'flawed and inaccurate' while questioning the timing of its publication.
Cllr Mike Solomon said: "I am angry that Which? has decided to publish this inaccurate and flawed report at a time when people are looking to spend more time at the seaside.
"You only have to look at some of the other gems they have scored lowly to realise this survey has to be taken with a hefty pinch of salt.
"Out of the 4,000 people who took part, only a handful would have visited Weston so you have to question the demographic."
Neighbouring town, Burnham-on-Sea also scored poorly on the survey with just a 58 per cent customer score.
Each town required a minimum of 30 reviews to qualify for the final set of results - with Weston receiving more than double this amount according to a Which? spokesman.
Weston did not score higher than two out of a possible five stars for any category, with one star given for its scenery and value for money.
Cllr Solomon added: "I eat and drink in Weston whenever possible and it is great value for money.
"In my new role in charge of neighbourhoods, I am working to install enforcement agencies to issue fines for people who litter around the town and beach and those who do not clean up dog poo.
"I think Which? should stick to what it does best: washing machines and vacuum cleaners and let us handle the seaside."
The seaside town scored two out of five stars for its attractions.
The owner of Weston's flagship attraction, the Grand Pier, has also questioned the validity of the findings.
Michelle Michael said: "I was amazed at the results of the study but I do recall that the last time that anyone did a survey like this, Weston scored lowly because very few had even visited.
"We have recently started a community beach clean which has gained a lot of traction and we are on track to welcome well over 4,000,000 visitors to the resort this summer.
"I think that we have a lot to offer, three miles of beautiful prom and beach, some great places to eat and drink, surrounded by accommodation providers.
"Businesses in Weston are not at all worried about the Which report. Our resort speaks for itself."
Opinions have been split on social media, with some citing this as a potential turning point for Weston while others share the same viewpoint as Ms Michael.
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However, the editor of Which? Travel has defended the findings - stating the results reflect a range of qualities that people want when visiting a seaside town.
Rory Boland said: “Our survey of the UK’s favourite seaside destinations reflects the views of more than 4,000 people after a year when record numbers of people discovered the joy of a British summer holiday.
“While Weston did not rank as highly as other resorts, some respondents recognised the town’s enduring appeal - praising the seafront walk and ‘brilliant, long-ranging' coastal views from Birnbeck Pier, as well as the North Somerset Museum and Ashcombe Park."
Mr Boland also admitted he has spent many summer holidays on North Somerset's coastline.
"Different types of holiday destinations appeal to different people. I love traditional British resorts.
"I have spent many summer holidays building sandcastles and later caking myself in mud on Weston's beach, feeding my pocket money to the penny slots and later retreating to the car with a bag of fish and chips.
"I am only sorry I will not get the chance to ride the wave machine at the Tropicana again."