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Last Updated: Monday, 29 March, 2004, 18:30 GMT 19:30 UK
Residents backing troubled tower
Paul Athen
Paul Athen: "Money should be spent on hospitals"
After a report severely criticised the management of the Spinnaker Tower development in Portsmouth, BBC News Online spoke to residents to get their views on the project.

Council tax payers in the city now face a bill of at least 8m, after councillors had promised it would not cost them a penny.

Despite this, most residents we spoke to still broadly supported the project, though had some harsh words for the organisers.

David Arnold said he thought the controversy would soon blow over.

I quite like the look of it though - and when there's not a crane on it, I think it'll look quite good
Caroline Lyons
"Once it's been operating a few years, people will forget about the money side of things, and it is only money," he said.

"I'm 100% behind it, I've watched it from day one - I think it'll be like an icon, you know, like Australia have their opera house."

But he said the council seemed to be out of its depth.

"They didn't realise what they were getting into - they assumed they could do it, but councils are used to dealing with domestic things - this is a different ball game.

Alastair Rowan
Alastair Rowan said he would "wait and see"
"They've let the city down; I think they all should resign."

John Gribben agreed: "If they didn't know how to run a contract like that then they should have gone and found somebody who did.

"I'm all for landmarks - I think every city should have something like that, so I'm very happy for it to go up - I just think it was handled badly."

Alastair Rowan said he did not think that many people would use the tower.

"At the moment I'm taking a wait-and-see attitude, I think if the cost goes up any more people will really start taking notice," he said.

This was echoed by Paul Athen: "There doesn't seem to be much purpose behind it really - but can't really judge it yet until it's actually finished.

"But the money should be spent on hospitals and things like that. "

Even some who questioned the money spent on the project said they were impressed by the look of the still-unfinished tower.

Caroline Lyons said: "It's a lot of money for Portsmouth and there's a lot of other things to spend the money on - like the QA (Queen Alexandra) hospital getting done up.

"The money's better spent on something like that than just a tower - I don't know how many people will come and look at it.

"I quite like the look of it though - and when there's not a crane on it, I think it'll look quite good."

John Sackett, events manager at Gunwharf Quays, on whose land the tower is being built, said he had a theory to why most people were still backing the plan despite the delays and cost overruns.

"There's a buzz about Portsmouth at the moment; with the football team in the Premiership, the Global Challenge yacht race, the regeneration of the historic dockyard and Gunwharf Quays."

"Because of that people are willing to give the council the benefit of the doubt and stay positive."



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