Danger Zone

By Press Release Aug 27, 2021

The former Grand Hotel in Sandown has been branded ‘an accident waiting to happen’ after three children approached IW Observer reader Tina Parsonage, saying they had found a badger trapped in a swimming pool.

Tina, aged 60, was enjoying a coffee with her mother at Brown’s Golf Course Café early on Wednesday evening, when three young boys came up to her and said they had been ‘exploring’ in the former hotel and had found a badger in trouble. They said they didn’t know what to do, so she asked them to show her the problem. The three youngsters, which she described as around 12 to 14 years old, led her to see the lethargic animal, which was floating on a ‘mattress-like’ object in filthy water at least three-feet deep. It appeared the animal had dug into the mattress in distress.

Tina told the IW Observer she was shocked there were no safety barriers at all blocking entry to the building, and it was not boarded up and the ceiling was hanging down. Tina asked one of the boys, along with somebody from Brown’s Golf Course, to alert the Wildheart Sanctuary (formerly Sandown Zoo) next door, thinking they would have equipment that could help save the animal, and know how to get in touch with a vet if it was needed.

Picture Tina Parsonage

When three men arrived from the sanctuary, Tina left with the boys, feeling that the badger was in safe hands, and wanting to get the youngsters away from what she believed was a very dangerous environment. The IW Observer went to check on Thursday lunchtime and the badger had gone.

Tina told the IW Observer: “This area is absolutely full of children, with Brown’s Family Golf Club, the Dinosaur Museum and the Wildheart Sanctuary.

“This place is not just a danger to wildlife, but to people too, particularly children. Everybody knows that you only have to take your eyes off a child for a moment, and they can be off. They just don’t see dangers as adults do. This is an accident waiting to happen.
“I’m very concerned that, as well as the obvious danger of drowning in the filthy pool, there is broken glass everywhere, and who knows if there is asbestos hanging from the ceiling. There are also climbing dangers with falls onto concrete, and the place could well be used for drug taking.

“Surely the owners have a duty of care to the public. They shouldn’t be allowed to get away with it. Something has to be done. Over the last month or so some fencing has appeared at the front of the hotel, but that clearly doesn’t stop people getting onto the site from the sides or back.

“The three lads were very sensible. OK, they shouldn’t really have been there, but they certainly didn’t need to break in and boys will be boys. If I could get into the building without difficulty then anyone can. I praised them for worrying about the animal and coming to get an adult, but I really dread to think what could have happened.”

After speaking to Tina, the IW Observer contacted local councillor Debbie André, who immediately got in touch with a representative of the owner and asked for the area to be made safe. She also expressed concerns about the danger for children and others.

The IW Observer also informed the Isle of Wight Council on Thursday afternoon about Tina’s concerns and confirmed that we had seen the dangers ourselves. At the time of writing they had not responded. An email sent to the owner was returned as undeliverable.