Tropicana arena plans questioned by councillors

PUBLISHED: 17:00 21 June 2018

The Tropicana, in Marine Parade.

The Tropicana, in Marine Parade.

Archant

Concerns have been raised about whether North Somerset Council is ‘equipped’ to manage the proposed £1million revamp of the Tropicana.

Dismaland lit up the Tropicana in 2015. Picture: Philip Jones Dismaland lit up the Tropicana in 2015. Picture: Philip Jones

Last week the Mercury reported the council has launched a bid for more than £1million funding from the Government’s Coastal Communities Fund (CCF) to make a long list of improvements to the former lido – including the creation of a 9,000-capacity outdoor arena.

The council’s executive member for asset management, David Pasley, last week said the bid ‘could provide further valuable investment which will bring more prosperity for North Somerset’ – but a pair of councillors have raised concerns the project.

Central ward councillor Mike Bell told the Mercury he supports the ‘transformation of the Trop’ and hopes the bid is approved – but aired fears over the revamp.

He said: “More than £1million in council tax payers’ money has already been spent at the Trop.

“In years of asking, I have yet to see a business plan or a coherent long-term strategy.

Mike Bell and Denise Hunt support North Somerset Council's Tropicana bid, but have concerns over how the project could be handled. Mike Bell and Denise Hunt support North Somerset Council's Tropicana bid, but have concerns over how the project could be handled.

“We know this council cannot run a swimming pool, but I am not confident it is any better equipped to run a culture and events arena either.”

North Worle councillor Denise Hunt, too, supports the council’s bid but questioned if it will amount to ‘pre-election spin’.

She said: “£1.1million isn’t a very large budget so I wonder how robust the plans are and how realistic the costing is.

“The ambition seems to considerably exceed the potential resources available, so will it get off the ground and would we 
then see either a watered-down project if the budget is insufficient?

“It’s lovely to see ambition but local people are not daft they can smell pre-election spin from Cllr Pasley and want to see realistic and long-term plans which give a sustainable arts and events space.”

A council spokesman said the value of the bid is based on cost estimates, although these will be revaluated if the application reaches to the next stage.

The authority also clarified the costs may appear low because the project focuses on refurbishment, rather than creating buildings – and the outdoor arena will not have a roof or seating.

The spokesman said: “The Tropicana is running successfully as the growing programme of events demonstrates.

“Our bid for funding shows the breadth of our ambitions for the venue and we want everyone to get behind it.”

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