Fighting talk as councillors give green light to sea wall

PUBLISHED: 12:45 28 December 2006 | UPDATED: 10:22 24 May 2010

MEMBERS of Weston's business community have vowed to keep fighting for a marina. They described a recent heated meeting where councillors flew in the face of public opinion to approve

MEMBERS of Weston's business community have vowed to keep fighting for a marina. They described a recent heated meeting where councillors flew in the face of public opinion to approve a 'Berlin wall' flood defence scheme as 'just the beginning'.Hoteliers and bar owners have written to council chiefs asking to meet and discuss how to regenerate Weston, improve tourism and take forward plans for a marina.The move comes after North Somerset Council ignored over 500 letters of objection to the 1-1.5m high wall planned for the seafront, along with emotional pleas by numerous speakers at a meeting on December 14, by approving the scheme.Martin Woolls, who runs the Bristol Queen pleasure boat, said: "It will be a hideous blot on our lovely Victorian seafront and kill off what there is left of our already struggling tourist trade. It is ill conceived, lacks imagination and we don't think it will work anyway."Last ditch attempts to postpone the decision were also made by ward councillors Mike Bell, Mark Canniford and Robert Payne. Cllr Bell said: "It would not be easy to raise the money to fund a marina or anything close to it, but what a pathetic excuse for not giving it a try."Listen to the people who elected you. Listen to your own instincts. Go for a bigger, bolder, more ambitious future. This is something that is worth winning. So we must be prepared to fight for it."But under pressure by officers to approve the sea wall application or risk losing Government funding, the majority of west area councillors voted through the plans.Cllr Roz Willis said: "I was told it might be a seven to 10 year wait if we don't approve it."But the Environment Agency (EA) told the Weston & Somerset Mercury such concerns were 'rubbish' and was surprised none of the authority's officers clarified that the money would not be lost in such a way.EA officials said due to an amendment to the plans to allow for some extra crossing points in the wall, they would now have to meet with designers and North Somerset Council to take another look at the proposals.If the extra openings are deemed 'feasible' the amended scheme will be put before the National Review Group which will decide whether to recommend the scheme for approval based on its quality. If it is recommended, the EA board will then meet to decide whether to fund it or not. No date has yet been set for the meeting.Owner of The Seaward Hotel in Knightstone Road, Sophia Michael, said: "This is just the beginning, not the end. We're just waiting for a reply from the council as to when we can meet to take things forward.

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