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Unanimous vote to support Tropicana scheme

PUBLISHED: 12:00 15 November 2013 | UPDATED: 13:40 15 November 2013

Derek Mead, Mike Bell and Geri Callen with Under Secretary for Communities and Local Government, Stephen Williams outside the Tropicana.

Derek Mead, Mike Bell and Geri Callen with Under Secretary for Communities and Local Government, Stephen Williams outside the Tropicana.

Archant

EVERY single councillor at North Somerset’s full council meeting has voted in favour of supporting the latest scheme to redevelop Weston’s crumbling Tropicana.

The decision came after a working party, formed to come up with a solution for the site, recommended that members should hand over the leasehold of the seafront site to Trop WSM Ltd.

That means the former pool will change hands if the group – headed by Cllr Derek Mead – can present a fully-funded plan.

With that formal backing in the bag, the team will now be able to move forward and apply for grant funding in the hope of reviving the derelict landmark.

During Monday night’s meeting, executive member Tony Lake, who is also the chairman of the working party, said: “The working party has added (to the recommendation) that the Trop WSM Ltd should report on a regular basis to the council the progress they have made to acquire charitable status and grants.

“This should be in the form of bi-monthly reports. I think it is right the council has some sort of timescale to show that progress is being made.”

The Mercury reported last month how executive members agreed with the working party’s proposal and passed on the plan to be ratified by full council.

The recommendation also stated the council will confirm the ‘in principle’ idea to hand over the site and is willing to issue a letter of confirmation to support the company in funding applications to the Heritage Lottery Fund, Sport England and the Regional Growth Fund – which will take bids of up to £300million.

Cllr Donald Davies raised an objection to the fortnightly reports of progress and suggested that a ‘non-Weston person’ be asked to look at the Trop issue.

He said: “We could still be getting these bi-monthly reports in 2015.”

Cllr Lake said: “I tried to conduct these meetings in a business way without showing favour to a particular group.

“Clearly if the reports that are coming back are not satisfactory the working group could be reconvened or the executive could say, we do not think progress is being made; let’s take another look at it.”

The Tropicana has lain derelict for 13 years since the council closed its doors, and a succession of earlier regeneration plans have failed.

Last week, Cllr Mead, Trop (WSM) Ltd and Cllr Mike Bell met with the Minister for Communities and Local Government to talk through funding opportunities.

Cllr Bell said: “The meeting with the Minister, Stephen Williams, was very helpful in highlighting some of the challenges faced in turning around major projects like the Tropicana.

“Stephen was able to point us to a couple of possible national funding streams, including the Coastal Communities Fund - which has supported pools in other areas.

“I know that he is willing to assist Derek and the team in moving things forward where possible.”

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