Row over call for Trop chairman to step down

PUBLISHED: 12:30 21 July 2011

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INFIGHTING has broken out between sections of a working party assigned to decide on the future of the derelict Tropicana.

The cross-party group of North Somerset councillors will meet five would-be developers for the seafront site tomorrow (Fri).

But this week, member Mike Bell has called on chairman Elfan Ap Rees to step down over fears he will no longer consider a swimming pool as a future use of the former attraction.
Cllr Ap Rees told the Mercury earlier this month he believed a pool at the seafront site was ‘unachievable’.

Cllr Bell said: “I will be asking Elfan Ap Rees to step down as chairman of that working party in the light of the fact that he has closed his mind to the only option that most local people want to see – namely a swimming pool. We need leadership that is prepared to think in new ways to get things done, not declare defeat before we have even started.”

But the council deputy leader has responded by telling Cllr Bell to ‘grow up’.

Cllr Ap Rees said: “That is absolute rubbish, he knows perfectly well I haven’t closed my mind to the idea a swimming pool could be opened at the site.

“I am only being realistic, while he is playing politics – I will not step down.”

A mix of five individuals and businesses are to outline their plans to the members of the working party tomorrow.

The councillors invited the potential developers to put together their schemes following the collapse of Richard Nightingale’s £19million proposal for the site.

Cllr Ap Rees said: “I am looking forward to the meetings.

“There are several different ideas and I sincerely hope that there will be at least one solution for a way to take redevelopment of the site forward.”

The North Somerset councillors will be considering the ideas alone - without the help of Weston Town Council. The town authority had asked to become involved in the decision-making and have members appointed on the working party.

But North Somerset chief executive Graham Turner responded to clerk Malcolm Nicholson, by saying: “This is an internal working group charged with reporting to the executive and scrutiny panel, on which it would not be appropriate to appoint external members.”

Cllr Mike Bell said he would challenge the decision, adding: “It is absolutely right that the town council, the voice of Weston, should be involved in the working party and frankly I am at a loss to understand why anyone would reject its interest.”

For a report on the working party’s meeting with would-be developers for the Tropicana, keep an eye on www.westonmercury.co.uk and see next week’s paper.

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