'Tropicana Trust' issues an appeal for support

PUBLISHED: 09:00 13 October 2011

Archant

A LEADING business figure in Weston has called on the public to support a trust scheme to save the crumbling Tropicana building and put a swimming pool back on the seafront.

Terry Gilbert said that although the trust only has around eight permanent members, it will need the support of around 1,000 people to form a ‘friends of’ group.

The group would be made up of members of the public willing to contribute their time or money to getting the Tropicana redeveloped.

That could mean making donations or doing volunteer work at the pool once it is redeveloped.

The Tropicana site, which used to house a swimming pool on the seafront but has long been derelict, has been earmarked to be bulldozed by the end of the year at a cost of £800,000 to the council.

Those involved in the trust, including North Somerset Enterprise Agency chairman Terry Gilbert, chamber of trade president Gail Parsons and hotels and restaurants association chairman Keith Fearne, met for the first time last week.

The trust, which also includes members of North Somerset Council, met with local investors who are said to be interested in supporting the trust scheme.

The trust could be officially formed within three to four weeks.

The fledgling group is now looking to secure money to put a public pool in the Tropicana building again and heat it using solar panels on the roof.

Mr Gilbert said: “We will be doing everything from applying to the lottery to rattling tins outside supermarkets.”

He added that if anyone else in Weston is thinking of starting a similar scheme that he would ‘appeal to them to join us’.

He said: “We need one real strong effort, not several people splintering off in different directions.”

North Somerset councillor Elfan Ap Rees appealed for the potential investors to make themselves known to the council as soon as possible.

He said: “We cannot continue with theoretical rumours that might not actually happen.

“If the investors are serious they really need to stand up and be counted.”

He said that anyone who wants to put forward plans to redevelop the site will need to give concrete plans to the council’s consultants within the next six weeks.

The trust is expected to hold another meeting this week.

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