Two-month decision deadline for Trop
PUBLISHED: 07:00 30 September 2013 | UPDATED: 15:22 01 October 2013
A DECISION on whether the Tropicana will be redeveloped will come within two months, after a group which previously decided to demolish the pool was reformed to rule on its future.
Councillors at Tuesday’s full council meeting were told the next step in the long-running saga was to revive a working party to run the rule over whether Trop (WSM) Ltd’s rebuilding plans would work - despite the group previously opting for demolition two years ago.
Council leader Nigel Ashton told members he wants to find a way to bring a pool back to Weston’s seafront, despite chairing the committee which voted to bulldoze the site.
The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles refused the council’s application to demolish the seafront site three weeks ago, as there is an ‘alternative’ to pulling it down.
That alternative comes in the form of an all-weather facility touted by Trop (WSM) Ltd, headed by new councillor Derek Mead.
During the meeting Cllr Ashton said: “I do not think we want to open the whole debate and go back to the market. It’s clear what the Secretary of State wants to do, to give a final chance to the applicant.
“I think we would all like a pool back in an affordable manner. If the working party finds that, then so be it.
“People say I want to knock it down, why would I want to knock it down when the alternative is a pool?
“I hope it is viable and we have a company before us that says it’s viable and just want to provide that.
“I hope it succeeds and I hope we can get on with a pool rather than wasting this council’s time year after year.”
However, Cllr Ashton’s apparent change of heart - after his executive previously pushed for demolition - was mocked by opposition members.
Cllr Mike Bell, leader of the Liberal Democrats, said: “For some time it has felt as though Bungle from Rainbow was in charge, as the council has stumbled from bad decision to worse decision.
“Then along came Blackadder’s Baldrick with a ‘cunning plan’ to demolish the Trop. Like most of Baldrick’s schemes that one has gone wrong.
“Now Nigel Ashton seems to be doing his own impression of the Vicar of Dibley’s Jim Trott. He has spent months saying no, no, no, no, no, no to the Mead scheme. Now he might end up saying yes.”
Cllr Mead said: “Hopefully now we can all sit down and discuss the plans and get on with it. If the town council and Trop (WSM) Ltd pull together and enlist the six people at North Somerset who look for funding then there is no reason why it could fail.”
A council report says questions over the viability of the scheme is likely to be answered only by the group ‘testing its claims’ over the availability of grant funding.
During Weston’s Town Council meeting on Monday night Cllr Mead said: “The Mead group is quite a large group and has just completed a £12million project on the Sedgemoor livestock auction centre. So dealing with the Trop is not a problem as far as I’m concerned.
“Our accountants took the plans to the Regional Group Fund and got through to the second round.
“If North Somerset and the town council are behind us we have a good chance of getting that £4million and that’s not including things like sports grants.”
Once the working party reconvenes and a decision is made, it will then be passed to the executive then back to full council to allow all members to air their views.