'I'll chain myself to the bulldozers to save Tropicana': councillor
By The Bristol Post | Saturday, August 11, 2012, 05:00
CAMPAIGNERS fighting to save Weston-super-Mare's dilapidated Tropicana are threatening to chain themselves to the bulldozers to stop the landmark being demolished.
Councillor Mike Bell intends to fight to save the Tropicana in Weston-super-Mare from demolition
North Somerset Council learnt this week it had been given the go ahead by Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, to knock down the building.
Councillors agreed to demolish the landmark earlier this year, but because it lies in a conservation area, the final go ahead needed to be given by Mr Pickles.
Work on the demolition is likely to be put on hold until the end of the tourist season and will start in the autumn.
However, those fighting to save the Tropicana – and see the building redeveloped into a community asset – say they will do all they can to stop the demolition from going ahead.
Local councillor and leader of the Liberal Democrats on the council, Mike Bell, said he would chain himself to the bulldozers to stop them moving on to the site.
Mr Bell said: "We will support legal efforts by campaigners to block the demolition until alternative plans to save the Tropicana have been given a fair hearing and I for one will chain myself the bulldozers to try to prevent demolition."
Business consortium Trop (WSM) Ltd has already put forward plans to redevelop the Tropicana and offered to buy it from the authority for £1.
The consortium, led by businessman Derek Mead, is seeking an injunction to stop the bulldozers moving on to site at the same time as it lodges an appeal against the planning decision.
Mr Mead said: "We will be appealing the decision by the Secretary of State to grant planning permission for the demolition of the Tropicana.
"We will also be serving an injunction on the council to prevent them from moving the bulldozers on to the site. What we are asking for is a public inquiry on the matter as we feel the council has gone against Government policy and the localism act to move forward with its desire to demolish the building. An inquiry will allow everyone to have their say.
"Why should the people of Weston be denied the chance to have an all-round swimming facility and a valuable tourist attraction?"
Mr Mead said Mr Bell would not be alone in stopping the bulldozers from moving onto the site.
He added: "An 80-year-old lady told me the other day she would lie down on the sand in front of the Tropicana to stop it from being demolished.
"There are a lot of strong feelings in the town that the Tropicana should be saved."
The Tropicana has lay vacant for 12 years and more recently has been used as a storage depot by contractors Birse during a £29-million project to enhance the resort's sea defences.
A number of schemes for its redevelopment have come forward over the past several years, but none have come to fruition.
North Somerset Council spokesman Richard Turner said: "We have yet to receive an injunction. It is still our intention to demolish the Tropicana."