Campaigners to continue fight to save beach café

The Boardwalk Cafe at Whitley Bay.
The Boardwalk Cafe at Whitley Bay.
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Campaigners have vowed not to give up the fight to save a seafront café earmarked for demolition.

North Tyneside Council agreed to go ahead with the removal of the Boardwalk Café on Watts Slope as part of its plans to redevelop the northern promenade at Whitley Bay.

But local residents, who submitted a petition signed by more than 2,000 people against the demolition, have made a formal complaint to the authority over the handling of their case and decision.

Members of ‘Save and Revamp the Boardwalk’ say the council failed to engage impartially with any points they raised at the meeting last Thursday, with the misinformation broadcast by the authority and demolition plans being an individual event rather than included in the overall regeneration proposals.

Gillian Swanson, of the group, said: “Functions at the Boardwalk were widely felt to be special, not only for the wonderful views towards the lighthouse but because of its location right next to the beach, and were habitually given five-stars by those who attended them.

“Local people are already experiencing a sense of loss after the summary closure of this unique amenity.”

Following their official complaint to the authority, campaigners are now hoping to raise the issue with the Local Ombudsman.

Mrs Swanson added: “We wish North Tyneside Council to halt the demolition of the Boardwalk until plans for the north promenade have been completed and ‘shared’ with the electorate, so that the public can be fully consulted.

“Should the council agree to defer demolition until after publication of the plans for the north promenade, we will be happy to withdraw our complaint.”

Councillors were told that the current cafe is a poor quality 1970s building; it is not a listed property and has no architectural or historic importance.

Mayor Norma Redfearn told the meeting: “It is clear from talking to people from all parts of North Tyneside, and listening to their views that they are clearly supportive of the council’s plans to regenerate the coast, but they want to see work progress more quickly – they want us to get on with it.

“The demolition of the Boardwalk Cafe is a necessary and essential first step to opening up the Northern Promenade area and unlocking the improvements to Whitley Bay seafront that residents are expecting.

Conservative councillors expressed their dismay that Labour members supported the demolition without any consultation.

Group leader Coun Judith Wallace said: “There is an unseemly haste to demolish this café. We’re told that there will be a Master Plan prepared for consultation on the Whitley Bay sea front, and we welcome that.

“However, this café, which is a long standing part of the area, will be demolished now, before the consultation, so residents are effectively being prevented from giving opinions on having a café here.

“The intended Kiosk replacement, open only a few months a year and subject to the elements, is a backward step.

“The excuse that the demolition will improve the view is ludicrous; I’ve never had a single resident or visitor complain that their view is blocked.”

Campaigners also filmed the meeting, with the videos quickly going viral on YouTube securing thousands of hits within a few days.