Group calls for ‘Coastal Council’ to lead on plans

The road junction at Spanish City which was re-routed.

The road junction at Spanish City which was re-routed.

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Fresh calls are being made for a new ‘coast council’ to be created to lead the regeneration in Whitley Bay and surrounding areas.

Residents are angry at the lack of local input for plans to redevelop the coastline from Cullercoats to St Mary’s Island.

Campaign group ‘A New Beginning’ say North Tyneside Council has wasted money in the town, and have hit out at the lack of consultation or public meetings on plans to demolish the Central Lower Promenade.

Officials at the group say the town has been hit with unwanted projects such as the demolition of Coquet Park and Marine Park first schools, the re-routing of the coastal road cutting off Rainbow Corner from the Dome, and the construction of the plaza which will be empty most of the year.

Gillian Swanson, of the group, said: “With such evidence of council officials’ poor financial priorities before us, it is clearly imperative that the electorate be given the opportunity to examine the full range of construction, and demolition, proposals, and the corresponding expenditure entailed, before any particular option is selected or any public resources committed.

“We believe that accountability and a proper allocation of resources can best be achieved by electing a Coast Council which would insist on the primary importance of properly maintaining our infrastructure, to vet any plans for Whitley Bay, Cullercoats and Tynemouth at the feasibility stage; and to veto any suggestions which did not fit in with the ‘vision’ of coastal residents, rather than that of unelected officials.”

They also said the council’s consultation process on alternate plans to demolish the lower promenade was “not fit for purpose”.

Mrs Swanson added: “The assumption appears to be that the electorate includes no engineers, architects, planners, accountants, or any other professionals with sufficient expertise to double check the council’s proposals.

“There are plenty of well-educated people outside Quadrant who would be in a position to advise the public, allowing them to come to an informed decision.

“We know from speaking to people on the streets of Whitley Bay, that the overwhelming majority of us are tired of seeing our town fall into disrepair while money is wasted on grandiose schemes which are either unwanted, or come to nothing, but our petitions will simply be brushed aside.

“What we need is a means of speaking with an authoritative voice on behalf of the coastal towns.”

The group is now hoping to receive backing from ten per cent of the electorate in coastal wards for a ‘transparent and accountable self-government’ but say they are confident of getting 50 per cent backing.

A council spokesperson said: “North Tyneside is the destination of choice for around 5.8 million visitors each year, bringing £268m into the borough and supporting around 4,000 jobs.

“Our new Whitley Bay Seafront Master Plan will see more than £36m invested to reinvigorate the area from St Mary’s Lighthouse to Cullercoats.

“We have consulted with many people, from all parts of North Tyneside, and listened to their views. They are very supportive of our plans and want to see work progress quickly.

“When all our work is complete, Whitley Bay will have a seafront to be proud of. As well as the stunning coastline and views it will have exceptional facilities that will attract more business, more investment and more visitors to North Tyneside and the region as a whole.”

For more on ‘A New Beginning’ view their Facebook page