Thousands of people have backed calls to save a promenade from demolition.
Angry residents have hit out at plans by North Tyneside Council to demolish the lower central promenade at Whitley Bay.
What people repeatedly told us was that they wanted some life restored to the central seafront.Gillian Swanson, of A New Beginning
More than 1,500 people have backed an online petition calling for the structures to be saved and utilised for the benefit of the seafront and the town.
The empty units have been earmarked for demolition as part of the council’s ‘masterplan’ for the seafront due to the costs involved, with one proposal drawn up involving creating a new green space leading down to the beach.
However, some have criticised the proposal as it could be a health risk which would not conform with the Disability Discrimination Act.
Now members of the campaign group ‘A New Beginning’ have called on the authority to hold a public meeting to discuss the plans.
Group member Gillian Swanson said: “Mayor Norma Redfearn claims that the majority of residents are happy with the council’s ‘masterplan’ for Whitley Bay and is confident the ‘minority of dissenters’ will change their minds when the package has been ‘delivered’.
“She should, perhaps, venture out onto the streets of Whitley Bay to consult directly with those she was elected to represent.
“Most people we spoke to were not even aware that the Central Promenade was under sentence of death.
“When told about the proposed demolition, all but a handful of those we spoke to were eager to sign our petition.
“What people repeatedly told us was that they wanted some life restored to the central seafront.”
The group, who failed to save the Boardwalk cafe from demolition, say the council has ignored cheaper options for the promenade which would have more public support.
A council spokesperson said: “The Central Lower Promenade forms an essential part of our sea defences at Whitley Bay. English Heritage has confirmed that the 1930s structure, is not of any heritage value.
“Our sea defences now require substantial investment to ensure they are fit for purpose for the foreseeable future.
“The scheme proposed is a sustainable solution that will last at least 120 years and compliments the wider regeneration plans for the seafront, forming part of our exciting £36m masterplan for Whitley Bay.
“The decision to proceed with the proposed scheme was taken in 2011 and was agreed as part of the budget setting process.
“When considering options, consideration was given to the urgent need to invest in our sea defences, the requirement to protect a Northumbria Water main sewer along this location, the overall regeneration plans for this area, and the financial envelope available for the scheme.
“The proposals have featured in our Coastal Defence Strategy approved by cabinet in 2007 and are included in our Whitley Bay masterplan approved by cabinet this month.
“They were also included in a public display as part of the masterplan engagement events held in Whitley Bay last year.
“The final plans for the Central Lower Promenade will be considered as part of the statutory planning process that enables all residents to comment and they are available on the council’s website for public viewing.”