Fresh calls are being made for Whitley Bay to have its own town council.
Angry residents have hit out after North Tyneside Council’s planning committee approved plans to demolish the 90-year-old Central Lower Promenade.
We’re now looking to go ahead as fast as we can to try and get a town council goingGillian Swanson
Around 3,000 people signed a petition against the proposals, but committee members voted four to three in favour of the plans.
Members of the campaign group ‘A New Beginning’ have criticised the decision as the four who voted in favour all represented wards in the centre or west of the borough, while the three who objected live at the coast.
Campaigner Gillian Swanson said: “Not one councillor who voted for the plans lived in Whitley Bay yet their vote has decided that our promenade must go.
“We put a lot of work into our case yet the decision appeared to have been decided beforehand.
“We’re now looking to go ahead as fast as we can to try and get a town council going.
“The council we’ve got does not speak for Whitley Bay.
“It’s a farce. The council make you go through all these procedures then ignore you.
“The promenade is the fabric of the town.
“If we can get a town council set-up then we’re hoping it will be politically neutral, just made up of local residents and businesses.”
The £3.35m plans for the Central Lower Promenade will see sea defences improved with a new sea wall constructed but the retail units demolished.
A sloping grass verge will be created down to the sea wall to improve the appearance of the area.
A report to the committee said the retail units do not comply with current building standards and have remained unused for a decade.
It added that the whole Central Promenade is reaching the end of its useful life and potentially poses a significant health and safety risk.
But Mrs Swanson added: “The retail units on the promenade have been neglected by the council for years.
“There have been businesses who have asked to rent them over the last ten years but been refused by the council.
“It’s almost as if the council wanted to let them run down so they can demolish it.”
However, a council spokesperson said: “The council and its partners have invested considerable time and effort into developing the Whitley Bay Seafront Master Plan.
“We have worked closely with residents and businesses to seek their views and develop a vision that can make residents of the town and the wider borough proud of their coastal area.
“As a result of the detailed work undertaken we have a real and deliverable Master Plan with an investment of more than £36m of public and private funding – this will secure the coast’s future and help build the tourism economy that is so important to so many of the borough’s businesses.
“The re-shaping of the Central Lower Promenade is an essential part of that plan and will create an effective and attractive defence which will support the road above, as well as fit with the wider Master Plan ambitions.
“It is necessary to move forward and put in place sea defences which are fit for purpose because the current promenade is beyond its useful life.
“We have worked within viable options and available funding in designing the new sea defences wall.
“The Planning Committee is a statutory body that has made decisions on developments at the promenade in the interests of all residents based on sound planning guidance and requirements.
“Now that we have planning permission we want to push ahead and begin working on this exciting multi million pound scheme that will regenerate the coastal area and give Whitley Bay a stunning seafront for future generations to enjoy.”