UPDATE: More than 1,000 people sign petition against plans to demolish angling club (From Thisisdorset)
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UPDATE: More than 1,000 people sign petition against plans to demolish angling club
5:10am Monday 21st October 2013 in Latest
A PETITION set up to fight for the future of Weymouth Angling Society has been backed by more than 1,000 people.
Weymouth and Portland Borough Council is considering knocking down the club and turning the area into a car park to boost its coffers.
The council maintain proposals to refuse to renew the club's lease will allow it to generate a greater financial return from the site.
The proposal goes to the council's management board today which will decide whether to forward it on to the council's management committee.
Furious anglers have vowed to fight council proposals to demolish their harbourside club house and launched the petition against the proposals.
Comments on the petition condemn the local authority for being short-sighted and many claim that the move would be detrimental to the town's economy despite the council's assertion to the contrary.
The petition states: “Not content with shedding the Pavilion and the hugely important tourist information centre, the council now wish to disassociate the area from angling, the largest participation sport in the country.
“It is estimated that visiting anglers contribute more than £500,000 a year in trade towards local businesses.
“Compare this to additional car parking revenue of an estimated £45,000 before the costs of demolition and rebuilding and there is a massive shortfall.
“Without a doubt, the income from visiting anglers will not drop by half a million pounds, but as each additional block of the Weymouth tourist industry is stripped away, the need for additional car parking space will be reduced, as visitor numbers plummet resulting in an even bigger revenue loss for the town.”
The council says ideas for the future of the site to maximise income could include a car park and that it has to get the possible return from the site.
The report recommends that the club is refused a new lease when the current deal expires in March 2014.
It adds says that an alternative use of the building would produce a more attractive return to the council with the most favourable use in the short term being car parking.
But members of Weymouth Angling Society warned that up to £200,000 a year could be lost to the local economy if they are turfed out of the premises on Commercial Road.
The 113-year-old club - the oldest sea angling society in the country - has been based on the site since 1974.
It is also used by local community groups including the Weymouth Area Senior Forum which holds its regular meetings at the club.
Society chairman Billy Short said he now feared for the future of the club if the building was demolished.
“Weymouth has been voted the number one charter port for the past four to five years. There are 20-odd charter boats with 10 anglers each. That is hundreds every week.
“They pay £7.20 for a day's parking. There is revenue coming in every weekend.
Mr Short said: “I do fear for the future of the club.
“If the worse comes to the worse we will meet in a local pub but it is a ridiculous concept for a club which has 400 members.”
Visit ipetitions.com/petition/save-weymouth-angling-society/ for more details.
The council's case
THE council report's stated purpose is: “To obtain members' approval to terminate the lease of the angling club, in order that the council can obtain vacant possession, demolish the building and convert the site to surface car parking.”
Members are asked to make a recommendation to the council's management committee that a new lease be refused and that the licence for the nearby pontoon be terminated so that it can be let at a commercial annual fee.
The angling society last leased the premises in March 2004 for a subsidised rent of £4,500 per annum.
The council would be required to pay the club compensation at twice the rateable value of the premises if it refuses the application for a new lease - about £15,000.
The report says that members could consider an option to give the club a longer period to find a new home. Another option could be to re-let the building which would produce a marginally higher rent or pursue more financially attractive
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