Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Seafront Protesters Rally against Old Balustrades

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Seafront Protesters Rally against Old Balustrades

Article excerpt

Byline: Tony Henderson Environment Editor tony.henderson@ncjmedia.co.uk

ANOTHER 'SOB' story has surfaced in an ongoing series of controversies over the future of a town's seafront.

The Save Our Balustrades (SOB) movement is the latest protest about North Tyneside Council's plans for Whitley Bay.

A scheme to demolish the town's central lower promenade as part of a scheme to strengthen sea defences has already come under fire by campaigners.

Now they are pleading for the retention of a stretch of seafront balustrades along the promenade area where the work will take place.

They claim that council plans to replace the concrete sculpted balustrades with metal railings will detract from the character of the seafront.

Opponents of the scheme held a protest at the balustrades and handed out 600 leaflets to passersby. Caz Lamb and Brenda Sokell are among the leaders of the protest.

Ms Lamb, who runs the North East Coastal Chums community website, said that there were 453 balustrades on the stretch from near the Rex Hotel to near the Spanish City Dome.

She said an inspection had shown that only four were badly damaged and 10 were cracked but the rest were in good order.

The protesters, who fear that metal railings will become rusty and unsightly, have contacted Historic England in a bid to have the balustrades listed.

"The balustrades have an architectural look and we want to retain something of the character of Whitley Bay," said Ms Lamb. "They would not take a huge amount of work to repair and everybody we have spoken to is absolutely against their removal. They are aghast.

"The balustrades are in sections and could be removed during the promenade demolition work and then returned. We were shocked when we heard that they are to be taken down."

The latest protest also follows a row over the council's demolition of the Boardwalk Cafe on Watts Slope as part of its seafront improvement masterplan. A spokesperson for North Tyneside Council said: "We note that a small number of people demonstrated against the proposals for the Central Lower Promenade. As an authority we have had many more people encouraging us to get on with the delivery of the PS36m master plan for Whitley Bay that will secure the long-term future of Whitley Bay and its seafront through a co-ordinated regeneration plan for the sea front. …

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