When news happens get involved. Send your pictures, views and video to us by text and email
Appeal for quickfire handover of Pavilion
‘GET on with it’ – that’s the message to council chiefs from campaigners who fear Weymouth Pavilion could be boarded up this summer.
There is joy after Weymouth and Portland Borough Council made the historic decision to hand the venue over for the community to run, saving it from the bulldozers and releasing it from local authority control.
But there is concern how long the handover will take.
As well as managing staff redundancies, the council is organising a tendering process so it can invite bids for the lease, a drawn-out procedure which could continue well past the Pavilion’s scheduled closure date of May 31.
A timetable prepared for councillors suggests the new lease could begin between July and September.
Frontrunner for taking the Pavilion over is likely to be Weymouth businessman Phil Say whose wants to run it as a community interest company.
He is supported by many user groups and the 5,000-strong ‘Friends’.
Mr Say said the decision by the council on Thursday night was ‘momentous’.
But he added: “I’m keen to avoid any protracted closure after the end of May.
“I realise it may have to close for legal reasons but a lengthy closure would cost taxpayers’ money and would not benefit the new incumbent.
“If it was boarded up it would be bad publicity.
“It would send out the wrong message to locals and visitors. There’s also the practical side of it as you don’t want to leave a building empty.”
Mr Say welcomed debate at the meeting demonstrating there was a will to get things moving.
“The pressure is now on officers to produce, to not make it too cumbersome and to ensure a smooth handover.”
Alderman Peter Rendall told the meeting a prolonged closure would create the wrong impression if security guards and dogs were seen patrolling round it all summer.
He suggested bringing the Pavilion ‘back to life’ would be expensive and might put new owners off. Council tourism spokesman Ian Bruce said the council wanted to avoid a lengthy closure.
He suggested at the meeting that ‘pop up’ businesses might use the building while it is closed.
He said after the meeting that the council could move on the Pavilion ‘a lot faster than officers are suggesting’.
But he said it was important negotiations took place with staff to ensure their rights are protected.