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Weymouth angling club members vow to fight authority on plan to demolish harbour building
FURIOUS anglers have vowed to fight council proposals to demolish their harbourside club house and build a car park.
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.
A report to a meeting of Weymouth and Portland Borough Council’s harbour management board on October 21 recommends that the club is refused a new lease when the current deal expires in March 2014.
The report 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.
The 113-year-old club – the oldest sea angling society in the country – has been based on the site since 1974.
Society chairman Billy Short said he was fuming.
“What really gripes is that they say the club is not of any benefit to the community.
“We have three to four different elderly groups which use the club house on a weekly basis plus four darts teams, a pool team and a local diving club as well as the Dorchester and district freshwater angling society.
“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.
“People also hire the hall for parties.”
The club says that they get 1,000 anglers a month just to fish but it is also a base for major national and European competitions and events but also has a thriving junior section with about 70 members.
It says that restaurant, bed and breakfasts, hotels and local businesses benefit locally.
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.”
The council report says that the use of the house is not compatible with the latest draft of the local plan for the town centre which favours mixed-use development with an active waterside access to the wider community.
It adds that a higher revenue stream could be generated from the site.
Former Weymouth councillor Andy Hutchings, chairman of the Weymouth Area Senior Forum, said he was angry at the proposals.
He said: “I am not happy about these plans.
“The forum meets at the club and it is a great asset to the borough. It is a great central meeting point and if it were to be demolished it would be a sad loss.”
The meeting is on Monday October 21 at 10am at the council offices.
Council aims to tear down HQ to build a car park
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 proposals.
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