THE sale of the seafront chalets in Weymouth will be debated again after a petition with nearly 1,000 signatures was presented to Weymouth and Portland Borough Council.
Organised by local campaigner Geraldine Owen, the petition has now amassed 903 signatures and Mrs Owen and the petition’s supporters presented the document to Adam Kellock, democratic service officer at the council’s offices on Friday, May 9, pictured below.
The sell-off is now set to be debated again at the next full council meeting on June 5.
The borough council announced plans in November 2013 to sell off Greenhill chalets, Esplanade chalets, the Greenhill Play gardens and chalets, the Greenhill toilets and the associated facilities for a 125-year tender.
A consultation was held last month highlighting key factors such as a reported corrosion of the steel reinforcement to the Esplanade Chalets which require an estimated £885,000 worth of remedial works.
People from as far away as New Zealand, USA and Canada who holiday in Weymouth have signed the petition and Mrs Owen said: “I was surprised with the amount of people who signed the petition.
“What is interesting is I have managed to get signatures from a small proportion of a community through posting it on the internet. A lot of people didn’t know the consultation was open and then when they did they backed the petition.
“I understand why the council have done it, because money is tight and things need to be prioritised but our fear is once development takes place you can’t turn that back.
“It’s an attraction for tourists because it’s a quiet part of town and local residents use it, young families use it. It’s a public asset.”
If the sell-off is approved, the council would put the facilities on the market in July.
The gardens were originally part of the Wilton Estate and were gifted to the council in 1902 “for the benefit of the inhabitants of Weymouth.”
Greg Northcote, Weymouth & Portland Borough Council head of estates said: “We are aware of a petition that has been set up. If the petition and signatures are valid then it will be discussed at full council on 5 June.
“The public has a right to have their say but this petition does not resolve the problem of how to fund repairs needed to the concrete chalets.
“We are currently looking for solutions to fund, maintain and operate the chalets and associated facilities without using taxpayers' money.”