Sandstorm! Row breaks out over future of Wellingborough's beach
This year's Wellingborough beach event will '˜hopefully' still go ahead, despite a row between its organisers and the borough council.
Wellingborough BID wants to host the popular summer party outside Castello Lounge, but the council says it must be held in the market event area to avoid damaging historic mosaics.
BID executive director John Cable says his group would be happy to insure the mosaics.
He said: “The council has given us several reasons as to why it doesn’t want the Wellingborough beach set up outside Castello Lounge, but we have counter-arguments for all the issues put forward.
“There will categorically not be any damage to the mosaic, and we’re so confident about this we’re prepared to even insure against it.
“There was no increased market trade in 2016 when the beach was in the event space and, in Market Street, it would be easily visible to passers-by who may not have known the beach was on.
The much-loved beach was situated outside the Castello Lounge for its first three years, where the BID team say it attracted thousands of extra visitors to the town centre.
But in recent years the free pop-up event has been relocated to a number of different sites.
Cllr Graham Lawman, chairman of Wellingborough Council’s Market Working Party, said they will use Section 106 money to hold an event even if BID withdraws over the location row.
He said: “If the BID feel unable to support the beach this year then the council are keen to step in and ensure that a summer event, hopefully a beach, goes ahead to avoid disappointment.
“This can be done through the use of monies recently secured from developers through a Section 106 agreement for town centre events, aimed at supporting the vitality and viability of the town centre.
“The BID were made aware of this funding when applying to hold the beach 2018 outside the Castello Lounge and we offered to provide funding and work with the BID and Wellingborough Norse to help promote the beach 2018, in addition to putting in place a range of additional activities for the people of the borough to enjoy throughout the year.
“It is unfortunate that, to date, the BID have not accepted this offer.”
The council says there are already signs of damage to the five wells mosaics and it does not wish for this deterioration to continue.
It says about £27,000 was spent on the mosaics in 2015 to repair weather damage and wear and tear from vehicles.
A council statement added that the mosaics are not designed to take the wear from traffic, increased footfall or the set-up of fairground attractions and vehicles, which is the main reason for the change of venue, alongside moving away from the main road.
Mr Cable said they feel ‘let down’ by the decision.
He said: “All our events have a 100 per cent safety record, including our Christmas lights switch-on event, which largely takes place outside Castello Lounge.
“The safety of all our visitors is of the utmost concern.
“All we want is to find the very best site for our tremendous Wellingborough beach, which brings the sun and sand to people who may not be able to make a trip to the seaside.
“We feel very let down by the council’s decision and strongly believe it will harm the town’s visitor numbers.”
Should Wellingborough Council use Section 106 funds for this year’s event, it would be a one-off.
The council would then have to consider how summer events in the town centre can be supported in future years.
The BID is now asking members of the public for their thoughts on where this year’s Wellingborough Beach should be held.
A single question survey has been developed to gather people’s opinions and can be accessed online at: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/HW93BBH