Councillors clash over plans for ten new chalets costing £150,000

Coun Peter Murphy, Councillor Ruth Duff and the previous round of new beach huts in Fleetwood. Coun Peter Murphy, Councillor Ruth Duff and the previous round of new beach huts in Fleetwood.
Coun Peter Murphy, Councillor Ruth Duff and the previous round of new beach huts in Fleetwood. Coun Peter Murphy, Councillor Ruth Duff and the previous round of new beach huts in Fleetwood.
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Furious Fleetwood councillors have vowed to fight plans for 10 new beach chalets in the town despite failing to halt the proposals at a hearing this week.

The town’s Labour group are angry that Wyre Council is planning to use surplus cash from the £1.5m Five for Fleetwood scheme to build 10 new chalets at a cost of £150,000.

Coun Peter Murphy

Coun Peter Murphy

They argue the money should instead be used to finish off some of the actual Five For Fleetwood schemes, including the town’s skate park which is just a bowl, but was expected to have additional features for younger children.

There is also anger at the proposed siting of the new chalets – among the colonnades in the Marine 
Gardens.

After Wyre’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee voted to accept the chalet scheme on Monday night and send it onto cabinet for approval, angry Fleetwood councillor Ruth Duffy – who had called in the proposals to get the plans looked at again – blasted: “It’s disgusting that out-of-town councillors are deciding what happens in our town when people don’t want it.”

While the port’s Wyre councillors vowed to fight on, a new campaign, the #FINISH5, was also launched by a Fleetwood Town Council member Coun Mary Stirzaker, aimed at mobilising port residents to fight the beach hut plans before they go to cabinet.

It’s disgusting that out-of-town councillors are deciding what happens in our town when people don’t want it

Wyre Council insists the chalet scheme will improve that part of Fleetwood seafront, attract visitors to the area and raise vital revenue for other projects.

Coun Michael Vincent, chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee returned after the call-in was rejected and said: “The vote was not unanimous and there is sympathy for the views of Fleetwood residents but as a council we need to raise revenue which can ensure money is spent on the buildings we own - in Fleetwood and Wyre.”

He later added: “The beach chalet scheme will raise money that can ensure projects like a new roof the the Marine Hall and a new roof for Fleetwood Market can be built.

“Without it the council could be looking at a black hole. In an ideal world we could afford all these schemes but this is the reality.”

Councillor Ruth Duffy

Councillor Ruth Duffy

The original Five For Fleetwood project, with money coming from the Coastal Communities Fund (CCF), consisted of work on the Euston Gardens, the splash pad, the skate park, the boating lake and also an ecology zone.

At the start of the meeting, Labour councillors gave a short slide show presentation, showing areas of the Five For Fleetwood scheme which were still unfinished.

They pointed out that concrete aprons around the boating lake were still incomplete, picnic tables and shading canopies for the splash pad had not been delivered and that the original skate park plans had not been delivered due to an apparent lack of funds.

Coun Duffy, who was one of several non-committee members who spoke at the meeting, said: “This is not a reflection of the hard work by officers in securing the CCF money, but it is about what has happened since.

“There is £175,000 left and it is immoral to spend that on beach chalets. They should finish the original schemes. There has been no community engagement for the people of Fleetwood.”

At the meeting Coun Ron Shewan, who addressed the hearing by argued that the colannades at the Marine Gardens were iconic and to build the beach chalets there was an “attrocious” idea.

Fleetwood Town Council is opposed to the beach chalet plans and issued a statement, read out at the call-in hearing, stating it was disappointed at the “absolute lack of consultation” regarding the proposal.

Afterwards Fleetwood Town Coun member, Coun Mary Stirzaker, said: “I believe Fleetwood people would rather have the Five For Fleetwood schemes finished than 10 beach chalets which will only benefit a few people.

“Wyre Council should finish the job and I am urging Fleetwood people to send as many #FINISH5 tweets as possible. We want Fleetwood people to let Wyre Council know how they feel before this beach bungalow scheme goes to the cabinet.”

And Coun Norah Stuchfield said: “As a Fleetwood Town councillor, I’m upset and disgusted that the Fleetwood council has not been involved in the consultation process.

“Wyre council talks about building stronger relationships with town and parish councils, but it has not happened here.”

Coun Peter Murphy, planning and economic portfolio holder at Wyre Council, later said: “We have not just left the Five For Fleetwood schemes unfinished. Some work is still on-going at the boating lake but will be completed.

“As for the skate park, we had a designated sum of £100,000 to spend on it and have actually exceeded that, spending £136,000m based on designs young people wanted.”

A Wyre Council spokesman said quotes would have to be obtained for the scheme before it could go before cabinet.