Around 60 people attended a public meeting in Skegness last week to discuss ways to rescue the threatened pavilion building in the town’s Tower Gardens.
The inaugural meeting, held in the Grand Central complex on Friday, was guest chaired by Skegness Town and East Lindsey District Cllr Phil Kemp, along with the group’s unofficial spokesperson, Paul Stone, with eight other members making up the board, predominantly members of the ‘Save The Inn on the Park’, Facebook group.
The main purpose of the meeting was outlined as ‘formalising’ the roles of each member of the committee and Phil Kemp began the meeting by declaring the group’s stance on wanting to save the Victorian building. He declaring: “We don’t want to lose any more historical buildings.” However, he reminded the group of the huge task they had ahead of them.
The board members and public shared a number of ideas for the use of the building, such as: tea rooms/cafe, a youth centre/play area, art gallery, museum, a venue for amateur dramatics, educational purposes and/or weddings and enlisting help from the coast’s Centrica windfarm, among others.
Unofficial spokesperson for the group, Paul Stone, highlighting the group’s wishes for the building, said: “Whatever its use, it has got to serve the whole community.”
The meeting discussed utilising the help of charities who already use the park.
Cllr Phil Kemp said: “The Tower Gardens has become less used by the community, but there are ways I’m sure we can bring it back into use.”
He stressed the need to make use of the park and added: “If we can make the pavilion work, there’s a good chance the Tower Gardens could get a makeover”.
In summary, Cllr Kemp said: “Whatever it becomes, it needs to make money straight from the off.”
Skegness and District Cllr Steve O’Dare reminded the group that the District Council is not looking for £300,000, but a “viable proposition” for the building.
He also stated that previous amounts of money quoted for the restoration of the building were for other projects.
“The £900,000 was Lincolnshire County Council’s estimate for a complete library with computers, not to bring the building back into use.”
“Don’t worry about the fact you need £300,000”, he added.
Cllr O’Dare also said there was room for the three month extension to be increased and that to demolish the building in the summer months would be “illogical.”
However, he added that the committee needed to act “very, very quickly” if the district council were to agree to give the building back to the community.
In reaction to this point, Margaret Spence, who worked in the Tower Gardens Pavilion for 12 years, said: “Well they should do, it’s our money they’re spending.”
Cllr O’Dare said: “The building has been standing for 135 years, but it hasn’t been a community building for a long time. There may be money in the pot from the district council, but the need to work and negotiate with the district council is very important.”
In addition, he also allayed fears of the building’s imminent demolition, saying, after speaking to the property manager at East Lindsey District Council (ELDC), that: “there have been no plans to knock it down.”
Following a report commissioned by ELDC, Phil Kemp explained that an environmental study had confirmed the presence of asbestos in some of the building’s roofing panels.
Clr Kemp said: “As a group, we need to realise we’re amateurs at this, but with the current enthusiasm I’ve seen here, with proper guidance, it can’t really fail, and the overall winner will be Skegness.”
More details, such as the group’s official name are to be finalised in the next committee meeting, which is scheduled for this Friday.