With boos, hisses and rounds of applause, last night’s Town Hall proceedings at times resembled a pantomime more than they did a council meeting.
Angry Skegness councillors stormed out in protest as an unrelenting public speaker refused to be silenced until he was eventually asked to leave - at the height of the drama, Inspector Andy Morrice was even called upon to calm the situation.
Taking the villainous lead in this farcical comedy was Barratt Court, an extra care facility, which its neighbouring residents were there to complain about.
Tony Mariconda, a spokesperson for the residents, told councillors they ‘should all be ashamed for voting for it’.
“Shame on you,” he shouted, as several left the chambers.
Mr Mariconda described the four storey building on Lyndhurst Avenue, Skegness, as a ‘monstrosity’ that ‘dwarfed everything around it’.
He claimed 32 objections had been submitted against its planning application and questioned how a development so widely opposed could have ever been passed.
But when the furious speaker refused to relent after his allotted three minutes was up, the meeting was adjourned and several councillors left the chambers.
Later, when they returned to discuss the matter under standing orders, shouts from the public gallery again disrupted the meeting and this time Coun Neil Cooper left for good.
“I’ve had enough,” he said.
Coun Robin Hunter-Clarke, who raised the motion on the residents’ behalf, called on councillors to ‘let the public be heard’ and said he sympathised with their view.
“It is a monstrosity and the people who voted for it should be ashamed,” he said.
The 40 bed facility, which is now nearing completion, has provoked major resentment among the neighbouring residents ever since it began to take shape.
Some claim the development has caused their property to plummet in value by as much as £15,000, while others say its looming profile has taken their light away.
It was proposed in partnership between New Linx Housing Trust, East Lindsey District Council, Lincolnshire County Council and the Homes and Communities Agency, to offer first class care, meeting the needs of Skegness’s elderly and infirm.
Coun Sid Dennis told the meeting that Barratt Court would provide something the town needed and called for those opposing it to find a way forward.
“For some people it is a monstrosity, but for others it is something great that will be used by people less fortunate than ourselves and therefore the common good,” he said.
“We have what we have, it’s not getting knocked down, but with the help of the developer and New Linx I think we can mitigate the situation and that’s the best we can hope for.”
At a previous meeting, New Linx had agreed to look into certain concessions, such as window alterations, to preserve the privacy the neighbours said they would lose to the rows of balconies looking down,
Mr Mariconda, speaking afterwards, pointed out that these proposals were only being ‘considered’ and could quite easily be revoked.
He said he would take the matter to the highest level and would not be satisfied until the building was either torn down or the aggrieved residents compensated amply.
Further concerns had been raised on both sides about the construction company, which will be reported once Carter Homes replies.