Council urged to approve wheel

by Nigel Brown Apr 05 2021 0     1,465
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April 5, 2021

 

The owners of Clacton Pier have urged Tendring Council to give the go ahead to their plans for an observation wheel.

They feel the new attraction will provide a valuable addition to the community as well as help protect the future viability of the 150-year-old heritage asset.

And they made it clear that they have not opposed the wheel at the nearby Clacton Pavilion, which they believe will also boost the town’s tourism economy.

Managing director Billy Ball claims that the Pier’s project is vital to its ongoing sustainability and will provide further investment in the 6.5acre site.

He said he has put forward a strong case to support the application for the wheel which is due to be decided by the council.

“The Pier has continuously evolved and developed throughout the decades as an amusement and entertainment venue,” added Mr Ball. “The current application seeks to continue this trend for what is the largest Pier in Europe.

“The size and scale of the Pier is both its biggest opportunity and its biggest burden. Modern day maintenance costs are not commensurate with the level of income that is readily achievable, so continual investment in new attractions which increase revenue is key to fighting these rising costs.”

Mr Ball said that when he and his brother, Elliot, bought the attraction in 2009 it was in a very precarious state of repair. They soon realised it would be necessary to plough significant money into the site to attract the visitors who would provide that income.

“It has enabled us to further invest in areas which have suffered from decades of neglect and our annual footfall has grown to almost one million people a year,” he added.

“We directly employ almost 200 staff during the peak summer months, with a full-time team in excess of 75, making us a significant employer in the district.”

Mr Ball emphasised that investment must continue, and the offer improved to ensure the Pier remains for future generations. He feels the proposed wheel will be another step towards achieving that goal.

“The income derived will also contribute towards recovery from the economic damage caused by Covid 19 in what is a critical year for British seaside resorts and Clacton Pier.”

Mr Ball said that observation wheels appeal to all age groups and are one of the few attractions enjoyed by children, parents, grandparents and even great grandparents alike.

He added the wheel, like the rest of the pier, will be a focal point for community events.

“Alongside our free community fireworks displays, charitable works and events, fundraising efforts and the hundreds of free days out we give away to good causes each year, it will provide further opportunity for this kind of activity,” said Mr Ball. “As directors and owners, we feel a huge responsibility towards the Pier and the community it serves.”

Mr Ball said the Pier has no objection to the Pavilion’s wheel as competition is healthy and stimulates the drive and ambition of operators to achieve even higher standards – which is good for the town.

“All and any investment in Clacton’s tourism sector is most welcome and has to be encouraged and embraced – even if it means two wheels,” he added. “It will require that continued investment to keep our vital attractions alive.”

Ends

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