This week has, for me, been dominated by the fight to save Weymouth Angling Club’s clubhouse in the heart of Weymouth Harbour. Last Saturday I wrote here and to our members about the need for anglers to contact Councillors in Weymouth to let them know of their disgust about plans to bulldozer this building with nearly 40 years of history as a centre for club, national and international competitions. The Council wanted to expand the number of car parking spaces, just 100 yards away from a multi-storey car park that is never full. The response was phenomenal and Councillors were bombarded with e-mails from all over the country and in fact as far afield as Australia.
About 20 club members and representatives of other voluntary organisations which use the building attended a meeting of the Harbour Management Board, including several of those Councillors, on Monday and most took the opportunity to speak for 3 minutes each at the meeting. Weymouth’s Mayor Ray Banham spoke passionately in opposition to the proposals and said that they should never have been brought to the Board in the first place. Several Councillors backed him up and many expressed their anger and frustration that officers had brought this proposal to them. It was clear that the e-mail campaign, and the hard work of the club officials to brief Councillors over the weekend, had worked.
The Harbour Management Board rejected the Council’s proposals to demolish the Weymouth Angling Club’s harbour-side club house and instead voted for an amendment that should see the Club given a new 10 year lease and a secure future. However, this revised proposal will now go forward to another meeting attended by other Councillors on November the 5th and so there is no guarantee that it will be adopted.
Please help by signing the e-petition at http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/save-weymouth-angling-society/ to ensure the clubhouse is saved.
Several Team England anglers and successful charter boat skippers over the years have learnt to fish at the club and some of its 70 junior members are currently involved with the Angling Trust’s Talent Pathway, which aims to identify future England anglers. The Clubhouse has been the headquarters of numerous national competitions, as well as European and World Championships in recent years, because of the facilities it offers to anglers.
It was built in1974 with assistance from grants from the Sports Council (£4650), Dorset County Council (£2000), a loan from the local council (£3,000, paid back by the club with interest), and £3,000 of the club’s own funds.
I think it’s amazing that the Council in Weymouth could even have considered demolishing such a successful and vibrant club that not only plays a vital role at the heart of the local community, but is also recognised as the unofficial centre of national and international sea angling. We are investing millions of pounds of government money nationwide in improving angling for the future, and it is unbelievable when local Councils come up with bone-headed ideas like demolishing a flourishing community centre to make way for a car park!
We need to fight battles like this up and down the country so that we can protect angling in all its forms. Please become a member of the Angling Trust & Fish Legal to help us do this vital work. You can now join for just £2.50 a month here: http://www.anglingtrust.net/join or by phoning 01568 620447 during office hours.