Anglers were celebrating today after the Weymouth Harbour Management Board rejected Council 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.
The club issued a legal challenge to the Council to renew its lease after rumours of the demolition plans emerged, on the advice of its solicitor. Club officials spent the weekend briefing all the Councillors involved and presented economic figures to demonstrate that the proposals would actually cost the Council more than they would save.
The Angling Trust highlighted news of the threat to the club’s future to its members last Friday and hundreds of anglers from all over the world contacted Councillors by e-mail over the weekend to let them know their concerns about the proposals to evict the club. An e-petition has now been launched at http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/save-weymouth-angling-society/ and all anglers are encouraged to add their voice to ensure the club is saved.
About 20 club members and representatives of other voluntary organisations which use the building attended the meeting 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.
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.
Billy Short, Chairman of Weymouth Angling Club said: “Club members helped build this club house with their own hands back in 1974. Since then we have invested in new disabled access and many other modernisations. I am delighted that the club’s future at this site looks set to be secure for another 10 years, and I know this will be a relief for a wide range of community groups who share the centre with us. We are very grateful to anglers from all over the world, and to the Angling Trust, for supporting us at this time. The club’s officials have done a brilliant job to protect the club from some barmy proposals.”
Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive of the Angling Trust, attended the meeting to support the club and said afterwards: “It is 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 very grateful to all the Angling Trust members who contacted Councillors over the weekend; it was great to see anglers of all disciplines uniting to support other members at a time of need. We will be maintaining the pressure on the Council until November 5th to make sure that the club can continue to use the headquarters it has used for the past 40 years.”