Spanish City boss claims traffic changes could lead to venue’s closure

The operator of Spanish City has warned that coronavirus traffic restrictions in North Tyneside could cause the attraction to close.

The southbound carriageway of the road between Whitley Bay and Tynemouth has temporarily become a two-way cycle route to allow the promenade to be used solely by pedestrians.

Now, Paul Mackings, chairman of Kymel Trading, the company which operates Spanish City, has voiced fears over the impact it could have on the attraction.

He said: “There is a lot of anguish around Whitley Bay at the moment.

“I understand what the council is trying to achieve but there is absolute mayhem down there.

“The impact this is having on our business is horrendous, its driving people away from the coast.

“People come to our business by car predominantly. People from outside the town come and visit, the seaside should be there for everyone not just locals.

“To get visitors to the coast life has got to be simple for them not complicated.

“The path ways on the seafront are huge there’s more than enough room to combine the footpath with the cycle path.”

Spanish City has stood for over 100 years and was reborn and re-opened by North Tyneside Council after a £10m restoration in summer 2018 after being empty for two decades.

The project included contributions of £3.47m from the Heritage Lottery Fund and a £2.5m Coastal Communities grant.

Mr Mackings said all of this is could be for nothing if their isn’t a re-think.

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He added: “Spanish City was empty for 20 years, a lot of money was put in by us, the local authority and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

“If this continues we will have to close the building. Its very difficult for us to believe we have a long term future down there, we have just come out of three months of lockdown. This could be the final nail in the coffin.

“I don’t think they [the council] are doing this to be bad people they just need to understand the consequences.”

So far 6,736 people have signed a petition urging the council to scrap the temporary one way system.

A counter petition urging the authority to make the changes permanent boasts 1,245 signatures.

The council took to Twitter on Monday afternoon to announce that it will be reinstating two-way traffic on a short stretch of road outside Spanish City.

This is expected to come into force by Tuesday and will see the stretch between Park Avenue and Marine Avenue reopened to traffic on both sides in a bid to alleviate some of the issues there.

North Tyneside Council were approached for comment on the concerns raised by Mr Mackings.

When the measures were first rolled out the authority said they were needed to keep residents safe and emphasised that they would be under constant review.

John Sparkes, head of regeneration and economic development, said last week: “These measures are aimed at ensuring residents can travel around the borough safely and feel safe when visiting town centres, shopping centres and busy streets, which in turn will support the safe reopening of businesses.

“We are also encouraging feedback from the public as these will be considered as part of an ongoing review and identify where any adjustments should be made. The measures will only remain in place for as long as they are necessary and can be amended in response to feedback.

“We realise there is a balance to be struck but the safety of the public and adhering to the clear social distancing rules in line with Government guidance to prevent the spread of the virus has to be our priority at the current time.”

ChronicleLive – News