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All-weather dome plan for Meridian Showground

A retired businessman and former local councillor have come up with big plans for the future of Meridian Showground in Cleethorpes and hope to get public and council support for the idea.

All-weather dome plan for Meridian Showground

New Waltham ex-businessman John Stanley and former councillor Steve Norton have joined forces on the idea of bringing geodesic domes to the East Coast.

John explained more: "Ever since Meridian showground was built, it's been something of a white elephant - underutilised.

"Nobody seems to know what to do with it and being on the East Coast it's weather related. It's an open field with a fence around it."

Mr Stanley approached Steve after travelling around, having spotted the domes and shared his vision, which met with enthusiasm from Steve.

John continued: "Geodesic domes can be used for things - they are free standing, made from aluminium and used at sports centres, universities and religious institutions. They come in any size."

With a local architect on board, who is equally as enthusiastic for the project, the area has been measured up at the venue. John says it's possible to have a dome which could span a maximum of 100m wide. A smaller dome could also be an option, too.

Steve said: "I got involved when I was a ward councillor and when I lost my seat we kept in touch. I thought it was an opportunity for the resort of Cleethorpes. North East Lincolnshire is a destination, you don't travel through it. It's a destination. There's been some improvements and there's more to come."

However, it's been an idea brewing for some time. At the end of July 2012, a meeting was set up with the then leader of the council, Councillor Chris Shaw, and other members, including the late Mick Burnett. At that time John said the council was keen on the idea in principle but felt that money needed to be spent on the north end of Cleethorpes near Wonderland.

The idea was then left until August 2015, when talks between Steve and John resumed and they decided to generate interest once again - this time hoping to gain support from the Conservative party members. They say the proposal was met enthusiastically but nothing further materialised.

A third meeting in June 2016 with North East Lincolnshire Council's Lorna Reeve, who has since departed her role, saw the idea put to the chief executive Rob Walsh and leader of the council, Ray Oxby. In July 2016, they met and had positive talks but money appeared to be the stumbling block.

John says that £25,000 is need to undertake a feasibility study so that a full presentation could be made to the council and be put out for costings. Mr Stanley feels the recent £3.5 million cash injection from the Coastal Regeneration pot could be the ideal solution to finance the study. "It would come with a 50-year guarantee, it would finally put Cleethorpes on the map, with a 365 day facility, regardless of the weather," he said.

The men are keen to hear what members of the public think about the idea of a multi-functional dome, along with what people would like to see at the venue. They suggested possible things could be an ice rink at Christmas or hard flooring put down for basketball games.

"You can bring anything in," John added.

Steve continued: "It is a no-brainer. If this could be built, it doesn't need to be managed by the council. It would be fantastic facilities for the council to be behind.

"I'm saddened that despite our best endeavours with various political groups, nothing has really come from it. £25,000 sounds a lot of money but it's not that much.

"There's been nothing, it's a lost opportunity. I do hope that someone could pick it up and run with it."

The duo hope that if the study could be done, it could officially be put to cabinet and go through the official process. John commented: "I don't want to see one in Skegness or Bridlington. They keep saying Cleethorpes is the jewel of the East Coast - it could be the only facility of its kind.

Steve said: "I thought it was an excellent idea. Just to get over the start line would be fantastic. "It's a good public and private sector partnership - the whole thing's about commerciality and bringing people in.

"People want to come. It could help put it back on the map.

"With the flexibility of the structure being multi-purpose it could host all sorts of things. There's a green agenda to this."

The initial scheme shows plans for the dome to have concessions around the outer edge.

"There's so many options," enthused John. "It's somewhere to go when it's chucking it down. Inside could have sponsored planters and perhaps Cleethorpes in Bloom could come on board."You need people to look at this thing laterally, you've got a big surface area, you could consider solar panels to generate its own heating - water harvesting could be utilised."

A spokesperson for North East Lincolnshire Council said: "There was a news release in March about us looking for an external provider to take over the running of the Meridian Showground, the Discovery Centre and the paddling pool."It wouldn't be appropriate to comment on such ideas at this time."

News Courtesy: www.humberbusiness.com

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