If you’re familiar with Hoylake you’ll know that Pebbles is not a cute cartoon character from The Flintstones, but an ongoing, decade-long scandal involving a rather shady disused toilet block, coffee, birds, booze, rock n’ roll, money and bureaucracy.
Or at least that’s the sensationalist way we’re going to present it here.
On 8th September 2005 Wirral Borough Council declared the former Trinity Road toilet block surplus to requirements and agreed to market the property on the basis of a 40-year lease.
Seven days later (coincidentally the same time it apparently took to create the earth give or take an hour or two, and therefore not very long before The Flintstones appeared) a £2,500 per annum lease was agreed with a businessman from West Kirby who runs a successful café on the front there. A planning application was submitted in 2006, and permission granted in, well, January 2009.
Yes, people. Three years (almost half the time it took to create the earth) to grant planning permission.
But, it seems, what with the restrictions on times of year one can build on the beach, because of European Directives on protecting birds; and with issues around gas, water and electricity supply upgrades; the need to serve alcohol and play background music to make the project viable and, well, the small matter of £120,000 or so to build it, the project is no further on than it was all those years ago, bar some pretty drawings of how it would look once built.
At the time of writing, it is understood that the lease period has now been reduced, along with a rent reduction, to try to expedite project completion.
Public excitement reached a crescendo in 2013, when it seemed the stars were about to align perfectly and the café would be open just in time for ‘the Golf’.
Although some 70 objections had been lodged against the application for a license to serve alcohol and play music (is it really true that Footloose was based on Hoylake?), a local resident put up a counter petition. Within days, there were over 500 signatures. The overwhelming public support was undeniable.
The Planning and Licensing Committees granted permission to serve alcohol and play music from 8.00 am until 9.30 pm from 1 April to 31 August and from 8.00 am until dusk from 1st September to 31st March.
At last! A café on the beach!
But, as we all know, it didn’t get built.
At this rate, who knows, maybe The Beacon will happen before Pebbles? Timescales seem pretty messed up anyway.
It’s pretty predictable though, that the project will stir objections, since a bistro and restaurant will inevitably require an alcohol license.
But, bearing in mind that both the Sailing Club and the Parade Community Centre both have licenses to serve alcohol, it would seem that The Beacon project should tick the necessary boxes too.
After all, an arts cinema, bistro and restaurant is a very different scenario to a town centre bar or nightclub… or, ahem, a clubhouse hired out until 2am for private parties.
It’s not going to attract late night rabble rousing boozers.
So, even if Pebbles does eventually appear on North Parade, rest assured that Bam Bam will not be hanging around at The Beacon. And we’ll make sure Barney, Betty, Wilma and Fred keep their voices down too.
As for Pebbles, 2015 is the crunch year. If it not complete by July, the lease will be available for someone else to take.
And if there’s no takers, Bam Bam will turn up with a wrecking ball…