A SEASIDE bandstand which was saved from demolition by people power is now getting a facelift as part of a £150,000 town centre refurbishment scheme.
Anger erupted in Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, Northumberland, last year after plans were revealed to knock down and remove the traditional steel bandstand, which has been a feature of the coastal community since the 1930s.
Council bosses said they wanted to get rid of it as part of a scheme to ‘de-clutter’ the central piazza area next to the promenade.
However, a protest petition was signed by 132 people who wanted the structure retained, and a public consultation exercise resulted in 84% support for it to be saved.
In February the county council relented in the face of public opposition and dropped the demolition plan. Now work is being carried out to refurbish the bandstand as part of a wider revamp of the surrounding Quay Wall area, which also includes new paving, a revised layout, new seats and bins and better lighting.
The colour of the bandstand is being changed from black to blue to help it fit in better with the surrounding area.
Last year’s petition was organised by local resident Eva Hartley, vice-chairman of the Newbiggin Community Partnership and a member of the KEAP Creative group of artists.
Yesterday she said: “They are giving the bandstand a really nice facelift and I’m sure it will look fantastic when the work is finished in the next week.
“They have sandblasted it, got rid of the rust, rust-proofed it and will paint it a new shade of blue, to match turrets on the nearby Sailing Club and the railings on the promenade.
“I am extremely happy with both the fact that it has been saved, after they listened to local people, and that it is being refurbished to fit in with its surroundings.
“What I would like to see now is an event to mark the refurbishment and also a summer programme of music.
“There’s no point in having a lovely new bandstand if we don’t have any music coming out of it. I have put a call out on Facebook for local musicians to get involved. There is a history of having music performed at the bandstand, and we could start off with a performance on one Sunday a month.”
Yesterday the council said work on the main Quay Wall improvements is due to start in September, and will take 10 to 12 weeks to complete.
In addition, funding from the Go Wansbeck initiative is providing grant support to 20 shops in Newbiggin to help repair or reinstate their historic fabric and features.
Councillor Tom Brechany, executive member for regeneration, said: “We hope that the improvements will both create an attractive environment and lead to further economic and social benefits.”