BY TOBY PORTER
It’s like stealing presents from under the tree. Residents of Barry Island in Wales are fuming because Clapham Common has got their two-month-old £1million Ferris Wheel.
And we’ve got it until January 1. The 118ft-high ride proved highly popular when it was constructed in the seaside town in October, attracting thousands and providing a centre-piece to the attractions in the late season.
But owner and resort entrepreneur Henry Danter decided to take it down again little more than a month later, after being told it was two metres – or six-and-a-half feet – too high and would need planning permission.
Mr Danter, who has already spent £3million in Barry as part of a planned £20million investment, said he then had more than 20 calls from fairs and cities asking if they could have it while it was mothballed.
The Winterville Festival, which began yesterday on Clapham Common, made the best offer, so locals there will now be able to enjoy the attraction which residents of South Wales are missing.
The 150-tonne steel structure, with 24 carriages each seating six people, has to be transported using up to five articulated lorries. Louis Ross, of Barry Bados, the business initiative launched to boost tourism on the Welsh peninsula, made famous by the BBC comedy Gavin and Stacey, said: “I was gutted to see it go.
“I actually preferred this wheel to the previous one because of the lights, which made it so attractive.
“A few friends watched the firework display last month from Marine Drive and said how amazing all the colourful lights looked.
“I hope it returns. The wheel had become the new fairground landmark after the old log flume was
removed, plus it provided excellent views of Barry and beyond.”
Mr Danter said the wheel was likely to give Winterville’s customers unprecedented views of South London, even though there is a considerably more expensive and more famous one less than four miles down the road on the South Bank.
“It will take your breath away,” he said.
“It is a new Ferris Wheel, made in Italy and much bigger than the one they had in Barry before.
“The Vale of Glamorgan council were a bit difficult and said we needed planning permission. So we are applying for that.
We asked about keeping it up while that process goes on, and they said they could not guarantee it getting permission. “I thought it would have a better chance of being approved if it was down.
“We wanted to sneak in a use of it elsewhere while we wait. It costs a lot of money to move it. I don’t know how people found out but we had about 20 calls from people wanting to take it in the intervening period – people in Ireland, Scotland, even Prague in the Czech Republic.
“But Clapham is the best place for it.”
But it remains a mystery whether Winterville has applied for planning permission for the structure, or needs to.
Lambeth’s planning applications granted for Winterville on October 31 include: “Temporary installation and use of an area of Clapham Common for Winterville 2017 festival operational from 23/11/2017 to 01/01/2018, including an ice rink, cinema, indoor miniature golf, entertainment tents, fairground rides, catering and market stalls, production cabins, lighting and other associated structures including perimeter fencing, vehicular servicing and temporary display of signage comprising graphic/ artistic displays and way finding signs.”
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