Will planners let city's big wheel keep on turning?
The big wheel in Plymouth stopped spinning last night, but could be on the turn again, if council planners give it the green light.
The attraction's new bosses are pinning their hopes on a favourable response from Plymouth City Council's planning officials to their bid to get the 53-metre high structure revolving again.
Dubai-based Freij Entertainment acquired the wheel, which has been in Plymouth since 2011, alongside other wheels in Manchester, Liverpool, York and Glasgow, for an undisclosed sum late last year.
It has been previously reported that the firm had secured a licence to operate the attraction and had since applied to Plymouth City Council for an extension to its planning permission. The firm said the seven existing staff were retained for the last few weeks.
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The company hopes – dependent on planning permission being granted – to hire another nine workers for the summer. Speaking from his Dubai office yesterday, David Jones, director of Freij's European operations, said the firm would review the situation "if and when" the council approved the planning application.
He said: "It's our intention to keep it there. Looking at the financial implications, winter is never a good time for attractions of this kind.
"Once approved we could open the next day. The wheel will be kept fully maintained until then," he added. The operator – Wheels Entertainment – has previously said it hoped to be able to reopen the wheel for the school half-term holiday, beginning on February 16, and there are plans to stay open until September. Plymouth City Council said planning officers had been in discussion with Freij and were expecting a planning application shortly.
A council spokesman said: "As the application is for a renewal of a consent we would expect the matter to be decided by a planning officer under delegated authority – unless the decision is referred to planning committee by a councillor."