The Belfast Titanic Society has stepped up its campaign against plans for the Belfast wheel to remain in its current location in the grounds of Belfast City Hall by meeting with the Environment Minister.
And speaking to The CT after the meeting, Susie Millar, spokesperson for the east Belfast-based group, said they are “hopeful a decision is imminent”.
She added: “We got a very sympathetic hearing and the minister listened to all our concerns.”
The meeting followed a successful service on Sunday, marking the 50th anniversary of the memorial’s relocation from a traffic island in Chichester Street to its current position in the grounds of the City Hall, which the group used to highlight its concerns.
As reported exclusively by The CT in June this year, the wheel currently sits around and on top of the memorial to those who died in the 1912 disaster.
At that time, Belfast councillors on the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee voted in favour of requesting and approving “an extension to the period of operation for the Belfast wheel in the grounds of the city hall for a further 24 months from September, 1, 2009”. The wheel’s stay in Belfast is now subject to approval from the Planning Service.
Since then, representatives from the group have met with councillors about the issue.
Susie added that no-one in the group could understand the thinking behind the wheel’s current location.
She said: “I conduct tours around key Titanic spots in east Belfast, ending at the memorial in the city centre,” she said.
“Recently I had a group from Baltimore with me and when we got to the memorial they were appalled to see the large steel structure.”
In June the group had hoped the memorial could have been moved, but this has since proved impossible.
Susie continued: “We had hoped to get the memorial moved close to the statue of Sir Edward Harland, but this cannot go ahead due to the age of the memorial. We believe the wheel could be moved to the Titanic Quarter or the Odyssey, somewhere at the water, allowing a different view of Belfast.”
For now the group is concentrating on lodging as many objections as possible with the Planning Service.