IF the rumours are to be believed, Redcar could soon rival Pisa in the leaning tower stakes after claims that its new “vertical pier” was leaning slightly.

And one amusement arcade owner is even handing out mock-up photos of the town’s newest landmark – officially known as the Redcar Beacon - merged with Italy’s famous leaning tower of Pisa.

However, Redcar and Cleveland council leader George Dunning today (Sunday, January 13) quickly allayed fears that the newly-built landmark is in danger of collapse, saying a structural survey had been carried out to check – and it is definitely not leaning.

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Rumours have been rife on social networking sites – and in Redcar’s drinking establishments – that the Beacon, part of a £75m regeneration scheme - has a slight tilt.

Val Barker, of Middlesbrough, who was taking photographs of the Beacon today, said she couldn’t see any sign of a tilt, but husband, Fred, said: “If you go down to the beach and look at it, it definitely looks like it is leaning a bit.”

Simon Zeck, who runs the amusement arcade over the road from the Beacon, Play 4 Fun, had superimposed a picture of the leaning tower of Pisa on to a photo of Redcar seafront, with the Beacon’s metal “ribbons” overlaying it.

He said he believed the Beacon had a lean slightly in the direction of the beach and towards Saltburn - and was giving out his photo to passing tourists yesterday to prove a point, he said.

“The rumours that are going around are that it is tilting by eight degrees,” he said. “The leaning tower of Pisa has a 3.9 degree tilt.

“First this vertical pier was supposed to be opening in the summer, then it was November, then December, and now they are saying the spring. What I want to know is, if it is finished, why hasn’t it been signed off by the council?”

Councillor Steve Kay, of the East Cleveland Independents, said: “If it does turn out to be leaning then I will suggest to the council that we apply to be twinned with the town of Pisa in Italy.

“I had heard rumours in my local pub that it was leaning but I couldn’t say that it was when I passed it.

“I did ask the question to the chief executive of the council and was informed by the director of regeneration that it had been checked and there were no structural defects found.”

Coun Dunning told The Northern Echo: “The vertical pier is not leaning. Structural engineers have had a look at it and I am reassured that it is structurally sound.

“There have been a lot of rumours – these are similar to the rumours that we were going to charge £5 entry into the vertical pier, which were also untrue.”

He said the building would be officially opened once another regeneration project, the Hub, a business centre for the creative industries, is complete.

“We want to open them both together and will have an official opening once the Hub is finished,” he said.

The £1.6m Beacon is designed to help reconnect the seafront with the town centre and will provide a 360-degree view over both the sea and the town from a viewing platform on the top. It will include a cafe and small shops.