Conservative-led East Devon District Council (EDDC) was branded as undemocratic, secretive and devious at a packed meeting in Exmouth yesterday.
Campaign group Save Exmouth Seafront (SES) called the public meeting in the town’s All Saints Church Hall to fight EDDC’s latest grandiose plans for the redevelopment of Queen’s Drive.
Independent Exmouth councillor Megan Armstrong, SES Acting Chair Louise MacAllister, and SES researcher Tim Todd described the background to the project, known originally as “Exmouth Splash” and a lively, sometimes angry, audience expressed strong opposition to it.
Interesting revelations emerged:
· It was claimed that leading EDDC councillors and officers have a clear agenda to sell Exmouth’s assets to help fill the gaping hole in their revenue caused by Government cuts [and their expensive move from Sidmouth? ed].
· The plans for Exmouth have been hatched in secret meetings where minutes are not taken, the public are excluded, and councillors sworn to secrecy.
· EDDC’s “extensive” consultation is a sham – based on 518 replies to a 2011 publication, and comments from 14 pupils at Exmouth College!
· SES’ own recent survey confirms strong support for keeping the traditional charm of Exmouth seafront and the popular local businesses established there for many years.
· These modest local businesses have been “sabotaged” by EDDC with 12-month leases making investment and expansion difficult so they can be replaced by big outside speculative developers.
· Extensive residential and retail development including a cinema and expensive “attractions” will reduce children’s play areas from over 14000 square metres to about 3000.
· A new Water Sports Centre is planned at the most dangerous point of the beach, and entails a diversion of Queen’s Drive costing one and a half million pounds.
The meeting ended with the SES desks swamped by volunteers eager to help the campaign to reclaim the future of their town from bureaucrats and speculators who have no respect for what makes a place unique, special and loved.
Very well reported, I was taken in by the lady who had been taking the grandchildren into the play area for hours of entertainment for £2.75, this will be lost , instead of being enlarged and enhanced. Another point from another lady said it was immoral to put up apartments in an area of outstanding beauty, which locals will never be able to afford, when we have so many families who are faced with a shortage of property that they can ever rent or buy.
Many wanted to know if the new water splash area would stop people walking all along the sea front without entering the pay to enter area which has the new road placed behind it. Or why the amount of room shown for the colourful and active leisure zone which was focused for children in all those thousands of leaflets handed to the public 3 years ago.
We do now suffer from new developments from the Quay side right up to Queens drive and includes the the Bowl, which have a lack of Waste and recycling facilities, (” One can see how many Waste Bins are left parked along the sides of most buildings”)
Will this not be the case if this new development is allowed. The Maderia Walk Way has become just another alley-way at the back of the Bowl, and the lovely View as you approach the Sea Front from Carton Hill has now gone for ever.
Can we trust you at EDDC with the rest of our Sea Front environment when what is intended is very large development.
We were told at the talk-in after the meeting by the few Tory Councilors that stayed, that the proposals on the splash in 2012 which stated that the Masterplan Vision back then could be delivered and afforded without residential accommodation.
They admitted this would be their preference, but then added if it could not be achieved for the lack of finance, then they would vote for it, I could never except this change of mind, when in all Election leaflets, said they were against any large development on the Sea Front, and the very reason i will do my upmost in opposing it.
Lastly if they had come to agreement for some business people to stay, we would have a continuous situation of having the very things children enjoy, without it we will have nothing but a large building site for some years, is this acceptable for all our visitors needs.
EDDC must realize since 205 how much time and money has been spent on printed matter, architects, advisers, and consultants, all having been commissioned by EDDC, most of this has been changed out of all recognition since 2012.
If you feel this is worthy of being past on to EDDC please do so, and thank you.
Alec mentioned the presence of Tory councillors at the SES Meetings on Saturday.
It is worth mentioning that they were invited/asked to leave the second part of the meeting which was very clearly stated as being for SES supporters only.
They declared that they were not SES supporters but wanted to stay (Suggesting that as we had complained about the numerous secret meetings held about the Splash, we shouldn’t ban people from any of our meetings.)
The were allowed to stay. I recall no contributions from any of them – which is a pity as they may have had information the public would have welcomed.
I trust that in future, there will be no hypocrisy from them and we will all now be allowed to sit in on all future Tory group meetings.