“Brave Hugo”?

From today’s Sidmouth Herald Opinion page:

‘Regarding last week’s front page story about our MP Hugo Swire’s ‘big vision’ for Sidmouth sea front.

It should be noted that Sidmouth has successfully resisted all such overwrought ideas for 200 years. It is this above all else that gives the town such a unique character. It’s unmolested and historic frontage with the sea is not only its greatest attraction and income generator; it is why tourists, visitors, writers, artists, home-buyers come again and again.

It is hard to believe that Hugo (or anyone) truly believes that a multi-story car park and a marina must adorn the nation’s best preserved Regency sea front – and effectively ruin its character (see the East Devon Watch website for possible examples). Will our Westminster representative be remembered as the one to place the first carbuncle?

Is he immune to the messages of Sir John Betjeman, Jane Austen, Elizabeth Barrett Browning who all treasured the town’s character and spoke out against such cultural short-sitedness?

This is not a ‘brave’ vision Hugo, it is a tragic one.

Peter Nasmyth

(author of ‘Literature and Landscape in East Devon.’)’