“Campaigners against plans for the proposed redevelopment of Exmouth seafront have renewed calls for an independent consultation with residents.
The Save Exmouth Seafront (SES) campaign group was reacting to the outcome of East Devon MP Hugo Swire meeting with Councillor Andrew Moulding about the plans for the seafront.
The meeting was organised after Mr Swire met with representatives from SES, who welcomed the meeting but were disappointed to have been excluded.
SES said it seemed the meeting was nothing more than Cllr Moulding relaying to Mr Swire what was being planned for the area, as no clear actions appear to have been agreed upon or made clear to the public.
Louise MacAllister for SES,said: “While Mr Swire’s emphasis on local businesses, affordable facilities, and genuine consultation are welcomed, he states that he finds this development exciting for Exmouth.
“This is not representative of the majority view of his constituents in Exmouth who find this anything but an exciting time.
“The failure of any of our elected representatives to act in the interests of residents will only increase the alienation and sense of mistrust that is growing in Exmouth.
“We therefore reiterate the importance of an independent and fully considered consultation with Exmouth residents before any further steps towards development are undertaken”.
After the meeting, which took oplace earlier this month, Mr Swire said: “I stressed to Cllr Moulding the importance of any development being affordable for local people as well as visitors.
“Cllr Moulding assured me that, under the plans, there will be a number of free facilities for the people of Exmouth and new attractions for younger people.
“I also highlighted the importance of a genuine consultation with the people of Exmouth, their elected councillors and local businesses.
“I am particularly keen on the idea of a 3D model of the plans so that my constituents can get a better idea of what this proposed development will look like.”
Mr Swire has also met with campaigners to discuss their concerns over the proposals and what they perceive as a lack of consultation on the plans.
The authority claims there is clear support for the redevelopment and said it was crucial for the future success of Exmouth.
The latest development proposals currently being discussed include a free water splash play area, mini golf, a multi-screen cinema and a large open public space area.
The council claims the development will be a major benefit to the town by boosting visitor numbers and creating new jobs.
Not surprising is it? Both Mr Swire and Councillor Moulding have let us down badly. Both know that people want a genuine independent consultation – I can be sure that they know because I have written to both individuals about it.
The consultation that EDDC held, The Splash, was said by EDDC to be the consultation. on this aspect of their plans for Exmouth. Earlier references to The Exmouth Masterplan (which is being dropped from the Local Plan) lacked any detail and thus could never be seen as the basis for approval. It, The Splash Survey, lacks any credibility but, despite the results failing to show any proper support – if anything they suggest the opposite- EDDC’s summary is a total misrepresentation. (I am happy to suppy a copy of the questions, answers and EDDC’s summary)
From FOIs and emails we have learned that there is simply no justification or evidence for officers or councillors to say that the plans have local backing, or that the opposition is minor. Nor do EDDC seem to be able to produce any evidence of need for many of the components, the cinema, the retail, the eateries. We do know that the open air play area (pay and free) will amount to approximately 23% of that which now exists. If they think that electronic games are an attraction then they should take a look in The Ocean where there are seldom any ‘players’ of electronic games in their Sega centre.
If EDDC are confident that this is a good thing for Exmouth and its visitors, then let it be shown through a genuine impartial meaningful consultation. If such a consultation proves them right I will accept it as a democratic informed decision as will others.