CALLED IN – Marketing exercise on Exmouth seafront plans set to be scrutinised

The decision to launch a formal marketing exercise over the future of Exmouth seafront has been called-in for further scrutiny.

East Devon District Council’s cabinet last Wednesday night voted to launch a formal marketing exercise to identify a developer/operator for a waterfront restaurant, an 80-bedroom hotel, and an area for play and leisure uses.

But that decision will now be reconsidered after Councillor Paul Arnott, leader of the East Devon Alliance, said the purpose of agreeing the selection criteria for the commercial development was not properly balanced.

The cabinet had agreed the leader of the council, the portfolio holders for asset management, finance and economy and relevant officers should be on the selection panel, as well as one Exmouth councillor.

But Cllr Arnott said: “The number of elected members taking part in the selection panel is too few and has insufficient Exmouth democratic representatives.

“There remains well-documented and live concern in Exmouth.

“Under this resolution their involvement comes belatedly in the Queen’s Drive Delivery Group, which has hitherto been meeting in secret.

“The ongoing damage to the council’s reputation – given its decision to fund the construction of Queen’s Drive from public funds without a certain means of recouping that – is further exacerbated by this and the continuing insufficient inclusion of localised democratic representatives risk our reputation even further.

“The constitutional justifications to seek scrutiny of this are that this decision is likely to cause distress, harm or significant concern to a local community, or to prejudice individuals within it and that this matter has not been subject to proper consultation or debate with relevant interested parties.”

Cllr Kim Bloxham, vice-chairman of the scrutiny committee, has accepted the call-in and the decision will now be discussed again when the Scrutiny Committee meet on Thursday, March 5.

If the scrutiny committee decide to take no further action, then the cabinet’s decision will come into force.

If they decide that the selection panel has been wrongly constituted, then their suggestion will go back to the cabinet for reconsideration.