Exmouth hotel’s ‘ridiculous’ summer plan refused

Councillors have chucked out ‘utterly ridiculous’ plans to allow a piece of amenity land to be used as outdoor space for a hotel.

Daniel Clark www.devonlive.com

Plans had been put forward by East Devon District Council to use a small area of green space ‘adjacent’ to the Manor Hotel on the Beacon in Exmouth for tables and chairs.

The scheme would have provided an external dining area associated with the operation of The Manor Hotel and the application suggested that 12 tables with up to 24 chairs could be accommodated.

But councillors on East Devon’s planning committee on Wednesday morning slammed the scheme for which there was no policy support for in the Local Plan, would ‘ruin the summer’ for local residents, and have a ‘risk to life’ with waiters having to cross the road and walk up the hill to get behind the hotel and the green space.

Opposing the scheme, local resident Mark Myer said that there was no support for the proposal which was ‘misguided and inappropriate’, while fellow resident Graham Hurley added: “It is a treasured public space and offers peace and quiet and wonderful views, but there could be noise and antisocial behavior every night all summer.

“There is no regard to neighbours, history, public interest and practicalities of running the site,” while Cllr Tim Dumper, from Exmouth town council, added: “Support for business cannot mean neglecting all other considerations.”

Recommending refusal, Cllr Olly Davey said: “This is tricky as we are keen to support local businesses and the Manor have no outdoor space, but we have to consider the impact on other people, and in this case, there will be a bit of impact on local residents.

“There are definitely practical difficulties to this and with people sitting out and eating and drinking, I would have strenuous objections as well if I lived there. Other pubs don’t have outdoor space and they will have to grit their teeth and hold onto May 17, and the amenity of local residents outweighs the advantage to business so I recommend refusal.”

The green space proposed to be used for outdoor seating at the Beacon in Exmouth

The green space proposed to be used for outdoor seating at the Beacon in Exmouth

Cllr Joe Whibley added: “The biggest issue is the practicality of it and I cannot see how it will work with potentially endangering life crossing the road and the distance between the hotel and the area, so none of it makes any sense as to how it will be useful. We do need to promote business in these difficult times, but you cannot override all of the other considerations.”

Cllr David Key said it was ‘utterly ridiculous’ to think you could get 12 tables and 24 chairs on the undulating piece of land, while Cllr Bruce de Saram said that the British weather could be a problem, Nick Christo, from EDDC Streetscene, had said that it intended to assist in business recovery and help them get back on their feet, and development manager Chris Rose, in his recommendation of approval, had said while there would be concerns about the granting of application given the sensitive nature of the site and location close to residents, the proposal would facilitate a temporary external seating area for patrons of The Manor Hotel to meet the current social distancing requirements and a short term temporary consent would support a local business in times of crisis.

But councillors unanimously, on the grounds it would harm the amenity of local residents and have a harmful vision impact on the conservation area, rejected the proposal.

Another “under-the-radar” purdah story bearing good news?

Preparations are well under way for the rollout of the full fibre network to provide superfast broadband across Devon. 

Daniel Clark Local Democracy Reporter www.exmouthjournal.co.uk

Around 56,000 additional homes and businesses will be provided with access to Gigabit capable broadband by internet providers Airband, Truespeed and Wessex Internet. 

This additional coverage adds to the broadband services already being delivered through public subsidy, and investments through suppliers stated commercial programmes, and raises superfast coverage to just under 96 per cent across the county, Devon County Council’s corporate infrastructure and regulatory services scrutiny committee on Thursday (March 25) heard. 

The new contracts awarded to Airband, Wessex Internet and Truespeed will serve an additional 56,396 homes and businesses who will benefit from an increase in full fibre coverage. 

To date nearly one million homes and businesses in Devon and Somerset now have access to superfast broadband, with over 300,000 of these having access to superfast broadband as a direct result of investment by the Connecting Devon and Somerset programme. 

Airband has already provided superfast access to 18,700 homes and businesses across Devon and Somerset and its latest full fibre programme will extend its network to a further 40,150 premises. 

As this critical work develops prior to construction, discussions have to be held with landowners and local councils to find the best and most cost-effective route for the new network. This requires securing landowner consent and access to highways. 

Cllr Rufus Gilbert, Devon County Council cabinet member for economy and skills, said: “Everyone is keen for construction to start at the first possible opportunity and CDS and the contracted internet providers are working closely to provide tens of thousands of homes and businesses with access to superfast broadband. 

“Unfortunately not every premise in the area can be included with the public funding available through the programme, but we will be delivering access to superfast broadband to some of the hardest to reach premises in the CDS region – providing an all-important boost to local communities and businesses.” 

Beware Tories breaking “Purdah” rules and bearing gifts

Truro money welcome – if it arrives | Cornish Stuff

Truro Town Deal worth £23.6m announced a month before local elections

(Is Boris scheduled to visit Exmouth? – Owl)

cornishstuff.com

A £23.6 million Deal for Truro will help transform Cornwall’s capital into a ‘Connected River City’ and support its vision of becoming a modern economic, cultural and green capital for its residents and the wider community by 2030 said PM Boris Johnson as he announced the funding today.

The Towns Deal money will go toward the creation of a ‘go to destination’ in Boscawen Park that will include a new ‘winter garden’.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:

“We are determined to level up across the entire country, and the Deal we’re announcing for Truro will help to unleash its tremendous potential.

Through a range of innovative projects including greener transport links and the restoration and renewal of spaces in the city centre, we will be able to rejuvenate the local economy, support businesses, boost connectivity and create new jobs.”

Further details of the Truro Towns Fund Deal:

  • Truro’s neglected waterfront and community spaces will be reinvigorated to create vibrant, attractive weather-proof and green event areas. This will include two new public spaces, cycle hire facilities, new ferry terminals with berthing facilities and pontoons, walkways/bridges/promenades and new spaces for 12 businesses.
  • A new Truro Community Hub will provide a ‘safe and welcoming’ space in Truro where people can get together, learn new skills, take part in activities and attend events. Truro currently has no central community hub or indoor events space. This will contribute to skills provision in the town and provide a much-needed space where there is currently no provision.
  • A green travel project will connect key locations around the town including its centre, Truro College, the Royal Cornwall Hospital and intervention sites, promoting new forms of travel and healthier lifestyles. A proposed bridge will improve connections between areas of the town currently isolated from one another.
  • The Hive will be a state-of-the-art building in the heart of Truro, providing a blueprint for how innovation, enterprise and education will weave together in the future. It will be part of the Pydar Development, a multi-million pound inclusive and sustainable urban development planned for the edge of Truro city centre.
  • The New Life for City Buildings project will aim to transform and regenerate unused, historic buildings in Truro city centre. It will improve access to and celebrate Truro’s heritage and culture offer through a transformation of The Royal Cornwall Museum alongside the launch of a scheme to enable the wider repurposing of Truro buildings ensuring spaces are future proofed for modern day use responding to a new economic landscape.
  • A ‘go-to destination’ will be created in Boscawen Park, already a popular park on the edge of the city. The project will provide Truro resident and visitors of all ages with new leisure and recreational opportunities across a range of indoor and outdoor facilities operated by local businesses. Building on Truro’s national reputation as a city of bloom, there will be a ‘winter garden’ horticultural showcase based on a partnership between Truro City Council, local and national horticultural businesses. The project will create up to 40 new jobs.

Mark Duddridge, Chair at Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LEP said:

“The award of £23.6 million for Truro, as the country begins to emerge from the restrictions of lockdown is a fantastic boost for Cornwall and the City. The environmentally sensitive development of the town will create welcome employment and will bring a new vibrancy to many areas of Truro.

This investment follows on from the redevelopment of the Hall for Cornwall, another project supported by the LEP, which together will reinforce Truro’s position as a centre for our creative industries.”

But commenting on the news, former Liberal Democrat MP (& candidate in the local CC elections), Andrew George said,

“Leaving aside that Mr Johnson’s statement is a clear and flagrant breach of election purdah rules, this is of course welcome.

“However, we’ve seen promises like this before, always ‘coincidentally’ in the lead-up to crucial elections.

“But none have materialised. take the then Tory PM’s promise to fund the Stadium for Cornwall in the lead-up to the 2015 General Election, or Mr Johnson’s promise to replace Cornwall’s lost Objective one money just before the last General Election, or Mr Johnson’s red bus promising an extra £350m a week for the NHS in the 2016 referendum. None of these promises have materialised.

“Congratulations should go to Liberal Democrat and Independent run Cornwall Council, Truro City Council and the local business and voluntary sector community of Truro for putting together such an impressive bid – and indeed to those in St Ives, Penzance and Camborne who have done the same. It’s just a pity the whole project is part of a cynical electoral game by the Conservatives.

“As the Good Law Project – which is currently taking the Government to court – has said “This could just be a coincidence. Or it could be an attempt to buy votes with public money”

“Mr Johnson is notorious for having a somewhat casual relationship with honesty and fact. So we will have to judge this promise when we see the colour of the taxpayers’ money he seems to be so free with at times when he’s anxious to garner votes.”

Council warning after huge pipe exposed on Exmouth beach

The council is urging the public to ‘exercise caution’ after a huge pipe has been exposed on Exmouth beach.

Chloe Parkman www.devonlive.com 

It comes after Devon Live reported that the enormous metal pipe – which runs under the lifeboat slipway – has been exposed resulting in a small drop between the top of the metal and the sand.

One person was spotted clambering over the pipe in order to access the other side of the beach.

A spokesperson for East Devon District Council (EDDC) said: ”A number of hazards have become exposed on Exmouth beach, near the RNLI station, due to a drop in beach levels.

”Our Streetscene team are working to make the area safe but in the meantime please exercise caution if walking in this area.”

The huge exposed pipe on Exmouth beach

Earlier this month, a warning was issued to the public after the sea exposed another rusty old pipework and other dangerous hazards on the beach.

Exmouth RNLI said the separate pipework could pose a significant risk to people using the East Devon beach.

In a statement on Twitter, a spokesperson for Exmouth Lifeboat said: ”Sea conditions have exposed some old structures that are a significant risk to water users off Exmouth and could cause serious injury/incapacity especially during high tides.

“The hazards are located about 80 yards west of Exmouth RNLI Lifeboat Station.

”Please avoid this area.”

End of virtual council meetings ‘a backwards step’

The decision to local councils to scrap virtual calls and return to face-to-face meetings in person from May has been criticised across the county as a ‘backwards step’.

Daniel Clark www.devonlive.com

Last week, the minister for Local Government, Luke Hall wrote to council leaders to inform them that emergency legislation allowing virtual council meetings will not be extended beyond May 7.

It means that from May 7 onwards, all councils – from Devon County down to the parish councils – will have to resume meetings in person, and also applies to the Dartmoor and Exmoor National Park Authorities, the Devon and Somerset Fire Authority, as well as the Police and Crime Panel.

The decision has left councillors and councils angry, and North Devon Council has already re-arranged its annual council meeting from its usual May date to April 7 to ensure that it can be held virtually.

A spokesman for North Devon Council said: “We are extremely disappointed as along with helping us carry on with committee meetings through the pandemic, it has brought a great number of other benefits to us. Living in such a rural area, the option of virtual meetings would mean far less travelling time for councillors and officers which is not only more efficient but is helping to cut our carbon footprint.

“It also makes life easier for parents and people with caring responsibilities. We feel this is a major backwards step and the government really needs to rethink this.”

Teignbridge District Council managing director Phil Shears said that the decision will present ‘significant logistical and financial challenges’ to ensure meetings can be held safely.

He added: “This decision is very disappointing. Across the country virtual meetings have been seen as a great success to increased participation and inclusion, as well as enabling local authorities to address their climate change agenda. Public viewing figures have shown an increase in participation in our council meetings, and they have also enabled councillors with caring or employment related responsibilities to more easily accommodate meetings.

“Facilitating large public council meetings indoors, when other areas of the sector will still be required to meet outdoors, will require a significant amount of officer time, which will be deflected from our core council business at a time when we are focusing on continuing to support our residents and our local economy recover as we come out of lockdown.

“Given that the government’s roadmap is science and data driven, as opposed to dates, it is surprising that the government has not legislated for virtual meetings to continue until the vaccination programme has been completed, or in line with the legislation that allows MPs to meet virtually until June 21.

“I will be discussing these concerns about the announcement with my District colleagues and MP.”

A Devon County Council spokesman said: “This decision presents all local authorities with a complex challenge in deciding how best to hold face-to face council meetings safely after May 7.

“We will be looking very carefully at the detail of the new guidance before considering the best approach for the County Council.”

A spokesman for Mid Devon District Council added: “We will be looking at the new guidance in detail before we work out the best approach for our authority, in line with current Covid restrictions and with safety paramount.”

And Devon’s Liberal Democrats have criticised the plans, with leader of the Lib Dem Group on Devon County Council, Cllr Alan Connett, adding: “Forcing local councils to meet face-to-face in just over a month’s time makes no sense and potentially puts people at risk.

“Making large groups of people meet indoors for meetings which often last more than two hours, when we’re trying to stop the spread of COVID-19, is unbelievably daft. This affects councillors and council staff. Some may have had Covid jabs, some not and some may have clinically vulnerable family at home.

“It should be up to our local councils to decide when it is safe to return – not the Conservative Government.”

Cllr Denise Bickley, who sits on East Devon District Council, as an East Devon Alliance councillor, added: “This is a terrible backward step when virtual meetings have been working perfectly well, saving time, money, emissions, and meaning councillors have been able to attend for more meetings than they would in person. I’m very angry.”

Councils though are being encouraged to continue to live stream the meetings to meet the legal obligation to ensure that the members of the public and press can access the meeting without having to physically attend.

Luke Hall MP, Minister of State for Regional Growth and Local Government, in his letter to councils, said: “Extending the regulations to meetings beyond May 7 would require primary legislation. The Government has considered the case for legislation very carefully, including the significant impact it would have on the Government’s legislative programme which is already under severe pressure in these unprecedented times.

“We are also mindful of the excellent progress that has been made on our vaccination programme and the announcement of the Government’s roadmap for lifting Covid-19 restrictions. Given this context, the Government has concluded that it is not possible to bring forward emergency legislation on this issue at this time.”

He added: ““While local authorities have been able to hold meetings in person at any time during the pandemic with appropriate measures in place, the successful rollout of the vaccine and the reduction in cases of Covid-19 should result in a significant reduction in risk for local authority members meeting in person from May 7, as reflected in the Government’s plan to ease Covid-19 restrictions over the coming months.”