20 years neglect of much loved Exmouth football pitch

This is Mark Hawkins’ constructive comment on Planning permission sought to raise Exmouth football pitches::

Could the two councils, County and District, perhaps work with the applicant on this?

There’s not enough on the application to explain to me why it might be necessary to actually raise the ground level here, and it doesn’t really tell me anything at all about their plans.

This is the pitch 2 area which is already above the level of the internal road and houses at the south eastern end.

It’s not accurate to describe this as poor drainage. It is failed drainage, despite there having been a clear maintenance obligation on the lease between former leaseholder Exmouth Amateurs and landlord East Devon District Council. I have seen evidence of polite requests, complaints, and even a partial rent strike, going back well before the 2008 financial crash, before the lease was forfeited with highly selective justifications in 2016.

Then there was a further period with bad faith being shown to numerous other sporting organisations before the current administration returned it to the community in the form of Exmouth Town Youth in 2020, with the decision being taken by decent members of all parties. I understand that all officers involved acted in good faith on this occasion, including the one who had been apparently unable to fulfil specific promises in 2016, though the legal aspects took a surprising amount of time.

The new lease has apparently transferred the drainage obligation to the tenant, but although the council has undone part of the wilful harm of its predecessors one would hope they could do more.

The reason I believe the County Council have an obligation in this is that it is substantially their water, the main incursion being from the dip in Halsdon Avenue being piped under a bungalow and into the ground, leading me to speculate that the other “springs ” in the bank are from the other Halsdon Avenue gullies. So taking short cuts in the development of Halsdon Avenue apparently created a problem for those coming after.

Another breach of leaseholder obligation was in failing to deal with trespass from neighbouring properties, including to fly tip gardening waste. Some of which may well have contributed to the silting of the drains.

One would assume that East Devon have plans of the existing draining system, and indeed that those were given to the surveying engineers in 2018/19(?), in order that they didn’t cause more damage by drilling.

Neglect of this lovely facility has been going on for 20 years, often despite the best efforts of leaseholders and with the active obstruction of the landlord. Despite this it has provided so many of us with very happy memories. What better summer evening for a dad with his teenage son to kick a ball purposefully for an hour or so and then relax watching the fox cubs play. I do hope they manage to achieve the functional restitution of the facilities but retain enough space for the wildlife.

It is ironic that this has cropped up just as Cllr Skinner has commenced the Conservatives’ campaign for this year’s district elections, telling us how we need a change of administration. There couldn’t be clearer evidence that the recent history here of how the change of administration has been a gain for the community, and of course Skinner himself was significantly implicated in the shameful events of 2016.