Exmouth: Christmas market with not much Christmas spirit?

”There’s been mixed reaction to the “cracking” Christmas market, which took place at Exmouth Ocean on Sunday, December 3. Some visitors enjoyed the event, describing it as ‘an enjoyable day’, ‘fab’ and ‘a lovely time’. But others said it was a ‘health and safety nightmare’, with ‘no emergency procedure for elderly, infirm or young mothers’. One visitor went further, saying they thought the people of Exmouth had been ‘shortchanged’, and describing the event as a ‘creaking Christmas market’.

In response, LED, which organised the event, has admitted that the market had “a few teething problems”, but say that for its first event of this nature “about 5,000 people attended what was generally perceived to be a great event”.

The ‘cracking’ Christmas Market, with additional entertainment provided by Exmouth Town Council, was promoted as a replacement for the cancelled Christmas Cracker. With entertainment on other floors, the market itself took place on the top-floor Ocean Suite and outside terraces.

Visitors found there were problems with access to the market, as there was only one small lift, reserved for those with limited mobility and mothers with buggies. Consequently the stairs became clogged and LED staff restricted the numbers who were allowed in. At times it’s understood that crowds were three deep on the stairs, and the lift broke down, allegedly trapping a person in a wheelchair.

Visitors took to social media to praise and criticise the event. One community group described the event as ‘a really enjoyable day’, and that customers were ‘generous and appreciative’. Other comments included ‘fab’ and ‘a fun day’. However, one visitor, who did not wish to be named, was unhappy, flagging up over-crowding, uninspired stalls and mulled wine – served by LED – that was cold. It was not a particularly inspired craft market with nothing to distinguish it as a Christmas event. The bar was offering a festive menu, but when you’ve got cold mulled wine, how festive is that? “I think it was very sad. The people of Exmouth have been short-changed. A cracking Christmas market? More like a creaking Christmas market!”

LED Leisure has defended its festive offering, saying it was a ‘super event for Exmouth’. “In response to the few negative comments that have been received by the Journal, LED Leisure welcomes constructive criticism as an opportunity to improve,” said Peter Gilpin, chief executive officer, LED Leisure. “As our first event of this nature, it was probably inevitable that there would be a few teething problems. Despite these few problems, about 5,000 people attended what was generally perceived to be a great event – so no wonder there were queues to get in at some times of the day!

“We received many compliments from visitors, who despite the wait loved the Christmas gifts, sweets, music and entertainment. Between them, Ocean and the Pavilion had over 90 stalls, including some that were accommodated from the cancelled Christmas Cracker event from the Strand, at fairly late notice. Stall holders were also very complimentary – they were busy all day!”

Mr Gilpin also thanked Lisa Hamer, Janette Cass and their respective teams at Ocean and the Pavilion ‘for putting on what I think was, overall, a super event for Exmouth – 5,000 people having a great time on Exmouth seafront in December; whatever next?!’ “


Exmouth’s Lonely Christmas Tree

“The Lonely Christmas Tree”

I am the lonely Christmas Tree,
In Exmouth’s market place;
No vending stalls are round about
No shopper’s welcome face.

The Strand is bare of trade and cheer
In Exmouth’s market place-
All moved to Ocean’s empty hall
To fill that empty place.

Shopkeepers have all tried their best
Around the market place
To pay their rates and sell their goods
With patience and good grace.

The loss to trade and income gone-
They’ve moved the Christmas Cracker;
No help then for the working shops-
Their Christmas has been knackered !”

When were plans mooted to reroute the road in Exmouth – and why?

A comment received:

“… It follows a council document from 2015 about the Queen’s Drive development that says: “The people of Exmouth are …

So – the road and car park move was recommended in the Masterplan?

It was also put forward apparently as a new idea in April 2003 in a letter to Mr Karime Hassan at EDDC. The letter was in support of a planning application for new premises for Spinnakers Sailing Centre. It was signed by Stephanie Bridge now of Edge watersports the business she runs with her husband Eric Bridge that is destined to have prime position on Grenadiers site. – or Bridgetown as I have heard it called recently.

From the letter

“In our opinion we need to be on the beach side of the road, not least as we have many children on weeks courses and the safety aspect on crossing the road is not something we relish.”

NOT the case. It has been acknowledged that it is not safe for children to be trained in the sea at that point.

“One idea we had was to reroute he seafront road around the back of the car park ( ref to a map and pics 9 +10) this could create a large pedestrian area, room for businesses such as ours and encourage natural traffic calming on the seafront in that area. It wouldn’t have a detrimental effect on other businesses…………”

Er……. complete elimination of Fun Park, DJs, Golf and Putting course, Carriage Café, Model railway, ….. not a detrimental effect?? Most of them were prepared to upgrade and modernise their facilities. …”

EDDC has difficulty explaining the difference between a gift and a loan

“… It follows a council document from 2015 about the Queen’s Drive development that says: “The people of Exmouth are being offered a gift of a new Watersports Centre that will operate as a community interest company (not a private facility) whereby a philanthropist is investing up to £4m of his own money in this national venue.”

But a council spokesman said that the debate is about what constituents a gift and that once the original investment without interest is recovered all income generated will be reinvested in Exmouth.

Save Exmouth Seafront spokesman Nick Hookway said: “We have a number of concerns about the arrangements that East Devon District Council has made with Grenadier.

“Grenadier is not gifting the Water Sports centre site to the people of Exmouth. Information supplied by both the developer and the Council shows that the cost of the project will initially be paid for by Grenadier. The whole cost of this development will then be paid back to Grenadier over a number of years with no interest except for the cost of inflation. Inflation is running at 3.9% as measured by the Retail Price Index. Wouldn’t it be nice if residents could get 3.9% on their savings accounts?

“In most people’s minds Grenadier is a making a loan not a gift. Why are Councillors unable to see this?”

But a council spokesman said: “Grenadier is investing £3m to £4m upfront in providing a water sports centre and we have seen the attractive plans that will enhance Exmouth’s seafront and attraction to visitors and residents.

“The developer is involved on a not for profit basis with a business model that involves recovery of their original investment (without interest). The water sports centre and associated facilities will then be operated by a non-profit making Community Interest Company. Income generated from that point on will be used to reinvest in Exmouth by the Community Interest Company.

“There seems to be some debate about what constitutes a ‘gift’. To be clear, the cost of building the asset will be paid upfront by Grenadier and this will be paid back to Grenadier by the CIC without interest using income derived from the operation of the facility.

“The specifics and priorities of that re-investment will be something that the Community Interest Company will decide and it will have local representation on the board. This varies considerably from the standard investment model that commercial developers would usually follow and, in fact, Grenadier has chosen not to make a profit on this project when they could have directed their funds elsewhere into a profit making venture as would normally be the case for a private developer.”

Questions were also raised by SES as to who exactly is behind the realignment of Queen’s Drive that will see the road move from its current position on the seafront to behind the proposed new watersports centre.

Mr Hookway said: “Why is the road being moved and who suggested this realignment? Grenadier has stated the realignment of the road was not something that they asked for. East Devon District Council will say that it was included in the Exmouth Masterplan which was adopted in 2011.

“However there was no explanation in the Masterplan for the proposed realignment, indeed recent changes to the design of the road are different from those proposed in the Masterplan. Save Exmouth Seafront wants to know why the road is being moved and who proposed these changes.”

But in response, the council spokesman said: “The road and car park move was recommended in the original masterplan and made a lot of sense in creating a new, accessible and safer space connected directly to the beach.

“There is no confusion here since the council marketed the site on that basis and Grenadier bid on the clear understanding that the road and car park were being moved. This was a council decision following the recommendation of the masterplan.”

Save Exmouth Seafront in response to the plans say that they would like the main buildings to be moved back eight metres from the current proposed location, is it necessary for it to be two storeys, and will there be a clearly displayed safety plan for kite surfers, but did say the consultation process funded by Grenadier was a most welcome change from the usual process of planning consultations.

A spokesman for Grenadier added: “We are currently reviewing all feedback received during the community consultation process. All comments are receiving our full attention and we will provide an update once we have completed our review. In the meantime we encourage the community to check back regularly at http://watersportscentreexmouth.co.uk/ for any updates.


Wildlife refuges on River Exe agreed – will it affect water sports?

Will this affect the watersports centre and, if so, will EDDC effect a covenant on its land to allow for it?

“… The Exmouth site covers an area on the east side of the River Exe, running from a point west of Exmouth Leisure Centre up to a point west of Lympstone Manor. …

“We are now calling on the wide range of Estuary users for their co-operation and support as we ask them to avoid a very small part of the Exe Estuary – all year round at Dawlish Warren’s refuge and from mid-September to end of December at Exmouth’s refuge.”

The refuges are part of the Exe Estuary Special Protection Area, which regularly provides space for 20,000 birds to rest and feed.

East Devon District Council, Teignbridge District Council and Exeter City Council must legally prevent disturbance to birds and deterioration of their habitats [though this may or may not continue after Brexit when the UK is freed from EU regulations].”


Grenadier in Exmouth again today – some questions to ponder

Grenadier are at Ocean again today. 9 to 5.

Here are a few possible questions to ask Grenadier or EDDC:

How much is Grenadier paying EDDC for the 125 year lease for the whole of the Phase 2 site? (Presumably this is no longer commercially sensitive information) and what are arrangements for profit-sharing (if any).

Does the designation of Phase 3 now as “mixed use” means business, commercial or residential or a combination of these uses?

Whose idea/decision was it to reroute the road? There is confusion as to whether it was EDDC or Grenadier.

Is there a longer-term plan for the area that has not yet been disclosed?

Chance of straight answers to simple questions?