Community attempt to save Sidmouth Drill Hall

“Gillian Mitchell has set up a not-for-profit community interest company (CIC) called Sidmouth Sunrise as part of a bid to transform the space into a community hub.

The mum-of-two says she wanted to take on the project to tackle a gap in facilities in the town.

Gillian told the Herald: “The strength of community feeling within Sidmouth is what makes our town and local area a vibrant place to live in.

“The worrying thing is that we have no significant population of young single people, which implies that the youngsters are moving away when they leave education.

“We want to do something to increase the attractiveness of Sidmouth to this age group and encourage a more balanced population and create a sustainable vibrant community.

“We are serious about what we are doing. We really want to make sure that we have it right; we have to make sure this is feasible.”

Sidmouth Sunrise has also gained backing from Real Ideas Organisation (RIO) of Plymouth, which will serve as a consultant and funding partner.

Gillian says RIO has ‘vast experience’ in breathing new life into redundant buildings to bring them to community use and will be able to provide support and advice to manage their own projects.

Sunrise Sidmouth has carried out a structural survey and is consulting architects about final designs, before holding public meetings.

Gillian, who is chairman of the organisation, says she is looking to work collaboratively to put in the strongest bid to Exeter-based agent JLL.

She said: “We’re not aware of any other community bids that are being put together and if there is, my group would like to work together rather than have multiple community bids.

“We are really up to talking to anybody and get behind one bid.

“We’re not going to please everybody, and it is quite a small space. I do not want to be in competition with my own community.

“If we are successful with our bid, all funds and profits will be reinvested into securing the future of the Drill Hall and future similar projects.”

EDDC has given community groups six months to develop their ideas. The commercial property sector will have three months to prepare their proposals, with all bids to be submitted to JLL by February 4.”

http://www.sidmouthherald.co.uk/news/first-community-bid-comes-forward-to-transform-sidmouth-s-drill-hall-into-community-hub-1-5693614

“Council report included ‘the wrong kind of groin’ for Sidmouth seafront”

Officers could not pick up the difference between “groin” and “groyne” on their spell-checkers!

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/council-report-included-the-wrong-1987900

Misleading headline about future of Sidmouth’s Drill Hall

The Midweek Herald website has an article entitled “Concerns over Sidmouth’s redundant Drill Hall site quelled”. On reading the article it will become patently clear that, far from being quelled, the future of the Drill Hall looks extremely insecure:

“… In June, community groups were given six months to make a bid for proposals to redevelop the site – they have until February 4, 2019.

Exeter-based agent JLL, which was appointed by East Devon District Council (EDDC), plans to open the bidding up to the commercial property sector in the Autumn, giving them three months to put forward a bid.

Two members of the public came forward at the latest Sidmouth Town Council meeting on Monday. Resident Di Fuller raised issues with there being no published criteria on what the bids would be judged on. While, resident Simon Fern spoke out about his fears that the owners of the Drill Hall (EDDC) will simply sell to the highest bidder.

District and Town Councillor David Barrett said: “It would be impossible for me properly discuss the details of that criteria until it is discussed in the forum that decides the criteria.”

He added that the forum was hoping to meet soon and that he believed they would be looking at the criteria then.

Town Clerk Christopher Holland said: “My understanding is that it isn’t this council that gets the final say on this, it is not even this council who will have a say on this as such. We are being consulted and that is about it.

“My understanding is that when the criteria has been agreed they will be made publicly available to everybody but that will be through the agent. It won’t be through us, it won’t be through EDDC. It will be through the appointed agent so that they are fair to absolutely everybody and that is commercial and community bids both. They have to be fair to everybody and treat everybody in exactly the same way. So approaching us or EDDC for other information is just not going to work, you have to deal with the agent.”

http://www.sidmouthherald.co.uk/news/concerns-over-sidmouth-s-redundant-drill-hall-site-quelled-1-5685665

Are your fears quelled? Owl’s are not!

Independent EDA Councillor Rixon speaks up for Sidford parking

Here is her speech to Cabinet which led to reconsideration of an increase in car parking charges.

“My comments echo those made earlier by Richard Eley, on behalf of Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce.

I would ask you to reconsider the proposal to standardise car park fees. Evidence in my Ward suggests that a one size fits all policy will not help small businesses to survive, let alone thrive.

Sidford is a clear example. We have already lost many shops over the years. Everyone knows that retail is suffering due to competition from online shopping from the likes of Amazon which makes huge profits but contributes little to the UK economy.

Business rates weigh heavily on SMEs, which pay a disproportionate rate by comparison with large business.

Add to this the increase in the minimum wage, high levels of VAT and general running costs.

And then the local council decides to hike up the cost of parking to your customers by a whopping 150%. Taking Sidford Spar as an example, why would anyone pay a 50p premium for half an hour to buy a loaf of bread or pint of milk when they can drive to Temple Street and park for nothing or onto Waitrose and park for nothing, or even Newton Poppleford and park for nothing?

The Operations Director of Spar told me they “lost significant customer flow when the Doctor’s surgery relocated and now these increases will only hit our business even more.”

The owner of Lexys, the hairdressers, said, “I am not happy at all with the charges proposed. If I were to raise my charges by 150%, I wouldn’t stay in business.”

Cllr Pook stated “the Council has listened carefully to what has been said during the public consultation and the cabinet report recommendations reflect the views of the respondents”.

This is not the case with regard to Sidford, where 64% agreed with the proposal to introduce free parking for the first two hours. Nor does it reflect the views of business owners.

Looking at the current revenue generated, this car park contributes only 0.32% towards annual revenue at £10,676 for 2016/17. There are 60 spaces which generate only £29 a day for the whole car park (so less than 50p per space per day). Raising the parking fees by 150% would only equate to £43.50 per day, which is still miniscule. And apparently the amount for 2017/18 was even less, £10,535, so still less than 50p per space per day).

In summary, a dramatic increase in car park charges could hasten the closure of more local businesses through lack of custom. Precisely how much do the Sidford companies pay in business rates? Could it be more than £29 per day? I would suggest that this information be made available, so that it can be reviewed by Cabinet.”

Speeches by councillors for Lympestone and Phear Park led to reconsideration of their charges as reported here:

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/parking-charges-rise-devons-cheapest-1948853

What will happen in Cranbrook and Sidford if pavement parking is made illegal?

“Motorists should be banned from parking on pavements to prevent pedestrians having to walk on the road, ministers have been told.

A coalition of charities is calling on the Department for Transport (DfT) to fast-track legislation designed to bar drivers from mounting the kerb.

In a letter to The Times, the groups criticise the government for “stalling” over the issue and say that action is needed to stop cars on congested streets spilling over on to the pavement.

The issue is particularly pressing for parents with prams, the elderly, those with disabilities and people who are blind and partially sighted, they say.

The letter is signed by 20 charities including the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, Living Streets, Age UK, British Cycling, Scope and The Ramblers. An open letter to the prime minister signed by 16,000 members of the public has also been delivered.

It follows a statement from the DfT this year that it was considering an overhaul of traffic laws to prevent vehicles from blocking paths. This would bring the rest of England into line with London, which has banned pavement parking, except where specifically allowed by councils, since 1974. Outside the capital, local authorities have long pushed for the change, saying it was a “nonsense” that those outside London were treated differently. It could allow councils to make it illegal to park on the kerb unless they expressly grant permission, potentially carrying fines of £50 or £70.

Almost three years ago the DfT suggested that a review of the law would be carried out as part of reforms designed to promote more cycling and walking, but it never materialised.

Today’s letter notes that it has been 1,000 days since ministers first proposed to take action. “Cars parked on the pavements force people into the road to face oncoming traffic, which is particularly dangerous for many, including blind and partially sighted people, parents with pushchairs and young children, wheelchair users and others who use mobility aids,” it says.

Xavier Brice, chief executive of Sustrans, the walking and cycling charity, said: “We strongly support a banning of pavement parking. It is particularly dangerous for those who are blind and partially sighted, other less able people and people with push chairs.”

The DfT said: “We recognise the importance of making sure that pavement parking doesn’t put pedestrians at risk, and believe councils are best placed to make decisions about local restrictions.

“Councils already have the powers to ban drivers from parking on pavements and we are considering whether more can be done to make it easier for them to tackle problem areas. It is important to get this right for all pavement users.”

Source: Times, pay wall

“Air pollution causes ‘huge’ reduction in intelligence, study reveals”

Not good news for people on the route of the Sidford Fields Industrial Estate – or anyone in any of the villages close to Exeter that EDDC wants to expand.

“Air pollution causes a “huge” reduction in intelligence, according to new research, indicating that the damage to society of toxic air is far deeper than the well-known impacts on physical health.

The research was conducted in China but is relevant across the world, with 95% of the global population breathing unsafe air. It found that high pollution levels led to significant drops in test scores in language and arithmetic, with the average impact equivalent to having lost a year of the person’s education.

“Polluted air can cause everyone to reduce their level of education by one year, which is huge,” said Xi Chen at Yale School of Public Health in the US, a member of the research team. “But we know the effect is worse for the elderly, especially those over 64, and for men, and for those with low education. If we calculate [the loss] for those, it may be a few years of education.”

Previous research has found that air pollution harms cognitive performance in students, but this is the first to examine people of all ages and the difference between men and women.

The damage in intelligence was worst for those over 64 years old, with serious consequences, said Chen: “We usually make the most critical financial decisions in old age.” Rebecca Daniels, from the UK public health charity Medact, said: “This report’s findings are extremely worrying.” “

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/aug/27/air-pollution-causes-huge-reduction-in-intelligence-study-reveals