Calling the shots

SIR - I read with interest (Herald, January 27, pg 4) that the East Devon District Council Overview and Scrutiny committee pledged �30,000 a year for three years for Sidmouth Seafront Regeneration. This was originally omitted from the 2012/13 budget and was only included as a “special item”.

It was passed by a split vote and has to be confirmed by cabinet so, still, not a done deal. Cllr Hughes and Cllr Troman fought the corner for Sidmouth and aren’t even the ward members, without them Sidmouth would have been left out. The east end of the town is a disgrace and has been for years.

The town council was proactive enough to have a plan and even a model made years ago, but these were held up by ownership problems with the Drill Hall; after a long battle this has now been resolved so there is no excuse for further delay.

What happened to the money promised from the Fortfield Hotel redevelopment which would have paid the whole �90,000 plus? Has this money already been allocated elsewhere as a number of us suspected would happen?

Someone was asking for all of it to do up the Manor Pavilion which the town council wants to take on; Honiton has a long standing bid in for a new Council Chamber and of course EDDC wants to re-locate, probably to Honiton.

Pressure groups in Sidmouth have tried to get things moving, even submitting ideas to EDDC, and we remember a developer submitting his ideas which included the much discussed (disliked) marina but nothing has gone to planning. The land is available and some primer money should be forthcoming, so how about the Herald asking the people what they would like to see at Port Royal?

Don’t forget the sailing club, lifeboat station, fisherman’s sheds and even the swimming pool is in the ownership or in trust to the Town and district councils, so, while they should be catered for somewhere, all that land is available, particularly as I believe some leases are due to run out soon.

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Money has to be found from somewhere, so the ideas have to be realistic. A small flat in Sidmouth with a sea view costs between �400,000 and �600,000 + so �90,000 doesn’t go far; a developer who will want his profit will be needed but, as owners of the land, the councils can call the shots.

EDDC could make it known they are actively seeking a partnership with a developer (are they?) and asking for ideas to be submitted from interested parties. What is needed is an iconic development that will provide some employment and a statement that Sidmouth is still in business.

Maybe the Chamber of Commerce should put its hat in the ring as well; they have always had good ideas in the past. Sidmouth will only get one chance of getting this right for generations to come; we all want something we can be proud of. How about including a roof-top restaurant run by a top rated chef with views down the Jurassic Coast?

On another note, Jacob’s Ladder needs repainting and a couple of metal signposts on the seafront have rusted so badly they are dangerous.

Again, Cllr Hughes has taken these up with EDDC using his “Town Council Chairman’s” hat as he is not the EDDC ward member. Come on, the other five Sidmouth councillors, let your voices be heard, particularly the three elected to represent the ward this is all on.

They may or may not be doing something but it’s very, very quiet from where I am. Let’s hear it loud and clear from our representatives that they want our fair share from EDDC. A “we are working hard behind the scenes” quote just won’t do anymore.

Chris Gibbings

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