The real issue going on here...

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I am writing in response to the letter in last week’s Herald from Chris Gibbings. (re: Sad to be leaving town in its state).

I was behind the campaign to stop the demolition of the Drill Hall.

I fought to stop demolition of the Drill Hall because of the complete lack of transparency in the decision making, because there was no plan ready for the area in its place (nor has there ever been), and importantly because it sits on land that is held in trust by the town council for the people of Sidmouth who were not consulted. Post demolition the space would apparently have become a small car park, though more likely it would have been left to rubble for who knows how long. What is without question is if the demolition process itself had not ruined the Sidmouth Trawlers family business, then the sea would certainly have done so in the recent storms without the Drill Hall as a barrier. I do not imagine that was factored into the plan for demolition, nor that the £48,000 set aside for the demolition work included compensation for their loss of trade. With the Bagwell’s business would have gone the last of the fishing heritage in the town. With that, what was once a vibrant part of the town would have become utterly bleak with Alma Bridge still not repaired after many years and Pennington Point rapidly eroding. A proposal could have been made to the cadets for the Drill Hall at any time up to 2011 and the town would now have control over the whole area. The problem is not the Drill Hall, but that it is now owned by EDDC.

Over the past two years I have attempted to maintain a dialogue on the future of the building with the leaders of EDDC. You can read more at www.sidmouthdrillhall.com and www.sidseafest.net

Matt Booth


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