�90k strategy could boost Port Royal

A REGENERATION pledge of �90,000 over three years could help kick-start a long-awaited bid to change the face of Sidmouth seafront.

Port Royal is one of three projects that would benefit from mooted “town centre renewal and resilience strategies” paid for by East Devon District Council (EDDC).

Overview and scrutiny committee members last week ruled �30,000, for the first year of the scheme, should be catered for in the authority’s budget for 2012/13 – despite concerns from some the project was “premature”.

The funding had initially been omitted and a “special item bid” for its inclusion was made.

Projects in Axminster and Honiton would also benefit.

Scrutiny committee members heard that the funding would allow ‘preparation and foundation work’ to be done for when the economy picks up.

Preliminary graft would mean Port Royal could be “ready for growth, ready for change,” said Councillor Andrew Moulding.

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However, some councillors wanted to see the matter postponed for a year so ongoing regeneration schemes in Exmouth and Seaton could progress more.

“I’m not against the principle but the timing -it is not now,” said Cllr Philip Skinner. Cllr Roger Giles praised an “excellent initiative” but said: “It’s a question of timing. If you agree this, you are agreeing �30,000 for three years – so it’s �90,000. I’d be delighted to support it, but it’s premature.”

Backing the bid for funding, Cllr Stuart Hughes said: “It’s time to prepare for the future and kick start the Port Royal development – it’s very important for the town.”

Cllr Graham Troman added: “People in Sidmouth are forever talking about what we’re going to do. We need to be working on it.”

Councillors voted seven to four in favour of recommending the cash be included in the budget.

EDDC’s cabinet will make a final decision of the issue.

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