Calls for fairer tourism funding for East Devon

Councillor Sheila Kerridge

Councillor Sheila Kerridge - Credit: Archant

East Devon’s MP needs to ‘lobby, lobby, lobby’ for fair tourism funding, according to a former industry champion.

Town councillor Sheila Kerridge said while visitor numbers are falling in Devon but are up 10 per cent in a decade in Yorkshire - where the budget is 100 times bigger.

She argued that Sir Hugo Swire needs to fight for more tourism cash for all of his constituency.

Cllr Kerridge, the former tourism champion at East Devon District Council (EDDC), told a meeting last week: “Devon only receives £45,000 per annum. Yorkshire receives £5million. I want this committee to do something about that - not just for Sidmouth but all of East Devon.

“We should lobby our MP to go to central government to say tourism is vital for the South West, vital for East Devon and vital for Sidmouth.

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“Let’s get him to say we need more money. We want our share. We should lobby, lobby, lobby to get our fair share.”

Cllr Kerridge cited figures showing visitor numbers to Devon are down four per cent compared by 2006.

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Her calls came after news Sidmouth Town Council had joined third sector tourism board Visit Devon as an early adopter after its relaunch.

Town clerk Christopher Holland said: “We are one of the first councils to get on board with Visit Devon. It can be moulded to how we want it – we don’t want it just to be for Torbay or the English Riviera. We can promote what we want to promote.

“Visit Devon is a good brand but Devon is far behind Cornwall in how we promote ourselves as a destination. We need people to turn off the M5 before they get to Cornwall.”

Cllr Simon Pollentine said: “EDDC have dropped East Devon as a brand by not investing in it. This council is continuing to invest in tourism promotion and they aren’t.”

Cllr Ian Barlow questioned if it was value for money and said £1,000 could buy a lot of promoted posts on Facebook and Twitter.

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