Dove objectors: it’s a sad day for town

SIDMOUTH had its own black Monday this week according to those opposed to The Dove pub s gambling licence application, which was granted for 40 slot machines.

SIDMOUTH had its own black Monday this week according to those opposed to The Dove pub's gambling licence application, which was granted for 40 slot machines.

"It is a sad and bad day for Sidmouth that anything like the Dove is allowed to get through the system," said town council chairman Councillor Tom Cox, "and a sad day for local democracy."

He was furious at being gagged by red tape, unable to voice the council's objections at Monday's hearing by EDDC's licensing and enforcement sub-committee "because it wasn't considered a responsible agency".

Devon County Councillor Stuart Hughes said: "I think Christine Drew (chairman) made a mistake.

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"At the present time, the proceedings don't allow any debate by town, district or county councils."

But, had the licence been refused, it would go to magistrates and councillors could have made representation to them.

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Mr Cox said there was no real policy reason to refuse the licence after planning permission was granted, but hoped it would be carefully monitored.

"I do believe the local voice was overridden, whether by Government creating a policy no-one can challenge or lack of 'courage' by councillors."

He is undecided whether to write to the Ombudsman but will raise it at the next town council meeting on November 3.

"We have a situation where it looks like an astonishing majority of people in Sidmouth were against it.

"None of the town councillors were allowed to say anything at the meeting, we were even told there was no point in writing in as EDDC would discount it.

"If it wasn't so serious it would be laughable."

Objector Colin Healey, whose home adjoins The Dove, was concerned noise from gambling machines would exacerbate his already disturbed nights.

He said: "Is this what we really want in Sidmouth? Is it going to open the floodgates for other similar establishments?"

The Reverend Handel Bennett, chairman of Sid Vale Association, said there was evidence criminal activity was "co-existent with licensed gambling premises", and said the committee had "a duty to protect our community" and notices and CCTV at the entrance to the centre was not enough.

After the decision he added: "A gambling centre so close to our seafront is something residents have said is unacceptable, and our regular visitors will not like it either.

Garland Pickard was applauded for asking the council to reject the application. He said government was "looking into stopping this loophole in their law which allows amusement arcades and lap dancing clubs to proliferate.

"However, this will be too late for Sidmouth. It is a very sad day."

After the decision Mrs Drew said: "We considered very carefully all of the points made by the Sidmouth objectors, but found there is no reason in law to refuse this application.

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