Drop ‘Regency Town’ tag urges Sidmouth campaigner

Sidmouth’s ‘regency town’ tag is holding it back and should be dropped, according to the former chair of a group trying to create a vision for its future.

Robert Crick said constant references to the Regency Period in documents from East Devon District Council (EDDC) were giving a misleading impression of Sidmouth.

Mr Crick, a former chairman and member of Vision Group for Sidmouth, said in a talk at Wednesday’s monthly Chamber of Commerce breakfast there were a lot of other things to be proud of in the twon.

He asked “What’s so marvellous about the regency era anyway?”

The former university professor said the only literary reference to the town during the period is in Percy Shelley’s poem ‘The Masque of Anarchy’, where Home Secretary during the Peterloo Massacre Viscount Sidmouth is in the guise of ‘hypocrisy’.

He said there were 188 listed buildings within a kilometre of the seafront, and very few of them were built in the Regency Period.

Mr Crick said: “It’s a town full of 1930’s bungalows, and what’s wrong with that? We should celebrate the fact Sidmouth is a good place for old people to live.”

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After breaking out into several verses of an ancient peasant song, he said the draft EDDC ‘Local Plan’, which sets out housing and industrial figures for the next 15 years, focuses far too much on the ‘regency town’ tag.

He said it was evocative of large seafront developments, and could be used to justify high-rise building in Sidmouth in the future, something the town doesn’t need.

The Vision Group for Sidmouth member, which was set up in 2005 to create and champion a ‘vision for the future’, said the town needs to make more use of the Jurassic Coast on its doorstep.

He ended the talk by asking the assembled business men and women of the town if they had any ideas for a new tagline for Sidmouth, which accurately portrayed its features and what it wanted from the future.