EDDC challenged on costs for rusting collection box for beach project

The BMP collection box on Sidmouth's Esplanade is rusting

The BMP collection box on Sidmouth's Esplanade is rusting - Credit: Archant

A Sidmothian has refuted claims a collection box on the Esplanade to raise money for sea defences only cost the taxpayer £400.

Garland Pickard submitted a Freedom of Information request to East Devon District Council (EDDC) but challenged the figures it produced as they left out labour costs.

He said the 13 hours’ work added another £1,030 to the bill – so at the current rate of donations the costs will not be covered for a decade.

“It’s ludicrous,” said Mr Pickard. “It’s throwing money away. If this was their own money, they wouldn’t do it. Because it’s taxpayers’ money, they don’t care.

“The generated income of approximately £200 per annum will not cover the interest paid, running costs and maintenance costs, and I suggest that the best option would be removal.

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“The box is rusting already. It’s in a disgraceful state. If it continues to lose money, will funds be removed from the beach management plan (BMP) budget to pay for its continuing presence on the sea front?”

The collection box and interpretation board were installed – at the request of the BMP’s funding sub-group – to help EDDC raise the £3.3million in partnership funding needed to deliver the beach management plan.

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As of December 18, only £165.75 had been collected.

EDDC also plans to write to businesses and residents to see if they ‘would step up to the challenge of helping fund the works required’.

Mr Pickard added: “I would like to know who gave permission for the collection box to be installed. Presumably it was some councillor. Did it go before a committee? Did they imagine how much was going to be collected?

“It won’t make any money, and they won’t get any money writing to businesses or members of the public.”

An EDDC spokeswoman said the collection box and information board were funded with £800 from Councillor Stuart Hughes’ locality budget.

She added that the wording was signed off by the relevant council officers, no planning permission was required, and collections have been accommodated into officers’ existing rounds, at no additional cost to the taxpayer.

EDDC’s StreetScene team will be painting it ‘in due course’ to address the rusting.

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