'Filthy' Drill Hall says Sidmouth Vision Group

PUBLISHED: 12:21 23 March 2009 | UPDATED: 08:48 18 June 2010

A SIDMOUTH action group has decided to make representations to the Director of Environmental Health over the filthy state of the seafront Drill Hall.

A SIDMOUTH action group has decided to make representations to the Director of Environmental Health over the filthy state of the seafront Drill Hall.

"I put my head inside and through the darkness saw broken glass, empty bottles and full cans of beer and round the entrance there are burnt out fires," said Robert Crick, chairman of the Vision Group for Sidmouth at its Wednesday night meeting of its Seafront Action Group.

"Sara Randall Johnson [leader of East Devon District Council] said it is an eyesore, but it was given to us as a legacy, especially for the young people.

"There are lobster pots, rust and it is a health risk."

Derek Chant said: "Whether the Territorial Army or EDDC owns it they are responsible to maintain the building."

Dr Michael Brittain thought by involving Environmental Health it might force both parties to decide on the ownership of the hall, which was condemned as unsafe some years ago.

The hall, with an underground firing range, was last used by folk festival organisers in 2003.

Reasons for the group reporting the building's condition to Environmental Health, include a broken padlock allowing access to potential squatters and litter, which could cause infection, disease and a fire hazard.

"Police time is wasted going round there to see what is going on. It is a waste of police resources," said Richard Eley.

Two years ago a group of residents filled a number of bin bags with rubbish littered outside the hall which EDDC had to collect.

The action group is keen to solve the riddle of ownership of the hall. They say a covenant relating to it exists and its contents had been read to the town clerk five years ago, although its whereabouts now is unclear.

It was suggested the group invoke the Freedom of Information Act to establish what efforts EDDC has made to find the lost or missing covenant.

A council spokesman said it had no knowledge of a covenant.

"The Drill Hall is currently held in trust by the Wessex Reserve Forces & Cadet Association," he said.

Although registered with the Charity Commissioners the title is unregistered and not on public record.

"The only evidence of title, disclosed by the trustees, is an Indenture, dated June 4 1904, which makes no reference to any covenants, but refers to a deed of gift dated March 18 1896.

"The council has checked with the Charity Commission and no reference to the original deed of gift is contained in the Charitable endowment.

"The Trustees have, to date, failed to produce this deed of gift, and therefore we only have hearsay evidence as to the existence of any covenant.

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