‘If we own it, we can shape our future’

Geoff Pook

Geoff Pook - Credit: Archant

Councillors have signed-off on a draft plan in the hope of securing ownership of some of Beer’s biggest assets and shaping the village’s future.

Councillor Geoff Pook (pictured) unveiled proposals to take over the management of the beach, Charlie’s Yard, Jubilee Gardens, the cliff-top car park and a number of open spaces around the village at a parish council meeting on Tuesday.

The plan identifies parts of the village currently owned by East Devon District Council (EDDC) which the parish council would like to take on itself.

EDDC is investigating the transfer of assets and responsibilities to parish and town councils through the Asset Management Forum and is considering Beer as one of its pilot schemes.

Cllr Pook, who also represents Beer and Branscombe on EDDC, said that it would be easier for the village to give more to tourists and keep them in the area if the council had control of assets.

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He said: “With ownership, I’d like to think we can secure the future and our ability to shape it - and that’s the important part. If we own it, we can shape our future.

“The feeling is we have to do something because today’s holidaymakers want more, they’re wanting to be entertained, they’re wanting events, they’re wanting a better selection - and if we want people to come more often, stay longer and spend more, we have got to give them more.”

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“Whatever we do do, we want to retain the character while enhancing the whole of the offering as a holiday destination - and it is enhancing the character that will be very important later on.”

Cllr Mike Green agreed and said tourism played a vital role in the number of businesses and shops in the village.

He added: “We wouldn’t have half the shops in Beer if we didn’t have tourism. Inside a decade, we would be down to two shops - the same as a lot of places.

“It really is important and I think the more assets we own and the more control we have, we have more chance of making a success of what’s going on.”

Cllr Darren Clinch said: “It is a huge leap forward for us. We’re the ones who have got to do it. It’s a massive job for us all. I’m not saying don’t do it, but be aware of what we are taking on and what we have to do to get through.”

Cllr Pook submitted the proposals to EDDC on Wednesday and said that the earliest the transfer of assets could begin was in April 2017.

He said: “If we took over control for everything but the central car park, they could make an even bigger surplus.

“There is a good rationale, there is no reason why EDDC would not want to do it.”

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