'Mystery' footbridge donor revealed at council planning debate
PUBLISHED: 10:05 16 April 2019 | UPDATED: 09:14 17 April 2019
An Ottery businessman has been revealed as the mystery donor behind plans to replace a former footbridge close to a town pub.
Stuart Phillips, owner of café Tickety Boo, has pledged an unconfirmed amount to restore the Land of Canaan bridge adjacent to the Tumbling Weir pub.
The identity of Mr Phillips was revealed during an Ottery St Mary Town Planning Committee meeting, where his application to convert a former shop in Mill Street into apartments was discussed.
During the discussion, Councillor Peter Faithfull revealed that Mr Phillips was the donor.
Cllr Faithfull voiced his concerns that Mr Phillips' donation could influence the committee's opinion on the application.
He said: “One thing I am a little bit concerned about, and I appreciate the kind offer from Stuart regarding the footbridge, I really want to make sure that has absolutely no influence on this decision.”
Cllr Ian Holmes, chairman of the committee, allayed Cllr Faithfull's concerns and said the outcome of the discussion had “absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with it.”
Following the exchange, the planners voted to support the application by three votes to two.
The deciding vote came from Cllr Holmes who used his vote to level the results.
He then exercised his right as chair to cast a deciding vote in favour of supporting the bid.
As he was casting his vote, Cllr Holmes said: “This is absolutely nothing to do with anything else, I use my second vote and I will say I support it so that's two to three.
“I consider that the applicant has done everything possible that he can do to mitigate the problems and is prepared to change things in the future.”
Two Ottery residents spoke in opposition of the plans at the meeting, citing issues with potential light pollution, noise levels, loss of privacy and impact on their properties.
The proposal had been discussed twice before by the committee, including at its March 2019 meeting, when members agreed to move it forward so neighbours could have time to prepare their arguments.
The application's fate will be decided by planners at East Devon District Council.