Power-struggle over Ottery Men’s Sheds project

Claire Wright, Helen Harms, Glynn Dobson and Ian Holmes by the new portacabins at The Station. Ref s

Claire Wright, Helen Harms, Glynn Dobson and Ian Holmes by the new portacabins at The Station. Ref sho 02-16 AW 7414. Picture: Alex Walton - Credit: Archant

Civic leaders have agreed to hook a pioneering project up to the mains, but the group will have to find the extra £1,000 for the power it needs.

One of the two portable buildings at The Station is set to become a Men’s Shed to improve the wellbeing of isolated members of the community – although, without a formal agreement, treasurer Tony Pugh fears it will not be realised this year.

Town councillors last week agreed to cover the cost of installing single-phase electricity, with the group making up the difference to create three-phase.

The Men’s Shed has £1,000 in the bank after a grant from the Norman Family Trust, Budleigh Salterton, but Mr Pugh had other ideas for it.

The retired airline pilot told the Herald: “A thousand pounds would buy us two good wood-working benches and a good selection of new tools.


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“I’m hoping someone will see the light.

“The main source of funding was going to be the lottery, but I’ve had nothing in writing. We can’t do anything until the town council initiates it. We’ve got to wait for planning permission.

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“I despair whether we’re going to get the Men’s Shed off the ground this year.”

The scheme has been backed by the Ottery Help Scheme and the Royal Voluntary Services. It is aimed at improving the physical and mental health of isolated members of the community with hobbies, such as woodwork, and could benefit residents from Ottery, Honiton, Tipton St John, Newton Poppleford and Sidmouth.

Mr Pugh said the heaters in the two portable buildings alone would likely exceed the capacity of single-phase power.

“Should the other cabin become available, it would have to hook on to our power,” he said. “We’ve got to think ahead – to change to three-phase then would be ridiculous.

“You would have to go through the whole excavation process again.”

Last week’s meeting heard that Ottery Town Council paid £1,000 to move the two portable buildings into place next to The Station.

It is yet to determine how much to charge in rent – the rooms are twice the size of the nearby offices, but do not have the same facilities.

Councillor Geoff Pratt raised concerns about the noise insulation in the second portable building with power tools being used nearby.

The meeting heard that there was interest in it from a group offering care in the community, but he said it could be better off in one of the empty rooms in The Station.

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