Public outcry as popular Sidmouth business’s future on ‘rocky ground’

Maddie Todd, Guy Russell, Livi Mclennan and Josh Roberts at Jurassic Paddle Sports pictured in 2018.

Maddie Todd, Guy Russell, Livi Mclennan and Josh Roberts at Jurassic Paddle Sports pictured in 2018. - Credit: Archant

A popular Sidmouth business says its future is on ‘rocky ground’ as it continues talks to stay on the town’s beach.

Guy Russell, who runs Jurassic Paddle Sports, updated customers as he is trying to renew his concession with East Devon District Council to operate next year.

He said there would be 'some changes' if the business was to continue following complaints.

Residents and customers have shared their outrage and support for the business on the Facebook post which has more than 230 comments and 100 shares.

An online petition has already secured more than 640 signatures urging the council to let the business stay put.

The businessman says he has been trying to renew his concession to operate next year and will see the fee increase and insurance costs double.

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However, East Devon District Council (EDDC) say they have agreed to renew the lease for another three years.

Mr Russell wrote: "East Devon District Council and members of the public have made some complaints about the way I run Jurassic paddle sports and if I want to continue with the business I have to run it in a different way.

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I will be removing my sign on the seafront, the flags, the bin and the two minute beach clean board and the shed as I have been told there has been complaints about them and they are causing offence and the general public have made complaints.

"I have also got to remove the black rubber mats that we have to make access to the beach easier, this is a real shame as it's not just Jurassic customers who use them but the general public.

"It's enabled the elderly, small children and families with pushchairs and disabled people to access and enjoy the beach.

"We won't be able to offer the same level of service and will have to operate with less kit and will do shorter days due to the transportation of more meaning longer loading times.

"I will endeavour to work with EDDC over the next few weeks to secure the future of the beach business that brings so much happiness to so many people but at the moment I can't promise you all that we will be there next year.

"It's very sad to think that we may not be there, it's my passion, my job and gives some amazing young people a job."

He apologised to any members of the public that had been offended adding the team set up wanting people to enjoy the beach in a 'safe and enjoyable manner'.

"This is not a cry for sympathy or a PR stunt, this is me keeping you all informed because Jurassic is part of the community and it's all down to you guys that it's a success.

"Nothing is ever too much trouble for us and we love what we do and we think we do a good job."

He concluded by saying if the business did not return money donated to the business towards keeping the beach safe would be donated to Sidmouth Lifeboat and its planned lifeguard service.

An EDDC spokesman said: "The council is pleased to say that it has agreed terms with Jurassic Paddle Sports to renew their concession at Sidmouth seafront for a further three seasons (2020, 2021 and 2022).

"We are firm supporters of this business particularly as it brings trade to the town from local people and tourists.

"The concession fee has increased and this is in line with similar concessions across the district.

"To reflect the nature of the beach activity, the business needs public liability insurance to protect their customers and themselves. The council's insurers have advised us of a reasonable amount of insurance cover that the business needs and it is up to the owner to make sure that this is in place.

"We have offered to talk with the concession holder about the signage, equipment and storage facilities on the beach and are happy to continue to do so."

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