Sidmouth landmark under threat over coat of paint

Health and safety warning on ‘deteriorating’ Jacob’s Ladder

JACOB’S Ladder faces being shut off from the public - and could even have to be taken down – because it needs a lick of paint.

Health and safety chiefs issued a warning over the deteriorating landmark after it emerged its maintenance hadn’t been included in the district council’s budget.

An authority watchdog this week recommended that �11,000 should be found to ensure the tourist attraction is saved.

“You can’t contemplate Sidmouth without it,” said one councillor.

A report to East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) Overview and Scrutiny Committee revealed Jacob’s Ladder is showing signs of weathering.

It added that hand rails and treads were wearing and needed a fresh coat of paint.

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“This town landmark will deteriorate to the point that it will have to be closed to the public and maybe taken down for health and safety reasons,” members were warned.

The issue was raised when the committee discussed EDDC’s budget and service plans for 2012/13 on Wednesday.

Councillors voted that the cost of painting the ladder should be included in the budget after a “special item bid” was made.

EDDC’s cabinet will make a final decision. The ladder was last painted in 2007.

“We couldn’t afford to close Jacob’s Ladder for health and safety,” said Councillor Graham Troman at Wednesday’s meeting.

“For the sake of a coat of paint it will save a lot of money for the whole of the town.”

Cllr Stuart Hughes, who chairs the committee, added: “I was amazed when I saw it has deteriorated to the point where it could be taken down. It would cost more than �11,000 to replace. I don’t think it’s a case of do we want to find it (the funding) – we’ve got to find it.”