SPECIAL REPORT: Sidmouth’s MP vows to take town’s high street woes to Government - and calls for future vision

MP Sir Hugo Swire outside Kennaway House before the meeting.

MP Sir Hugo Swire outside Kennaway House before the meeting. - Credit: Archant

A packed meeting to discuss the issues crippling Sidmouth’s high street was held by East Devon MP Sir Hugo Swire.

Local business owners Sharon Hobson,Steve Clarke,Stewart Hayman and Steven Kendall-Torry. Ref shs 13

Local business owners Sharon Hobson,Steve Clarke,Stewart Hayman and Steven Kendall-Torry. Ref shs 13 18TI 0288. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

Among the hottest topics on the agenda, at Kennaway House last Thursday night, were business rates and parking.

Sir Hugo said the Government would soon be carrying out a review on rates and vowed to send surveys to Sidmouth’s independent retailers to ask for their views, so he could take them back to Whitehall on their behalf.

The Conservative MP also called for an independent person to step forward to help create a vision of what Sidmouth should be in the next 20 to 30 years – although this would need to be backed by funding and other resources.

Sir Hugo said: “It is quite clear that the problems we are experiencing are not unique to Sidmouth and are happening right across the board.

High Street

High Street - Credit: Archant

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“The storm we are facing is caused by a combination of factors, some of which we can do something about and others we cannot.”

The meeting was attended by dozens of business owners in the town and representatives from Sidmouth Town Council, East Devon District Council, Devon County Council, the South West Tourism Alliance and Sidmouth chamber of Commerce.

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Sir Hugo made two proposals at the end of the meeting.

The first was asking independent retailers to fill out surveys that he could put forward to the Government for its review.

He added: “Sidmouth is unique. It is one of the UK’s most unspoilt coastal towns. It has some extraordinary independent retailers and we want to preserve that.

“What we are crying out for is an individual that is tasked with coming up with a vision of what this town should be like for the next 20 to 30 years.

“It would need funding and resources, but I think it would be money well spent and involve those who are here tonight. I think we need to stand back from Sidmouth Town Council, East Devon District Council and Devon County Council and have an independent individual try and come up with a vision for the town.

“I will be looking towards the Government for money and I don’t know whether the three councils can support this.”

Email sidmouth.letters@archant.co.uk and tell us what you think.

Read more about the meeting held with MP Sir Hugo Swire here:

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Should Sidmouth have affordable housing in its town centre?

Business rates are ‘not sustainable’ says MP at urgent Sidmouth talks

Multi-storey car park or park-and-ride for Sidmouth?

Calls for levy on internet shopping made by Sidmouth’s MP

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