Copy of Letter to the journal (full version)
I am very concerned that a letter ‘Don’t be fooled by signs’, carried in the Exmouth Journal (29 Sept, 2016), is not only misleading but is factually incorrect.
As the author of the letter is fully aware, East Devon District Council gave full notice to all its tenants on the Queen’s Drive site and where possible we have worked with some of them so that they can continue trading. The Railway Carriage Café reached an amicable agreement with EDDC to leave, received compensation and is now up and running elsewhere. DJ’s Café did not respond to the council’s approaches and had repeatedly fallen into arrears on its rent. On the day that the council finally came to take back the premises, council officers were surprised to arrive at the café at the same time as bailiffs who we learnt were there to enter and cut off the café’s gas supply.
There have been some negative statements concerning the Queen’s Drive site by a vociferous group. It is very easy to criticise from the sidelines. We welcome constructive suggestions by those who bring forward new ideas to help Exmouth to grow and change as the world changes around it. Exmouth is Devon’s largest town. Our population is growing and ageing and much of our economy is low paid and seasonal. This is true of other seaside towns and they have recognised the challenge and responded to it. So too is the District Council by investing in the town. The Strand, as an events space, and the Premier Inn, now employing more than 40 people, are successes that we can be proud of and the council is spending £1.2m on Mamhead Slipway to restore Exmouth’s leisure maritime place on the Devon coast. As Chairman of Exmouth Community College with over 2,000 students, it is important we look to the future to provide homes and jobs for our local young people.
For Queen’s Drive, the council has its plan in place to move the road and car park further back from the beach (Phase 1). This new beach side space will contain a national Watersports centre, open air performance space, seafront business units and public areas (Phase 2). Just as the Strand has brought new life to the centre of town, this will be a new place connected to the beach which will be safe without having to cross a busy road. The council is currently finalising the development agreement on Phase 2 with the proposed developers of this site.
The final phase (Phase 3) of the development is the remainder of the fun park and Harbour View sites. Having been held up by court actions for the best part of two years the council has decided that because of these costly time delays Phase 3 is worth revisiting. Time has moved on. The vision remains a mix of leisure uses combining indoor and outdoor attractions with good public space, play areas and all year round attractions. We are looking to refresh the ideas for Phase 3 of the site and will bring in expertise to work with us in consultation with the people of Exmouth to make that happen.
For Phases 1 and 2 there is a clear plan. For Phase 3 we are right not to tie ourselves to a previous developer and it’s plan, when time has moved on.
We believe in Exmouth. We have a great vision for the town and we have continued to share this with our residents. We began this process in 2010 and we have been listening, and will continue to listen, to our residents. We must ensure that Exmouth meets the needs of all our residents and visitors so that it has the thriving economy that we all want to see. I, for one, don’t want Exmouth to become a town preserved in aspic.