The chairman of the Budleigh Salterton chamber of commerce has questioned if spending £85,000 on glossy brochures to promote Budleigh Salterton and East Devon as a global brand is value for money.

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Christine Bentley asked if the £85,000 from the ‘Parishes Together Fund’, the total amount if East Devon’s seven towns joined forces, could not be spent on tourist information centres.

The scheme is by East Devon District Council (EDDC) and Devon County Council (DCC) and provides £1.10 available per elector, but there were concerns that it would not be cost effective if towns spent the money on their own.

So last year representatives of Budleigh, Seaton, Exmouth, Ottery, Honiton, Sidmouth and Axminster met to see if they could pool their rescources to spend cash on a common project.

It was suggested that the towns club together – a total of 77,273 electors would result in a total of £85,000.

However, the project would not only have to have the combined consent of all seven towns, but the agreement of both EDDC and DCC.

An initial idea was for the money to be spent on brochures and signs to help tourists find their way around the district.

But at the last town council meeting mayor Courtney Richards said: “…county (DCC) highways have problems about putting signs up.”

Town clerk Jo Vanstone said: “There is over £85,000. That is an awful lot of brochures.

“What we are looking at is that a supply of brochures would be given to anybody who is sending out things elsewhere by post.

“This could be things like invoices, or goods around the world.”

But Christine Bentley said: “£85,000 seems an awful amount to spend on glossy brochures when all of the towns mentioned produce their own town guide annually (Seaton and Axmouth is covered by Axevale publication) and at huge resources and expense.

“There is also the Heart Of Devon Guide to which all the East Devon towns advertise and their web-sites.

“How are these brochures going to be distributed? Who is going to pay for postage should someone decide they could be sent with invoices etc?

“Even sending the Budleigh Salterton Guide to the other side of the world costs £4 (£3 Europe).

“It is ironic that East Devon will not give grants to the tourist information centres, but can spend this money on duplicating what is already been done by them.

“It is too much to hope that the councils ask the chambers of commerce for their thoughts. Could not the money be spent in another direction such as some minor concession on parking - or keeping public toilets open?”

The 2013 Budleigh Salterton Guide is available now from the Information Centre and various shops in town.

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