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Councillors back Strand ‘shelter’ despite concerns

14:37 10 September 2012

Archant

A new bus shelter could be built in the Strand with a covered community area attached – even though a recent town survey appeared to kill off such a scheme.

In the survey, 60 per cent of respondents opposed a building in the Strand – two previous plans for which have fallen through.

While voters rejected a building, town councillors were told at a meeting this week, in a report by Town Team chairman Ade Brayley, that when written responses to the survey were taken into account, the number in favour of a bus shelter rose to nearly 34 per cent, and the number against a building fell to 48 per cent.

It was suggested that had they been asked directly, more voters might have backed a shelter.

A majority of councillors then backed a dual-purpose structure, with a bus shelter on one side and a covered, unenclosed community area on the other, for civic events, with associated landscaping.

They insisted this was not the same as previous controversial plans for a “pavilion” building.

Deputy mayor Bill Nash said: “This report clearly shows people don’t want a building as put forward in the past, but do want a shelter. All of us when we drive past and see people standing in the rain see we could do with a shelter.”

Councillor Eileen Wragg, who said the shelter should be subject to public consultation, said: “What we don’t want to see is a huge building. I think most people would favour a bus shelter. I think we do need a [portable] raised stage there. I believe it needs something with landscaping and more tree planting, in sympathy with what’s there at the moment, and this proposed public function.”

Although a majority of councillors backed the shelter, the decision was opposed by some, who said the plan went against the results of the survey.

Also, members of the Town Team, including Councillor Steve Gazzard and Franklins’ co-owner Jacquie Haywood, complained that the report the team had been asked to produce had only been compiled by Ade Brayley – and they had not seen it before the meeting.

Cllr Gazzard, who voiced support for just a bus shelter, said: “I’m concerned at the way this document has been written – there is spin in this document and I can’t understand how many times the people have to say no, they don’t want a permanent building on that site.”

Speaking after the meeting, Jacquie Haywood said: “This report was compiled by one individual without input from the rest of the [Town Team] committee. I have demanded that my name be removed off such an underhand and manipulative report and we shall continue to fight this ‘structure’.”

The town council will now recommend the shelter to East Devon District Council and Devon County Council, which would fund the project. A budget of £500,000 has been earmarked for a building on the site.

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