Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Efforts to build a new bus and civic shelter on The Strand have suffered a setback, after councillors due to discuss the plans decided they would not be allowed to do so.
Councillors have been pursuing the idea of a new shelter on the site of the old thatched shelter since 2012, after a proposed ‘pavilion’ building there proved too unpopular with residents.
The town council then conducted a public survey, the result of which said people’s preferred development would be a bus shelter, with the council then voting to pursue a combined shelter which would also have space for civic events.
Having rejected a design put forward by Devon County Council, which would pay for the shelter with East Devon District Council (EDDC), a group of councillors came up with their own design, which the rest of the council was due to consider this week.
Deputy mayor Councillor Bill Nash told them: “If we don’t have this, I feel we will be doing a disservice to the people of Exmouth, as we will have no civic covered area and a bog-standard bus stop at the end of our Strand, which is a beautiful area being used and appreciated by people.
“It’s not a legacy we can leave to have nothing.”
However, when councillors began to debate the plan, Councillor Lynne Elson, chairman of the council’s planning committee, decided she should leave the meeting, saying the plan was so detailed that if a planning application then came before the planning committee she could be accused of predetermination.
The other members of the planning committee followed, and when members of EDDC’s development management committee also raised concerns the item was pulled from the agenda.
Speaking after the meeting, town clerk Colin Poole said that he would seek advice from EDDC’s planning department and monitoring officer to find a way for councillors to take part in a debate.
He also said that, despite Cllr Nash saying there was a cut off for the funding to be available on March 1, this was just a guide, and so it was not critical.
Also speaking after the meeting, county councillor Eileen Wragg, whose ward includes The Strand, said she was disappointed not to have seen the plan until last week.