Elizabeth Hall Friends’ anger at Premier Inn plan

PUBLISHED: 07:30 15 October 2012

The Elizabeth Hall up for sale. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref exe 8775-19-12AW

The Elizabeth Hall up for sale. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref exe 8775-19-12AW

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Campaigners against the loss of Elizabeth Hall have branded district bosses’ decision to make Premier Inn their preferred bidder for the site as ‘disastrous’.

The Friends of Elizabeth Hall group saw its own bid to turn the hall into a community centre being turned down by East Devon District Council, which says that the Premier Inn bid offers the best deal for the town.

However, the Friends group says the decision shows that EDDC is not listening to the people of Exmouth, having gone against their petition of more than 12,000 signatures from people wanting the hall to be saved.

In a statement, the Friends said: “We believe a three-storey, 60-bedroom hotel is a disastrous decision for Exmouth on what EDDC say is the prime location on our seafront.

“It will mean the loss of a public building and public open space and the loss of the Friends proposal to provide Exmouth with a dedicated Community, Arts and Visitor Centre.

“Many residents have already spoken to us and some are heartbroken, others angry and it has confirmed to them and us that they have no voice.

“It sends out a clear message that EDDC controls and ‘owns’ Exmouth and Exmouth residents should keep their mouths shut and let ‘big brother’ continue to give our seafront and estuary to the developers on a plate.”

The Friends said they were disappointed that EDDC said their bid had scored poorly on their selection criteria, having been confident that they would score well, and pointed out their scheme would not have required any taxpayer money.

The Friends also said the Premier Inn would attract fewer visitors to the town than the Elizabeth Hall would now or in the future, and that the hotel chain would be likely to bring in outside contractors, whilst the Friends would have employed locals to carry out their planned renovations of the hall.

They also said they were disappointed that members of the EDDC selection panel turned up late to their interview – although EDDC says it apologised to the group, and their interview was not affected.

The Friends group says it will now be consulting with its supporters before deciding on its next move, and is holding a meeting, provisionally scheduled for Exmouth Town Hall Council Chambers next Tuesday, at 7pm.

This may change, depending on the response, and the group is appealing for supporters to keep sending in feedback or suggestions to friendsofelizabethhall@aol.co.uk, or by calling Nicky King on 01395 276583.

The group said it wanted to thank its supporters for their hard work, messages of support and commiserations, and that it valued their continued input.

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