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Home rule

10:03 10 February 2012

I am indebted to your correspondent D Lawash in last week’s Exmouth Journal for his contribution to my “war on whingers” debate and I should like to build on some of the ideas he offers.

Firstly, I like the idea of testing the feelings of the whole town for what should happen on The Strand for I have no idea whether the suggestion that I am “a minority supporter of The Strand” is factual or not.

Further, I should like to suggest that before such a judgement can be logically made, there are wider issues that the town must consider. These were most eloquently stated by your “Politics of the Play School” correspondent who wrote on January 27:

“Coastal towns in the South West largely fall into two types, those that are developing, looking forward, taking risks, attracting visitors and investment, and those that are in terminal decline. The keys to their success or failure lie in the leadership of local politicians and the attitudes of local traders. Many of us love it here and are working hard to make Exmouth a place of welcome and beauty and a society in harmony.”

If Exmouth is deemed to be the former, then let’s consider creative ideas for paying for the maintenance and use of The Strand.

In last week’s Journal, Phillip Cole makes many positive suggestions, and I am sure many Exmothians could think of more. Let’s hear them. I should like to add that it would be brilliant if the final solution was also something that was so exciting that it brought more people to enjoy The Strand, who, in turn, would be customers of, and add to the prosperity of, the many cafes, shops and the market.

Alternatively, if people would prefer Exmouth to go into terminal decline, then no maintenance, grass cutting, repairs, etc will be necessary; money can be saved that will doubtless be spent on other towns, and we can await the consequences.

This was clearly not an option I have personally ever considered and perhaps it explains the differing views Mr Lawash and I have of the consultation process.

I am also accused of being undemocratic. I do perhaps get overly frustrated with those who seem only to state what they do not like without ever offering any solutions.

So, in this instance, I must plead guilty to adding to the democratic deficit that already exists in urban Exmouth, where our first-past-the-post electoral system ensures that the votes of many never result in representation, where the largest town in Devon has only a town council with the limited powers of a parish and rurally elected East Devon District Council has effectively been a one-party state since it was set up in the 1970s. My solution is home rule for Exmouth!

Mike Hinds

via email.

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