The town hall is to bill district and county bosses almost £5,000 for not repainting Exmouth.

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Councillors at the finance committee meeting on Monday bemoaned the tatty state of much of the town centre and the county and district council-owned street furniture.

They complained that paint was peeling on lampposts, benches, shelters and signposts throughout the town

The two footbridges over Withycombe Brook, leading into Phear Park from Withycombe Village Road, were also singled out as needing urgent attention

So the town council has decided to bite the bullet and pay for the work itself.

Members agreed to increase the town maintenance budget by 11 per cent from £4,300 to £4,800 and change the colour scheme from the existing light blue to a dark grey.

Lib Dem councillor Jean Mitchell said: “We would make it quite clear that we would not be taking on responsibility for this forever and a day after – that this is their responsibility, not ours.”

Finance chairman Alison Greenhalgh said that by paying for it this way and billing the other local authorities, the painting would get done this year and not in 2014.

She added after the meeting: “The lampposts and street furniture are not ours, but we want the town to look nice and presentable. If painting needs to be done, [the other councils] should pay for it. But instead of waiting until it gets done, we thought we would pay for it and hope they cough up.”

She added: “By not painting they think they are saving money. But it’s a false economy because ultimately it will cost them more to maintain in the long-term.”

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