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Two years on, councillors at last say: ‘Gimme shelter’

10:39 07 March 2014

A view of the Strand Gardens in Exmouth. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref exe 5026-16-11SH

A view of the Strand Gardens in Exmouth. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref exe 5026-16-11SH

Archant

Finally, after more than two years of wrangling, the town hall has backed a new shelter in the Strand.

Amid warnings that county bosses were poised to pull the earmarked cash out of Exmouth and spend it elsewhere, two thirds of town councillors on Monday backed the principle of a dual-purpose covered ‘civic area’.

But exactly what the shelter will look like nobody is quite sure – county engineers are still drawing the designs up.

A new shelter on the site of the old thatched shelter has been in the offing since 2012 as the final piece of the 
£3million Strand jigsaw.

However initial proposals for a two-story glass ‘pavilion’ and café proved too unpopular with residents.

So the town council held a public survey – and most people preferred a bus shelter.

After having rejected a design put forward by Devon County Council, a group of councillors came up with their own suggestions for a combined shelter and bus stop.

Chairman of the regeneration and general purposes committee, Pauline Stott, said: “If we don’t agree to this, county are going to wash their hands of us.

“The money set aside has already been diminished by two thirds, and will be spent somewhere else if we don’t decide and all we will get is a standard bus shelter. The vote tonight is if the town council supports the principle of a covered civic area and bus shelter ... for events like the Christmas Cracker.”

Councillor Steve Wragg proposed an amendment for a ‘bus shelter only’ and said: “It’s what people want.”

The amendment was lost and Exmouth mayor Councillor John Humphreys said: “This week is the start of Fairtrade Fortnight – they have found it difficult to find somewhere to show off their wares.

“Last year they had to use a donated shed – it looked ghastly. This is vital for our community.”

Councillor Eileen Wragg said: “Officers at county were clearly not happy with the original design – it was just a roof.”

Councillor Mark Williamson said: “This is not the time to turn down investment in the town.

“Over last few years we have seen the visitors’ centre where the funding disappeared.

“This has gone on for too long – the funding won’t be available forever and might well disappear this year. I welcome investment. It is what we are here for.”

Councillor Steve Gazzard said: “We are all aware of devastating cuts at County Hall.

“If people don’t want a covered area, the money should be used for something more urgent.

“Why not transfer the bus stop outside the cinema, which is far too large, on to the Strand and build a new one outside the cinema?”

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