Angry Vic’ Way owners hit back

Owners of Victoria Way workshops in Exmouth say they are being unfairly singled out following health and safety concerns.

Owners of Victoria Way workshops in Exmouth say they are being unfairly singled out following health and safety concerns.

A fire at R&R Motors earlier this year, prompted the town council to call for closer scrutiny of the dozen or so workshops lining Victoria Way, writes David Beasley.

Concerns were raised that unknown stocks of dangerous materials could be in some businesses - and the practice of spray painting could put passers-by at risk.

But garage owners have challenged councillors to visit in an open invitation to prove the businesses are safe.

Derek Marsh, of Body Works Accident and Repair, told the Journal reports that acetylene cylinders exploded in the fire were not true.

He said: "We feel harassed, but we have not done anything wrong. There is nothing kept here that is really dangerous.

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"Waste oil is collected and disposed of in a responsible way � - which we pay for - and, apart from that, we use small amounts of solvent."

He said they had been given the all-clear by Environmental Health Officers and spray painting did not put anybody at risk because they used water-based paints and the extraction system put fumes 25 metres into the air.

"We are not the only garages; Bentleys, Southcoast Motors, Arcadia are all near residential areas, so why are we being singled out?

"There is a feeling that the council do not want us here and want us is in an industrial estate."

Karl Brigham , of KB Autoservices, said: "What is so different that we do compared to other garages?

"Even the brake pads we use do not have asbestos anymore.

"Hardware stores in the town centre stock white spirit, sell paraffin, gas bottles and these are more hazardous than what we store."

Colin Bacon, owner of Ex-Weld and landlord of at least four workshops, said: "I have been here for 30 years and this is my third recession and we do not need councillors giving us a hard time.

"I have never known anything like it. What we need are people rolling up their sleeves and helping us out."

He said that between all of them they had trained up hundreds of school leavers: "I do not think councillors realise what we do for the town.

"School leavers come from the community college for training and they learn more here than they do in the classroom.

"They ring us all the time - this is where young lads in Exmouth get trained, get their apprenticeship and learn a trade."

He challenged councillors to see how safe their premises were and issued the open invitation.

The district council was asked for a comment, but had not responded by the time of going to press.