Bid for Exmouth Fun Park to keep trading was rejected
PUBLISHED: 14:16 07 September 2017 | UPDATED: 15:13 07 September 2017
An application for an Exmouth seafront tourist attraction to continue trading until its future was decided was rejected.
Exmouth Fun Park, on Queen’s Drive, had its lease ended on August 31 by East Devon District Council (EDDC), which wants to redevelop the site.
Councillor Megan Armstrong, an Independent East Devon Alliance member of the Conservative-led council, said she attempted to secure a stay of execution for the fun park, but was unsuccessful.
The future of the fun park, and also the nearby Harbour View Café, which is also threatened with closure, will be discussed at an extraordinary meeting of EDDC on Wednesday, September 13.
An EDDC spokesperson said a request from the tenant’s lawyers for an extended lease had not been received until August 29, and that the council was concerned an extension would ‘undermine’ its plans for Queen’s Drive.
Cllr Armstrong said: “I initiated a meeting with one of the senior officers from EDDC in an attempt to clarify various issues about the fun park tenancy.
“I also suggested a further meeting between the officer, the tenant and I (and any other appropriate person) to hopefully reach a mutually acceptable way forward for the fun park to continue trading at least until after the outcome of the extraordinary meeting.
“I thought it was essential that the issues should be fully debated by all members before the possible closure of the fun park and not afterwards, thereby not pre-judging the outcome.
“The request from the tenant to continue such temporary trading was sent to the council’s legal department the following day, along with proposed terms for the council to grant a licence on a commercial basis, with no risk to future plans for the site, the retention of all employees and the assurance of ongoing facilities for residents and visitors.
“However, the tenant was informed that he could not trade after August 31, but was given an extra two weeks to clear the site.
“My suggestion of a meeting was also turned down.”
An EDDC spokesperson said: “We cannot confirm Cllr Armstrong’s version of events. There was a meeting between EDDC’s chief executive Mark Williams and Cllrs Armstrong and Geoff Jung and Mr Williams suggested a way forward. “However, this wasn’t reciprocated in the correspondence that the council subsequently received from the fun park tenant’s legal advisors.
“The council has already agreed to extend the license period for the tenant to clear the site so as not to prejudge the extraordinary council meeting on September 13.
“The tenant had already benefitted from an extended period of trading with an agreement from the council that no rent would be paid for the last year.
“However, the council needs to both implement the court order and have the site vacant for works to begin preparatory to providing public access and new temporary attractions in 2018.
“We remain concerned that any further extension beyond previous extensions would undermine the progress of Queen’s Drive improvement.”