Call to cancel �100,000 transfer

cash earmarked for an Exmouth visitor centre could go down the pan after being reallocated to build toilets in Seaton.

Exmouth’s county councillors are calling for county chiefs to cancel the agreed �100,000 cash transfer – called a virement – and reinstate it back to Exmouth.

A total of �500,000 was set aside by the county council towards an Exmouth visitor centre and the same amount for the Seaton project, following the sale of Exeter Airport.

However, the Exmouth project stalled after the former South West Regional Development Agency pulled the plug on millions-of-pounds of promised funding.

Then county chiefs cut their contribution by �100,000 last year – Exmouth county councillor Eileen Wragg says she was led to believe this was because of local government ‘cuts’.

But, in fact, the Investing Devon Panel agreed to transfer a fifth of the Exmouth cash to Seaton’s visitor centre project in a move rubber-stamped by the cabinet member for resources, John Clatworthy.

In a letter to Cllr Clatworthy, county treasurer, Mary Davis, says the reason for the the transfer was due to overruns in the �2.33m Seaton project. She said the virement was: ‘… due to clarification of costs including toilets, size of the education room and storage facilities which cannot all be contained within the overall project budget...’

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The transfer was set to come into force last Tuesday, but councillors have the right to ‘call in’ any decisions made by cabinet members.

Cllr Wragg said “I was perturbed to read in a letter for decision to the resources portfolio holder that �100,000 was to be vired to Seaton visitor centre.

“This would result from a cut from the original sum of �500,000 which had been designated for an Exmouth project. My understanding was the �100,000 cut was being made due to cuts in local government funding. Neither I nor my colleagues recall any mention of a virement and this raises questions which will, hopefully, lead to the cabinet reconsidering the decision and reinstating the original sum for Exmouth.”

The matter has been referred to the county council’s cabinet for discussion with the local member on July 13.