Chamber flies a kite resolution

A HAPPY resolution could be on the cards for the Imperial Recreation Ground kiting dispute, thanks to Exmouth Chamber of Commerce.

A HAPPY resolution could be on the cards for the Imperial Recreation Ground kiting dispute, thanks to Exmouth Chamber of Commerce.

The Chamber organised a meeting between the main parties concerned with the ban on kite-boarding, kite buggies and large power kites at the ground.

East Devon District Council had put up signs reminding users that kite-powered travel on the site was not allowed. However, recreational kiting, including the annual kite festival, could continue as before.

The kiting enthusiasts were keen to ensure that the various sports, which are growing in popularity and attracting kiters to Exmouth, should be allowed to operate safely and legally, without conflicting with other seaside activities.

After hearing of concerns about the signs erected by EDDC to enforce its existing bye-laws, the Chamber invited the Council to attend a meeting with businesses and users of the recreation ground, or with an interest in kiting and related water-sports.

Chamber chairman Nigel Wilkinson said: "The aim of Thursday's meeting was to allow all the parties to air their views and to find common ground so that we can move forward with a solution to the problems that brought about the signs. This, we believe, we have done, following a very positive meeting".

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Attending the meeting were Mark Reilly, EDDC's head of StreetScene, Eric Bridge from Edge Watersports, Peter Manfield from Waterfront Sports, Mike Way from Exe Kiteboarders, and two local kite sport enthusiasts.

After lengthy discussions, the meeting came up with the following proposals:

l Eric Bridge will draw up a Kite Users' Code, incorporating local rules, to be agreed by the other parties

l Once the Code has been agreed and is in place on site, EDDC will remove the signs banning kiting and will defer further action until its Executive Board can meet to formally discuss future arrangements, including consultation on change of use

l During this period, all organisations will limit their onshore activities within reason, being aware that they are technically in breach of the bye-laws and any insurance could therefore be invalid

l Eric Bridge will also indicate a reasonable area of land on the Imperial Recreation Ground that can be set aside for kiting activities, allowing for other users and safety concerns

l Once the Code and land area have been agreed and ratified by EDDC, a concession to use this area may be granted, in return for the agreement of the kiting organisations, both commercial and non-commercial, to informally police the rules

l Subject to council approval of the concession, clear signage will be put in place to explain the Code to visitors and to warn non-kiting users of potential hazards

l Once this is in place, these rules can be adopted as a model for the seafront

l It is intended that a Water Users' Group, to include Exeter City Council as Port Authority, will be formed by the Chamber of Commerce, to give EDDC a single point of contact should any further issues arise.

See the article entitled "Kite ban anger" on page 11 and also check out the readers' letters on pages 10 and 14.