Exciting times in Exmouth

THIS week Cllr Darryl Nicholas, at 29, was confirmed as the town's youngest ever mayor and its youngest chairman. Darryl, from Brixington, gained an MA in Political and Economic Integration from Durham University and was elected to the town and district

THIS week Cllr Darryl Nicholas, at 29, was confirmed as the town's youngest ever mayor - and its youngest chairman.Darryl, from Brixington, gained an MA in Political and Economic Integration from Durham University and was elected to the town and district council's as a Conservative two years ago having previously stood as an independent.He is also EDDC's 'Exmouth Champion'.With most of the services in Exmouth run by other councils - what is the point of having a town council? What role does it play in people's day to day lives?I believe the Town Council has two main responsibilities. Firstly, to deliver its basic services to the residents at the best value it possibly can. Secondly, and some may disagree with this, we should do everything we can to support the groups, associations, artists, musicians, sportspersons etc, who do so much to make the town a vibrant place to live. A large part of why Exmouth is such a great place to live is down to the local people who offer their enthusiasm, time and skills to our community.But many of the councillors sit on the town, district and/or county councils and some see the town council as a proxy arm of either authority. Shouldn't Exmouth have a stronger independent voice? We need to be completely positive in our working relationships with EDDC and DCC. If negativity and cynicism are carried over from things that have happened in the past - often decades ago - then we will take our eye off the ball and fail to make the most of the opportunities that are in front of us. Enhanced working relationships have developed and will continue to develop and Exmouth can only benefit from that. Since last autumn many town centre shops have closed, people are losing their jobs putting at risk the very sort of community cohesion you are talking about. What is the best way to reverse this trend? It is vital that we support our town centre. We have some great local and independent shops but, if we want them to remain and to attract a broader range of new shops in the future, then we need to resolve some of the issues that have held the town centre back for many years.We need to invest now in the infrastructure so that Exmouth will be strongly placed to capitalise once this economic downturn begins to turn around. What kind of regeneration plans are we talking about? Our slogan is Exmouth Naturally - Arts, Leisure and Environment. This sums up a clear steer as to the future direction of the town- in that we are determined to make Exmouth the 'Quality of Life Town'.When it comes to regeneration and future investment, we need to make sure that they fit into these clear aims. These aims should provide the thread that goes through all future projects, from small projects in individual neighbourhoods to the bigger and more high profile projects.What are the major challenges, as you see it, that the town faces? The town is still coming to terms with the closure of Rolle. Even if the site is secured for Post 16 education, the town will still be missing out on the graduates of Rolle, many of whom would remain in the town after their studies, working locally and settling down and starting families of their own. A thriving town will have a balance of all age ranges, so we still need to attract young people to the town. This means we really have to tackle the issues of affordable housing, improving transport links to and from Exmouth, increasing the number of jobs available and upgrading the facilities of the town.Many people can't see the point of increasing the amount of parking spaces by building a two-storey car park at the London Inn site.It was suggested before then quietly forgotten about. Why are you pushing for it?The parking situation has kept our traders at a competitive disadvantage - that includes both the access routes to parking, the number of shoppers' parking spaces and the price of parking. It is, therefore, a real step forward to have worked with EDDC to agree a large financial commitment that will seek to increase the capacity of shoppers' parking. Retail is a science and the stores that people often say they would like to see in Exmouth will not even consider moving here until the retail environment is right - that includes parking. You list these projects but voters are often cynical with constant sound bites from politicians about investment, but so far there appears to be little to show for it.I completely disagree - and the list of projects that we have been working on for the future is extensive. Aside from working with private investors on projects such as the new RNLI Boathouse and the Harlequins Leisure Complex, we also have joint investment from EDDC, DCC and the Town Council for the Strand , which will have a big impact on the look and feel of that side of town - a space for music, entertainment, markets and the ability for the cafes and restaurants to expand into the newly-pedestrianised areas will provide a high quality area for people to spend time and relax with their friends and families. In addition, there is funding in place for the environmental adventure playground on The Maer and funding for increased car parking in the town centre, which will attract further inward investment.There are many other projects, which have been highlighted in the recent 'Building for the future' brochure that has been designed to attract inward local, regional and national investment.There is a lot going on and we have a very bright future. We just need to face our challenges positively and make sure Exmouth reaches its full potential.