Let's consider what we want

PUBLISHED: 09:00 21 February 2009 | UPDATED: 10:31 10 June 2010

So ASDA in Exmouth is no more? Good. The estuary site was clearly inappropriate for a number of reasons, especially environmental. So what are we left with? A 'deeply disappointed' East Devon District Council saying that a complete 'rethink' is needed. A

So ASDA in Exmouth is no more? Good. The estuary site was clearly inappropriate for a number of reasons, especially environmental. So what are we left with? A 'deeply disappointed' East Devon District Council saying that a complete 'rethink' is needed. And Fahrenheit nightclub owner John Justin saying that 'the town is about to die' and is in 'the middle of an identity crisis'. Too right. We are in an identity crisis, and we clearly need a rethink. There are two choices for the way ahead, exemplified by two recent TV programmes. First, there's the Exmouth as seen by BBC One's Antiques Roadshow (November 2007). Here presenter Michael Aspel showed the nation what was great about Exmouth.Did Aspel take viewers around our dismal Magnolia Centre? Did cameras zoom in on the dog mess, chewing gum, fast-food containers and bin bags that pollute our streets? Did Aspel focus on the drunken young louts, the pools of vomit and urine, and the seedy decay of Exmouth's much vaunted 'night-time economy'? Of course not. Aspel looked at what makes Exmouth so special and distinctive. Cameras focused on our superb historic buildings, the seafront and the Manor Gardens. Exmouth looked an attractive place, somewhere you'd be proud to call home and to bring up a family in pleasant, safe and desirable surroundings. On the other hand, there's the Exmouth as recently seen in Sky One's Night Cops. Here the nation saw the appalling state that our town often gets into at night - fights, drunks, louts, aggressive behaviour, and the police out in full force.Who does this night-time economy benefit? The pubs, the bars, the clubs, the fast-food dispensers? Apart from the council taxes that are being paid by these establishments, it doesn't benefit Exmouth one jot. It lowers our reputation nationally, while the amount spent policing it probably outweighs any financial advantages. If you want a nice quiet evening meal, you need to look out of the town. It's a no-go zone.Now that the ASDA farce is over, let's properly consider what we really want Exmouth to be, and where any funds should be spent before we consider the placing of any new supermarket or Strand redevelopment. Out-of-town entertainment complexes work well elsewhere in Britain. Why not Exmouth? Build the new supermarket, the nightclubs and bars, and large car parks away from the town centre, with free shuttle buses to take people to and from the facilities. Concentrate on making the town centre and its seafront beautiful again, a pretty, historic place that people want to visit because it's so attractive. Above all, make Exmouth a safe and clean place to walk during day - and night - for everyone of all ages. Let's be proud of Exmouth. Let's rediscover our civic pride. We should be a glittering and desirable gem on the East Devon coast, not a blot on the landscape.The choice is ours. Paul Strange,(via email).

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