Poll bid rejected

AN attempt to force a town poll on the proposed Strand Pavilion and caf� has failed.

AN attempt to force a town poll on the proposed Strand Pavilion and caf� has failed.

Last month, more than 60 traders, residents and business people crammed into the town hall to back a town vote.

Under the Local Government Act 1972, 10 people can request a referendum on any question raised at a town council meeting on parish matters.

Four questions were asked, including if the district council should rescind planning permission, if residents had been consulted over the building’s use and whether �400,000 of public money should be spent.

But the request for the poll has been rejected by the district council’s returning officer, Mark Williams.

Now, Jackie Haywood, 49, co-owner of Franklin’s restaurant and bar, in The Strand, who says her business could be under threat if a caf� is built, said a fund had been started to raise the �15,000 needed for a Judicial Review.

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Mr Williams explained: “I have concluded that the wording does not relate to parish affairs; the proposed building is on land that is not owned by the town council and, furthermore, the proposed building itself is to be constructed by the county council.”

He said the wording of the question was ‘devoid of practical application’ because it was ‘an expression of opinion’ relating to a planning application which had already been decided.

He added: “The reference to �400,000 is potentially misleading. I do not know if the figure for the proposed building will be smaller or greater and, therefore, it is premature to refer to this sum as the cost of the building.

“I realise that this will be a disappointment to you (campaigners) but, in my role as the returning officer, I have to ensure that, in accepting a request for a poll, the cost is properly incurred.

“The likely cost of a town Poll for Exmouth is in the region of �8,000, payable by the town council and, therefore, I am sure you will agree this is not a sum of expenditure that should be incurred improperly.”