Questions raised over claims that Exmouth will benefit from a government scheme
PUBLISHED: 17:14 11 December 2019 | UPDATED: 17:28 11 December 2019
Questions have been raised over claims that Exmouth could receive a slice of a £675million government funding pot.
Earlier this week, the Secretary of State for housing, communities and local government Robert Jenrick said he wants Exmouth to benefit from Future High Streets Fund cash to help secure up to £20 million.
In a press statement from the Conservative Party, it said: "Exmouth will receive new funding from the Government's new Future High Streets Fund."
The Party has stood by this statement, having been questioned further.
Mr Jenrick said: "I want Exmouth to benefit from that (the Future High Streets Fund) and be part of the next group of towns to receive up to £20m each."
However, Mr Jenrick's suggestion that Exmouth could be in line for the cash windfall has come under fire from Councillor Jess Bailey, who slammed it as 'total fantasy'.
Cllr Bailey said she believes the fund has closed, adding: "I think it seems, to me, a total fantasy to suggest Exmouth is going to receive money from it.
"As far as I am aware it is totally untrue. I am concerned it is misleading.
"My understanding is that East Devon District Council (EDDC) put forward towns.
"As far as I am aware, this is it at the moment."
EDDC did put forward a town to receive a share of the fund - Axminster.
However, the town lost its bid for government money to help revitalise its declining high street at the second stage of its application.
Councillor Ben Ingham, leader of EDDC, who was speaking in a personal capacity, told the Journal that no-one had contacted him or senior council officers regarding Exmouth's involvement with the fund.
He said it was a 'bit surprising' to have had no correspondence with the people behind the claims.
Cllr Ingham said: "I think it is a very dodgy story as no one has contacted me of the chief executive officer (at EDDC).
"Why have they not checked with us beforehand?
"Either they have jumped it, or it's wrong - one or the other."
In a statement, the Conservative Party said: "The new fund is clearly not closed and the Secretary of State has confirmed this by including Exmouth as per the statement from him directly, which was on the press release.
"The decision was made directly by the Secretary of State and confirmed last Friday, EDDC will be notified in due course on the mechanics of the process."
Mr Jenrick said an agreement was struck last Friday, and added: "As part of the Conservative Party plan to regenerate our towns, I want to see Exmouth in the next set of communities benefiting from the Future High Street Fund which provides up to £20m to each successful community."