‘Rape and pillage’ claim over car park

PUBLISHED: 10:16 03 April 2013 | UPDATED: 10:16 03 April 2013

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Budleigh Salterton Town Council says it will ask district bosses for a valuation of the Upper Station Road car park, as it considers whether it should bid to buy it after an improved rent offer was rejected.

However, it has slammed East Devon District Council (EDDC) for its policies in the town, which mayor Courtney Richards has described as the ‘rape and pillage’ of Budleigh.

There are fears the currently free car park could become pay and display if an agreement is not reached, after EDDC hiked the town council’s annual rent for it from £500 to £35,000.

A counter offer from the town hall of £6,500 was rejected last week, and councillors say they are not minded to improve their offer.

They have now asked for the value of the site to be looked into, to possibly buy it outright – but councillors fear this will be very expensive.

At a council meeting this week, the mayor said: “My view is if East Devon expect an income of £35,000, they aren’t going to sell it for £40,000.”

The council will ask for two valuations of the site – one with existing covenants banning the running of a business there in place, and one with them lifted.

The council believes these covenants – between the town council, district council, and Clinton Devon Estates - would prevent the car park becoming pay and display.

Councillors remain strongly opposed to the pay and display idea.

Councillor Alan Jones said: “I wonder if the people who come up with these things have heard of two words – cause and effect.

“If you pull all those cars out of the car park… the whole town is going to become a major car park. They have not considered that.”

The mayor says the car park dispute is only the latest damaging move by EDDC in recent weeks, after it allowed beach huts to be left on Budleigh beach all year round – increasing its fee revenue by £20,000.

He said: “I do despair at the sort of rape and pillage of Budleigh Salterton. From the beach huts down there, they’ll have 20 grand, now the car park … I do not know what they’re trying to do with this town.”

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