Seafront plans backed despite soaring costs

PUBLISHED: 06:30 18 November 2016 | UPDATED: 09:05 18 November 2016

Cllr Tom Wright is pictured at Steamer Steps overlooking Budleigh beach where the water quality have achieved a 'good' status. Ref exb 6131-46-15SH. Picture: Simon Horn

Cllr Tom Wright is pictured at Steamer Steps overlooking Budleigh beach where the water quality have achieved a 'good' status. Ref exb 6131-46-15SH. Picture: Simon Horn

Archant

Calls have been made for the sacking of the 'owner' of the Exmouth Seafront Regeneration Project after costs spiralled from £1.5million to more than £3million.

However, East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) cabinet backed the plans with a majority vote, despite heavy criticism from some councillors.

The area between the old lifeboat station and The Maer has been earmarked for the regeneration project.

Speaking at the cabinet meeting, Councillor Rob Longhurst said: “I call for the resignation or sacking of the owner of this project.

“I am totally appalled by the budget figures. They demonstrate a total incompetence in organisation, a complete lack of financial control of the project and a total disrespect to the public they serve.”

Cllr Eileen Wragg called for EDDC to start the plans from scratch again.

She said ‘the sums’ were wrong, adding: “I am minded to say that I know it’s pretty late, but let’s get it right. Can we perhaps go back to the drawing board?”

Cllr Ben Ingham added: “There is a lack of genuine and comprehensive public consultation whereby you actually ask the community what they want to happen before you start and then make sure you are on track with their requirements.”

Councillors did, however, show their support for the plans.

Cllr Ian Chubb said, despite the extra costs, the money was worth paying.

He said: “I am quite happy with the extra cost.

“I think £3million is not out of the way and I do believe we will be selling Exmouth short if we try to do it for £1million pounds.

Cllr Phil Twiss said: “We can’t stand still because if you stand still, you are going backwards.”

“The economy of the town needs a boost. We will need, where we can, to offer people jobs and this development will provide jobs.”

The chairman of the Exmouth Regeneration Board, Cllr Philip Skinner, said moving on with the project was best for the town.

He said: “This is a great opportunity with an end user wanting to build something that is really iconic. Many people can involve themselves in water sports aspirations around Exmouth’s seafront.”

Cllr Tom Wright added: “We are in the 21st century. The Queen’s Drive project will potentially bring Exmouth into the premier league of seaside resorts.

“There have been problems - we are spending a lot of money, but if I was a resident, I would welcome the fact that this council is willing to invest in Exmouth.”

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