'We should have been asked before wheel went up,' say Exmouth councillors
PUBLISHED: 17:03 23 August 2017
A 28-metre-high wheel on Exmouth seafront should not have gone up without residents and councillors being consulted first, town planners have said.
The wheel, operated by MI-Wheel on East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) Beach Gardens in the Esplanade, has been running since July 29.
Exmouth Town Council’s planning committee was this week asked to comment on plans to extend the wheel’s stay.
Councillors were told that planning permission had not originally been needed, as EDDC officers were allowed to grant temporary permissions for up to 28 days.
Councillors were told that planning permission was now being sought for the wheel to stay for an extra two weeks, though this length of time was not specified in the application.
Despite this, councillors agreed to support the wheel staying, on condition it was for a further two weeks only; however, they criticised the way the whole process had been carried out.
Responding after the meeting, EDDC said it had consulted councillors in advance.
At the town council meeting, referring to objections from nearby residents, Councillor Bill Nash said: “Unless you read those letters, you don’t realise the inconvenience, annoyance, disturbance this wheel has caused, without people being adequately notified it was going up.
“I don’t think that StreetScene should have the power and ability to decide, even on a so-called temporary basis, to put something up, which is 28 metres high, affecting people’s locality. No-one else would be allowed to do it without proper planning permission.
“If it had have come through to us as an application, we might have suggested alternative positions for it.
“I think we’ve got to [approve this application] now - it would be very sad for the children if we didn’t, but what I think we should say to StreetScene and to any private individual who wants to make money by sticking a ruddy great wheel up, in the middle of a residential area, is that, in future years, they should come to ask the councillors which is the best position for it to be in.”
Cllr Robert Masding said: “Residents didn’t receive any consultation until the wheel was already under construction. It’s really making us look quite incompetent.”
Respoinding after the meeting, Councillor Tom Wright, environment portfolio holder for EDDC, said: “On June 15 an email detailing the proposal was sent to all Exmouth district councillors, the clerk to Exmouth Town Council, and copied to me as the relevant portfolio holder.
“The responses from the councillors who bothered to reply were all supportive and welcomed this exciting attraction.
“There has been overwhelming support for the wheel in social media and it’s attracted more than 4,000 visitors. The only negative comments have been where social media users were expressing disappointment when high winds prevented its operation.”
EDDC will make the final decision on planning permission.