Saturday, April 7, 2012
Again we are being told by East Devon District Council that our Elizabeth Hall is in a poor state and it wishes to sell it off and build something else in its place.
We, the residents of Exmouth, cherish our hall which is, effectively, our parish hall and is the only public hall available to organisations that is large enough to serve their purposes.
The other, but much smaller, Gorfin hall is let out continuously and is, therefore, extremely hard to access and, even then, its location and size are very limiting factors. The Pavilion, which is larger, is too costly and, because it is the theatre for the town, is invariably booked up months, and sometimes years, in advance.
If our town council is really intent on doing what the people have asked for, they will observe the uproar that came from the locals when, several years ago, EDDC, in its unlocking Exmouth proposals, intended to sell the land for development. As a direct result of this, the formation of the Exmouth Community Association came about, with a huge number of its new members joining so they could voice their opinions and save the hall.
It is worth noting that the town council document (setting the standard) issued in August 2005 listed, among other things, a desire to take on and manage the Elizabeth Hall (page 6) and also, on the following page, an item reads to identify areas such as Elizabeth Hall, toilets and car parking areas better managed locally.
To make this a possibility the then Liberal Democrat-based town council voted to increase the precept to allow for a sum of £30,000 to be available to fund some of these things. To their shame, however, at the following election the Conservative candidates latched onto this and declared that it was an unnecessary increase which, when they became the elected town council, they swiftly spent the money on their own projects.
But the things that the money was intended to be used for are still there with EDDC trying to sell them off again. How many toilets have been closed and the land sold to developers for the benefit of EDDC? And note that the residents of Exmouth have had no benefit from this, nor have the toilets been replaced!
If the rugby club is moved on and the Imperial Grounds become a supermarket, who will benefit? Not the residents. We will get a grey concrete slab instead of green grass and some developer will make a whole shed load of cash, again at our cost.
I remember that a previous leader of EDDC stated there is no guarantee that any money raised from the sale of Exmouth assets will be spent in Exmouth. The saving grace from EDDC councillors’ point of view will be that the developers will, from their huge profits, be able to donate funds to the party machine again, so, probably, ensuring a return to power.
10 Littlemead Lane, Exmouth.