TEXT OF ANNEX A WHICH APPEARS HERE IS A CORRECTED VERSION, INCORPORATING
CHANGES MADE IN A CORRIGENDUM ISSUED IN MAY 2007.
ANNEX A: VISIT NOTE - STAKEHOLDERS IN
EXMOUTH, 6 JUNE 2006
List of Participants
Dr Phyllis Starkey MP (Chair)
Sir Paul Beresford MP
Mr Clive Betts MP
John Cummings MP
Mr Greg Hands MP
Dr John Pugh MP
Alison Seabeck MP
Mr Tony Alexander (Principal,
Exmouth Community College)
Mr Andrew Bailey (Web
Mr John Bain (Clinton
Mr Simon Bolt (Chairman,
Exeter Chamber of Trade and Commerce)
Mr Robin Carter (FWS Carter
Mr David Conway (Exmouth
World Heritage Coast Project Promotion Group)
Mr Paul Diviani (East
Devon District Council (EDDC) portfolio holder for the Economy
Cllr Miss Jill Elson (EDDC
Communities portfolio holder and Exmouth member)
Mr Chris Fayers (Eagle
Mr J D Fowler (Eagle Investments
Mr Andrew Gibbins (Natwest
Mrs Pat Graham (EDDC member,
Chairman of Exmouth Town Management Partnership)
Ms Cherry Harris (Exmouth
Youth Worker, Devon County Council)
Mr Frank Hart Venn (Exmouth
Mr Karim Hassan (Corporate
Director, Environment, EDDC)
Mr James Hassett (Chief
Executive, Market and Coastal Towns Association)
Ms Kay Homer (South West
of England Regional Development Agency)
Mr Bernard Hughes (Local
businessman, East Devon District and Devon County Councillor)
Mr Peter Jeffs (Director
of Communities, EDDC)
Mr Malcolm Sherry (Business
consultant, Chair Honiton/East Devon Chamber of Commerce)
Ms P Stuart (Stuart Line
Mr Humphrey Temperley
(Devon County Councillor and member, South West Tourist Board)
Ms Joan Thomas (Devon
Cliffs Holiday Park)
Mr John Ward (Cranford
Mr John Wokersien (Town
Clerk, Exmouth Town Council)
Mr Simon Wood (Chamber
Cllr Eileen Wragg (Mayor,
Exmouth Town Council)
Mr Fowler stated that
Exmouth was a difficult town to categorise. It called itself a
resort, but was more a town. It was economically dependent on
Exeter, with a high proportion of retired people. There was no
pressure to develop Exmouth as a coastal resort. Tourism was declining
as traditional British resort goers were dying out. There was
no development along the sea front, and the District Council was
happy in some ways not to revive it. In the meantime development
was occurring in other places, and therefore jobs were created
elsewhere, leading young people to leave the town and adults to
seek work elsewhere.
Cllr Wragg stated that
Exmouth needs to move away from the 1960s and '70s, and capitalise
on the natural environment. The town had an SSSI in its estuary,
was part of the Jurassic Coast and was on the verge of hosting
a visitors' centre. The County, District and Town Councils were
all working together. One problem was that development would attract
retired people, and this created an area of low paid work which
meant young people could not afford to live in the town. Exmouth
had a very large community college with 2,300 students, and it
needed to keep young people in the town.
Mr Bolt expressed his
view that in Exmouth there was a lack of jobs and inadequate road
infrastructure. Public transport was also needed, but roads were
more important, as better roads would attract more commuters.
Exmouth was on a peninsula and at present was an 'end point going
nowhere'it needed to go somewhere.
Mr Hassett stated that
there was a regional issue of a lack of affordable housing and
employment. The economic future of the town was uncertain. The
fishing industry was long gone, and tourism was restructuring
Cllr Miss Elson explained
that Exmouth Council had to provide facilities for rural areas
and day visitors, so not just its 36,000 residents, but more like
90,000. It needed to build on its opportunities, such as the forthcoming
expansion of Exeter airport and the Skypark it was the
nearest coastal town to the development.
Mr Jeffs said that the
town was split over embracing tourism. As well as the commercial
economic benefit it brought costs to residents: low paid work
which in turn placed pressure on social housing; 420 holiday homes
potentially empty for much of the year; unstable seasonal employment,
which also led to difficulty finding housing; temporary economic
immigrants coming to the town for work which could present language
issues and need for specialist services.
The greatest proportion of the town was the over
65s (23%), which meant there were more pensioners than under 20s,
leading to inter-generational conflicts of view; such as between
the vision of the area as a peaceful retirement place or that
of a vibrant holiday resort or a place for young people to enjoy.
Tourism also made demands on the taxpayer, e.g. maintaining sea
front gardens, seating and beach cleaning.
Mr Alexander stated that
the school was in very poor repair when he arrived four years
ago, and has improved since, with lots of community support. However
the funding it received was very low10-15% lower than other
areas, e.g. Birmingham, where he had last taught. There was no
provision for EFL teaching. From 2007, the school would like to
make use of the Rolle College Campus of Plymouth University, shortly
to be vacated, which had superb facilities. There was a possibility
that these buildings would be sold as a hotel or conference centre,
which would be bad for the community college. Sixty-four per cent
of pupils stayed on to the Sixth Form, the majority doing A-levels.
The college wanted to increase the vocational courses it offered
too. Half the leavers went on to higher education, but a low number
of these returned to the area. Twenty-two per cent of leavers
went into local employment.
Mr Bain stated that the
location of future employment land was of central importance for
the economic development of Exmouth, in order to counter the dormitory
effect of Exeter.
Ms Harris raised the issue
of supportive housing. In particular, she stressed the importance
of affordable housing for young people.
Cllr Miss Elson stated
that affordable housing was being addressed by the Council, but
that there were particular difficulties in the area with housing
supply. Currently 1,800 people were on the housing register awaiting
accommodation in Exmouth. She explained that there was a risk
that more holiday properties would close in future due to the
impact of the closure of the teacher training facility within
Exmouth. This was because the properties tended to be rented
during term-time to students and during the summer as holiday
properties, in order for owners to maintain a regular income.
Mr Fayers explained that
there was no affordable housing as part of the new marina development.
However, a section 106 agreement had ensured that affordable
housing would be provided within the town centre by the developer.
This provided less affordable housing than the current local
Mr Conway provided an
overview of the proposal for the development of the Exmouth Gateway
Visitor Centre. This was described as a major, ambitious project
for the town that was supported by all partners. A feasibility
study had been completed with financial assistance from the SWRDAthis
estimated visitor projections at 250,000-300,000 people per annum.
The proposal was for this development to be complete by 2009-10.
The funding for this project had been allocated, but not formally
committed as yet; however negotiations were taking place with
the Living Landmarks Lottery Fund.
A number of meeting participants expressed the view
that the night-time economy within Exmouth was booming, with young
people being attracted into the town from a wide catchment area.
This had a real economic benefit to the town, but had associated
issues that needed addressing. In particular, given the high
resident older population this did cause tensions.
English Nature and the RSPB were supportive of the
visitor centre and were content that there would be no adverse
effect on the environment.
Ms Homer explained that
the RDA had had cross-departmental meetings on the visitor centre.
£7.1 million had been committed to the Jurassic Coast, with
nine towns benefiting. This was a major opportunity for the Exmouth-Swanage
coast. Everything had to comply with the UNESCO science development
Mr Diviani stated that
tourism represented 20% of the East Devon GDP. It was therefore
balanced by other sectors. The RSS and the Regional Enterprise
Strategy had increased employment provision. Many residents were
resistant to change. The biggest problem, when the Cranbrook development
was devised, was that the resources for infrastructure were not
in district council control. Exmouth and its surroundings needed
an iconic project to turn it into a tourist centre.
Ms Stuart informed the
Committee that Exmouth had won an award for the best value family
coastal resort. Stuart Cruises now operated all year round. The
Exe was the top river in the country for wildlife and attracted
visitors in winter. Other people were starting to realise the
potential for winter activity. She felt that many people in the
meeting seemed to be against tourism, when in fact there was great
potential which went undeveloped. The sea front swimming pool,
for example, went unmodernised, and holiday camps were expanding
and not being noticed. Stuart Cruises now employed ten people
plus seasonal part timers.
Ms Thomas stated that
the season was getting longer because of walkers. Exmouth had
an excellent nightlife which attracted visitors.
Mr Wokersien said that
it was very lively at night. There were three clubs and lots of
pubs, it was a developing sector. Some described the town as Jekyll
and Hyde. Local people came for the nightlife, even from Exeter,
not just tourists. This could create problems with the elderly
residents. There were also 'boy racers', and the CCTV which had
been installed with grants needed renewing, with no financing
available to do this.
Cllr Miss Elson stated
that there were more licensed premises in Exmouth than Exeter.
Almost all policing was done at night, and the elderly population
was unhappy that most daytime shifts were taken by Community Support
Mr Alexander explained
that Exmouth Community College was the largest employer in East
Devon. Tourism would be a big boost to the sector, especially
once the Plymouth University Rolle College Campus had moved. The
seaside culture could encourage academic underachievement as low
qualifications only were needed for much local work.
Mr Hughes stated that
the Committee should not think that Exmouth was not optimistic.
Nimbyism and other anti-groups were preventing development. There
had been a petition of 12,000 signatures to oppose Unlocking Exmouth,
but at the same time, there was a recognition in the town that
'something needed to be done'. The town had really suffered when
Clark's factory had closed down, and the heart needed to be put
back into the town. There were now 16 charity shops in the town
centreit was gradually running down. Part of the problem
was that the Council appeared to expect developers to pick up
the costs of infrastructure improvement, for example, a £4
million watersports centre on the front had been proposed; was
this to be entirely paid for by the developer? Work was needed
on the roads, but this had been abandoned on cost grounds. Financial
support from central government was needed.
Mr Temperley stated that
the problem for Exmouth was that it was too big to come under
the assistance of the Market and Coastal Towns Association but
too small to be a national priority.
Mr Hassan said that the
town did not look deprived on a day-to-day basis but it
was not fulfilling its potential. It had struggled to access national
funds so that was why it was now looking towards the private sector.
The regeneration of Exmouth did need to be part of a wider project.
Cllr Wragg stated that
it should be made clear that a relatively small number of people
were opposed to development; the petition was not reliable. The
local press had supported the negative point of view until recently,
but now was encouraging positive responses.
Mr Fayers said that Exmouth
had only one third of the hinterland that most towns had because
of the coast and the estuary. Although the visitor centre plans
were laudable, they were not a panacea for the town's economy.
Returning visitors would be essential to success, and other problems
the town faced should not be forgotten.
Mr Hart Venn stated that
the people of Exmouth were very supportive of the voluntary sector.
The visitors' centre would be an on-going, evolving one which
should attract return visits. The development's goal was to attract
people who would return regularly.
Mr Bolt said that towns
need an 'attractor' to generate visitors. Exmouth had relied too
much on its resort side but now had new plans. However the town
centre needed to be better, with proper planning and transport
Mr Conway explained that
the visitor centre would go out to the wider community, encouraging
local and longer-term visitors. It was linked to the expansion
of the community college. The County Council did fund development;
it had for example financed the cycle path on the coast at £1.9
million per annum.