Councillor Chris Lockyear, Chair
Sidmouth Town Council held its December meeting on 4th December and we were able to welcome the newly co-opted Councillors. The new Councillors are Stephen Blakeway (North Ward), Francetta Bridle (Primley Ward), Paul Dodds (South Ward), John Nicholson (South Ward), Phil Weaver (West Ward) and Edward Willis Fleming (Salcombe Regis). It was good to have an almost full Council Chamber again. We actually had 2 meetings that evening. The first meeting was the usual Town Council meeting and the second was the Town Council in its capacity as Trustee. The Town Council owns some land and buildings but is Trustee for others such as the Ham.
In this month’s article I want to discuss the land controlled by Sidmouth Town Council either directly, or as Trustee, and how it is managed.
One key asset controlled by Sidmouth Town Council as Trustee is the Ham. On 4th December the Trustee meeting had 2 requests before it where different organisation were asking for permission to use the Ham. The Sidmouth Sailing Club asked to use the Ham to store boats during the National Scorpion Open between 14 th-16 th June 24 and the Folk Festival asked to use the Ham between 24th July and 13th August 24. Both applications were approved subject to a number of controls and conditions to protect the Ham grounds, reduce use of single use plastics and protect amenity of local residents.
When making decisions about whether, or not, to approve use of Council controlled land we work within Guidelines we agreed and published in November of last year. These Guidelines are also used when the Town Council is asked for their views on events on East Devon District Council controlled land. When making assessments under these Guidelines, the Town Council tries to strike a balance between the positive and negative impacts of any activity on the community in the Sid Valley.
The Town Council also manages other sites as Trustee and these include the Manstone Reserve and Salcombe Hill Field. From time to time people and organisations also request use of these locations but much of the former is leased to the Football Club and the latter to the Scouts, under long term leases.
Land and buildings owned directly by the Town Council include Woolcombe House, where our offices are located, The Arches next to the Esplanade, Fire Beacon Hill, Long Park, Manstone Youth Centre, the Conservatory in Blackmore Gardens, Alma Lane Field, and the Golf Club which is leased to Sidmouth Golf Club. And as of 8th December, the Town Council owns the Knowle Parkland, this having been transferred from EDDC. The Town Council seeks to manage these assets for the maximum benefit of the residents of the Sid Valley. This involves both maintenance and when appropriate investment to enhance the facilities. If you have children or grandchildren, you will have noticed that the playparks at both the Ham and Long Park have been improved with new equipment and facilities that seem to have been appreciated by our younger residents and visitors.
We are currently reviewing options for the replacement of the Manstone Youth Centre which is a building well past its sell by date and that is requiring significant annual maintenance. We have done work to understand what is needed to complement the other facilities for young people in Sidmouth, and have architects currently working on different design concepts that would meet the needs of all the current users, as well as provide additional facilities for the community. Funding is always going to be a problem and so we are also seeking to understand how the necessary funds might be raised.
The Town Council always welcomes views on how we are managing our various assets so please contact us if you have any suggestions or concerns.