Cllr Doug Hellier Laing, The Well House, Clifford Street, Chudleigh.
I will try to respond to Mr Shears’ letter, which was published in the Mid-Devon Advertiser on 2 September.
1. Why are donated town centre enhancement plans being ignored?
This is a mystery, as It would seem that Mr Shears is the only person who seems to be aware of this. I have spoken to the town clerk, Mr John Carlton, and he assures me that the only thing Mr Goss produced, was a sketch to landscape the area of ground near the centre of town. The land is in private ownership and not the town councils, therefore the town council would not be in a position to develop, whether as a garden or for building. No plans or sketches were donated to the town council.
2.Town residents to have say on future development, MDA, August 5.
His reference about residents being given a say on future development refers to a government initiative called a Neighbourhood Development Plan which is totally unrelated to the Town Enhancement Committee, which follows on from the similar Town Enhancement Action Committee. A NDP will, if agreed, have a number of benefits, not least of increasing the percentage of money given to the town council from 15% to 25%, from future developments: there are other advantages but I will leave that to Cllr Underwood to respond to, as he is chairing the group involved in the process. Or, if Mr Shears is interested, he can attend the next town council meeting where the Neighbourhood Development Plan proposal will be discussed.
3.BBC BIG WEEKEND
The investment of £100,000 as part of a joint contribution with Exeter City Council towards putting on the BBC’s Big Weekend was a resounding success. For such a modest investment, Exeter University independently calculated that the return, by boosting the local economy, would be in the region of £3.5 million.
Beneficiaries of this investment, have been as diverse as students, who gained invaluable experience from the many workshops set up by the BBC in both Teignbridge and Exeter, giving young people with aspirations to work within the musical and media related industries invaluable experience, which is ongoing with the BBC returning to hold further workshops post Big Weekend. All the pubs, restaurants, B& B’s and campsites that increased their occupancy, many full to capacity for days before and after the event. Potential visitors to Devon who tuned in to the event and have decided to holiday in Teignbridge, the increase in traffic to the Visit South Devon website increased exponentially leading up to, during and after the event. www.VISITSOUTHDEVON.CO.UK
Mr Shears contends that there was gridlock in and around the event site, which could not be more inaccurate. The traffic management was successful with an orderly arrival and departure of those attending causing the least inconvenience to those living locally.
There was an increase in the final cost, as the rail companies decided at the last moment to put on extra trains, but only after bus companies had been contracted to offer transport.
This had been arranged by Exeter City Council, but as partners in the venture, we felt obliged to share some of the extra cost.
The important point to take from this, was that no person arriving or leaving was inconvenienced, as were those who had subsequently attended; Glastonbury, Rod Stewarts concert in Plymouth or the debacle of Elton John’s event at Westpoint. Far better to pay an increased sum to ensure that all visitors made it to the event and were able to leave safely, thereby giving their families confidence that their children had been well looked after.
4. Mr Shears also noted that I had tried to explain to the Chair of the town council how the cost occurred. I presume he states this after a discussion with the Chair? I am prepared to explain once again, in very simple language, so that he can understand, how the extra cost was a budget variance which was covered by a surplus from another budget, and therefore incurred no cost to the public.
Douglas Hellier Laing firstname.lastname@example.org
Executive member: Teignbridge District Council
Portfolio Holder: Economy, Skills, Tourism & Regeneration.
Tel: 01626 854892