East Devon District Council had £300,000 to spend on creating new sports facilities in Exmouth or improving ones that already exist. Residents got to decide what the money was spent on.

In 2019, East Devon District Council and Exmouth Town Council asked Exmouth’s residents, voluntary groups and other organisations to give them their ideas on how to spend the funding. Then the two councils worked together with the people that proposed the projects to find out which of those proposals were eligible to go to the community vote.

5,000 randomly selected Exmouth households received a letter in the post in Summer 2020 giving them a unique online code. They used this code to go online and vote for their households favourite projects. 

There were seven projects for them to choose from. All of these projects:

  • Were eligible for the available sports funding – for example are for outdoor, permanent sports facilities, an organisation has agreed to take on the maintenance for a minimum of 10 years, are either free to use or if a charge is made this is affordable.
  • Were affordable within the £300,000 available.
  • Could actually happen.

Households that received a letter could vote for a maximum of three projects, either by nominating one person from their household to fill in the form or by submitting a joint form from multiple / all members of their household. Households could request copies of the voting form on paper or in any other format.

The funds – Section 106 money - have been collected by East Devon District Council from housing developments in the parish, since 2008 they’ve had a clear policy of ensuring that residents and town and parish councils choose how the money is spent.

1,082 households voted. The following two projects were the most popular in the voting:

  • Resurfacing the large sand astro pitch at Exmouth Community College which is at the end of its life. It’s used by community groups in the evenings, as well as being used extensively by the college. It’s used for sports including football, hockey, rounders, soft ball, American football, handball, tag rugby, athletics and cricket. Asking for: £150,000
    Out of all households that voted, 52% voted for this project. This amounts to 567 households.
  • Adding new sports related equipment into Brixington park, all free to use: One end of a tarmacked games area with one goal for sports such as football and basketball and side panels for target practise. Outdoor gym equipment. Improvements to the informal pitch in the middle of the park, including some drainage improvements, some levelling and new football goals. Graphics on part of a widened footpath for children to practice cycling. Improved and extended footpaths and seating.
    Asking for: £150,000
    Out of all households that voted, 41% voted for this project. This amounts to 449 households.

The results themselves and the most popular projects have already been acknowledged as being where the money should be spent by the Exmouth Town Council and East Devon District Council. 

The intention of the two councils is that the money already in would be spent, up to the £300,000 limit, and then as further Section 106 money is collected (if any is collected) then work down the list of projects as far as possible and appropriate over the next three years.

The other projects, in order of how many votes they received were:

  • A free to use concrete track with bumps and small slopes for wheeled sports such as BMX, skateboards and scooters in Carter Avenue Park. Asking for: £60,000.
    Out of all households that voted, 400 households / 37% voted for this project.
  • Expanding the current concrete skate park in Phear Park, which is free to use. This is used by skateboarders, scooters and BMX riders.
    Asking for: £240,000.
    Out of all households that voted, 398 households / 37% voted for this project.
  • A back stretch / back exercise wall in Phear Park with exercises listed along its length, this would be free to use. This would help people of all ages to straighten and strengthen their backs and necks.
    Asking for: £5,000.
    Out of all households that voted, 251 households / 23% voted for this project.
  • A new drainage system at Exmouth Rugby Club for the two pitches and grass area next to Marine Way, allowing them to be able to be used more often. Matches and training are often called off because of waterlogged pitches.
    Asking for: £210,000.Out of all households that voted, 249 households / 23% voted for this project.
  • Additional car parking area at Withycombe Raleigh Common Football Pitches, home of the Brixington Blues and used by other clubs and teams. This would increase the usability of the pitches and make the parking safer.
    Asking for: £40,000.
    Out of all households that voted, 214 households / 20% voted for this project.

We were already aware of the local support for Phear Park skate park expansion, and had sought funding through their own capital bids process in case the scheme did not receive enough votes in the s106 sports voting. This capital funding was approved by East Devon District Council’s Budget Setting and Capital Allocations Panel and Joint Overview and Scrutiny Committee. Exmouth Town Council topped up the amount of money available to achieve a world class skate park. We have worked with local young people and skate park users to design the new skate park, and are now working on getting it installed. 

In addition, now East Devon District Council are aware of the popularity of the free to use concrete track with bumps and small slopes for wheeled sports, they will also start investigating how they might be able to deliver this, if it isn’t soon funded by additional Section 106 monies.