East Devon District Council has £300,000 to spend on creating new sports facilities in Exmouth or improving ones that already exist. Residents now get to decide what the money is spent on!

East Devon District Council has £300,000 to spend on creating new sports facilities in Exmouth or improving ones that already exist. Residents now get to decide what the money is spent on!

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

Last year 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. Since then the councils have been working together with the people that proposed the projects to find out which of those proposals were eligible, affordable and can actually happen.

Now residents get to decide which projects actually happen and 5,000 randomly selected Exmouth households will receive a letter in the post giving them a unique online code. They can use this code to go online and vote for their households favourite projects.

There are seven eligible, affordable, possible projects for people who receive a letter to choose from:
• Resurfacing the large sand astro pitch at Exmouth Community College which is at the end of its life. It’s used community groups in the evenings, as well as being used by the college throughout the week. It’s used for sports including football, hockey, rounders, soft ball, American football, handball, tag rugby, athletics and cricket.
Asking for: £150,000.

• 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.

• 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.

• Adding new sports related equipment into Brixington park, all free to use:
o One end of a tarmacked games area with one goal for sports such as football and basketball and side panels for target practise.
o Outdoor gym equipment.
o Improvements to the informal pitch in the middle of the park, including some drainage improvements, some levelling and new football goals.
o Graphics on part of a widened footpath for children to practice cycling.
o Improved and extended footpaths and seating.
Asking for: £150,000

• 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.

• 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.

• A free to use concrete track with bumps and small slopes for wheeled sports such as BMX, skate boards and scooters in Carter Avenue Park. This would be free to use.
Asking for: £60,000.

Letters will be arriving with the 5,000 randomly selected households in the week beginning 31 August 2020.
If certain age groups or locations are significantly under-represented within the voting, additional measures may have to be taken to make sure the demographics adequately represent the population of Exmouth.

Cllr Paul Millar, East Devon’s portfolio holder for Democracy and Transparency (including consultation) said:

Rather than wait until physical voting can take place again, I am delighted that with the support of council staff, a way of having the Exmouth community voting remotely has been identified and created.

With £300,000 of developer contributions to distribute, these are significant projects, the completion of which will support exercise opportunities and wellbeing across the town.

As the Council plan for a future post-COVID, the quality of Council-owned outdoor spaces have never been more important. I urge everybody who receive a letter take the time to read through the project proposals and vote on which projects will ultimately get the go ahead.”

Chairman of the Exmouth Town Council Section 106 / Community Infrastructure Levy Working Party, Cllr Fred Caygill said:

I am pleased that we have reached the point where we can move forward with a vote of 5,000 households selected at random to vote on the projects selected.

The current situation with the pandemic certainly highlights the importance of Health and Wellbeing and how keeping ourselves fit and active at all ages also plays a part in helping with our Mental Wellbeing. I look forward to seeing the projects that are chosen to receive funding come to fruition and providing opportunities for activities at all levels.”

Cllr Geoff Jung, East Devon’s portfolio holder for Coast, Country and Environment, said:

I would urge everyone that gets a letter to please take the time to vote, they really can make a difference. This is a fantastic amount of money to spend in Exmouth on some much needed sports improvements. We would usually do the voting face to face at large events, but in these current difficult times that isn’t possible and isn’t likely to be possible for some time to come. This way of doing an online vote ensures that only people that live in Exmouth can vote, and that people can’t vote multiple times. This means the vote is more meaningful and representative.”

Cllr Nick Hookway, a Littleham ward member for the district council, added:

I am happy to lend my support to this excellent initiative to replace and upgrade essential sporting facilities within Exmouth.”

Councillor Bruce De Saram, also a Littleham ward member for the district council said

These seven projects are all very well chosen and will greatly contribute to the well-being of Exmouth residents and it is my pleasure to support them along with my fellow Ward Councillors."