16 June 2011

EDDC Cabinet Meeting indecision on Underfleet toilets

A report from Hugh

Outcome disappointing but not disastrous. The decision on whether to demolish as proposed or to retain temporarily has been deferred till next Cabinet meeting in a month. Talk is of refurbishing or replacing with updated facilities: we will have to work very hard to avoid replacement by something like the West Walk toilets.
There was general sympathy with the need at this location, but uncertainty over whether the existing toilets could be retained without detriment to the overall public realm plan.
Asked for background to the issue, a Council officer chose to ignore reference to last night's discussion and decision at the Development Management Committee, and referred back to the decision of Cabinet in Dec. 09 to clear away the toilets with the other redundant buildings in order that nothing should mar the approach to Tesco store (other toilets were due to replace, but not provided by EDDC): he did not see that anything in the situation had changed, and said that the decision had been recorded on the website for anyone to see.
The Chair was at fault in not calling for a report of the previous night's decision, which was to approve the application in principle, but to delegate with a strong recommendation to retain the existing toilets and to look at making the street furniture and lighting more in keeping with Seaton generally and the tram station in particular.
The ward members, along with the Chair (and Vice-Chair, I think it was) were to be part of this consultation, but all of this was subject to a decision of Cabinet whether or not to reverse their decision of Dec. 09. The Tesco representatives had been shown Barbara's redrawing of the public realm, and were perfectly happy with it.
The DMC Chair, Mark Williamson, was eventually called and gave a potted version of this decision. Tonight's discusion was concluded by Coun. Graham Godbeer, who was in a position to say that the situation had changed, in that the building of the Visitor Centre had not yet got even a date, and the Cycle Hub funds had been withdrawn (both of these would have supplied public toilets).
In the course of discussion, several councillors had been in favour of retaining the toilets without further question: Peter Halse (Chair of the Council), Douglas Hull of Axminster, Jill Edson and our own Stephanie Jones had all spoken unequivocally (only the latter two were members of this committee; the other two had attended specifically to support the case, though they also had other matters to address later).
After the decision to defer decision, Mark Williamson (Chair of Development Management Committee) came outside to take me by the hand and ask me to convey to all the people who had come on the coach his appreciation of their attendance and their patience, sitting quietly through this long session. Peter Halse was very disappointed with their indecision, and thought that the Council Leader (Paul Diviani) with whom he had been in touch, would back him (i.e. in listening to public opinion}.
We just have to wait to see who wins. I wish I could have given a more satisfactory report.

1 comment:

  1. Hugh, thanks for the update. Surely we should now be working with Tesco to ensure a fully drawn up plan including the existing toilets is prepared.

    Tesco have massive resources and could easily make the case and get the best decision for Seaton. Lets face it, they managed to get the DMC to approve a huge development in an area with no proper transport infrastructure. Keeping the public toilets in this area should be very easy. It would probably be less expensive for Tesco, and the goodwill would go a long way!