Sports equipment for park. Astro pitch for school.
Exmouth residents and voluntary groups have voted to spend £300,000 on two large projects in the town. Last year, a random selected number of households were asked to choose from a list of seven community causes.
The leading two schemes will each cost £150,000. The cash, known as section 106 money, is taken by East Devon District Council from developers in return for being allowed to build housing.
Just over a thousand households voted. Now the money will be spent on resurfacing a 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 the college for sports including football, hockey, rounders, soft ball, American football, handball, tag rugby, athletics and cricket. Just over half (52%) of respondents said it should receive funding.
The second project is to buy new sports-related equipment for Brixington park, which will be free to use by all. 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 will go in too, along with improvements to the informal pitch in the middle of the park, including some drainage improvements, some levelling and new football goals. Out of all households that voted, 41% voted for this project.
A bit of administrative faffing about has to take place before East Devon District Council can release the funds. Together with Exmouth Town Council, they're subsquently hoping to 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, 37% chose 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, 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,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, 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, 20% voted for this project.
East Devon District Council 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. If this is approved by their Full Council meeting in early February, East Devon District Council would pay for expansion of the skate park and start this project during 2021.
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.
Chairman of Exmouth Town Council’s section 106/community infrastructure levy working party, Councillor Fred Caygill said: "I am pleased to say that finally we have a result on the public vote for the allocation of Section 106 funds for community sports projects in Exmouth. health and wellbeing are two particularly important subjects that we should all be encouraging in all sectors and at all levels."
Councillor Sarah Jackson, East Devon District Council’s portfolio holder for democracy and transparency said: "Despite the ongoing pandemic, 'the show must go on' wherever practicable and safe to do so. It is important that Section 106 money is put to good use within our communities as intended...The 1,082 households that responded represent a great many more individuals across all age groups, which is surely a triumph.