Courthouse future in the dock

Veteran Axminster councillor calls for former magistrates building to be handed back for community use

A leading Axminster councillor is calling for the town’s long-abandoned courthouse to be reclaimed for community use.

Douglas Hull says along with the soon-to-be vacated police station next door, the Lyme Road complex should be redeveloped to meet the growing need for local services – like education and healthcare.

On Monday he will urge fellow town councillors to join him in demanding the multi-million pound site is handed over to the town.

Currently the derelict former magistrates courthouse is owned by Devon County Council and the police station – due to move to a new shared base with local firefighters nearby – is owned by the police authority.

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But Cllr Hull says any money-raising plans they may have to sell the sites for housing should be strongly resisted.

“We paid for these buildings,” he said.

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“Make no bones about it the land was purchased because people in the Axe Valley paid money to the county council and police authority through their rates.”

Cllr Hull said the site was now right in the middle of what he calls “new Axminster”, close to the growing Wain Home estate which was very nearly “a large village”.

It was the ideal spot to provide the vital infrastructure to support the town’s expansion.

“We should be looking at what facilities we need to take us forward for the next 100 years.

I shall be asking the town council to set up committee to looking into our infrastructure needs and talk to owners of the land the police authority and its new commissioner.

“There are numerous possibilities – we need extra space for our schools and somewhere for handicapped people who currently have to go to Honiton. And we could look towards a purpose built youth centre and a one stop shop for all services provided by Devon County and East Devon District councils.

“There are numerous things we could consider including a proper police and fire station. I am not saying specifically what we should put there but want a group of town councillors to sit down and study the whole thing before talking to the appropriate authorities. We want to push them not to just put houses on this land.”

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