District bosses accused of neglecting Cranbrook - but they say authority faces its own financial pressures
PUBLISHED: 19:00 30 September 2019 | UPDATED: 09:37 01 October 2019
The district council has been accused of neglecting its duties to support Cranbrook compared to other towns across East Devon.
In two letters sent to East Devon District Council's (EDDC) deputy CEO, Richard Cohen, Cranbrook Town Council chairman Les Bayliss urged the authority to integrate Cranbrook and provide it with the same level of support it gives other towns.
Cllr Bayliss wrote: "If Cranbrook is to continue to flourish, the community needs the district council's investment."
The town council has asked EDDC to help cover sizeable ground maintenance costs for Cranbrook's country park.
Cllr Bayliss said a 'substantial' amount of council tax in Cranbrook - which is the fifth-highest tax in England out of more than 10,000 parishes - goes towards maintaining the green space.
Cllr Bayliss said the maintenance costs are in the region of £200,000 per annum, adding: "It is clearly unfair that the cost burden is carried by Cranbrook taxpayers alone."
The town council has demanded the district council provides 500m² of commercial space in Cranbrook's eagerly-awaited town centre.
Cllr Bayliss wrote: "The development of [the] town centre in Cranbrook has not commenced to date, despite discussion among various partner organisations for many years."
In a letter in response to the concerns, EDDC CEO Mark Williams blamed the district council's own financial difficulties it faces in the short to medium-term future for its perceived lack of support.
He said: "It will increasingly be the case that communities will have to expect to fund their own assets as principal councils are fundamentally compelled by the Government to focus on statutory services."
Mr Williams dismissed the town council's request for help funding the country park maintenance cost.
He said: "Representatives of our countryside service held extensive discussions with Cranbrook Town Council on a management plan that we initially submitted to [Cranbrook] Consortium with our proposals and costs associated with managing and adopting the country park... I assume that in seeking transfer of the land to the town council, you will have assessed the cost of managing and maintaining the land and reflected this in the precept amount you are charging your residents."