Mixed reaction to airport windfall

PUBLISHED: 06:52 21 May 2008 | UPDATED: 21:50 15 June 2010

The Herald reported last week that Seaton's long awaited interpretation centre for the Jurassic Coast received a financial boost from the sale of Exeter International Airport.

The Herald reported last week that Seaton's long awaited interpretation centre for the Jurassic Coast received a financial boost from the sale of Exeter International Airport. But this week we discovered not all residents or visitors welcome such an enterprise and some feel the money could be better spent elsewhere.The centre will attract visitors, increase employment, inject money into the economy and generally raise the town's profile, according to some.Others drew comparisons with the Millennium Dome in London - a grand ambition doomed to fail.Together with Exmouth, Seaton received £500,000 from the sale, in addition to £500,000 already committed by Devon County Council as part of the town's regeneration programme, which is being led by East Devon District Council.The centre would include exhibitions about the 95-mile stretch of coastline and other local features, state-of-the art video links sited around the Exe Estuary and along the Jurassic Coast, a tourist information centre, educational facilities and high quality retail and catering facilities.Hoping to bring in between 250,000 to 300,000 people, the preferred location is a site adjacent to the Seaton Tramway terminus and visitor car park.Jeoff Packman, proprietor of Chine Cafe on the Esplanade, said: "I would like to see the proof first (of such visitor numbers) before spending tax-payers' money on something which might be a white elephant. "It could be like the Millennium Dome and a waste of money. It needs to be proven by demand. Let's do something useful. What about opening a youth club - somewhere for children to let some off some steam?"Tom Coombs, of West Cliff Terrace, said: "Seaton's dying on its feet. A visitor centre? What is there to visit? They need to build up the sea front instead."Ian Pickering added that when the holiday camp closes there will be nothing else left in the area.Muriel Gibbs, from The Underfleet, was in favour of such a centre, provided it would be located in the town and of direct benefit to the community. She said: "Anything that will bring visitors, people and life to Seaton I am all in favour of. "I feel so sorry for Seaton. It almost seems like a poor relation to Sidmouth and it's so wrong as we have a lot to offer here."Polly and Noel Homewood echoed such opinions. When they first visited the town they felt it needed some improvement. While they have settled there and come to love Seaton, they believe that visitors' first impressions could be improved.Mrs Homewood said: "Seaton seems like the poor cousin to Lyme an Sidmouth. It's about time we had something. The town needs people to come and spend money here, but not too many people!"Mr Homewood added: "Anything that helps the youth is a good way to go. It would be nice if they felt there was somewhere they could just go and have an insight into what life is like after school. Give them some direction."Visitors from Southampton, Stewart and Maureen Dow, who visit Devon often, said such a centre would not be of interest to them. Mr Dow said: "There's just not enough going on here. But perhaps it needs something like that to attract people."Regular visitors Val and John Newton, from Cheshire, believe the centre will help boost the town's economy. They think it is money well spent, just like a £500,000 development in their city is benefiting the area. Mr Newton said: "We would visit such a centre and think it would encourage people to return. It will also help with employment, which is a big problem nowadays." Mick Rhodes, from Honiton, is all for the centre, but wishes the development would speed up.He said: "I think it will do the town good, but the council needs to listen to what the people want. We need to bring more people into town, especially with the closing of the holiday camp. "The council should stop arguing about it and get on with building it.

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