Seaton business unit plan fails to win council cash support

DISTRICT councillors have supported the idea of a Business Development Unit for Seaton, but can't pledge any cash towards the scheme.

DISTRICT councillors have supported the idea of a Business Development Unit for Seaton, but can't pledge any cash towards the scheme.East Devon District Council's corporate overview committee said that whilst they supported the proposal, in principle, it was unlikely they could give financial backing - because of the current climate.The decision comes at a time when the resort is grappling with controversial regeneration plans and the loss of jobs at Woolworths and the former Lyme Bay Holiday Village and the closure of smaller businesses.James Semple, of Seaton Development Trust, made a presentation at the meeting, on February 26, citing the need for economic investment in the Seaton.He said the closure of the holiday camp, combined with the recession, had led to many businesses closing.Others businesses to have recently closed include: Winston's, The Kettle, Sweet Heaven, Seaton Electronic, Rumours Wine Bar and Gifts and Cards. He said: "These were well-established businesses. There were two wet summers but they kept afloat because of the holiday village - and then, consequently, it all went bang, bang, bang."Woolworths was a national tragedy, but a tragedy for the town and employment."Seaton is now one of the most deprived town's in the South West. The Unit, expected to be built at the top of Harepath Road, is hoped to encourage people to work in the area and tackle unemployment.He added that Seaton needed the unit for five principle reasons: the historic levels of deprivation; the serious recent decline of tourism and retail; poor roads and public transport; evidence of skilled teleworking and the need for managed space.With the closure of the holiday camp, he said a void - which was bringing in over �7 million each year - needed to be filled.He said an Economic Development Officer needed to be employed, at a cost of �100,000 over two years. He hoped money could be raised from section 106 and with the council's support.Cllr Steph Jones spoke in favour of the unit and suggested the council act as stakeholders. Seaton town and district councillor Jim Knight said: "I have lived in Seaton for 30 years and, since then, East Devon has put in a little bit here and there and taken a lot."It seems everywhere else is getting something, but not Seaton. We need your support now."Cllr Graham Godbeer, who was born in Seaton but represents the Coly Valley and is Mayor of Axminster, said: "I would urge caution about getting into bed with the developers."But councillor Tim Wood felt the developers would be necessary to provide funding.Chairman David Key said the council expected to show its support and willingness to continue discussions on the matter.