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Stand Up For Seaton (SU4S)

Community Action for Seaton's Regeneration Area, 80% owned by Tesco - a floodplain on a World Heritage site bordered by nature reserves, tidal river, the sea and the unspoilt town. SU4S is a state of mind - no members, no structure, no politics. SU4S has objected to 2 planning applications by Tesco, including one for a massive superstore/dot com distribution centre which led to the recent closure on the site of 400 tourist beds with the loss of 150 jobs,a gym and pool - all used by locals.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

So are EDDC and Tesco best pals or not?

Four of your Seaton Town Councillors (Claire Wise, Pepita Collins, Sandra Semple, Sophie O'Connell) turned up at the EDDC Executive meeting at Knowle yesterday to hear (particularly) item 17 on the agenda - to give permission for EDDC officers to negotiate with Tesco as a "preferred partner" on the Seaton Regeneration area site, now that Tesco has bought up the land formerly owned by Liatris. [This is vaguely similar to taking your house off the market when you have received an offer on it - you agree to deal only with the prospective purchaser and no-one else usually for a specific period of time].

Unfortunately, we made the trip in vain. "New information" - which had arrived with EDDC that very morning - necessitated hearing this item in private. We are not allowed to know why it had to be dealt with in private, only that because it deals with "land holdings" the public is deemed not to need to know.

Fortunately, all our District Councillors were there to watch out for us but they will not be able to tell us what happened - that's EDDC's secret until they decide (if ever) to reveal it to us.

But I am sure they will tell us - after all it is our town and we all know how important public consultation is ..... .

In the meantime, a "Seaton Regeneration Board" is to be set up - it will meet quarterly and have two members from Seaton Town Council and lots of other people on it. We will see how that pans out .....

And, no, we still dont appear to have had any contact from Tesco - at least I haven't been made aware of any ..... ..... ..... .

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

How buildings might be...

From the archive of The Times Dec 2006

"The house of 2080 will consist of glass and timber chunks, perched on stilts and topped by a roof clad in photovoltaic cells with an inverted pitch to collect rainwater. The stilts will apply only to houses in low-lying areas at risk of flooding, according to Mike Beaven, of Arup. Such houses, with car ports for battery-powered cars underneath, are already popping up in the Thames Valley."

read the full article here

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Mystery visitors at the Council meeting

Who were the two mystery visitors to the Seaton Town Council meeting who didn't want to speak but took copious notes? At least one of them had never been in the Town Hall before, as he said to me himself. A member of the public said that they might well have been from Tesco's. Surely not - if so, they would have introduced themselves.

To my knowledge, no-one from Tesco has contacted anyone at Seaton Town Council or any individual councillor so far. My own (personal) letters to their Corporate Responsibility Department (one letter sent twice) and the (personal) email to the lady in Corporate Affairs (melanie.chisholm@uk.tesco.com) have gone unanswered. It's unimaginable that anyone from Tesco would come to a council meeting without introducing themselves to us - if not before the meeting, then certainly after it.

Never mind, I'm sure they will contact Seaton Town Council one day .....

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Blacklist for insurance for flooding upgraded to include poor drainage

From today's Sunday Times:

"Nearly half a million households have been warned their insurance premiums could rise by as much as 30% when the government introduces a revised flood map this year. .... The new maps, which will include floods caused by poor drainage, could double the number of homes in that category to one million, according to consultants.

It is currently difficult to find out of your house is at risk of so-called fluvial flooding from drains, although you could ring your local council for advice."

So, if Tesco goes ahead with the Liatris plan (and retaining the former Liatris agents TDP Partnership (Terry Dinham Partnership) seems to indicate this, you might want to check with EDDC and/or Tesco and/or TDP Partnership that if you live in your new house on your floodplain island plateau you will not suffer backflow of sewerage should it be the "self contained island surrounded by at least 1m of water" which Liatris's engineers envisaged in their initial planning application. And that you will get insurance coverage for your home - especially as the average cost of flood damage is said to be, in the article, in the region of £30,000.

Shame about those on lower ground around the island but fortunately the Environment Agency has assured them that the flood risk will be "no greater" than before.

And we can all rest easy in our beds because the same Liatris consultants did forsee some of the problems and suggested that "in times of extreme weather [when the island is self-contained and surrounded by water] they suggest two refuge points [one in the supermarket, one in the visitor's centre] where there would be first-aid facilities AND either two sea tractors or two shallow draft boats to aid in evacuation".

It's so good to know that they thing about the little things, too .......

Friday, January 25, 2008

Tesco contact

Anyone wanting to put their views to Tesco will need to do it by email since, to date, to my knowledge, Tesco has made no attempt to contact anyone in Seaton.

It is, of course, that useful department "Corporate Affairs" that is dealing with Seaton and the person there who is (or so they say) the contact is:


So, please, if you have any views on how Tesco should handle the site, feel free to get in touch with her.

See the damage one blocked culvert can do

Have a look at this site - and see the damage that one blocked culvert can do to a community. And then remember that Liatris suggested a massive culvert through the Seaton regeneration area. Particularly look at the video on the site.

Let's hope Tesco learn from their mistakes. However, the news that Tesco has retained the Terry Dinham Partnership (the people who fronted the Liatris bid) does not bring me cheer.


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

is regeneration top down or bottom up?

This posting was left as a comment to a previous post by someone who has his own equivalent site in Somerset. I set it out here for comment:


I've often wondered how much genuine regeneration is achieved by regeneration initiatives costing millions of pounds. Of course, it depends on what one means by 'regeneration'.

To me, regeneration is primarily an economic issue as in raising the hourly wage level in a rural area above, say, the minimum wage. To others, it is all about having posher Town Hall offices (a thorny issue in my home area of West Somerset where my regeneration blog is set). Or providing grants to Business Link Consultants so they can build web sites costing thousands of pounds. I suppose the money gets into the community but wonder about the lasting value.

For me, true regeneration is a community matter and much can be achieved by improving communication amongst the people of an area and building stronger communities.

An interesting side result of our new farmers market in Minehead, West Somerset is the small groups of people who now regularly gather ad hoc to debate local issues. Is it just empty debate? Or could it actually produce better local decisions? The farmers market has enabled a local focus point where people are happy to meet and interact. How about an arts market, a speakers corner ... Cost? Very little.

Growing small businesses is often the primary means to regenerate an area. Anybody with a small business knows how much they need people to help. There are just so many jobs to be done, many caused by legislation. But how often do we see a regeneration policy that is really directed towards the growth and prosperity of small businesses? Or even a survey to identify what they want?

When our elected representatives are sitting in their hot seats and have their hands on several million pounds to spend, I can underestand they may reach for the safest option and buy a posh new large building. But, I firmly believe that more can be achieved by investing at least some of the money in the people.


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Amazing what an upmarket shop can do for a town

Went to Axminster this morning and dropped in at the River Cottage Canteen. Lots of people (noticeable for their wide age range - from babies to oldies like me). Doing a roaring trade in drinks, snacks, light meals. I was told that it is even busier on market day.

Everyone said Tesco would make the difference in Axminster - well, I didn't notice it and everyone I talk to from Seaton says they go to shop there and come straight home.

River Cottage has made the difference in Axminster - something that came from HFW moving to a local farm and nothing at all to do with regeneration budgets, supermarkets or councils thinking they know best.

Where are the entrepreneurs willing to give Seaton a chance I wonder (if you know any, let me know and, if you are one yourself, come and see us!).

Friday, January 18, 2008

East Devon District Council's reasons why the Northcott Theatre in Exeter should be saved

This is from an EDDC press release about the withdrawal of Arts Council funding from the Northcott Theatre in Exeter:

“It is imperative that any community has a cultural heritage and a spiritual side to its character, so a purpose-built theatre where live performances across the artistic spectrum may be seen by all sections of the population is a vital ingredient of any civilised society.

“In a rural area like ours, the Northcott provides one of the few opportunities for young people to see live professional theatre and, perhaps to be inspired to go into the acting profession. People from across East Devon go to the Northcott, from Exmouth in the west to Axminster in the east.

“If the Exeter sub-region is not to become a cultural desert, unable to serve good live entertainment to its current and burgeoning future population, the Northcott must be preserved.

“If we are to protect the environment and avoid the need for many thousands of people to travel to Plymouth, Taunton or Bristol for live theatre at a 21st century venue, the Northcott must be preserved.

“It takes very little effort at all to lose an asset such as this, but it would take a superhuman effort to create it again”.

OK EDDC - so how do you explain why there are no purpose built cultural facilities in Seaton? And why charges for groups using the Town Hall for cultural events are now so high the groups are cancelling events or moving them to other venues because the Town Hall as a venue is too expensive?

(Seaton Phoenix have moved some of their regular events to Temptations cafe because they cannot afford the Town Hall and other groups are using the Town Hall less because they cannot afford the costs).

Sunday, January 13, 2008

How important is the regeneration site to the people of Seaton?

Well, let's put it in context. Exeter has a population of about 118,000 and if you take in its hinterland, much, much more. There has been a lot of publicity nationally, regionally and locally about the fact that the Northcotte Theatre might close because the Arts Council is threatening to withdraw its grant. On a wet and cold Saturday on January 12 January 2008, with a lot of publicity, it managed about 100 protesters showing their disapproval.

Remember the protest outside the holiday village on a wet and cold Wednesday morning on 17 January 2007? A lot less publicity, a working day - and around 150 Seatonians were able to turn up.

Remember, too the other protest meetings: more than 300 at the meeting at which Stand Up for Seaton was formed, around 600 when Seaton Development Trust had its meeting in the town hall; more than 800 at the Stand Up for Seaton Exhibition in the Town Hall; more than 1,000 objections (and 8 supporters!) to the planning application.

Not bad for a small town with only just over 3,000 homes and around 7,000 people, eh!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

On a completely different subject

Floating business park helps turn port’s tide.

Ok, it's a port, but it is a "proof-of-concept" with regard to working with a river.
And we could do with some companies that offer quality employment.

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Seaton Heights application 5464637283etc gets thumbs up...

Yesterday evening (7th Jan) saw Seaton Town Council's planning committee recommend approval to the M2 plan for the Seaton Heights site.
A narrow majority voted approval, but concerns were raised on water, light pollution and transport.
However, the main objection point is the "what's in it for Seaton" angle.
Rather than have me write on their behalf, I throw open the blog to discuss the pros and cons of the development.


Wednesday, January 02, 2008

New Year resolution

My New Year Resolution is to keep plugging away at all those organizations (EDDC, DCC, SWRDA and others) who resolutely seem to want to believe that either Seaton does not exist, or, if it does, needs no help from them. We need their help, they are supposed to be there to help us - we pay our taxes so that they can help us.

I sit and watch coastal towns around us improve in leaps and bounds. West Bay is now about to attract another celebrity chef, Lyme has had so much investment from Dorset County Council it makes me want to weep, other coastal towns in Devon and Cornwall have dragged themselves up by the bootstraps and have become attractive tourist venues.

And poor Seaton? Fifty - maybe a hundred - years of non-investment. Now designated as one of twelve towns in Devon which needs extra help because of its deprivation, particularly worklessness. No community facilities - no youth club (though thanks to Councillor Sophie O'Connell at least a youth venue at The Grove), no community centre, no arts facility, no indoor sports facility - even only one football pitch for more than a dozen teams (so bad that home games have to be played in Sidford!).

It's no use bemoaning how or why we got to this situation - we have to get out of it. But we can't do it alone (how I wish that we could!). So, each and every one of us has to badger those whose job it is to help us to ensure that they do.

Let's start with Devon County Council. They now have the £48 million windfall from the sale of Exeter Airport. So, DCC - you are responsible for youth in this town - let's see you wheedle out of that one. And you own the road on the seafront which we want to have pedestrianised. What's the excuse this time.

Get out your pens and write to EVERYONE who needs to know that Seaton is here and that Seaton wants action!