Efforts by East Devon village Beer to take ownership of three pieces of land have taken a step forward.

Friday, 21 June 2024 14:16

By Bradley Gerrard - Local Democracy Reporter

Beer Parish Council has submitted a bid East Devon District Council to take control of Jubilee Gardens, the nearby hardstanding and recently refurbished pirate-themed play park, and Beach Court car park.

Efforts by East Devon village Beer to take ownership of three pieces of land have taken a step forward.
Beer Parish Council has submitted a bid East Devon District Council to take control of Jubilee Gardens, the nearby hardstanding and recently refurbished pirate-themed play park, and Beach Court car park.
The district council’s asset management forum (AMF) agreed to progress the bid by asking Beer’s parish councillors to prepare a formal business case.
It is hoped that the income from the car park will help pay for the maintenance of the Jubilee Gardens and the play park.
The parish said that Jubilee Gardens was Beer’s “jewel in the crown”, and that it wanted to be able to maintain them more regularly than the district is able to.
One of the biggest potential issues to iron out, though, is which authority – the parish or district council – would be responsible for maintaining the nearby path and fencing on top of the cliff overlooking Seaton Bay.
Cllr John Heath, who sits on Beer parish council, said the parish’s provisional view was that it was not prepared to accept liability for the cliff.
Tim Child, who works in the property and estates department at East Devon District Council, flagged the cliffs as a subject that needed agreeing.
“Monitoring the cliff’s condition and who would and would not be responsible is a key issue,” he said.
“The focus has been on the financial risks that go with it, but it is worth flagging that there are operational and practical considerations.
“While the district council owns Jubilee Gardens, it is within our gift to close sections of it if it becomes unsafe due to cliff failure.
“There are ways around this issue, but we need to be mindful if we go ahead about who retains responsibility for the cliffs, whether there would need to be shared working and what would happen if part of the cliff did become unsafe.”
Some councillors suggested the land transfer could save East Devon money, because its Streetscene team, which is responsible for things such as grass cutting and emptying bins, would not have to service that part of Beer if ownership transfers to the village.
But Andrew Hancock, assistant director of Streetscene, said it wasn’t that straightforward.
“Technically, East Devon would lose the maintenance costs for that area, but it would still retain the salary for the team that covers that area,” he said.
“It might mean that we can use those resources to meet growing demand elsewhere, but there isn’t really a net saving in cash terms.”
He added that Beer parish would need to ensure anyone maintaining the grass near to the cliff edge would need appropriate equipment and health and safety training.
Elsewhere, Cllr Heath said the parish was also happy for East Devon to retain ownership of the public toilets near Jubilee Gardens, but once they were refurbished and had potentially lower costs, he acknowledged it could make the costs more realistic for the parish to manage.
 

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