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Town council's bid for wharves delays decision

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: May 09, 2013

By Philippa Jenkins

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BIDEFORD Town Council's bid to buy a series of wharves in the town is one of the reasons Torridge District Council has delayed making a decision on the future of the site.

Torridge was due to announce its decision on the development of East-the-Water wharves on Tuesday but on Friday, it was revealed it had decided to delay the decision by over a month until June 17.

Torridge has been putting together a development plan with a preferred developer for nearly a year but has yet to reveal who the developer is.

It was expected the developer's identity would be revealed this week after councillors would have either agreed to propose the scheme or not.

Torridge first started working on plans for the site in 2010.

But now the decision has now been delayed partly due to Bideford Town Council deciding in February they wanted to buy the site and turn it into an open space.

Torridge wants to give councillors more time to look at the documents before making a decision as they have not yet been fully proofed.

Torridge leader Barry Parsons said: "The bid from the town council was one of the factors to delay the decision.

"The material needs to be fully proofed.

"We only have so much capacity at Torridge. The elections and the agri-business centre in Holsworthy has been taking a lot of officers' time.

"It goes to show how much we have going on at Torridge. It annoys me when people suggest we don't."

Torridge's head of paid service Jenny Wallace added: "Given the intricacies and fine detail of the report, and the need to ensure that members are fully informed so that the right decision is made for Torridge and for the people of Bideford, we have decided to give all parties extra time to digest the information.

"We feel that given the importance of the project to the future of Torridge and Bideford, it is only right and proper that members are given more time."

But Councillor Peter Christie, who sits on both the town council and district council, thinks it is worrying a delay was made at such a late stage.

Mr Christie, along with town and district councillor David Brenton, put the motion forward to Bideford Town Council to buy the wharves site, which the rest of the council agreed to pursue.

Mr Christie said: "Why was it put on the agenda? It is slightly worrying, having been told that it was on the agenda, that it has been deferred.

"This will add fuel to the conspiracy theorists about the wharf development."

He confirmed progress is being made by the town council to register the site as a community asset which will mean Torridge cannot touch the site for a further six months.

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