Cranbrook could house new council HQ

Members of a Devon council have voted unanimously in favour of a possible move to Cranbrook, Devon's newest town.

East Devon District Council is currently based in a former Victorian hotel in the seaside resort of Sidmouth.

But officers have recommended relocating because of the high cost of maintaining the buildings.

New locations being considered are Cranbrook, which is still being completed, and Honiton.

The council's cabinet voted in favour of the move at a meeting earlier.

The council said further work would now be done to investigate new sites, with parts of the current site likely to be sold for housing.

'Money down drain'

Knowle Park public space could be handed over to Sidmouth Town Council.

The council said the move would not add to residents' council tax and would help to reduce the "running costs" of the council by £160,000 a year.

It said it would also save £55,000 a year in energy costs.

Conservative Paul Diviani, East Devon District Council leader, said: "All the evidence suggests that trying to stay at Knowle is like pouring taxpayers' money down the drain.

"The current buildings need over £1.5m spending on them in essential repairs alone.

"Exploring the Honiton and Cranbrook options... gives us the opportunity to provide modern offices which are low cost to run and give taxpayers across East Devon value for money."

Kelvin Dent, an Independent member of Sidmouth Town Council, said: "I think it would be a pity if East Devon District Council were to move out of the Victorian hotel and/or the offices which were erected in the 1970s behind it.

"Which council in its right mind, in these times of economic difficulty, would seriously consider building new offices anyway?"

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