Backing for £2.7million Exeter ‘priority’ spending wish-list – but only when coronavirus-hit finances allow

Repairs to the roofs of popular venues, a CCTV upgrade and ‘anti-intrusion’ measures to protect parks are on a spending wish-list for Exeter totalling £2.7million. 

City councillors have agreed to priorities five projects  – which also include urgent maintenance of premises – when the authority’s coronavirus-hit finances allow.

Each scheme has been identified as necessary to ensure assets belonging to Exeter City Council are safe, fit-for-purpose and kept in a condition which will maximise their longevity and value.

But the authority’s executive heard at its June meeting that it is losing £1million a month due to the Covid-19 pandemic – and savings will need to be made.

Members backed the priority measures and to set funds aside for them, however, they can only proceed once the council’s financial position is secure.

Councillor Ollie Pearson, portfolio older for leisure and physical activity, said: “It is vital that we put in place measures for the future we have the right things for the people of Exeter.”

The schemes are:

Riverside Leisure Centre roof – £2million

The Riverside Leisure Centre in Exeter. Picture: Daniel Clark.

The Riverside Leisure Centre in Exeter. Picture: Daniel Clark.

The Riverside Leisure Centre is currently undergoing an extensive refurbishment which is extremely complex and technically challenging.

The existing roof above the sports hall is not included in the current programme, but, considering the scale of the refurbishment, council director David Bartram told the meeting: “There is an argument to have the roof replaced at the same time, as it is reaching the end of its predicted lifespan. A proactive replacement now would avoid further disruption in the future, reduce the risk of water damage and realise the advantages of having a contractor already mobilised on site.”

Corn Exchange roof – £250,000

Exeter Corn Exchange. Picture: Daniel Clark

Exeter Corn Exchange. Picture: Daniel Clark

Following reports of water ingress, a survey of the Corn Exchange roof identified several areas of damage.

The main flat roof over the middle and rear of the building is beyond repair and, given the extended lifespan of this building, a replacement roof covering is now required.

“Replacing the roof would stop any further water damage and enable continued use of the facility for future years,” said Mr Bartram.

Parks anti-intrusion measures – £112,000

A number of bespoke measures to protect the council’s highest-risk sites will be carried out. The 16 plots and proposed measures are:

  • Arena Park and Saracens Rugby Club: Replace the Saracens access gate with a tamper-proof gate or add a guard-around lock; additional planting to the boundary hedge to create two rows of plants; hoop fencing to close a gap between trees, the cycle path and car park, and earthworks to steepen slope nearest to skate park to prevent vehicle access;
  • Bettysmead Playing Fields: Continue liaison with Devon County Council regarding proposed cycle improvements and ensure that mitigation measures are implemented;
  • Cowick Barton Playing Field and Pinces Gardens: Install two drop-bollards at the interface between car park and the cycle path;
  • Ducks Marsh: Install two drop-bollards across the car park to prevent vehicle access onto the site beyond the university access track;
  • Eastern Fields: As per the works in Arena Park;
  • Green Tip: Concrete block to be placed in the southern gateway at Bromhams Farm car park;
  • Exwick and Flowerpots Playing Fields: New drop-bollard at Station Road/cycle path with reflectors and signage; install steel post at Old Bakery Close entrance; install two drop-bollards at New Valley Road entrance; two steel posts at Ennerdale Way entrance; a steel post on corner of Hayes Barton Court and improve padlock protection to the height barrier at the Western Road entrance;
  • Grace Road Playing Fields: Site to be reviewed in line with proposed Marsh Barton station;
  • Grandisson Court Play Area and open space: Low-level bund with hedge planting along Bishop Westall Road;
  • Hamlin Lane Playing Fields: Height Barrier with lockable lower barrier to be provided at car park entrance in the location of the existing gate;
  • Heavitree Pleasure Ground: 100metres of new boulders along the length of the Lymbourne Avenue boundary to create gaps no wider than two metres;
  • Honeylands open space: Install recycled plastic posts around the perimeter of open space where level access is presented of a length of around 105metres;
  • King George V Playing Fields: Height Barrier to be provided at Topsham Road car park entrance; replace rear car park barrier and construct bund around the lower car park. An alternative option would see a 150-metre long bund around the main car park;
  • Kings Heath Open Space: Boulders to be provided along the edge of the path at the Walsingham Road entrance;
  • Lakeside Avenue open space: New steel fencing to be provided along Lakeside Avenue and Glasshouse Lane to leave an open look, but limit vehicle access. A hedge could be provided along Glasshouse Lane and in sections along Lakeside Avenue to reduce cost;
  • Library Fields open space: Upgrade access gate on Lower Harrington Lane to tamper-proof lock;
  • Northbrook Park: Earthworks/bund around car park to tie into existing steeper-sloping sections;
  • Wonford Playing Fields: Eight boulders placed parallel to Chestnut Avenue and install a height barrier on the cycle path to permit access to Swan Bungalow. 

Future CCTV provision – £225,000

Exeter City Council’s control centre runs 24-hours-a-day, 265 days-a-year and monitors the public open space CCTV cameras, the Homecall alarm system and deals with all out-of-hours calls into the authority.

However, the current CCTV system is ageing and certain key components are now considered obsolete.

A ‘make-do’ option involves replacing some core control room equipment, but would leave ‘beyond life’ cameras and monitors in place.

This would include repositioning some key cameras to enhance public and staff safety in car parks and provide a link to the police.

The complete replacement of control room equipment has been rejected as the indicative cost is £1millon.

Port Authority Buoy Store – £95,000

Exeter Port Authority's Trinity Buoy Store in Camperdown Terrace, Exmouth. Image: Google Maps

Exeter Port Authority’s Trinity Buoy Store in Camperdown Terrace, Exmouth. Image: Google Maps

The Grade II listed building in Camperdown Terrace, Exmouth, is currently the operational base for the Exeter council’s harbour team while undertaking its duties as the Port Authority.

The estimated budget is to improve the operational facilities to an acceptable standard and to replace the slate roof covering in line with listed building requirements and to comply with the council’s lease obligation.

Pinces Gardens gatehouse – £16,000

The gatehouse is the main access way into Pinces Gardens, but the access way is currently closed-off as the structure poses a health and safety risk to pedestrians from falling tiles.

The roof structure has suffered from repeat vandalism over the years and a survey has identified that its covering has failed.

The council plans to remove the covering and roof structure, leaving the walls standing and access way open.

The roof could be replaced at a future date.

Mr Bartram told the meeting: “We have been completing a condition survey across our assets and these are the most urgent that have come out of it.

“As the financial position is uncertain, we are not asking for the funds to be allocated now, but to delegate the decision when the funds are available.”

City surveyor Michael Carson added: “These are early interventions. Some are necessary to continue to operate facilities and some are in a response to a health and safety issues.”

Cllr Phil Bialyk, leader of the council, said: “The budgets for each programme will be set aside for when funds are available.”

The executive unanimously recommended to the full council that, when it meets in July, the budgets identified for each project are set aside when funds are available.

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