SEATON Town Council is to seek a meeting with East Devon District Council (EDDC) to bring more life to the town centre.
In addition, town centre traders will be asked how they would feel about opening up pedestrianised streets to cars.
The request for a meeting follows a report by town clerk Amy Tregellas.
It was agreed at the June meeting that the town clerk should draw up a report on what could be done to improve the town centre in terms of vitality and empty shop units.
Councillor Peter Burrows led the calls for action, and the town clerk’s report was discussed at the July meeting.
Part of it said: “There have been a number of comments from visitors, businesses, residents and councillors that the town centre is looking tired and is in need of a good spruce up.
“There is also concern that there are a number of empty shops and that more needs to be done to actively encourage new businesses into the town.”
The report covered areas including: Shop- front Enhancement Scheme, Small Business Rate Relief, Empty Shops, Appearance of the Town Centre, Layout of the Town Centre.
The report said: “Shopfront enhancement schemes work in other towns where a grant is paid to landlords or tenants of shops to improve their shopfront.
“This could range from a large grant for major works (i.e. where significant works would need to be done to the shopfront) to a small grant where just a lick of paint is needed.
“The council could lobby EDDC’s economy team to ask them if they could set up a shopfront enhancement scheme.”
The report added: “The council can lobby EDDC to ensure that they are actively working to regenerate Seaton and to fill empty shops.”
It was also reported that town and district councillor Marcus Hartnell is working to reinstate the multi-body Seaton Regeneration Programme Board, which was involved with projects like Seaton Jurassic but has not met since May 2016.
About the appearance of the town centre, the report said: “The mayor [Jack Rowland] and town clerk walked around the seafront and town centre a few weeks ago and were disappointed with the state of the street furniture and signage as it all looks like it needs some attention. Also the grass and weeds have become unsightly.
“The mayor and town clerk will be meeting with an officer from EDDC Street Scene in due course in an effort to get these items dealt with.”
Opening up the town centre to cars was also on the agenda, the report saying: “The council has discussed before the idea of opening up part of the pedestrianised section of the town centre so that traffic can come through the town.
“If the council is keen to pursue this idea it will need to speak to Devon County Council to see if this is even possible and then consult with businesses and the public.”
Councillor Heather Sanham proposed that a meeting should be sought with the portfolio holder for economy at EDDC (Philip Skinner) and that the council should talk informally to shopkeepers to get their views of opening up pedestrianized areas.
Previously in the debate, councillor Ken Beer pointed out that here is a traders’ association in the town and asked what its involvement was.
Mayor Jack Rowland said council representatives had attended meetings and that there was a lot of enthusiasm early on, but that interest seemed to have “drained away” since.
Seaton Traders’ Association founder Kerri-Ann Briggs of Imagine Design Create subsequently told Pulman’s View From Seaton & Colyton: “I have publically offered my help and let everyone know my door is always open to anyone who would like to discuss business life in Seaton, who is looking for help or is thinking of setting up in Seaton and would like to chat to an existing business.
“Seaton Traders’ Association is still here, the majority of us talk online and keep in touch on social media as meetings have become difficult to arrange with different businesses having different availability, but we do hope to get more meetings booked up in the future.
“I personally had to take a step back for a few months as I was working away a lot but I’m back now and hoping to re-kindle the enthusiasm in Seaton.”
Town centre revitalization is taking place. The first phase of the redeveloped Grove site recently opened and work is ongoing at the former Woolworths building.
Seaton Town Council is also in the early stages of a seafront masterplan, one aim being to improve the connection between the seafront and town centre.