The South Hams District Council recently offered to turn over the Berry and three other green spaces back to the town of Salcombe. The offer was made to the representatives of the Salcombe Town Council during a meeting at Follaton House in Totnes on 12th of July. Mike Fice, the town mayor together with his deputy, the town clerk and the council’s solicitor were told by the district council that they believed it was the local authorities’ responsibility to take care of local assets and they were hoping to follow this model in Salcombe.
The district council is offering to transfer the ownership of the land at the Berry save for a small part that is next to St Dunstans Road and the access track to the car park. In addition to the Berry, the district council is also offering to transfer the ownership of Cliff House gardens, New Cross Gardens and Courtenay Park. The SHDC made it clear that the care of these assets would be wholly in the hands of the town council once the transfer was complete.
A spokesperson from the town council has stated that the meeting was just a preliminary steps and both members of the town council and the district council will have to give their approval for the transfer to move forward. He continued by saying that during the meeting, it was decided that the district council would put together a heads of terms agreement. This was to be forwarded to the town council of Salcombe as early as possible. Discussions would start after this and public consultations would also have to take place before a decision is made.
Mike Fice, the town mayor stated that they were surprised when the offer was made at the meeting because they were expecting something much more confrontational. He continued by saying the deal was what the town wanted and they would try to negotiate the best possible deal. He, however, added that they would have to ensure the deal was stable and that they were not setting themselves up for a future problem. He adds that he will be happy if the land is given back to the people of Salcombe because he believes it shouldn’t have been taken away to begin with but they will also have to look at the associated costs and need for maintenance before making a decision.