Bideford town council tries to save Bridge Centre project after district council ‘pulls plug’ and leaves it hanging in the balance.

Plans for a £5million community centre in Bideford are in jeopardy after the district council ‘pulled the plug’.

Bideford Town Council heard last night (Thursday) how Torridge District Council (TDC) had, at the eleventh hour, said the legal agreement for The Bridge Centre had not been met.

This puts the entire project - which includes a community centre, sports facilities and shop at College Park - in jeopardy.

The charity Wings South West, who has been working on the project for seven years, had until Sunday (July 31) to prove it had raised the £1.5million needed for the first phase.

Charity CEO Dr Paul Bowser told town councillors Wings had done this and submitted all the information to the district council on Friday (July 29).

But the town council received an email from TDC before its meeting saying not all of the information had been provided, and the legal agreement had now lapsed.

‘Totally shocked’

Dr Bowser told town councillors: “I don’t know where this leaves Wings to be completely honest with you.

“To our understanding we had to provide some information to Torridge, which we have provided.

“At the moment they are pulling the plug on a project which has been going for seven years, in just two days; it’s unbelievable.

“I have spoken to (the developers) Redrow and Bloor and they have no problem with any extension; they are totally shocked as well.”

Dr Bowser said some of the information provided to the town council from TDC was ‘factually incorrect’.

He added: “While TDC’s attitude is purely a technical position, the lack of dialogue and transparency is not.”

He said the charity was ‘in discussion’ with TDC’s legal team to establish the next step.

‘Urgent meeting’

Bideford Town Council has already pledged £180,000 towards the project, with building work due to start later this year.

A dozen Bideford residents attended last night’s meeting, calling on the council to support the project.

Councillor David Brenton proposed the town council vote to call an urgent meeting between TDC councillors and the mayor of Bideford.

He said: “Bideford needs a community centre and this was our opportunity to get one.

“All of the villages in Torridge have community halls and we haven’t got anything; this is an opportunity to get it.”

Councillor Tony Inch added: “I have always been supportive of this community hub.

“I was very stunned when I heard TDC had pulled the plug on this.

“This has been long overdue that we get a community centre and we must fight for it.”

Town councillors voted unanimously to call an urgent meeting with TDC.

The Gazette has contacted TDC for comment.