Torbay Liberal Democrats have launched a campaign to retain the Oldway Estate and Oldway Mansion in community ownership for the benefit of residents and visitors alike.
The Party is calling on the Mayor to allow a Community Trust to take over responsibility for the estate using funds from the sale of Fernham House and woods in the grounds that could be used to fund or match-fund grants from external sources.
Local party Chairman Swithin Long said:
“In the beginning the public were not consulted over whether the estate should remain in public ownership, just which of two developers should turn the mansion into a luxury hotel and build houses in the grounds. Neither of those companies are the current developer and there has been no further consultation.
“It’s time the Mayor put his trust in the people of Torbay rather than private developers and let the local community manage the future of one of the Bay’s Jewels.”
Liberal Democrat Council group leader Steve Darling said:
“Local taxpayers have been liable for all the costs of maintaining the buildings and grounds of the estate even though responsibility should have passed over to a developer in January 2013.
“In the meantime income generation from meetings, weddings and events has stopped while new costs have fallen on the taxpayer finding new accommodation for council services previously accommodated in the mansion. It’s a fiscal disaster and enough is enough.”
Torbay MP Adrian Sanders, whose Grandfather worked for the Singer Sewing Machine Company and whose home borders the estate said:
“The ratepayers of Paignton Urban District Council paid a handsome sum for the estate back in 1946 and local taxpayers have invested in the former home and grounds of the Singer Sewing Machine family since.
“Thanks to the various designations I’ve helped lobby for, from EU convergence funding to the recently awarded Assisted Area Status, our ability to obtain lottery and other funding is enhanced, so now is the time for a Plan A for Oldway.”