Stop WDBC using borrowed public money to build unwanted hotel on Abbey Rise car park

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WDBC please listen to the people of Tavistock and West Devon. The people who put you in office and the people whose tax revenue pays for the services and facilities that WDBC provide. We are asking you to reconsider using borrowed public money to invite in a hotel chain into our town and pay for its construction. 
We feel that a decision has been made without due regard to the thoughts and wishes of the people whose town this is. We feel that as 5 of the 7 WDBC Tavistock Ward members were not informed of this decision and that it was not announced or divulged until afterwards it therefore represents a cynical use of council procedure to subvert democracy. 

Unlike the housing developments where an identifiable need for homes has been evidenced, there is as yet no empirical study published that Tavistock is short of hotel space. Moreover the proposal by WDBC does not pay due regard to the nature of the local economy and character of this UNESCO World Heritage Site and Conservation Area. 

The existing economy is a delicate ecosystem of many independent businesses that survive and thrive because people value them. Studies show that local businesses put significantly more money back into the local economy than a chain ever does. Local businesses pay a decent wage so that the owner can pay a mortgage and support a family. Local business owners are more likely to use local services and suppliers and keep the money within the local economy. 

Hotel chains do not do this. They directly undermine this by going into competition with existing businesses in the same sector. This will cause others to close down or downsize. The supposed job increases in the town may never materialise as net employment either remains neutral or decreases, and net wages may decrease.  It may provide seasonal minimum wage hospitality work - but not the kind of skilled employment that Tavistock needs.

A large chain does not compete on a level playing field with local businesses. It depresses local wages and skims money off the local economy directing it elsewhere in the country or abroad.

Specifically the site in question is unsuitable. A large contemporary hotel complex so close to the mediaeval centre of this ancient Stannary town is completely at odds with what makes the town special. Furthermore, the car park in question is essential to the people that make up this community; for the small market traders, school parents and local shoppers. It is also perhaps an inappropriate development adjacent to the vulnerable people of Godolphin House and stands to make their lives more difficult.

Whilst the aim of the council to generate revenue is laudable, we the people of Tavistock urge you to choose a different course and consider other options that don’t damage the very economy, community, and heritage that it is duty bound to preserve and protect.

We want you to vote at the 12th February Full Council meeting to not ratify this.  Instead we want you to consider options that encourage more sustainable growth and well paid, year-round employment such as:

  • Social  Housing (for Tavistock parish locals) to generate rent revenue for the Council
  • Investment grants for small-scale local businesses such as light manufacturing, light engineering, food production.
  • A purpose built health centre to house Dentist, GP Surgeries and Family Centre to take account of the increase in population. 

If WDBC can PROVE that there is a shortage of holiday accommodation in Tavistock and show their working to PROVE that this revenue will come back to the town then they should investigate alternative sites on the edges of the town such as the accommodation and employment sites that are part of the new housing developments.  

Additionally we ask WDBC to SHOW the risks of borrowing the money are fully mitigated; that the leasee can service the rent for the period of the Invest to Earn Loan and that measures are in place to protect the public from the adverse effects of any bad debt or company failures surrounding this project.