A £400,000 design project will be the first step towards a new future for Brixham’s Oxen Cove, councillors heard. The design for a new £3.4m shellfish processing unit will go ahead after being given near-unanimous approval by Torbay Council.

Torbay Mayor Gordon Oliver urged councillors to back the idea of a new shellfish unit which would boost the local industry and stop catches being sent elsewhere to be processed.

The new unit could create jobs and boost other businesses in the port, the meeting was told.

The Mayor said the council’s harbour committee was already behind the scheme. There would be issues over parking, he said, but discussions were under way on that. If it did not happen, he added, it would be an opportunity lost for the local fishing industry.

Cllr Derek Mills reminded members that Brixham harbour remained the largest fishing port in England and Wales. The dedicated unit in Oxen Cove is urgently needed. He said: “It will satisfy a growth in demand and provide much needed facilities for the Brixham fishing industry.”

Cllr Vic Ellery said the cost was high but the rewards could be huge. He added: “In the next 10 years we could create 500 jobs for the people of Torbay. That’s how important this decision is. If we believe in our community, we’ve got to plan for the future and go forward.”

Members were given reassurances that the people of Brixham would be fully consulted before any building went ahead, and there were warnings that time could be running out to apply for any European money towards Oxen Cove.

Cllr Nick Bye enthused: “I wish the rest of the bay was as vibrant as Brixham harbour, I see this as the next stage in the regeneration of Brixham and the regeneration of the bay. Speed is of the essence. We must strike while the iron is hot. This is a once-only opportunity.”

Mayor Oliver says it was a massive decision for Brixham and he understood the issue over public consultation. But, he added: “If we don’t respond, business will go somewhere else. We need to continue to support the success of this major industry.”

The vote in favour of going ahead with Oxen Cove was unanimous, apart from the abstention of Brixham councillor Jackie Stockman, who said she was concerned that proper consultation had not yet been carried out.

Original story by Guy Henderson, Chief Reporter, Herald Express
Reproduced by kind permission of author/publisher