SAVE EXETER SKI SLOPE
13th February 2019 | Jane Peel, Chief Reporter
A campaign to save one of the oldest dry ski slopes from closure has suffered a setback. The council wants to build houses on the site.
The centre in Exeter in Devon opened more than 50 years ago and has around 4,000 visitors each year.
It’s the only slope to cater for disabled skiers within 100 miles.
But Exeter City Council wants to sell off the site.
At the end of January a council committee recommended that the ski slope should be excluded from the sale.
But in a huge blow for the campaigners a meeting on Tuesday night reversed that decision.
It now goes to the full council at the end of the month.
It’s not the first dry slope to come under threat in the last few years.
Welwyn Garden City dry slope in Hertfordshire is earmarked for a housing development.
The one in Brentwood in Essex was originally set to go for housing but it was reprieved last summer:
Exeter Ski Club has launched two petitions in an attempt to halt the plans for the sale – the latest direct on the council’s own website.
The campaign has the backing of the BBC’s snowboard correspondent and Ski Sunday presenter, Ed Leigh.
“Sadly another dryslope is under threat, this time it’s Exeter,” he wrote on his Facebook page, sharing the Change.Org petition for his followers to sign.
“These slopes are where our best skiers and snowboarders start out so they are worth protecting.”
Some of those British snowsports stars who learnt their trade on the dry slopes are now among the world’s best.
They include freeskier James Woods, who has just become ski slopestyle World Champion and is a multi-X-Games and World Cup medallist.
He started out at Sheffield dry slope.
It’s now closed but there are plans to rebuild it in a major redevelopment.
And alpine racer Dave Ryding, who has two World Cup slalom podiums, learnt to ski at Pendle dry slope in Lancashire.
He raced at dry slopes across the UK as a youngster.
Exeter’s ski slope shares its site with the now closed Clifton Hill Sports Centre.
The council wants to sell the whole plot for a residential housing development.
A scrutiny committee of the council recommended that the ski slope be excluded from the sale but its recommendation was just that – not binding.
At a meeting on Tuesday 12th February, the Executive rejected the recommendation.
The decision now rests with the full council, which meets on 26th February.
Exeter Ski Club has received a lot of support on its Facebook page from local people, although some say they agree with the plans for housing:
Mary B – Good luck Exeter Ski Slope, hope you are allowed to keep going for another 50 years.
Dave R – If the City Council and the officers have their way Exeter will become a giant housing estate, just shows how disinterested they are in the residents & what we want.
Peter W – Good luck with your petition and thank you for being there for numerous school lessons over the years.
Iain L – I attended a ski course when the ski slope was nearing completion all those years ago, in fact, we were allowed to ski down it before the bottom mats had be positioned and had to scrape the mud off the skis before coming down again.ðŸ˜‚ I was no good at it so didn’t take it up but good luck to you in keeping it going.
Andy S – Who uses it, surely be better to sale and develop. Any development creates jobs and money. So in my opinion it should be developed same as any land that can be better used
Mac M – Homes/ dwellings/ apartments far more important than a ski slope.
The Ski Club has a 5-year lease with the council which expires in 2022, for which it pays an annual rent.
It maintains the site at its own cost and is self-financing.
It has a race team and an adaptive section which includes medallists at the Special Olympics.
“The nearest equivalent adaptive facility is over 100 miles away.
“40 to 50 young people attend the kids’ club each week.
“It’s somewhere you can come and enjoy an outdoor activity with your whole family, grandparents to 4 year olds!!!”
John Redwood, the leader of the Exeter Adaptive Ski Club, has been involved at the site for 25 years.
He was at Tuesday’s meeting and is angry at the way the scrutiny committee’s recommendation was ignored.
He’s also dismissive of the council’s claims that a ‘ski simulator’ would be an adequate replacement for disabled skiers.
“I am not aware of any disabled skiers that use such equipment,” he says in a letter to the Council which he has shown to PlanetSKI.
“Can you honestly believe that playing on what is little more than a fairground ride will bring any of the same health benefits and thrill of sporting activity in the open air.
“For someone who is confined to a wheel chair they can suddenly be freed in a sit ski and ski alongside their able bodied family and friends.
“The benefits of well being this brings should not be under estimated.”
Mr Redwood is asking for permission to address the full council meeting on 26th February before a final decision on the site is made.
Here at PlanetSKI we wish Exeter Ski Club every success in its campaign.
If you wish to support the club, you can sign the Change.org petition here.
And, if you live, work or study in Exeter, you can sign the separate petition on the City Council website.
It’s open until 25th February.
For the Spirit of the Mountains – PlanetSKI: Number One for ski news