News … Independence … Sidmouth, the Sid Valley and beyond

18 Oct
The authorship of this blog has no connection with any EDDC councillor, past or present nor any employee, past or present, of East Devon District Council  nor is it authored by anyone with any past or present connection to Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce or other Sidmouth campaign groups.   It is intended to give an independent voice to local public opinion, and does not necessarily represent the views of any other body.  This site may offer information, national or global, which could be relevant to local issues and concerns.  Its focus is however, and will remain – Sidmouth, Independence and News.  We believe that the overwhelming majority of the employees of East Devon District Council are hardworking and honourable people and it is unfortunate for them and us that they are embroiled in the difficulties brought upon them by our council.

12  November, 2014. Police investigation into ex-councillor Graham Brown has been closed, with insufficient evidence to pursue the matter further.



Note from SIN  It is not illegal for councillors to work as paid consultants
For those not familiar with the events, this has been a high profile case because Graham Brown  was a former EDDC Councillor and its erstwhile Chairman of the Council’s Local Development Framework Panel and simultaneously Chairman of the now defunct East Devon Business Forum (which was supported financially and with dedicated officer time by East Devon District Council). The local Conservative Party withdrew his membership shortly after  he had told an undercover journalist from the Daily Telegraoh  If I can’t get planning permission, nobody will..but I don’t come cheap”


Some months before the above  story broke, East Devon District Council had set up a  Task and Finish Forum (a sub-group of its Overview and Scrutiny Committee) to scrutinise the relationship between the Council and Business. The Chief Executive has since advised that it cannot investigate any planning matters.  A key witness, due to be Lead Officer on the Business TAFF (which had been stalled while the police investigation was in progress), resigned a few weeks before the police inquiry ended. (He is Nigel Harrison, EDDC’s Economic Development Manager who had simultaneously been Honorary Secretary of the East Devon Business Forum.)

On 12 November 2014, in  a letter to councillors, the Chief Executive accused campaign groups and an opposition councillor, of undue influence on the Business TAFF.



Dates for your diary:

A full list of dates and agendas of forthcoming EDDC public meetings with agendas and minutes of past meetings can be found HERE.
The weekly digest of news circulated by EDDC to its Councillors (The Knowledge) can be found HERE.





Contact SIN at:
Contact East Devon Alliance at:





SIN takes a break

9 Aug

Sidmouth Independent News is pleased to say that since its inception, others in  East Devon  have established similarly well-informed blogs on EDDC-related issues. To avoid duplication, SIN  is now taking a long pause, but  may well be back on line in early 2015.

Some alternative sites that can be referred to are  (with useful LINKS list)

the futuresforum blogspot  at

and of course the especially informative and  popular blogs by Independent Councillors at these links and


Thanks all SIN-ers for the constant  contributions and hundreds of thousands of hits since SIN”s opening  post  on  27 Sept 2012, Good Morning, Sid Valley.   The website’s  archive will continue to be of use,  not least ,we suspect, in the run-up to the May 2015 elections.

“If you want trouble, tell the public they can’t speak”

23 Jul

The above quote from Cllr Peter Halse, (Con) was quoted by Cllr Trevor Cope (Lib Dem) at tonight’s Full Council meeting, but these cross-party warnings  fell on deaf ears. So did many others, including the argument from Cllr Ian Thomas (Con) that “to expect individuals to co-ordinate a response  (to planning applications) is unrealistic” .

Changes to rules for public speaking will now go ahead, after tonight’s Full Council vote.  More comment on the meeting on the EDA website





EDDC about to award themselves yet another black mark? New obstacles to public speaking could be whipped through Full Council this Wednesday.

22 Jul

Listen to the fierce debate on the subject, over your cornflakes this Wednesday morning. This link has details

How many jobs at Skypark?

17 Jul

The Express and Echo has an interesting update on this (see link below to EDA comment ) .

According to the planning application, the new parcel distribution centre will bring only 147 jobs to Skypark.  But this number is not guaranteed, of course, and those jobs will be spread across 24 hours.

Should Skypark fall short of the  6,500 jobs predicted, one important consequence could be that a business park where few people work , would not qualify for a regular bus link. ..unlike the Knowle, Sidmouth.


Warning! Full Council on 23 July is when changes to public speaking may be approved.

12 Jul

SOS website has the details

For your information,below is a record of the ‘Public Speaking’ Votes, at Full Council  9th April 2014

For OSC review i.e AGAINST gagging) – 26 votes
Susie Bond

Roger Boote C

Derek Button

Bob Buxton C

David Chapman C

Trevor Cope

Deborah Custance Baker C

Martin Gammell

Steve Gazzard

Roger Giles

Graham Godbeer C

Pat Graham

Peter Halse C

Mike Howe C

Stuart Hughes C

Douglas Hull

Ben Ingham

John Jeffery

Sheila Kerridge C

Jim Knight C

Philip Skinner C

Peter Sullivan C

Graham Troman C

Eileen Wragg

Steve Wragg

Claire Wright


Against the OSC review (i.e. FOR Gagging)  –22 votes

David Atkins C

Ray Bloxham C

Peter Bowden C

Geoff Chamberlain LD

Iain Chubb C

David Cox C

Alan Dent C

Paul Diviani C

Christine Drew C

Jill Elson C

Steve Hall C

Stephanie Jones C

Andrew Moulding C

Frances Newth C

John O’Leary C

Helen Parr C

Ken Potter C

Pauline Stott C

Phil Twiss C

Mark Williamson C

Tim Wood C

Tom Wright C

From Bert: Knowle and Skypark as imagined in Clip Art (Bert isn’t very good with computers)

27 Jun








Bert gets ready to make another move

21 Jun

Hello All,

Greetings from Airpark – though I wonder how long THAT greeting will last I don’t know – honestly, sometimes I wonder whether we will ever get a quiet life at the council offices. Just when I thought the dust had settled and all was well, officers happy in their bunkers, councillors happy in the Michelin-star restaurant something comes along that threatens to begger it all up.

We really were totally settled. The quadruple glazing was just about shutting out the noise of the Jumbo jets (did I tell you they decided to add a second runway) and no-one except developers ever visited us. (Though, goodness, were the residents of Cranberry upset when the jets started going over their gardens about 50 feet above their heads and let’s not mention that unfortunate incident when the toilet flange fell off just before landing. Then they read the small print in their deeds and found that it had all been covered and they had no comeback and were even more upset).

So, things had gone along nicely for a few months as we shared our business park with the call centre and the gas production unit. It was a bit difficult getting our lunches – the dash across the runway never got any easier but we managed. Then the bombshell. We read in the papers that the owners of the business park, fed up with not getting any tenants for years and years, decided to change things about. Next thing we know we have a planning application for a “hydraulic fracturing facility and associated refinery”.

At first, none of us were too worried – we all thought it was a pharmaceutical factory making pills and the refinery sounded like just making sure the pills were A1 quality. Could be worse we thought – and if we were lucky it would be the kind of pills we could get wholesale from next door for problems that many of us gentlemen have through no fault of our own – nudge, nudge, wink, wink.

Then someone (I think it was one of those Greens) said: “You do realise that what they are going to do is fracking don’t you? 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year and then turning it into petrol on site – cars, lorries, drill heads, noise, radioactive water, toxic chemicals – you name it And they can go under your building without your permission – is it earthquake proofed?”

Well, you could have knocked the planners and the councillors down with a feather! All this time we’d expected that eventually the landlord would get tired of trying to let all that spare space and just green it over and plant some mature trees and within a few months, except for the Jumbos, it would be almost like being at our old HQ in Widemouth.

Now, the nightmare began to sink in (literally). It sent our planners into overdrive! I’ve never seen them work so hard. They didn’t burn any midnight oil (sorry for the pun) about the Local Plan – very laid back they were for some reason – but here they were working day and night to try and find a way of stopping it.

They tried EVERYTHING! They said the floodlights would make it dangerous to land the aircraft until someone pointed out that there are floodlights all around Heathrow and Gatwick and no Jumbos seem to have landed on them. They tried saying that the site would have to be surrounded by so many trees that it would look like a small forest but that went down like a lead balloon when someone pointed out that we are chopping trees down left, right and centre everywhere else and shoving in industrial sheds up instead because the NPPF says we can. And someone mentioned the mega-industry complex in Sidford where it just used to be green fields for example, so we can’t easily win that argument at a planning appeal either. They started to talk about water contamination, water being cut off to our HQ if it got really bad, the frackers going under our building, the tremors that might happen, the lorries, the smells – etc. etc. Then again someone pointed out (think it was that pesky EDA mob) that our national government had just said that fracking anywhere, anytime is absolutely fine by them and unless the Leader wanted to abandon his hopes of a knighthood they had just better knuckle under. Someone said that there was a new group – the East Devon Fracking Forum – and they would be taking over from now on and to like it or lump it – I thought I recognised some of them from before but I just couldn’t remember where.

That was when the real planning started. Suddenly, someone had a great idea and decided that they must have yet another new HQ (we’ve only been here for a year) and started looking around for a suitable site. Beggar again – all the best sites grabbed for housing because we still have no local plan and Pickles says now that we have to build on brownfield sites.

They thought about Honiton but the best bit has just been sold to a Premier Inn and a supermarket. Exmouth they thought: but the consultants have told them that they have already flogged most of that off to Butlins and another supermarket. Ottery St Mary said someone else – no, everything gone to housing and supermarket there too. Axminster: no Cloakham Lawns took that option out. Seaton? Oh come on, let’s not get silly.

Honestly, they searched everywhere – no suitable brownfield sites at all. No, nothing for it – it had to be greenfield. What they really needed was a lovely building in beautiful park land surrounded by trees. Again, some killjoy worked out that they had just moved from Widemouth and that was already a McCarthy and Stone retirement village, so that was out.

Only one thing for it said the Regeneration people: we have to move into Exeter – but somewhere nice and green and not too far from a Waitrose. So they called up Exeter Council, got them to cancel the Ikea planning permission (something about bats) and what do you know, we are upping sticks again.

On the bright side, our residents will be able to get to us more easily (oh, sorry, that’s the dark side) and we will be able to get to the rugby (where we already have a VIP box) and we can call ourselves “The Greater Exeter Conurbation Administration”. With any luck, no-one will realise what our old name was and who we really are and we can be left to get on with what we do best – nothing!

Hope all is well down on the farm, though Daisy tells me that we don’t have a farm these days as it is now a big housing estate and the old farmhouse is now just our fourth home after New York (with its lovely view of Central Park, Paris (right next to the Eiffel Tower) and London (a 2 bed semi in Deptford, wherever that is).

Your loving son,

Skypark – isn’t the clue in the name and location?

20 Jun

News on the EDA website that one of EDDC’s potential neighbours will be parcel delivery service does not surprise us.

Recall that the much-touted “intermodal freight terminal” bit the dust a few years ago. Given Skypark’s location adjacent to Exeter Airport, surely a freight company is best located there.

What ISN’T suitable is offices: planes taking off on one side, freight lorries and vans on the other.

No, what you need for offices is peace and quiet in nice parkland, close enough to public transport for your customers to visit you!

Residents to be discouraged from visiting new EDDC HQ

16 Jun

“Cllr Ray Bloxham said a piece of work is underway ‘to see what service delivery we can produce in each of our towns and what kind of facilities would be needed to do that’.

He added: “The important thing is members of the public who want to engage with the district council in some way can do it in the towns where they live rather than coming to our offices.”

Cllr Andrew Moulding questioned how many residents in East Devon visit Knowle, adding: “Unless there’s a major planning application people are concerned about, people would not necessarily need to communicate by actually going along and visiting the headquarters of the council”

Sidmouth falconer in court

15 Jun