Archive | September, 2012

What a Sidmouth “elder statesman” thinks of EDDC

30 Sep

Taken from an article reported on the Sidmouth Herald internet site from John Govier, the last surviving member of Sidmouth Urban District Council, which preceded East Devon District Council.

“My verdict on the proposals for Knowle is as follows:

1. Firstly, the future of any successful local government lies in doing things in a democratic way; and that the elected members are seen to be running the councils – not the officers – and the Knowle is a typical case in point;

2. The Knowle site is unique in Sidmouth and any attempt to develop any of it should be firmly resisted;

3. Should the EDDC depart from Knowle, then it is vital that the car parks are retained for public use – Sidmouth is desperate for more car parking;

4. The parkland and many exotic trees in Knowle must be retained and cared for – it is part of Sidmouth’s heritage, and our own councillors must protect our heritage; it is their duty to do that.

“The figures coming out of Knowle at the moment for “refurbishment” are a hype, and I see them no more than a “softening up” process for the ratepayers. Are they saying that every door needs replacing? If Knowle was in private hands now, and run by businessmen, it would be a different matter. In business you do things when you can afford them – but, of course, with councils they are not spending their own money, because it is all of us, the ratepayers, who foot the bills.”

How sad that it should have come to this.

Mass march and Stroll for Knowle 3 November 2012 11am

29 Sep

Save our SIDMOUTH needs you.

CAN YOU HELP?

Mass march and Stroll for Knowle on Saturday 3 November.

Meet  at 11 a.m. at Port Royal, Eastern end of Sidmouth Esplanade, come rain or shine.

A recent colourful protester at the Knowle

Knowle (non) maintenance

29 Sep

One way to make property uninhabitable is to neglect it.  This is the swipe mechanism that all employees and councillors at the Knowle use to get into the main Council Chamber and the Councillors Meeting Room.  Exposed and bare wiring with a bit of insulating tape as a repair:

Entrance to main doors to Council Chamber

Overview and Scrutiny Committee – part 2

28 Sep

Eleven people requested to speak at the Overview and Scrutiny Committee last night and the Chairman of the Committee arranged it so that all speakers who criticised EDBF spoke first and those who defended EDBF (all members, of course) spoke last to defend it. The speakers who criticised – Tony Green, Graham Cooper, Barry Curwen, the Chairman of Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce and Richard Eley (former Chairman of Chamber of Commerce, Delderfields)  being notable speakers, spoke extremely well.  They made points such as:  lack of accountability and transparency, the fact that EDBF represented only a small minority of businesses yet received such great financial and officer help from EDDC, that it did not represent “core” businesses in East Devon.  EDBF members, on the other hand, seemed to spend most of time saying what a lovely lot they were and how much they enjoyed their meetings!

We will post on this again over the weekend but, for now, take the nugget that on BBC Radio Devon this afternoon, Councillor Graham Brown said that whatever the committee comes up with he will “take it back to EDBF and if they think it will improve things they will adopt it”!   He really does not get the point.  Several people pointed out last night that EDBF is not fit for purpose and that “papering over the cracks” or “whitewashing” is not going to be acceptable to the general public.  This is really not about what EDBF thinks but about what WE think and, in the end, we are the people who should matter most.

What happened last night at the Overview and Scrutiny Committee

28 Sep

Last night the EDDC Overview and Scrutiny Committee decided to set up a Task and Finish Forum (TAFF) to examine the workings of the East Devon Business Forum (EDBF). Members of the public spoke at the meeting to express their worries that there was undue influence being exerted on the Council, and that there might be inappropriate behaviour by Members of the EDBF who are also Councillors.

A TAFF is an informal subgroup of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee which has the remit to examine some aspect of Council business and report back to the Committee for decision about future actions. Members of the Committee volunteer to be on a TAFF if they have a particular interest or skill in the issue being examined.

Tellingly Graham Brown assumed that he’d be on the TAFF, even though one of its purposes is to examine his own various roles in the EDBF, the Council and as a property developer.

Here are just three concerns raised by the public:

1. Why don’t Councillors officially declare their interest in the EDBF?

2. Can EDBF Councillors act impartially on Planning applications from other EDBF members?

3. Are EDDC officers compromised because Councillors on the EDBF represent both their own business interests and the EDDC? Are they talking to their boss or a consultee?

Were you there last night? Tell us what you thought of it.

Good morning Sid Valley, welcome! Join us tonight at the Knowle!

27 Sep

Welcome to the “Sidmouth Independent News“!

This bl0g has been put together by people who are concerned about what is happening in the beautiful Sid Valley (not just Sidmouth) and who want to inform, energise and stimulate discussion about how we find ourselves in our current emergency situation and what WE can do to get out of it – with what WE want and not what people from far outside the area or those only with pound signs in their eyes want.

We will get going with your news, information and opinion over the coming weeks and months and hope to receive many contributions from local people throughout the Sid Valley but, for now, our most important post for today.

Meeting of the East Devon District Council Overview and Scrutiny Committee

at 6.30 p.m. this evening (Thursday 27 September 2012)

at the Knowle

to discuss EDDC’s relationship with the East Devon Business Forum.  This affects us because it seems that EDBF have had massive influence on getting the Sidford site accepted at the last minute for the Local Plan.  The Local Plan is a document that will influence planning in East Devon until 2026 – if we don’t get it right it could blight our area till then and beyond.

For those of you who don’t know what this EDDC committee does, it says on the EDDC website:

“It allows citizens to have a greater say in Council matters by holding public enquiries into matters of local concern. These lead to reports and recomendations which advise the Cabinet and Council as a whole on its policies, budget and service delivery.  It also monitors the decisions of the Cabinet.  It can call-in a decision which has been made by Cabinet or one of its members but not yet implemented.  It enables them to consider whether the decision is appropriate.  It may recommend that the Cabinet reconsider the decision.  It may also be consulted by the Cabinet or Council on forthcoming decisions and the development of policy.”

Now, this is not quite as good as it sounds but it is the ONLY place where those citizens and councillors who disagree with the powerful EDDC Cabinet, can have their say within EDDC’s hallowed walls!  It doesn’t mean, for example that the Cabinet WILL do as the Committee suggests – the Cabinet can still take no notice.  BUT controversial decisions are aired in public (and not, as sometimes seems to happen, behind closed doors at EDDC – but we will leave that for another post).

Tonight’s meeting promises to be a real humdinger and VERY important for us in the Sid Valley. Rather than overwhelm you with the detail about WHY it is important perhaps the best thing is for me to refer you to an excellent blog elsewhere on the subject here:

I know that a lot of SOS people have asked to speak tonight and SIN (Sidmouth Independent News) will definitely be in the audience to report on it tomorrow.  But we need bums on seats, people of the Sid Valley, so PLEASE get down there this evening and show them that THE SID VALLEY MEANS BUSINESS – AND NOT JUST EDBF BUSINESS !

I gather the meeting is already causing collywobbles in more than one district councillor’s tummy and that even national media may be involved!

Hope to see you there!