Councils listening to the people? Well,not in Exmouth……

26 Mar

Remember EDDC Leader Paul Diviani’s New Year Resolution? (see SIN post ‘Turning over a new leaf” , 14 Jan) He said,  “…There have been some mistakes along the way and we need to get better at informing our residents and listening to them in 2013…”

In contrast,  here’s today’s news from Exmouth (Note the curious voting pattern) :

Dear Friends,
It is with sadness that I have to report that the Exmouth Town Council last night voted to approve the Premier Inn Plans, despite numerous material objections being made by the public and by Lib Dem Councillors.
Speakers included:- Jackie Haywood (Object), Jilly Green, (Object), Geoff Morris (Object), John Hunt (Object), Goff Harris, (Object),
Andrew Newby, (Object), Nicky King, (Object), Richard Benford, (Object)
Ian MacQueen, Chair of Exmouth Chamber of Trade & Commerce, (Approve)
 
3 envelopes containing further written objections were also handed in to the council.
 
The vote went as follows – in alphabetical order
 
Maddy Chapman (Con) Approve
Tim Dumper (Lib D) Refuse
Lyn Elson (Con) Approve
Steve Gazzard (Lib D) Refuse
Ali Greenhalgh (Con) Approve
Sandra MacQueen (Con) Approve
Malcolm Mitchell (Lib D) Refuse
Cherry Nicholas (Con) Approve
John Taylor (Lib D) Refuse
Richard Turner (Con) Approve
 
The vote was recorded and carried 7 – 4 in favour of approving the plans.
 
Mayor John Humphries said he believed “The Premier Inn would raise Exmouth’s profile nationally” and that the development was “A bold step forward in the right direction”. Deputy Mayor Bill Nash argued it was “time to move forward” and for the need for more hotel accommodation. He claimed Premier had assured them they were happy for the public and beach users to use their toilets.
 
Cllr Eileen Wragg outlined her objections arguing, “Exmouth deserves better on the seafront” and “that the beauty of Exmouth lies in it’s unspoiled seafront.” She also expressed concerns that contrary to the assurances that were given during the Premier Inn consultation, that Whitbreads were seeking to bring families in for weekly holidays, their expected customer base would in fact be businessmen/women, whom they hoped might come back for a holiday with their families.
 
Cllr Steve Gazzard argued it was “A pity that we are where we are” and outlined his objections on all of the grounds listed below and a few more besides.
 
Colin Poole the Town Clerk confirmed there have been 32 public representations made so far, of which there are 31 objections and 1 approval.
 
19 concerned at the loss of community amenities, including public toilets. 18 concerned about car parking. 12 concerned at how far forward the building will be. 11 concerned at the height and size of the building, it’s proximity to the road, the styling and the impact on views from the Beacon. 11 concerned at the potential loss of revenues for smaller B&B’s and hotels. (Premier Inn are going to charge £55 a night for a double room). 10 concerned it will cause more traffic. 4 concerned Whitbreads has exaggerated the number of local jobs it will create. 4 concerned at the potential for noise disturbance. 3 concerned at the loss of trees. 3 concerned with sewerage capacity. 2 concerned at the overshadowing and loss of light for the Bath House. 1 concerned at sale of public land. 1 concerned about increased flood risk. 1 concerned the Right Of Way will not be maintained.
 
Whilst the adverse economic impact on smaller businesses was not allowed to be submitted as an objection to the Premier Inn Plans, all of the councillors who approved the plans argued it would bring economic benefits to the town. Other Public Objections that were not allowed included those which argued the sale was invalid because the EDDC had no public mandate to sell the Elizabeth Hall or the Public Land. That the EDDC was under investigation by the Local Government Ombudsman for breaching its own constitutional rules during the tender processes for the sale of the hall. The potential commercial conflict of interest between Premier Inn and Jones Lang LaSalle. The fact that the EDDC is being monitored by the Information Commissioners Office for breaking the Law with regard to requests for information related to the sale of the hall and the seafront covenants. The lack of public trust in the EDDC’s planning department, given the police investigation into allegations that ex Conservative Cllr Graham Brown was selling planning permission for a price.
 
The plans were approved and will be returned to the EDDC without any recommended changes or amendments.
 
On the plus side, higher authorities are now beginning to take notice of the EDDC’s behaviour, precisely because they are having to break their own rules in order to rid themselves of our neglected little hall.
 
We may have lost this battle but…
 
Warmest regards,
 
Nicky King – FoEH Supporters Co-ordinator.

2 Responses to “Councils listening to the people? Well,not in Exmouth……”

  1. Sandra Semple March 26, 2013 at 7:33 pm #

    Just a rerun of Tesco Seaton. More than 80% in Seaton wanted no new supermarket OR a smaller Sainsbury scheme which offered us a better deal. We now have a blot on the landscape and a blight on the rest of the town. The EDDC towns viability task forum then said Tesco was taking all the trade from the town – the point we originally made which the DMC rejected!

  2. Paul Hayward March 28, 2013 at 8:00 am #

    Is it possible that an entire political group within the council decided to vote en-bloc in some kind of pre-organised manner rather than debating and considering the individual objections so as not to appear as having pre-determined views on the item for discussion? Blimey!

    PS, Hello again, Maddy Chapman

    Paul

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