Bulldozing in Newton Poppleford

30 Apr

What is going on in Newton Poppleford?

Just over  two weeks since a planning committee meeting ended in chaos after crude attempts to silence Cllr Graham Salter who opposed Clinton Devon Estates’ application to develop a site near King Alfred Way , another Parish Council meeting last night has raised eyebrows.

Cllr Salter again argued that the process, by which the King Alfred Way site was proposed for development, was fatally flawed. A  roar of laughter greeted his revelation that Parish Clerk, David  Atkins, had completed a questionnaire describing the land as flat. It’s on a hillside!

But Cllr Salter thought it a serious matter if this kind of inaccurate information was fed back to the EDDC as part of the SHLAA (Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment ) process. He  proposed to repeat the SHLAA for Newton Pop  following “proper procedures” but had no support from other councillors.

Some critics of the Clinton Devon Estates’ application think their offer to provide land for a new village hall is a “bribe” which is not needed by the village and their suspicions may have been confirmed by what happened next.

Minutes handed out stated that Cllr Dave Jefferies had said at a previous meeting that the Management Committee of the Village Hall, ‘may decide to sell the Hall’ But people at last night’s meeting claimed Cllr Jefferies had actually said the opposite, that there was no intention of selling the Hall. The councillor himself was not there to put the record straight but watch this space!

The village hall “offer” took another battering when the head teacher of the village school confirmed to the meeting that he would like the school hall to be used by the community when it is rebuilt in 2015. Christine Channon,  County Councillor,  who was present, supported the school’s  chance for a rebuild.

Parish Clerk David Atkins then argued that there was an urgent need for development to provide a five year land supply for the District. Cllr Salter pointed out that the two proposed Feniton Developments had been turned down on 2nd April.

Mr Atkins – who, with another hat,  is a member of EDDC’s Development Management Committee- said he’d been advised that one of the Feniton applications would “definitely go through”. He loudly said he considered this would have been “a practical solution”.

Cllr Salter retorted “Was that the one you voted for or the other one?” The public laughed.
Mr Atkins was one of the few to vote in favour of the first Feniton Application at the DMC, and had left the meeting before the second one was unanimously voted against.

The public asked Mr Atkins when the next meeting will be for the Parish Council to vote on King Alfred Way. He said he only had to give three days’ notice, but revealed that it would be on  Monday 13th May 8 pm in the Newton Pop Village Hall.

Observers of Cllr Atkins’ long and chequered career are beginning to wonder about possible potential conflicts of interest in his role as parish clerk, who has negotiated closely with Clinton Estates over their Newton Poppleford plans, and his role as a member of the District “planning committee” which will decide on the application.

 No-one would accuse Cllr Atkins of being “anti-development”, in fact some critics from Exmouth with long  memories  have claimed he belongs to the Build Everywhere Regardless of Consequences school!

2 Responses to “Bulldozing in Newton Poppleford”

  1. Not A Developer April 30, 2013 at 5:36 pm #

    Presumably the clerk will disqualify himself from the DMC when these issues are discussed. If not, councillors at Newton Pop might reasonably feel that there has been a breach of trust. I would be studying the terms of his contract of employment if I were a NP councillor.

  2. Dougal May 1, 2013 at 1:55 pm #

    Any District Councillor who suggests that they are not in favour of a particular planning proposal is immediately accused of ‘pre-determination’ by the Conservative government at the Knowle. Not only is Mr Atkins behaving outrageously and ‘overstepping the mark’ as a Parish Clerk, in encouraging Newton Popp PC to support the application, but his views are clearly ‘pre-determined’ (actively promoting) as an EDDC councillor and he runs serious risk of maladministration charges if he is involved at DMC in any discussion or decision about the Clinton application.
    Many people in East Devon can remember the planning scandals of the 1980′s and investigations are already under way about the alleged undue influence of EDBF.

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