Archive | July, 2013

Spot the difference

31 Jul

This quote from a Tory (minority party) councillor at South Somerset District Council about the fiasco of its Local Plan, which has had to go back to the drawing board (see posts below):

District and County councillor Marcus Fysh said earlier this month;
“The Lib Dem council ignored local people’s concerns about bias and incompetence in allocating important landscapes and Grade 1 land with important heritage value for development that would benefit a few big developers, and questions must be asked why.” 
“Yeovil MP David Laws failed to intervene despite the obvious problems being expressed to him in many hundreds of letters over the last three years.”
Strange how Lib Dem led South Somerset has so much in common with Tory led East Devon – not only having the same CEO but also the same problems!

Double standards – or no standards at all?

31 Jul

We know ( because Tory councillors at Lib Dem controlled South Somerset District Council have said so) that their local plan has cost more than £2 million to prepare, most of which was “officer time”.

But when someone asks the CEO of the Tory council how much ours cost (see Save our Sidmouth) he got the reply

I note your ongoing fondness for time recording but this is principally a tool for billing clients and justifying the level of charge. It was experimented with in the late 1980’s and into the 1990’s when the ‘internal market’ was all the rage but was subsequently rejected by most in local government as unnecessary bureaucracy”

So, in Lib Dem South Somerset (CEO M Williams) you can be told the cost but in Tory East Devon (CEO M Williams) you can’t.

Oh, and by the way, WE the taxpayers of East Devon are your clients and we want to know.

Arm Twissting!

31 Jul

Reliable sources close to the Majority Party on EDDC tell SIN that there was some serious arm twissting after last week’s full council meeting.

Heavyweight Tory Whip Phil Twiss did not appreciate Cllr Mike Allen’s criticism of Mark Williams at the meeting for giving “biased” advice and not having a “grip” of the legal issues concerning the controversial Sidford business park and the Local Plan.

Despite “never have whipped anyone in his life”, Cllr Twiss had a few blunt words with Mike Allen which left the latter in no doubt about what he could and couldn’t say.

Phil shouldn’t have been entirely surprised by Cllr Allen’s lack of enthusiasm for Mark Williams who is also Allen’s boss at South Somerset District Council.

On March 13th, when Allen was asked for a comment by Radio Devon on calls for William’s resignation he replied that the CEO “must make his own mind up”. He had “nothing against him”, but “if there are any wrongdoings (sic!) ……he must be responsible.”
Allen concluded helpfully that the problem was that Mark Williams was a “part-time executive”!

Councillor accused of Code of Conduct breach

30 Jul

“I don’t want to get into a debate” , said the Chairman of Newton Poppleford parish council, which yet again broke up in disarray, at 10.30pm,– with councillors and clerk getting up to go home while members of the public were still speaking. Just before this late ‘open discussion’ part  of the meeting – a vote was taken to refer a councillor to the monitoring officer for “multiple breaches” of the code of conduct.

Newish councillor Graham Salter, who has been highly critical of the Clinton Devon Estates’ plan to build houses on the AONB near King Alfred Way (KAW), was accused by fellow councillor Chris Cole of disrupting the smooth running of the council, misleading it, and bringing it into disrepute.

Cllr Cole’s motion to refer Cllr Salter was carried by eight votes.

Cllr Salter is already the subject of police enquiries having been accused by someone on the parish council of discussing the  KAW application while he had a disclosable pecuniary interest (DPI). He firmly denies ever agreeing that he has a DPI, and believes opponents on the council are attempting to silence him because they favour the Clinton Devon Estates’ proposal.


“No recording” at Newton Poppleford

30 Jul

Last night’s parish council meeting in Newton Poppleford’s Village Hall, opened its business agenda with the Chairman’s statement that “We haven’t adopted” a policy that meetings could be recorded. “I’d appreciate it if you didn’t record”, he told the 50-or so members of the public who attended.

This seemed to jar with a following agenda item,  which could have been avoided by having meetings recorded! Instead, the councillors had to vote last night to correct previous minutes which had some serious and misleading omissions. (“We have not followed due process” , said the Chair).  For instance, one crucial objection by councillors to the controversial King Alfred Way planning application, was that there were “too many houses”. This  had not been minuted by  the parish clerk .

At the end of the session, the Chair, Cllr Sanders, regretted the ‘vitriol’ which had been part of the recent parish council meetings. “I’ve been smeared, I’ve been misquoted”, he said.

A pity there was no evidence from recordings of past meetings, to prove his allegations…and to stop more of this sort of thing in its tracks.

Time for a change in policy?   Go for it, Newton Pop!


The Developer and the Councillor

30 Jul

An interesting anecdote at last night’s Newton Poppleford Parish Council meeting.

County Councillor Christine Channon, giving her report, mentioned a “rap over the knuckles” that she had received from John Varley, head of Clinton Devon Estates’ development arm.

She said Mr Varley was displeased over her lack of enthusiasm for CDE’s current application to build 40+ houses in the AONB near King Alfred’s Way in Newton Pop.

He invited her to have a coffee with him to discuss the matter.

Christine, who is concerned about the impact of a large number of new houses on the already busy main road ( A3052), replied that she was happy to accept coffee, if Mr Varley would then spend an hour with her monitoring traffic flow (or lack of it) on the main road!

Well said, Cllr Channon.

Newton Poppleford battles on

29 Jul

….tonight (Mon 29 July) , 8pm at the Village Hall.

The issues are in the Open letter to Newton Poppleford and Harpford Parish Council (SIN post, 26 July)

Who’s the ‘best achieving Council’ ?

29 Jul


Try googling  South Somerset in running for best achieving council title:   it comes up with a piece from SSDC homepage.
The SIN-er who alerted us to this, adds:
“Mark Williams takes the credit, despite the fact that he started at SSDC on March 22 2010, and the post is dated April 10 2010, just three weeks later!  No praise or recognition for his predecessor, I note.
How things have changed in his three years in charge – now a council in complete turmoil.”


Whoops …..

29 Jul

Clinton Devon Estates must read this blog.  After our comments on 22 July (below) on their website, this is what greets visitors to their site today:





How council’s assets can boost local economy

28 Jul

Suggestions from government here: