What brings a council into disrepute?

25 Jul

East Devon Alliance representatives attended yesterday’s meeting, and have sent SIN their reflections:


Some observations on yesterday’s Full Council meeting at Knowle (24th July)


·         There has been much talk about the reputation of EDDC, and about outspoken councillors and staff who allegedly bring EDDC into disrepute. (Councillor Eileen Wragg’s recent reprimand, is one example.) Frankly the council did a top job of bring themselves into disrepute last evening, with the leadership once again showing they seem to regard themselves as unaccountable.

      Leader Paul Diviani  took an arrogant stance towards the public speakers and to councillors who had asked questions and supplementaries being classic examples of disrespect.  Mild-mannered Councillor Susie Bond was among those who were outraged. ”I take strong objection to the Leader’s response that I have a low opinion of council staff. Nothing can be further from the truth”, she said.

·         There was a shambles regarding the non-availability of the paperwork, and errors in it , which, amongst other matters,  led to deferral of the social media policy item. Councillor Trevor Cope was particularly scathing about the poor quality of paperwork.

·         There was an evident mismatch between the way the meeting was conducted, and Councillors’ claims that as a modern business, EDDC needs premises to match their professionalism.

·         That councillors voted against a recorded vote should not be ignored- what message does that send and how does that fit with transparency?

·         Several committee Chairs seemed to struggle with their briefs, Cllr Parr being the best (worst) example. In a well-run business context, they would be dismissed.

·         The chair, Councillor Godbeer, forgot such things as asking for abstentions, debate before voting,  and the like. He had to be reminded several times of correct procedure.

·         The contributions from some councillors was poor. Sidmouth Councillor Drew couldn’t find her glasses, and asked questions about matters already discussed at length at last week’s DMC meetings (e.g. Why ‘regency ‘ had been removed from wording in LP document). Councillor Newth, also representing Sidmouth,  told an anecdote about the problem at the fire escape at Knowle.

·         The Chief Executive was accused of bias, by fellow Tory Mike Allen, a Senior Councillor and close colleague for many years.

·         The consequent remark made by Cllr Twiss was somewhat disturbing. He declared he was satisfied to take the word of CEO Mark Williams, because “he is a qualified solicitor”. Since when were solicitors always right? Why do we clock up horrendous bills because solicitors argue with one another over their interpretation of the law? That Twiss is so willing to take Williams’ word is cause for great concern, not least given his role re the Knowle relocation.

·         Finally, the rants about Knowle being unfit for purpose seemed to completely ignore the more modern part of the building, while concentrating exclusively on the old hotel. Scrapping a substantial 30 year old building may well prove to be an unaffordable extravagance.

 More on the Full Council meeting on recent SIN posts, and at http://www.saveoursidmouth.com

5 Responses to “What brings a council into disrepute?”

  1. stoneleighblogger July 25, 2013 at 11:40 pm #

    It would seem that the most expedient thing the Government could do would be to merge the EDDC with the DCC. This council serves no one.

  2. Mike Temple July 26, 2013 at 8:02 am #

    But it clearly serves Cllr Diviani and his associates – certainly not the people of East Devon whose countryside and heritage it threatens and who will pick up the bill for its unnecessary re-location.
    And, yes, why has EDDC deliberately ignored the option of refurbishing the existing modern purpose-built offices?

  3. Graham July 26, 2013 at 1:19 pm #

    EDDC cllrs keep repeating the same old line about the state of the Knowle, yet they refuse to allow local monitors in to verify if the buildings are fit for purpose. With EDDC in disrepute we naturally assume the quality and condition of the purpose built offices is fine and suitable for a retrofit. As taxpayers who are to underwrite the upgrade we must surely have a right to access and survey the publically owned property.

    • KAW Protester July 27, 2013 at 6:59 am #

      But there are 100,000s of tax payers – who will represent them Graham?

  4. Mike Temple July 27, 2013 at 8:33 am #

    You could, KAW, join EDA as a start…

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