More gagging attempts at Newton Poppleford?

8 Aug

SIN hears that that Devon County Councillor Christine Channon is under fire for not being enthusiastic enough about the Clinton Devon Estates (CDE) application to build 40 houses in the AONB at King Alfred’s Way.

We understand that ultra enthusiast parish councillor, Chris Cole, has written to Cllr Channon, apparently “on behalf of the  council” (at which meeting was this decided?) , expressing displeasure that she questioned the need for a new village hall, and that she urged villagers to view with caution the offer of a bigger doctor’s surgery for the village. These were the two key ‘sweeteners’ in  CDE’s bid.

He was also unhappy about her “flippant” invitation to John Varley, Head of CDE’s Property Company, to spend an hour with her observing the dangers on the main road  through the village (A3052) . (See SIN post, The Developer and the Councillor (30 July), and this photo below)

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By a strange coincidence we also understand that Mr Varley was so unamused by her comments at the last parish council meeting that he has informed her that he won’t consult her again about any CDE plans.

Clearly Clinton Devon Estates don’t appreciate dissent from mere councillors!

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3 Responses to “More gagging attempts at Newton Poppleford?”

  1. Media Mandy August 9, 2013 at 8:13 am #

    What loathsome actions. We are seeing this time and time again – councillors (district, town and village) being gagged because someone more powerful than them thinks that they own not just land but people too. The feudal system is alive and kicking in East Devon.

  2. Emma August 9, 2013 at 9:35 am #

    What an extraordinary display of hubris from both Cole and Varley. Are they taking their ball and going home because someone disagrees with them?

    I was at the last PC meeting, and Cllr Channon merely raised awareness of the new doctors’ surgery that is being planned for Stowford just along the road, and the Sidmouth doctors’ understandable concerns about competition for patients. She reported having offered to demonstrate the traffic issues to John Varley, in response to his rather unprofessional reprimand because she dared to oppose his proposed development. In both respects she was doing her rightful duty as a county councillor, in my opinion, by commenting on issues from the perspective of the wider locality. If CDE were the thoughtful, community-minded local landowners and stakeholders they like to portray themselves as, Mr Varley would have graciously accepted Cllr Channon’s offer to consider an issue that represents the top priority of the parish. Cllr Channon had the decency to agree to meet with Mr Varley to hear his point of view. What a pity he could not extend the same courtesy to her. Cllr Cole should be reminded that it is not acceptable to take exception to each and every dissenting voice and to try to silence valid and constructive debate that might threaten his own personal viewpoint. This is not what democracy is about, and as an elected representative of the parish he should feel truly ashamed of himself for his actions.

    Cllr Channon is also right to advise caution with regard to the doctors’ surgery. Quite apart from the information about plans for the Stowford surgery being quite well advanced (how would we have known if it wasn’t for her?), there is also the issue of whether funding would be forthcoming were Coleridge to apply for it – a pledge to seek funding if the development is approved is no guarantee of success, especially with the NHS being projected soon to be operating with a £30bn deficit. There are also questions over the financial viability of the KAW development if both 40% affordable housing and a doctors’ surgery are to be provided.

  3. Not A Developer August 9, 2013 at 11:47 am #

    There are now companies which specialise in getting S106’s removed and they are VERY successful.

    It will be interesting to see what the Monitoring Officer thinks of councillors being gagged if they disagree with a developer.

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