“All too often we read that EDDC doesn’t listen …decide, consult, do it anyway, is not my approach.” Who said it?

11 Sep

“One option has always been the sale of our Heathpark site alongside that of Knowle and Manstone Depot in Sidmouth and to use the money raised for a new, more efficient and modern headquarters.” says Councillor Paul Diviani in a recent EDDC press release.

And how do we know that?  We don’t:  because the Relocation Working Party AND the Asset Management Forum are both secret groups which produce no agendas or minutes.

As Councillor Claire Wright points out in her blog

Unfortunately, apart from the occasional EDDC news sheets that proclaim how delapidated the buildings are, most councillors and members of the public don’t have a clue what is happening because discussions on the plans to move are all held behind closed doors, with agendas and minutes marked confidential, we are informed, for commercial sensitivity reasons.

The last time a set of EDDC meetings about a major piece of work took place behind closed doors with CONFIDENTIAL rubber stamped across them, it spectacularly backfired.  And the committee’s chairman is now being investigated by the police. It was of course, the local development framework panel, who met in private between 2008 and 2011. 

How much longer can EDDC hide behind “sensitive information”?  Sensitive to whom and why?  Other councils seem to manage to have public meetings about such matters, with minutes and agendas.  What is so different about ours?

Remember what Councillor Diviani said when he was elected leader: if you want to remind yourself (though have a stiff drink first) you can find his speech HERE.  Just one quote from it:

“‘Seen’ is about perception and reality and is all about effective communication. All too often we read that EDDC doesn’t listen, doesn’t care, sits in an ivory tower – the list goes on. Whilst the election results speak for themselves, we need to enable better lines of communication. The cynical view of the last Government – decide, consult, do it all anyway – is not my approach”.

PS:  and let us not forget the Exmouth Regeneration Board and the Seaton Regeneration Board – both secret.

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8 Responses to ““All too often we read that EDDC doesn’t listen …decide, consult, do it anyway, is not my approach.” Who said it?”

  1. Axegrinder September 12, 2013 at 8:09 am #

    Perhaps the Monitoring Officer, or even the Council Chairman Mr Godbeer might intervene in the public interest.

  2. Phil Twiss September 12, 2013 at 10:53 am #

    Can I just take a little time to knock part of this particular conspiracy theory on the head. If Cllr Claire Wright had attended the briefing prior to (the open and public) EDDC Cabinet meeting on the 17th of July 2013 her blog might say differently in that that a very small number of Councillors do not have an idea about what is going on, not most as she misleadingly states. Attending the Cabinet meeting on the 17th of July or even reading the papers if commitments elsewhere prevented her attending gave Cllr Wright the opportunity to be better informed than appears to be the case.

    31 of 59 EDDC members attended the cabinet meeting on the 17th of July including Conservative, Lib Dem and Independents (some others who attended the Councillors briefing before hand did not). You can take a horse to water etc etc

    Given there was a very comprehensive report and presentation by Richard Cohen and much debate from the many members from all parties who attended both the briefing and the cabinet meeting, together with a large majority from all parties supporting relocation proposals I don’t see how a conclusion can be reached that no information is provided. See http://www.eastdevon.gov.uk/cabinet_agenda_170713_-_public_version.pdf item 12, pages 40-114.

    • hibou September 12, 2013 at 7:28 pm #

      A blind man on a galloping horse would take a mere few seconds to come up with the obvious solution to the EDDC office problem – refurbish the new bit of Knowle and flog off the old bit for luxury apartments. Consultancy fee would perhaps be a handful of hay for the horse.
      No matter how much information you provide in the above link, it’s all smoke and mirrors if you don’t consider the blindingly obvious low cost solution!

  3. Claire Wright September 12, 2013 at 8:40 pm #

    Thanks Phil, although you have rather evaded the issue I raised on my blog, which is that all of the office working party meetings have been held behind closed doors , with minutes stamped CONFIDENTIAL and many of those sets of minutes have not been widely circulated, even to councillors.

    Unfortunately, members of the public have not been allowed to observe virtually any discussion or decision about the office move, which is more than a little worrying, given the amount of taxpayers money involved.

    It would be helpful to know how much EDDC has spent on the office move so far. Perhaps you could let us have that information in a reply to this message?

    Re the 17th July confidential councillor briefing, I had to give my apologies because I was at a meeting in my community. I would though, be very interested in seeing some notes of this briefing.

    Perhaps you could arrange for them to be forwarded to me?

    Many thanks
    Claire

  4. Sandra Semple September 12, 2013 at 10:53 pm #

    It is really simple Councillor Twiss: make the Relocation Working Party agendas, minutes and supporting documents available to the public. The secrecy involved with the developer of the last planning application has gone: you can blank out their name if you like, but you cannot and should not keep this information from the people who are paying for it. Also, all the numbers will have now changed because the amount of land being developed is smaller, so figures will need to be computed again: let us see them.

  5. Paul Hayward September 14, 2013 at 8:37 am #

    Cllr Twiss.. are you saying above that Cllr Wright deliberately misled others by making the statements on her blog? I have read the minutes of the meeting 17th July, and all I see is a cabinet made up of 100% members from one party making a decision that affects every voter in East Devon with no effective input from non-Tory members, using data that is shrouded in secrecy and repeated use of the phrase NOT FIT FOR PURPOSE… In my experience, that phrase is only ever used to support a foregone conclusion.

    PS, when you post here, are you doing so as a Cabinet member and councillor, or as a private individual?

    best wishes

    Paul Hayward
    Town Councillor, Axminster

  6. Axegrinder September 14, 2013 at 9:50 am #

    Through SIN, may I offer counsel to Mr Twiss:

    1. Play the ball, not the man. Claire Wright’s diligence is renowned. She is not a conspiracy theorist. Rather, she reflects the views of a very wide body of diligent, courteous East Devon people, who would never trust conspiracy concepts, and are rigorous in following the evidence.

    2. That evidence shows:
    a) the electorate of East Devon has never been asked its view on this seminal decision
    b) but in spite of there being no such mandate, the report Mr Twiss refers to from Mr Cohen is heavily weighted against staying at the Knowle. It rushes to a recommendation which has obviously been pre-determined by the tiny group of councillors who he has been working with.
    c) The “democratic” process thereafter has been a rubber stamp, wityh a few synthetic quarrels, accompanied by a nauseating spin against some of the objectors as having only Sidmouth at heart. Untrue. I, and many others, live near towns which would make an economic benefit from this ill thought through move. We know it is a third-rate plan.

    3. Just to assist your further contributions, it’s “MAY I just take a little time ..” not “CAN I just take a little time ….” This is not to belittle your use of English. Here is the distinction. Yes, Mr Twiss, you CAN make your comment here BUT only because this forum has been provided for you and others to do so. And you MAY have your contribution published in this way because this forum instinctively allows all views and information to be published and debated without obstruction. Ring any bells?

    • jessica bailey September 16, 2013 at 11:47 am #

      Dear Councillor Twiss, I am a member of the public and I am interested to see the building surveyor’s report which states that EDDC cannot continue to operate out of its current premises. Please can you provide me with an email link to this.

      Yours sincerely
      Jessica Bailey

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