Archive | October, 2013

The Big Society?

31 Oct

From the letters page of today’s Western Morning News :

Now just imagine if somewhere in our green and pleasant land there was a Council, run by big developers who (through some such body as a business forum embedded in the Council) produced exaggerated growth figures and delayed the formation of a Local Plan, failing to set a land-supply, so that the countryside was therefore exposed to government planning guidelines that favoured development…
Well, imagine if you were one of these developers… you’d be laughing all the way to the bank.
I think I see now what was meant by the Big Society – i.e. the one run by Mr Big.
So what price “localism” and our countryside now?

Thanks to its author, Mike Temple, for sending a copy to SIN


Civic Society asks: Are some local authorities deliberately obstructing neighbourhood planning?

31 Oct

 According to their press release, “Civic Voice”

“is the national charity for the civic movement. It works to make the places where everyone lives more attractive, enjoyable and distinctive and promotes civic pride. They speak up for civic societies and local communities across England. They believe everyone should live somewhere they can be proud of and they know how people feel about places because they feel the same way. Civic societies are the most numerous participants in the planning system. Since its launch in April 2010 Civic Voice has been joined by over 290 civic societies with 75,000 members”.


Show us the evidence that local authorities are deliberately obstructing the implementation of neighbourhood planning policy in their local areas. This was the call made during a debate of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Civic Societies at Portcullis House on 29th October

Laura Sandys MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Civic Societies said “Where civic groups and others know of authorities that are obstructing the neighbourhood planning process, they should inform Civic Voice so that they can inform me. The All Party Parliamentary Group for Civic Societies and and Civic Voice are regularly in touch with the Planning Minister and while I understand some areas have difficulties with resources, I am not aware of places where real deliberate obstruction is taking place. If there is, we want to know”

During the meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Civic Societies, questions were posed to the Department for Communities and Local Government and Roberta Blackman-Woods MP (Shadow Planning Minister) about community involvement in planning with issues covered neighbourhood planning, permitted development and the community infrastructure levy.

Freddie Gick, the newly elected Chair of Civic Voice said “I accept that some authorities may be under resourced or lack the necessary skills to support neighbourhood planning. If this is the case, the Government should be offering more support. However, if local councils are trying to obstruct neighbourhood planning, I would encourage groups to feedback to us with examples. We can then share this with the Minister.”

Further information is available at

Spotted at the Knowle.

31 Oct

Correspondents report  two interesting sightings at yesterday’s demo. at the Knowle .

Economic Development Manager, Nigel Harrison, was spotted leaving the offices at about 3.40p.m. – looking decidedly uncomfortable in the presence of photographers and reporters.

SIN-ners will remember that Mr Harrison was mentioned by “councillor for hire” Graham Brown in his famous sting interview in the Telegraph as the first contact to “kickstart”  planning permission for clients of the latter prepared to pay more than “peanuts”.

After his disastrous appearance in March at the first meeting of the TAFF enquiry into EDDC’s relations with East Devon Business Forum (whose chairman was G. Brown) Mr Harrison disappeared from the radar.

Rumours suggested that he had quietly retired. Obviously not. But he must have a lot of spare time  now following the demise of EDBF for which he did a sterling job as Honorary Secretary, for example defending Mr Brown against “unfair” allegations of “impropriety”.

Also noticed going into the confidential briefing for councillors was Cllr Tony Howard, representing Ottery Rural. In an amicable chat with protesters, he was at pains to reassure them that EDDC decision-making was transparent at all times.

Could this be same Tony Howard who, last year, commented to Aylesbeare Parish Council (see SIN 14 November 2012) that  Council Leader Paul Diviani was “paying the price” for being “too  open”? He thought Cllr Diviani’s predecessor was right to be economical with the transparency because, “Transparency has risks.”

On the same occasion Cllr Howard condemned the Sidmouth Mass March which assembled over 4000 people as a “distraction”for EDDC, “We want to govern the district but our concentration is going on Sidmouth and Exmouth.  It is taking time out from doing the job.”

So much for local democracy!


Longboat Cafe, Budleigh Salterton – residents dealt further blow by developer

31 Oct

Journal 31 Oct 2013

EDDC in its usual position: between a rock and a hard place?


31 Oct


Is East Devon District Council transparent and trustworthy?

Thirty or so protesters didn’t seem to think so at yesterday’s demonstration outside the “confidential briefing” for councillors on the Knowle move.

Protesters made their feelings felt with banners, chants and even a song (Billy J Kramer’s classic “Do you want to know a secret?”)

Mike Temple in a statement to reporters for East Devon Alliance – which, with Save our Sidmouth and other community groups called the demo- said “this secret meeting is typical of EDDC’s behaviour. They failed to consult with the public BEFORE the Knowle relocation decision was made by the Cabinet.”

“Now, so-called “consultations” like the forthcoming one on November 8th are “empty public relations exercises.”

He went on to say, “The relocation is based on “false figures and a predetermined agenda” to justify the demolition of a historic building and the destruction of public gardens which were a valued community asset”. It was, “civic vandalism of the worst kind”

He predicted that the cost of this  “vanity project” -possibly involving a £4.8 million loan-  could threaten public services to the people of East Devon.

SIN’s favourite among the banners waved at arriving councillors was: “EDDC: BLIND TO LOCAL BEAUTY, DEAF TO LOCAL PEOPLE!”

Save our Sidmouth and East Devon Alliance surprise councillors at secret meeting

30 Oct

A group of SoS and East Devon Alliance supporters caught EDDC by surprise tonight as councillors met in secret to hear about plans for relocation.  Most meetings about this project have taken place in secret, where even other councillors not on the council’s Executive or Relocation Working Party have not been allowed to see some of the so-called “evidence” for the move.

EDDC now says:

“In line with EDDC’s pledge to keep the public informed, there will be a second stakeholder briefing on Friday, November 8, when details of the shortlisted sites will be made available, followed by a Press Release.”

But we are ALL stakeholders – the Knowle belongs to US – to know about the move is a press release, presumably after most decisions have been made in secret.

Read more:








Councillor couple move 150 miles and continue to represent their former area and claim expenses

30 Oct

Story here

EDDC demands answers on Sainsbury’s depot site

30 Oct

Story HERE.

Isn’t it frustrating when an organisation can’t be upfront and transparent – EDDC getting a taste of its own medicine!

Yet another secret meeting: councillors to be briefed on “relocation” Wednesday 30 October, 4 pm

29 Oct

We have no idea why all councillors have been summoned to The Knowle tomorrow,  at 4 pm except that the meeting is about “relocation”.

No agenda, no minutes, no shame.

But they can’t stop you turning up to peer at them through the window!

As transparent as a brick wall

28 Oct

Remember our frequent postings about our Leader and his cronies lack of transparency.  Yet again decisions about relocation are being discussed behind closed doors (see Dates for your Diary above).

This is what happens in an officer/executive led council – an attitude that no-one else matters and all decisions must be secret ones.

Perhaps we must start campaigning to go back to a committee-led council, where decisions have to be made in public.

Something has to change if our voices are to be heard – this is not what most of us voted for.

Or perhaps a directly-elected Mayor.  We can think of a couple of good candidates.