Archive | November, 2013

‘Sum thing amiss’ at EDDC

30 Nov
….. was the title given to another letter in  Sidmouth Herald’s  Opinion page yesterday (29 Nov). It’s published here with the author’s  permission:

Sir,    

Oh dear! So it’s not just Save Our Sidmouth who find errors of judgement by the current senior management team at East Devon District Council. Two Inspectors are also among the critics. This summer, the Local Plan had to be returned to EDDC, when the Government Inspector found that no less than 53 changes marked as ‘minor’ were in fact major. And now a second Inspector has expressed little regard for EDDC’s evidence on Knowle public footpaths, when she upheld the Knowle Residents’ appeal (see Sidmouth Herald, 22 Nov).

Taxpayers, of course, pick up the costs of the Council’s errors, without the bill being public knowledge (e.g. The amended Local Plan had to go out for further public consultation; an appeal may be lodged by EDDC about Knowle footpaths; etc.).  

The ambition to move from Knowle may prove the biggest error of judgement yet. Preparation has already cost taxpayers over £500,000, with still no certainty on where to relocate, nor what price the Knowle would fetch in these difficult times.  Taxpayers should look very carefully to see if EDDC’s sums really add up.

Jacqueline Green

*SIN  has commented on Phil Twiss’s  letter from yesterday’s Herald, here:  https://sidmouthindependentnews.wordpress.com/2013/11/29/conservative-councillors-are-free-to-express-their-own-views-says-east-devon-party-whip/

“Conservative councillors are free to express their own views..”, says East Devon Party Whip

29 Nov

As published in our previous post today, Phil Twiss continues…..” and (they) frequently do, often disagreeing vocally within both our group on EDDC and publicly with what is proposed (I note an example of this illustrated by another correspondent in the same edition of the Herald in support of Cllrs Hughes and Troman), and voting according to their views. “

Cllr Twiss  has  unfortunately forgotten that the letter he cites is about the price paid by Cllrs Hughes and Troman for their outspokenness!! For those who missed it, here’s what Marianne Rixson wrote (Sidmouth  Herald, 22 Nov 2013):

Letter to the Herald in response to Graham Cooper’ letter last week.
‘Graham Cooper was right last week (‘Whose mandate?’Opinion) to highlight the weaknesses of our “democratic” system of local government where a minority of voters elect a massive majority of councillors of one party. In local elections it should not be the party candidate that people instinctively vote for, but the best man or woman for the job.
It is worth pointing out, however, that even  our defective electoral system does return some Majority councillors who think for themselves and represent the best interests of their community in defiance of the Party Leadership.
Sid Vale councillors Stuart Hughes and Graham Troman are good examples. They both proposed that the extravagant plans to move the Council HQ should be put on hold, and asked embarrassing questions about how  a 12.5 acre business park suddenly appeared in the Local Plan. They both pressed for a scrutiny committee investigation into the Council’s controversial relations with the East Devon Business Forum.
It has cost them dearly. Graham Troman’s dogged attempts to keep the investigation committee working have been obstructed at every turn by the Chief Executive.
Stuart Hughes was sacked as chairman of the Scrutiny Committee by the Leader of the Council whose leadership he blasted in the Herald on 17 May this year as “arrogant and spineless”.’
 
 

‘Have whip, but don’t ever use it’

29 Nov

A letter from Phil Twiss was published today in the Sidmouth Herald . SIN notes it refers to “my respected Liberal Democrat and Independent colleagues” , which will surprise many members of the public who have regularly witnessed  disrespectful behaviour towards some of these opposition councillors. That’s not to mention the reprimands by the Standards Committee who have recognised bullying in the Council Chamber!!

Here’s Cllr Twiss’s letter:

‘I would like to respond to a letter from Councillor Roger Giles published in the Sidmouth Herald (“Electing to stand”, Opinion, November 22).

He bemoans the fact that a number of seats on East Devon District Council were uncontested at the last election in 2011 and that people were unable to express a view on who they wished to represent them – and correctly states that the Conservative group is by some distance the largest represented on EDDC.

Roger misses the point entirely in that Conservative candidates elected unopposed in 2011 put their hands up and took part in the democratic process when others with political affiliations or Independent did not.

They would have been perfectly happy to campaign on Conservative Party views they hold in common with fellow councillors, as they will again in 2015.

A democratic deficit in East Devon is hardly due to a lack of commitment by Conservative councillors and candidates who stood in all wards contesting the 59 seats on EDDC and winning a convincing majority.

There is a view that electors in the wards where candidates were returned unopposed were satisfied with their representation, although personally I agree with Roger that I hope that there will be contested elections in all wards in 2015 to redress the perceived issue of lack of representation and that the Conservative party will win a similar or hopefully larger majority to represent the best interests of all people in East Devon.

Those councillors elected in 2011 continue to represent the best interests of all electors (as indeed is the case with the majority of my respected Liberal Democrat and Independent colleagues) who did vote for them in wards where there were elections held or indeed where people didn’t vote for them in wards where elections were held.

 

Turning to Roger’s final paragraph, at the risk of repeating myself, Conservative councillors are free to express their own views and frequently do, often disagreeing vocally within both our group on EDDC and publicly with what is proposed (I note an example of this illustrated by another correspondent in the same edition of the Herald in support of Cllrs Hughes and Troman), and voting according to their views.

 

Flying under an Independent “flag” at EDDC (or anywhere else, come to that) is no guarantee that the best interests of all electors will be represented. Invariably a single issue with ancillary directly related ones is the overriding reason for Independents standing, holding back progress and directly disadvantaging their communities by paying little attention to other matters as a result.

 

I can confirm that at EDDC I have never used the whip (members being told how they must vote and this whip being declared to EDDC prior to the vote) despite the sniping insinuation from Roger that it may have been used and I challenge him to “walk the walk” rather than “talk the talk”.

I will pay £100 to a local charity of his choice if he can find a single Conservative Party member at EDDC who will state that they have ever been subject to a party whip during my time in that role – and equally if cannot then he must pay £100 to a local charity of my choosing.

All 41 Conservative members on EDDC are contactable directly by email, telephone or face to face rather than the more convoluted method of newspaper correspondence, but that will be entirely up to him to choose.

I look forward to him taking up the challenge so that he can do something rare – ie both tangible and beneficial for his local community

No doubt this newspaper will follow this challenge up!!

 

Councillor Phil Twiss

Honiton St Michael’s ward
(Conservative whip, EDDC)’

Question time for the Leader

29 Nov

And the PM answers questions for 1/2 hour…  This is the way it should be done!

david-cameron-speaks-during-prime-minister-s-questions-in-the-house-of-commons-pic-pa-665167006-158422

EDDC has a different style of doing things…as confirmed by the  damaging decisions taken at Knowle this week  (see  https://sidmouthindependentnews.wordpress.com/2013/11/27/another-nail-in-the-coffin-of-democracy-in-east-devon-officers-and-cabinet-rule/

Governor of Bank of England disagrees with policies of former East Devon Business Forum

28 Nov

http://www.theguardian.com/business/economics-blog/2013/nov/28/mark-carney-george-osborne-housing-market-boom

The Governor of the Bank of England says we need to support small businesses not the housing market.

and here:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-25137444

Mr Carney said: “The changes announced today refocus the Funding for Lending scheme where it is most needed – to underpin the supply of credit to small businesses over the next year – without providing further broad support to household lending that is no longer needed.”

Not what the former East Devon Business Forum was telling us …  .

What are rank-and-file majority party councillors FOR?

28 Nov

We see from the post below that it is the all-powerful Cabinet of councillors hand-picked by Leader Diviani along with officers that actually controls what happens in EDDC.  In the Development Management Committee, because of the lack of a local plan and a 5/6 year land supply it is now developers who call the shots in the district.

So, how do rank-and-file majority party councillors feel about this?  Well, it seems they are like the 3 wise monkeys:  they hear nothing, they see nothing and they say nothing.  Independent councillors do their best to try to redress the balance but it would take disaffected majority party councillors to effect major change.  Otherwise they are powerless in every sense of the word.

Is there any principled majority party councillor out there who is not amongst the Favoured Few prepared to stand up and be counted?  Don’t all duck at once.

Another nail in the coffin of democracy in East Devon: officers and Cabinet rule

27 Nov

http://www.claire-wright.org/index.php/post/cabinet_rubber-stamps_public_speaking_restriction/

The democratic deficit widens and widens.  Officers and Cabinet now decide things behind closed doors and in defiance of committees.

What exactly is the point of being a non-Cabinet councillor now?  Just rubber stamp fodder.