EDDC stoops to new low

27 Feb

Democracy plummeted at East Devon District Council last night,  at a full council meeting crowded with the public. The main business was to consider the budget, including expenses incurred by Cabinet’s decision to relocate the District’s HQ to Skypark ( a vast new  business site outside Exeter).

In public questions, a  series of local residents questioned the incomprehensible choice of a site on the edge of the District, with serious problems of accessibility for most residents, and the rocketing cost of the project in a time of desperate austerity.

None of their questions was answered. As usual it was left to a few Independents and Lib Dems to represent the public interest.

Cllr Claire Wright reminded the councillors that the watchdog Scrutiny Committee on January 30 had recommended that the project  be put on hold pending an independent survey of the existing council offices. She proposed a motion that the council should accept this.

This provoked a clearly co-ordinated outbreak of personal abuse on Cllr Wright from the Tories led by Deputy Leader Andrew Moulding. Incredibly, Scrutiny Committee member Mike Allen who had previously described the leadership’s “lemming” style of financial management, now changed his tune. Obsequiously, he towed the party line, with his own disrespectful jibes towards Claire.

Council Leader  Diviani added his usual economies with the truth, claiming that Skypark was a vibrant new business pole, only recently marketed.

The wonders of modern technology enabled his rosy claim  to be scotched almost immediately with an ipad email showing that the agents had been marketing it since 2010, with only two takers  so far, an EON Energy Centre (2012) and an Ambulance Operations Centre (2014).

The vote on the motion surprised no one. Nor did the fact that a named recorded vote was refused.

The Minority Independents and Lib Dems for, and serried ranks of Tory Majority sheep against –with the honourable exception of Sidmouth Cllr Graham Troman.

With that challenge out of the way and, before most people realised, Cabinet minutes were nodded through which means that land at Skypark can be bought and the the Knowle can be marketed –all without serious debate.

More comment at http://saveoursidmouth.com/2014/02/27/knowle-sale-and-skypark-spend-voted-through-under-veil-of-cabinet-minutes/

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