Quartet; about a bunch of old people who are past their best and finding it hard to cope with the real world

8 Mar

A couple of months ago, a film came out called “Quartet” about a bunch of elderly people all past their best who were finding it hard to cope with the real world any longer.  A former diva turns up at their care home and causes disruption.

By coincidence, the headline on page 14 of this week’s Sidmouth Herald is “Councillor quartet bid to justify district council move to Skypark” and details a press release by four Sidmouth councillors (remember these names: Peter Sullivan, Frances Newth, Christine Drew and Chris Wale) explaining why they voted for the move to their colleagues on Sidmouth Town Council and in answer to a question from (non EDDC councillor) Kelvin Dent .  One wonders if there are more similarities between the film and the councillors than meets they eye.

“The poser was issued by their town council colleague Kelvin Dent, who wanted to know the members’ thoughts on the impact on Sidmouth’s economy and delivery of services. The quartet of councillors, who stressed a final decision on the relocation has not been made, said in a statement: “Where the district council operates is a matter for the district council.”

They added that officers and staff who live in Sidmouth are ‘unlikely to move and will still maintain their current spending pattern in the town’.

“Many EDDC staff members do not live in Sidmouth and their spending pattern is clearly different in Honiton, Seaton, Axminster and Exeter where they do,” said the councillors.

“There is comparatively little ‘footfall’ between EDDC staff at Knowle and the town centre during working hours and very little economic activity providing benefit to Sidmouth from the sandwich and ice cream trade. A new development at Knowle will bring in an additional and probably new set of people to the town – as was the case when the homes in Knowle Drive were built in the grounds of Knowle, and where Cllr Dent lives – to spend some of their cash locally.

 Some of their justifications seem at best wishy-washy and at worst bizarre.

“We do question how EDDC’s moving is a complete disadvantage given that Skinners, Bagwells and Fords provide services to EDDC across the district and will continue to do so with no loss of employment or local spend in the Sidmouth economy. New homes at Knowle will be an economic benefit to Sidmouth given the likely development type that will take place there. This makes room for a good ‘trade-off’.

Completely skimming over the fact that an enormous number of jobs are going to be lost in the town they concentrate on three firms currently supplying services to EDDC as proof that unemployment in the town will not cause problems!  These three firms have to tender for their contracts and there is no saying that, in future, they will get them, especially if contractors in Exeter get to hear about them first.  Unless they know something we don’t.

“EDDC will also have a ‘touch pad’ in all major towns…in addition to mobile working where the staff get to people who can’t get to them to deliver services.”  They added that all residents will also be given access to the council through its website, by telephone, visits by staff ‘so no one will be disadvantaged wherever EDDC’s future location may be’.

Touchpads – are they like iPads but with legs?  Where will these “touchpads” be, who will pay for them, when and how will they be staffed?  What happens if the person at the “touchpad” doesn’t have the precise papers that he or she needs?  How will they travel to “touchpads”, who will pay their travelling expenses and meal allowances for being away from the office?  Who will pay the parking fees for the cars they will have to leave in local car parks?    What happens if you don’t have a computer, you can’t handle telephone conversations easily and want to see someone face to face in the knowledge that the documents you need are somewhere in the building?  What happens if you are at a “toucchpad” and documents need copying? 

They added that officers and staff who live in Sidmouth are ‘unlikely to move and will still maintain their current spending pattern in the town’.

Er, sorry, with Exeter a short bus ride away from their offices?  We think not with all those big supermarkets in Exeter so close to hand.

“Many EDDC staff members do not live in Sidmouth and their spending pattern is clearly different in Honiton, Seaton, Axminster and Exeter where they do,” said the councillors.

Er, sorry but that applies to Skypark – even more to Skypark and its closeness to Exeter?  Is this a joke?

“There is comparatively little ‘footfall’ between EDDC staff at Knowle and the town centre during working hours and very little economic activity providing benefit to Sidmouth from the sandwich and ice cream trade. A new development at Knowle will bring in an additional and probably new set of people to the town – as was the case when the homes in Knowle Drive were built in the grounds of Knowle, and where Cllr Dent lives – to spend some of their cash locally.

Has anyone else seen LOTS of EDDC staff in Waitrose, Lidl and having quick coffees and ice creams in town?  I know I have!  Where does the current EDDC canteen get its supplies from, too – surely they “shop local”?  Who caters for the many and various meetings with refreshments?

So there we have it – 400 jobs going is nothing compared to the 40 or 50 houses that will take their place (with their demand for services such as doctors, dentists etc).  And it’s nothing to do with us – Sidmouth’s EDDC councillors – EDDC just does what EDDC does and we do as we are told.

And finally the peach:

Where the district council operates is a matter for the district council.”

Sorry – how many of you in this “quartet” are Sidmouth councillors?  Oh, that’s right, all of you.  What exactly do you think the people of Sidmouth expected from you when they voted for you?

Well, no matter – they almost certainly will not be voting for you again.

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