EDDC, Brown and EDBF: the position so far …..

11 Mar

This was sent in by a SIN reader and is his view on the “Brown-gate” affair:

Meetings at the Knowle: two years of evasion and one year of denial

Public outrage during the “Sidmouth Spring” of 2012 forced the East Devon District Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee to set up a “Task and Finish Forum” (TAFF) in September 2012 to investigate the lobbying activities of the East Devon Business Forum (EDBF), an “independent” body previously set up by the Leader of the Council, Paul Diviani, and resourced by council tax payers. For years the EDBF had been chaired by a development consultant who was also Chair of the Council’s secretive Local Development Committee,

After three months delay the TAFF finally met in December 2012 shortly after the protest march from Sidmouth Esplanade to the Council offices by almost 4000 local citizens. Fruitless disagreement about the TAFF’s scope resulted in another three months delay. At the TAFF’s second meeting in March 2013 the Chair was surprised to find that the EDDC CEO, Mark Williams, had ordered key witnesses not to attend, so the investigation had to be adjourned!

One year ago this week, revelations in the Daily Telegraph resulted in the resignation of the Business Forum Chair. The ex-Councillor was duly scapegoated out of the Conservative Party. Police enquiries are continuing and seem to have made no progress.

In 2011 and 2013 the electorate of East Devon gave independent candidates Susie Bond and Claire Wright the biggest majorities of any candidates in local elections in England. The ruling elite of EDDC then punished Sidmouth Councillor Stuart Hughes, who had chaired the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, by removing him from his position and from the Cabinet.

In June 2013 the third meeting of the TAFF finally began its enquiries on behalf of the residents and council tax payers of East Devon into the serious allegations of many years of undue influence.

A further meeting was scheduled for September 2nd 2013 but a private email to members a couple of days before, told them this meeting had been postponed.

6 months later the Leader, Paul Diviani, and the Chief Officer, Mark Williams, have refused to say when the TAFF will reconvene.

Outrage is unabated.                      March 2013

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