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New broom sweeps clean?

3 Jun

East Devon County and District Independent Councillor, Claire Wright has today launched her campaign to challenge Hugo Swire , MP, at next year’s election.

SIN readers may well recall this: and this (from 2012):

Report on today’s gathering in the Dissenters’ Room at Sidmouth’s Unitarian Church Hall, is on the EDA website


East Devon MP due for a dusting down?

2 Mar

Photo below , taken a few days ago, of Sidmouth Conservative Club noticeboard.

.2014-02-23 17.14.28

Er.. should that read  ‘cobweb’ site?

Seems nothing has changed…(or have things got worse?). Compare with pic on

Did councillors know what they were voting for on Wednesday?

28 Feb

We only ask because, of course, most of them were excluded from secret talks way above their level and (in theory) have never had full information about the move as we know that certain councillors have never been allowed to see the information.

So, we have two scenarios:

Yes, they did know – in which case we would seem to have a situation where confidential information was disclosed only to members of one party which would certainly be immoral and possibly illegal and certainly something that the Monitoring Officer would need to deal with


No, they didn’t know and voted blindly without knowing exactly what they were voting for.  In which case, why would they ALL vote that way – without being whipped?

Confusing and rather worrying.

Job cuts at Environment Agency…perfect timing?

3 Jan

The picture’s clear, from these two BBC news items this week:

BBC article on Feniton flooding 1 Jan 14


Vacancy at Honiton Town Council

21 Nov

Long-serving councillor  Liz Tirard, has stepped down as representative for Honiton St. Paul’s Ward (EDDC Leader,Paul Diviani’s patch) . The Midweek Herald reports that she was praised by colleague, Councillor Vernon Whitlock, for her “sterling work leading the planning committee” .

Honiton residents concerned about current large-scale planning applications by developers, will be keenly interested in who her successor will be.  Her replacement will be dealing with townspeople’s complaints about the  bid  to build 180 houses in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty south of Heathfield.

Meanwhile, the people of nearby Gittisham are also up in arms,  about the application to build  300 new houses west of Hayne Lane.

And so it goes on in East Devon…..

Is it only EDDC that lack credence in the matter of Knowle rights of way?

19 Nov

See this link for a summary of the debate at Devon County Council

Note that below is also a link to the webcast of the actual debate.

DCC officer Nick Steenman-Clark has some explaining to do it would seem.  As does our County Councillor, Stuart Hughes who is shown in the first link to have offered no comment on this matter.


Last Friday, there was a meeting at Devon County Council to consider the application for Public Rights of Way through Knowle.Looking at the order of service:Devon County Officer Nick Steenman-Clark, reading from his report Public Rights of Way () – Fri Jun 21 2013 made it clear that he did not support the application.East Devon Deputy CEO Richard Cohen claimed that ‘there had always been signs’ indicating limitations to any public right of way.

Secretary of the Knowle Residents’ Assn Julia Harbour requested a postponement of the decision, referring to a judgement before the Supreme Court re Barkers vs North Yorks County Council. She refuted the claims that there had been signage at the site and referred to the designation of Knowle as part of the first Civic Arboretum.

Resident of Sidmouth, Barry Raby, claimed that there has been ‘uninterrupted and unimpeded’ access through the Knowle parkland for twenty years.

There was confusion as to whether the parallel application for Village Green status was relevant or not…

There was also confusion over the definition of whether use of the paths has been ‘as of right’ or ‘by right’ –  which  Councillors and other laymen were not able to grasp. Legal advice Simon Clarey said that ‘by right’ means that a legal right already exists; whereas after twenty years, ‘as of right’, the walker can give rise to a right to walk that path. The District Council had dedicated the specific ‘by right’ usage – but on its own terms.

The Chair Philip Sanders wanted clarification over conflicting evidence on appearance of signage – that there had been several affidavits confirming their complete absence until the application was made. Officer Nick Steenman-Clark confirmed this was a ‘conflict of evidence’.

The Chair also sought clarity re the designation of Knowle parkland as residential land in the District Council’s draft Local Plan. Officer Nick Steenman-Clark said that the publication of ‘revisions’ to the draft Local Plan by the District Council ‘included proposals to develop parts of the Knowle site’ which ‘led to the applications’ for public rights of way and led to the District Council ‘seeking planning permission in order to dispose of the land.’

Pressing on about the issue of signage, the Chair asked Officer Nick Steenman-Clark ‘why we have to take the word’ of the District Council ‘at face value’ – the reply being that the landowner’s evidence should be taken in the same way as the applicants’, and yet Officer Nick Steenman-Clark felt ‘there was no need to consider’ the presence or not of notices.

The chair reiterated the right of appeal – referred to by the Knowle Residents’ Assn.

Without a debate, the vote was carried 4 to 1 that ‘no Modification Order be made’ (page 14 of Agenda)

Public Rights of Way – 21st June 2013 – Fri, 21st Jun 2013 – 2:00 pm – Devon County Council Webcasting

What is mystifying is, given the disquiet of the  chairman, why was it voted 4 to 1 for no modification?

“5% development is acceptable, but 40% is not!”

5 Nov

So said East Devon Alliance Vice-Chairman, Dr John Withrington,speaking from Feniton in an interview shown last night on BBC Spotlight TV.  The village, which is prone to serious flooding, is now being besieged by developers on a disproportionate scale. The Fight for Feniton’s Future website has details

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

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!

East Devon Alliance responds to attack by Paul Diviani

9 Oct


East Devon Alliance rebuts Diviani allegations 

A reasonable request from a local ratepayer for more information about budget cuts prompted a fierce and totally unjustified attack on the East Devon Alliance from Cllr. Paul Diviani. In an email sent to 100 people across East Devon, he claimed that the EDA was “a self-publicist” “political opposition” group “running negative campaigns, invariably giving a misinformed story and making no useful or positive contribution to the debate”. Ironically, he also contended that “this is not the time for political point scoring”. The EDA contends that these allegations are monstrous and totally inaccurate.

The EDA suggests that, if the councillor is keen on “putting things right for all our sakes”, he should start by avoiding irrelevant and false accusations against those who do not agree with him or who are merely seeking information and try, instead, to deal with legitimate comments and questions from local ratepayers in an adult manner.

The first line of the EDA charter states that the group is a “non-party political group”. EDA has members across East Devon and, before the recent local elections, candidates from the Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrats, UKIP and Green parties all signed the charter, as did some Independents. Indeed, the first to sign was a Conservative.

The EDA charter emphasises that it wants councils to be open, democratic and accountable and willing to engage with local groups such as EDA. Councillor Diviani, as usual, faced with a reasonable request for information, has reacted in an arrogant and bullying manner. If he objects to “half a misinformed story”, why have so many ratepayers been denied access to information and why have most meetings on the possible move away from the Knowle been held in secret? Does he recall that the decision to move from the Knowle was based on false calculations and costings?

The EDA aims to conserve the area’s priceless environmental assets for the benefit of future generations but it does support appropriate developments for housing and employment, especially for local people. Above all, the EDA wants to engage in a proper mature debate which is both democratic and transparent and during which no baseless allegations are made against the EDA which is a democratic organisation with every right to challenge the local authorities.