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Young people march to DCC HQ to protest cuts

26 Apr

And this time the DCC councillor who met them COULDN’T stop them speaking!

Young people march against cuts – Saturday 26 April, Exeter, 11 am

25 Apr

The Youth Parliament will be staging a march to protest the £1 Million DCC cuts to their services.

The march begins at 11 am and leaves from the entrance to Princesshay shopping centre and will make its way down to the Devon County Council offices, where they will present a petition.

The Youth Parliament has members from all over East Devon and they will be joined by members from North, South and Mid Devon, Cornwall and Bristol.

Councillor Twiss … foot … mouth … communication problem …

23 Apr

Damien Mills puts it in a nutshell in his comment on Councillor Wright’s blog republished below:

Cllr Twiss would have us believe that Stuart Hughes wasn’t dumped from his EDDC posts because he spoke up for Sidmouth but because: ‘He has a very senior cabinet role at Devon County Council which is to all intents and purposes full time and as they go through very tough times he did not need the distraction of maintaining another senior role at EDDC in tandem with his DCC responsibilities.’

Is it any wonder no-one believes him when Cllr Hughes himself dismisses it as nonsense.

“Their excuse doesn’t wash with me – I’m doing less now than I was two years ago when I was appointed to the post,” said Cllr Hughes, who has once again been named Devon County Council’s cabinet member for highways and flooding, while ceasing to be the chairman of Sidmouth Town Council. “I think it’s because I’ve been outspoken. The way they’ve treated some of the people in Sidmouth who have asked legitimate questions has been spineless and arrogant and I feel no-one is listening to the people in the town.

That aside, if we humour Cllr Twiss for a minute and accept his claim that Cllr Hughes is too busy to maintain another senior role at East Devon, where, exactly, does that leave Paul Diviani who, aside from also being a high-ranking county councillor, is also chairman of the Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty group, chairman of the Making It Local Rural Development Plan Local Action Group, chairman of the Exeter & East Devon Rural Growth Point board and vice-chairman of the Local Government Association Rural Commission, as well as a member of the Conservative group’s police and crime panel?

Judged on the recent performance of the council over which he presides, dare I suggest it’s Cllr Diviani, rather than Cllr Hughes, who has too many ‘outside interests’ to perform his role effectively?!

What is good for the goose

22 Apr

Explanation from EDDC Conservative Party whip Phil Twiss as to why Stuart Hughes was removed from his senior post at EDDC shortly after disagreeing with the move of EDDC’s HQ from Sidmouth:

Stuart Hughes was not dumped from an EDDC post (or posts as written below) on grounds of ill health or because he spoke up for the interests of Sidmouth (which he continues to do very effectively). He has a very senior cabinet role at Devon County Council which is to all intents and purposes full time and as they go through very tough times he did not need the distraction of maintaining another senior role at EDDC in tandem with his DCC responsibilities.

Based on the above, surely EDDC Leader Paul Diviani should resign his Devon County Council seat?

Beach Management Plan delayed by three months

22 Apr

Another letter from Skypark

20 Apr

Dear Mum,

Well, we’ve been at Skypark for a few weeks now and I have to say it has been a bit of a roller coaster!

The problems with being next to the airport runway have been a bit difficult. We have had to schedule our meetings very carefully so that we build in our tea breaks when the jets land. It wasn’t too difficult with the winter timetable but has become really challenging with the summer one. So, we’ve now changed our working hours to 10 pm to 6 am which has made things much easier. Though I gather that the officers have decamped back to the Knowle which has not yet been demolished so they can work in peace and quiet during the day.

I have also had a few problems working out of the hub locations, too. People don’t seem to want me to keep my 10 pm to 6 am shifts but the council met in emergency session and decided that they were the most efficient hours because their research, done by very clever and expensive consultants, showed that only one person turned up at the offices in over a month and no-one at the hubs so that shows how satisfied people are. It does mean I have had to buy special high-vis clothing and equipment for the council bike but I am sure it will be worth it, though I do get a bit bored in the village halls.

We are also having parking problems here (though not me, as I chain my bike to whichever “hot desk” I can find). Apparently, we won’t get tarmac until the development attracts more users which means that councillors and officers have had to park in deep mud. But they are very resourceful and have all awarded themselves top-of-the range Land Rovers, which solved the problem. Really we are so lucky to have them.

I have had no luck finding a house share in Cranbrook or Exeter yet as I haven’t seen anything I can afford to rent – certainly not the “affordable” ones! So, taking a leaf from our councillors book and doing some problem solving, I have bought myself a tent which I have put up near the office.

No sooner did I do this than lots of other people saw the benefit of it and joined me. Some are colleagues who can’t get buses to get here but some I have never seen before. They have put up signs saying “Occupy” which seems a bit daft to me as, of course, we are occupying the site. But they are even more resourceful than me and have started a “soup kitchen” which is really useful, though as they are vegans the soups can be a bit boring and we have to make a lot of use of the composting toilets they built. But we are a very friendly bunch.

We are however, having a bit of a problem with vagrants. Now that council meetings take place at 4 am and you have to register 6 months in advance to speak, so-called “local residents” have taken to camping out here themselves to make sure they get on the list of speakers. As only 5 of them are allowed to speak there have been some very unseemly squabbles between them. Why can’t they do what the developers do? Each day a driver comes down in a Rolls Royce, a man gets out and is met at the private entrance by the Leader’s valet who takes a list off a silver salver, bows to the man and takes the letter inside. I am sure I recognise the man in the Rolls Royce and used to see him around a lot at Knowle. Now why can’t residents just do that and leave our little camp site alone?

Well, must close now – it’s my turn to help to make the soup. Don’t tell anyone, but I am going to put in some fox meat in it from roadkill I found last night!

Your loving son, Bert

One man’s “growth” is another man’s contraction

18 Apr

John Rowland has a sentence in his rant on the Letters page of this week’s Herald which will be of interest to Sidmothians:

The new build (EDDC HQ)for the western growth area of the district will provide much-needed business and employment for the young families as they set up new homes.

Translation: Skypark is a total unmitigated disaster. It has none of the job opportunities we boasted about and is now a white elephant, and Cranbrook will end up as a ghost town with high unemployment if we can’t find work for the people who move there. So we have no choice but to move our HQ there as an emergency to save face with our “Growth Point” and cover up our massive mistakes.

So, that’s it Sidmouth: sacrificed to the “Exeter sub-area” and hope no-one notices.

Oh dear, Mr Thickett, the Planning Inspector is NOT a happy man!

17 Apr

Because he is getting the same sort of treatment that WE get from EDDC: flim flam and a stubborn refusal to answer questions with straightforward answers – or just refusing to answer at all.

This council is simply not fit for purpose, yet there is nothing we can do till May 2015 and it looks like things will just go from bad to worse.

(Mr Thickett’s reply to EDDC – sent within 24 hours of their letter – is on page 2 of the document).

Click to access lettereddc-insp-eddc16.04.14.pdf

East Devon Alliance response here:

Letter from Skypark

16 Apr

Hello Mum,

Just thought I would drop you a line to let you know what it is like working at our new offices at Skypark.

Well, I have to say, it takes a bit of getting used to. Our new offices are between the end of the airport runway and a really busy road. There is talk of planting some trees (some bright spark suggested ripping them up from the Knowle arboretum so it’s on the next council agenda) but for the time being it is really interesting being able to see the passengers jetting off to exotic places right outside my window. The double glazing doesn’t quite drown out the noise of the jet engines and I gather that the Chief Executive and Leader have had their new offices triple glazed.

It was a bit difficult getting here: I now have to take three buses and then walk along the main road but I have given notice at the flat in Sidmouth and I am hoping to get a house share in nearby Cranbrook or in Exeter to cut the journey time down. There are no shops in walking distance so the councillors voted themselves a Michelin star restaurant on site but we aren’t allowed to use it so we dash across the airport runway when we hope no-one is looking and get our sandwiches at the airport cafe so can’t complain.

I must say what I like most of all is that we get none of those horrible residents out here now. It made my job much easier. But then I was told that for four days a week I will be “on the road” visiting them at something called hubs which seems to be two chairs in a village hall in the back of nowhere. But look on the bright side – they have given me a council bike to get there and back so I will be very healthy. We have been given special training in how to deal with people who get difficult because we haven’t brought the right files or information, too, so you can see how well we are being looked after.

We don’t see the senior officers and members of the cabinet at all now because they are on the top floor and have their own private lift and facilities there -someone mentioned that they have gold taps! We do sometimes get told to go outside and lay our coats over the puddles if it is raining and they have to walk from their cheauffeur driven cars for the few steps to their special entrance so we do sometimes get a glimpse of them. It makes me feel so proud.

Well must go – time to dash across the runway between the 12.30 to Tenerife and the 13.00 to Paris. One of the councillors actually lives in Paris and comes over once a month to claim his expenses and he always gives me a cheery wave when he flies past in first class.

What a lovely job I have in such an interesting place. No idea what my job is it is but it keeps me busy!

Your loving son, Bert

Harrogate: eerily twinned with EDDC!

16 Apr