Search results for 'Skypark'

Former EDDC Leader continues to fly the flag to gag the public at open meetings

12 Mar

Former EDDC Tory Council Leader Sarah Randall-Johnson (ousted by Independent Councillor Claire Wright at the last election for Ottery Rural/West Hill) continues the fine East Devon Tory tradition of refusing to allow people to speak at a Devon County Council meeting on the closure of children’s homes in Devon.  Story HERE

A story spookily reminscent of our own Overview and Scrutiny Committee being over-ruled by the powers-that-be on the Skypark move.

 

Leader of Council Paul Diviani replies to Councillor Claire Wright – you need development to keep car parking charges from rising!

11 Mar

Councillor Wright reported the comments of an Ottery councillor HERE that seems to suggest that Mr Diviani said that areas with Independent councillors would be treated differently to those which had a Conservative majority.

Here is his reply:

Well hello Claire

This was one of many conversations I have around the district which are frequently without an agenda or minutes taken. The topic as I recall was a perceived lack of funding for OSM as opposed to other towns, which you will know to be a misconception (there is a perceived lack of funding in other East Devon towns as well where no one says they receive more than they need).

I don’t recall any particular comment on involvement of independent councillors but it could well have arisen in general conversation if at the time independent councillors such as you and Roger Giles had been involved in speaking against development in OSM and West Hill. Development as you know is the major source of funding for socially desirable projects via S106 or a unilateral undertaking.

How else do you suggest these projects are funded other than by increasing council tax, car park charges etc?

Kind regards

Paul

Is “Well, Hello Claire” any way to start a formal correspondence with a councillor?

He confirms that he has many meetings without minutes or agendas and that the conversation “might” have happened.  Might it be a good idea to keep minutes of such meetings so that he can be sure what happened?  Is his memory so poor – if so, should he really be leading a district councild?

It would appear that “speaking against developments in OSM and West Hill” is quite different to speaking against developments in any other area – otherwise why highlight it.  Many Conservative councillors speak against developments in their areas: why are Independent councillors any different?

And here we have it:  development gives the council more money to spend on the things it considers important:  such as selling the family silver and moving their offices nearer to Exeter to an industrial park with poor communications.

How do we suggest that things such as car parking charges are not increased?  Shelving the move to Skypark would be one way.

It seems there is a veiled threat here:  vote Conservative or we will treat you differently.

Of course, if you DON’T vote Conservative next time and they end up in the minority then this sort of thing will end.

“Cost neutral” is not cost free

8 Mar

Please can we all remember that EDDC’s constant trumpeting that the move to Skypark will be “cost neutral” to council-tax payers, this does not mean cost free.

We do not know how much EDDC has already spent on this vanity project – we are not allowed to know as all discussions have been in secret as have meetings with various developers.  However, we do know that

At least £800,000 has already been spent as far as we can tell

£400.000 is budgeted over the next two years

£1 million is the figures mentioned for purchase of a property at Skypark – but again, we are not allowed to know the precise cost

£4 million or so will be borrowed with interest

Heathpark estate will be sold

Knowle will be sold

Manstone depot will be sold

There may, of course, be many other costs involved – not least the shag pile.

This means that (a) money being spent on the move cannot be spent on services to council tax payers and (b) our assets are depleted for future generations.

Cost-neutral does NOT mean cost-free.

 

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.

This week’s Sidmouth Herald: a cracking read

8 Mar

If you haven’t already spent your 60p on this week’s Sidmouth Herald, you might want to go out and buy it whilst stocks last:

Page 6 – Councillor Claire Wright once again tries to get councillors to agree to the national policy on lobbying (but as reported here, some councillors are not entirely sure what lobbying is)

Page 7 –   Chamber of Commerce sends letter to David Cameron with a plea to invest in the South West’s rail and road infrastructure with, below the article, another that says that Leader of EDDC Council, Paul Diviani, refused to reconsider the council’s support for the HS2 rail line when local MPs Swire and Parish have already said that HS2 should not go ahead before the problems of the South West have been solved.

Page 10 – excellent letters from Robin Fuller and Robert Crick on the decision for the council to move to Skypark, the possible fate of Knowle and the lack of democracy when EDDC increasingly refuses to allow named votes on just about anything.

Page 11 – excellent letters continue with one from Ron Roberts on councillors who only wake up in council meetings when they have to vote, and another from P J Smith on how the move to Skypark is, in his opinion, a waste of money.

Page 14 – a wonderful story on why Sidmouth district councillors voted for the move to Skypark – blogging about this as soon as this entry is made!

Page 14 again – EDDC to start marketing Knowle.  Funny that, we thought it had been on the market for years which was why the planning application (which was refused) went in.

Page 19 – the effects on the cut in the youth budget at Devon County Council

Now, don’t tell me that isn’t worth 60 pence!

Hear Sidmouth and Honiton being sold down the river …..

6 Mar

http://www.eastdevon.gov.uk/council_agendas_and_mins.htm

For both the written minutes and the audio transcription of the meeting.

Questions is under item 9:  this is where a majority party member accuses an Independent member of grandstanding when he asks a very relevant question about public transport.

Relocation motion is under item 13

The minutes are under item 14, where you will hear no debate on buying land at Skypark for almost £1m!

Mystic Maggie looks into her crystal ball and sees …..

5 Mar

….. that our Chief Executive, currently shared 50/50 with South Somerset is soon to end the period of sharing.  Mention has already been made in Council budget papers of “accommodating his return” which presumably means to full time employment with EDDC, which seems to have managed pretty well without the 50% that has been South Somerset’s gain.

Mr Pickles is suggesting that councils should do away with Chief Executives (see below).  We predict that pretty soon the Leader will say that, due to the imminent move to Skypark, that he will need 100% of his CEO’s time.  If so, it will be yet another cost that we, the council tax payers, will have to bear for this vanity project.  And probably with a nice salary increase to compensate him for all the “hard work” he will have to do.

More people from more parties (and Independents) are needed to wrest the control of this project at the next election from the group that is hell bent using our council tax money for their shag pile carpets whilst cutting our services and selling ther family silver.

Too transparent, Mr Diviani, too transparent!

4 Mar

In an article HERE the Sidmouth Herald website reveals the disquiet of many councillors about the decision to move EDDC headquarters to Skypark on the edge of Exeter.  One particular section of the Leader’s comments needs further input though:

“If everyone had actually taken part on the debate on the way through we would have got on further more quickly. [Er, sorry, Mr Diviani ALL the major decisions were taken behind closed doors and without published agendas or minutes at the “Relocation Working Party” meetings.  Does this mean that we can now have the notes and documents used at those meetings published – transparency and all that, you know].

“Some people did not turn up for the briefings so you are not in a position to know everything that is happening.  [Briefings are to tell people what you have done when there is no going back – what is the point of wasting valuable time at a briefing, especially when a council puff job press release will say exactly the same thing the very next day].

“The issue of Honiton came up but as things move forward things change and something better crops up. [better for whom and why Mr Diviani?].

“We looked Honiton but it came clear that Honiton had an asset we could use in the process. [So, there you go Honiton, join the club – the latest town to have its assets stripped – it happened in other towns such as  Seaton and Exmouth long ago and in Sidmouth just last week, now you know how it feels].

“The decision was made by cabinet, which was well attended and people took part in the debate – they just didn’t hide away and skulk in the corner.” [Attending Cabinet is for a majority of sycophantic flunkies who toe the line and a minority of brave Independents who are insulted when they challenge anything and no decision that Cabinet makes can be changed.  And, as said earlier, actually most decisions on the move to Skypark were made precisely that way – hidden away in a corner].

You really will have to do better than this Mr Diviani.  Too transparent in this case, perhaps!

The East Devon response to the move away from Sidmouth

3 Mar

http://www.devon24.co.uk/news/councillors_back_skypark_move_1_3392377

Note that is says the reason is EDDC’s committment to the East Devon Growth Point NOT to the council tax payers of East Devon.

We all know where EDDC’s heart lies, and it isn’t in the heart of East Devon!

There are more questions than answers …..

27 Feb

Well, lots of Tory smug faces last night.  And many unanswered questions.  And does anyone remember public consultation on this move?

Some questions (you will no doubt have your own)

How much are WE really paying for it

Are WE buying a tin shed or are we leasing it at Skypark?

If we are leasing it, how much are WE going to be paying for it.

Who is going to be responsible for the areas around the new HQ – will WE need an army of maintenance people or will owners of Skypark St Modwyn be footing the bill?

Will WE be able to get to Skypark by public transport?

How much will it cost to maintain annually – more or less than Knowle, how much more, how much less (tricky one this, because Knowle maintenance has been (some would say) deliberately cut back in the years of this Tory administration.

When will the secret documents that have been kept from us throughout this entire process be available to us?

…. part 2 when calmed down …..

If WE go by car will we be allowed to park?

What happens to those of us who cannot get to Skypark either by public transport or by car?