A quick round up of the week’s events.

On Wednesday (26th Feb) the EDDC council voted to push ahead with the relocation, probably to a SkyPark site (pending yet more consultation!), with costs of close to £1,000,000 approved for the purchase of land for the newbuild offices.
For a fuller report, please see following link…http://saveoursidmouth.com/2014/02/27/knowle-sale-and-skypark-spend-voted-through-under-veil-of-cabinet-minutes/

On Thursday morning (27th Feb) Cllr. Claire Wright was interviewed on Radio Devon about the motion to have an independent survey of the Knowle Buildings done – Cllr. Diviani declined to make any comment

For Full story – http://saveoursidmouth.com/2014/02/27/knowle-sell-off-diviani-declines-radio-devons-invitation-to-be-interviewed-this-morning/

For Radio Interview – http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01r46tb Claire Wright Interview on BBC Radio Devon – from 40.10 mins

Last week Devon County Council (DCC) voted 32-23 against letting members of the Youth Service speak for 3 minutes about the proposed £970,000 cuts to their budget, on the grounds they had not sought permission within the deadline and to allow them to do so would set a bad precedent.

They failed to mention the deadline for submission was Friday 14th February, 7 days before the meeting, but news of the cuts was only released “accidentally” on Thursday 13th February, so leaving the Youth Service very little time to organise. The organisers contacted the council requesting permission to speak during the week in the run-up to the meeting, which confirms the council were fully aware of their request days beforehand, so could easily have avoided this shameful episode. For webcast of the DCC decision, see following link from 20.20 mins onwards.

Webcast of DCC Decision – http://www.devoncc.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/118409

And for Cllr. Moulding’s written justification of the decision, please see DCC Reply- http://www.claire-wright.org/index.php/post/why_devon_county_council_tories_voted_against_against_allowing_young_people

To sign the Youth Service petition please follow the link… http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/john-hart-protect-our-youth-services-from-budget-cuts

For latest news on the Local Plan Examination Hearings, please see recent posts on this EDA website.

An Inspector Calls – on Climate Change Policy at EDDC.

An observer has sent us this report of Thursday’s hearing (27th February) in the Examination in Public (EiP), on the Local Plan policy on Climate Change:

An interesting 90 minutes at the Knowle yesterday. The admirable Mr Thickett calmly and powerfully demolished the EDDC policies and procedures. “This policy is so unspecific that it has no likelihood of being implemented.”

I suspect a new set of Building Regulations may emerge in due course.

The Green Party and Tesco had reserved places but failed to put in an appearance. There seemed to be no consideration of food security, water storage and drainage.

The Inspector unpicked the vague, inadequate or non-existent documentation on environmental impact, and sustainable design and construction – “The sustainable construction policy is more a ‘don’t annoy the neighbours’ policy.”

He advised them to rewrite a policy which suggests that the only low energy and renewable energy projects to be considered in East Devon would be as part of a building project, not as stand-alone developments.

The CPRE made a convoluted and unconvincing argument against wind and solar energy projects – but at least they agreed with AD, biomass and hydro. Nobody promoted fracking… EDDC expert advisers said that “CHP and other low carbon solutions are generally not viable”. The Inspector was dubious.

The Inspector probed the justification for inconsistency in the codes to be applied in different parts of the District. A representative for Cranbrook developers drew attention to the unfair treatment they get from the unequal rules for developments elsewhere.

In view of the high levels of mistrust generated among the public over the past two years of manoeuvring by EDDC I feel we need to ask why the documentation was so poor. Is it because

a) the officers are incompetent
b) the ruling group are indifferent
c) the residents of East Devon do not care
d) there is a conspiracy between senior officers, councillors, private developers and landowners – often the same people in different roles – to permit widespread under-regulated highly profitable piecemeal development all over the east of the District while getting brownie points for the fig-leaf of higher standards of compliance and comprehensive low carbon infrastructure within the eco-town of Cranbrook-on-flood plain.

No whipping at EDDC, so why the synchronised change of mind?

Some Conservative Councillors voted against the motion (only slightly differently worded) that they had vociferously backed and voted for at the Overview and Scrutiny Committee. No debate was aired, to indicate what had caused this complete reversal. A recorded vote was proposed, but firmly rejected ‘en bloc’ by the Tory Councillors. (Of course, it’s not obligatory to follow a whip. As Cllr Tony Howard told a group of EDA members at last night’s meeting, he has voted against the whip at least twice at the DMC.)

Comment on today’s EDDC press release is at this link: http://saveoursidmouth.com/2014/02/27/council-leader-says-eddc-will-be-engaging-with-customers-and-stakeholders-on-office-relocation/

Principles behind Knowle relocation have been abandoned, says EDDC Councillor

This speech was made last night:

26 FEBRUARY 2014



Chairman, when I first heard of the proposal to relocate the EDDC offices from The Knowle to Honiton, I thought that the principle of it had some merit.
To go from Sidmouth, despite all its many charms, to a much more central East Devon location at Honiton and the benefit of a railway station as well as the A30 and A35 appeared to be sensible.
To have new designed-for-purpose offices, rather than a converted hotel with myriad corridors and staircases also seemed sensible on the face of it.
Of course the principle often becomes much less attractive when the details of what is necessary become known – particularly the costings.

The costs of the project have rocketed.

And the principles behind it have been abandoned.

No longer is a central location proposed – but a location virtually in Exeter.

Quite understandably the people of Sidmouth and Sidmouth Town Council were very concerned about the proposed relocation. Concerned about the effect on The Knowle and its magnificent grounds and trees. Concerned about the effect on Sidmouth`s economy and the loss of jobs. Concerned about the consequent and excessive provision of 5 hectares of employment at Sidford.

But Sidmouth`s loss was to be Honiton`s gain. Lots of jobs for Honiton people, and a boost for Honiton`s economy.

Not now!

When this relocation project was first proposed the economy was relatively buoyant; people were relatively well off; and this Council was also relatively well off.

Not now! There is a much harsher economic climate. Many ordinary people – the better off – have had to pull their belts in. Many more are in a far far worse situation and are really struggling to pay their bills – including their Council Tax bills. This Council is suffering from unfair financial settlements from the Government.

It is important that we do not lose sight of the purpose of East Devon District Council. EDDC exists to provide services for the people of East Devon. To provide those services it spends taxpayers` money. Of course to enable it to provide services for the people of East Devon EDDC needs offices.

It does seem to me that there are some people who are running this Council who have lost sight of the purpose of EDDC. People who seem to be determined to press ahead, with what many members of the public see as a vanity project, regardless of the cost; regardless of what the people of East Devon think; regardless of the cost to EDDC`s reputation. And I very much suspect regardless of what the staff of EDDC think.

Yesterday afternoon all EDDC councillors received a letter from Mike Owen on behalf of the Cranbrook Consortium expressing concern about the decision to go for Skypark. The letter asked for the process to remain open.

Chairman the Council should listen to Mike Owen. But the Council should also listen to the people of Sidmouth; and also listen to the East Devon Council Taxpayer.

I urge the Council to support the Notice of Motion. To halt the reckless charge towards this damaging and hugely expensive project. And to stop the chain of devastation that would be left in its wake.

EDDC move (to Skypark???)..Deal could be sealed today!

EDA hears that the Skypark destination still unsure. And EDDC’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee has said the justification for the move is uncertain, as Councillors have not been given sufficient evidence to make an informed decision. (How many have actually visited the Skypark site, or know that it has recently been downgraded ?)

The many questions expected tonight, from Councillors and public, include “Is the relocation move worth the harm to the economy of two major East Devon towns, Sidmouth and Honiton?”

So crunch time is this evening, (6.30pm at Knowle, Sidmouth) when Full Council will be asked to approve an extra £1,000,000 to buy land for offices at Skypark.

East Devon taxpayers’ money is being thrown at this project. If you think EDDC should attend to more urgent priorities …. See you at Knowle this evening!

Councils on the move.

Some Councils decide to move with good reason, and clear cost-savings. East Devon District Council’s plan to relocate to newbuild offices at the faltering Skypark, has no such certainty.

So tomorrow’s Full Council meeting will hear vigorous calls from Councillors and the public, for more complete information about relocation costs and how they were arrived at. (In fact, EDDC’s own Overview and Scrutiny Committee recently voted with a two-third’s majority, and no objections, to ask for precisely that). The necessity for the move has also been called into question.

Despite a Councillor’s mention to an EDA member this evening that nothing is set in stone, the Cabinet seems to be feverishly pursuing the purchase of land for new offices at Skypark. The Full Council will be asked to approve £1,000,000 for this purpose, tomorrow evening (6.30pm at Knowle, Sidmouth). £350,000 (not including officer time) has already been spent, and an additional budget of £400,000 (over two years) has also been set aside just for preparing the move.

Other Councils, meanwhile, are responding to Government cuts in a different style, as reported in the Western Morning News:

New Councillors needed in East Devon. Here’s how to become one!

EDDC’s advice evening for prospective councillors, on Thurs. 13th March, should be very popular this year! Please note the Friday 28th February deadline for registration to attend.
More information on http://sidmouthindependentnews.wordpress.com/2014/02/23/do-you-want-to-be-a-councillor-advice-evening-but-you-must-register-by-28-february-2014/

Bad smells from the Venn Ottery piggery plans (now prevented)?

The appeal regarding plans for a piggery in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) at Venn Ottery, has been dismissed. Inspector Pete Drew concluded that “this development would harm the character and appearance of this designated landscape”.

Story on the SIN blog :http://sidmouthindependentnews.wordpress.com/2014/02/24/venn-ottery-piggery-inspectors-decision-another-example-of-eddcs-paperwork-not-being-at-its-best-nor-the-applicants/