According to the answer to request on the whatdotheyknow website:
“The current position is that 2 canvassers have been appointed but ideally the Council requires a minimum of 10 to ensure that the work can be done as effectively as possible. We are therefore re-advertising the positions from next week (week beginning 29th September) with a view to recruiting more Canvassers. Canvassing will commence from the week beginning 27th October.”
So, let’s review the current situation.
We have one councillor who resigned 18 months ago after a sting that made the front page of the Daily Telegraph. He was concurrently: A district councillor, Chairman of the council’s first Local Plan panel which met in secret, the council’s Business Champion, Chairman of the East Devon Business Forum, a planning consultant, builder, and at least for some of this time, a farmer who neglected to tell anyone that he was allegedly reducing his farming activities so much that the agricultural tie on his house had lapsed long enough for him to be able to ignore it when he sells said house as he has managed to stay under the radar for more than 10 years and therefore gets what he wants even though this could be seen as something a councillor should not do.
We have one Economic Development Manager who was concurrently the Hon Sec of the (totally subsidised by EDDC) East Devon Business Forum whilst at the same time responsible for making (usually favourable) comments on planning applications for EDBF members. At the point where EDBF disbands he disappears into the EDDC woodwork for 18 months and nothing is heard of him until he suddenly reappears this month to gather garlands at an EDDC committee meeting for work none of us had heard of during that time, soon after which it is leaked out that he is leaving EDDC next month. For the whole of those 18 months the CEO, Mark Williams, has refused to allow an EDDC Task and Finish group on the influence of EDBF on the (non) Local Plan to meet (and thereby question) Mr Harrison.
We have one ex-Monitoring Officer who, we know, at first thought her only action after the Daily Twlegraph sting, should be to report the fact to “Action Fraud” (which monitors internet scams) and not the police which wasted valuble time and who, we also know, received many, many complaints about all of the above from members of the public but no action was ever taken. Said officer left EDDC in a very low-key way last month to be replaced (temporarily and without going through any committee) by the Legal Officer of South Somerset District Council (with whom we share a CEO) – said Legal Officer presumably also continuing his job at South Somerset.
Have we missed anything?
With the news that Nigel Harrison will shortly leave his job as Economic Development Officer for EDDC (see our previous post today), it’s perhaps a good time to look back at some relevant archives.
Here’s one example
Plenty more on SEARCH Business TAFF , on the Sidmouth Independent News website
Nigel Harrison, EDDC’s Economic Development Manager (EDM) , is to step down in October this year. This must surely come as a complete surprise to Chief Executive Mark Williams who, just a few weeks ago, gave a public assurance that Mr Harrison would remain as Lead Officer for the Business TAFF. And was Cllr Frances Newth similarly in the dark? No hint was given about this unfortunate imminent resignation, while she gave fulsome praise to Mr Harrison for helping one small business in Sidmouth (sadly, it wasn’t the town’s signature shop, Trumps), when he made only his second brief appearance, at the recent Overview and Scrutiny Committee, since the embarrassment of March 2013.
In his role as the council’s EDM, Nigel Harrison was of course a close associate of the then Chair of the now defunct East Devon Business Forum (EDBF), ex-councillor Graham Brown, who has been in the news again this week http://www.exeterexpressandecho.co.uk/Concerns-raised-East-Devon-councillor-attempts/story-22966678-detail/story.html
The Business TAFF (‘Task and Finish Forum’) is the Scrutiny Committee set up to take “an in-depth look” at the relationship between East Devon District Council and the EDBF. Its purpose was not to scrutinise solely the EDBF Chair, Graham Brown.
1. A key witness in this relationship would be Nigel Harrison, but he has apparently so far been unavailable to talk to the Business TAFF Chair, Cllr Graham Troman. It is unfortunate that his resignation is timed for before the TAFF reconvenes (TAFF date continues to be deferred, seemingly on the recommendation of the Chief Executive).
2.By chance, another potentially key witness, former EDDC Monitoring Officer Denise Lyon, has similarly resigned.
One particular question the Business TAFF would like to ask, when it is finally allowed to do so, is why the East Devon Business Forum is no more.
Our own Returning Officer, Mark Williams, shuns the limelight – perhaps he needs to be seen more in the right places at the right time …