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.