Out-Twiss-ted? Tory MP erases troublesome Tory councillor from group photograph!

… Mr Liddell-Grainger said one of his researchers had altered the image as councillor Taylor had been acting like “an idiot”.” …

And they are supposed to be on the same side – heaven help their Independent councillors!


What can you get for £15,000,000…..(EDDC estimate for Knowle refurbishment) ?

Some comparisons, to give us an idea….

Castle Drogo refurbishment £11m
What you get for £11m:

‘The flat roof is roughly equivalent to two international football pitches. A high-tech roof system, designed by Bauder is being installed. This two layer membrane is designed to cope with the extremes of temperature experienced on Dartmoor.

In order to lay the new waterproof system, 2,355 granite blocks weighing 680 tonnes have to be removed and then reinstated. This will involve moving and reassembling entire battlements and large sections of the castle walls.

We have also had to redesign the roof gullies to accommodate the heavy Dartmoor rainfall.

Repointing; the cracked cement pointing is being removed and replaced with an improved lime based mortar. The sheer amount of new pointing required stretches to an impressive 60,000 metres (laid in a line it would stretch all the way from Castle Drogo to Lundy Island).

In addition some 913 windows containing over 13,000 panes are being cleaned and the lead replaced to stop them leaking.’

Cunard Building Liverpool – £15m refurbishment cost
Historic 5 storey building

Why refurbish?

Eastenders studio http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/soaps/s2/eastenders/news/a551445/eastenders-elstree-set-revamp-to-cost-over-gbp15m.html#~oXRuqDJRiMpbez

A whole studio gutted and rebuilt

New bus station Stoke on Trent

Royal Institution, London
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Besides museum space on three floors, the redevelopment features expanded archives, a Young Scientist Centre, a café and bar – and the infrastructure required to support a huge increase in visitors to the building.

Jobs at Premier Inn, Exmouth: think of a number then half it

Premier Inn announces interest in Elizabeth Hall site October 2012

December 2012 – 50 jobs available

March 2013 – 50 jobs available

April 2013: We will boost jobs – 50 jobs

June 2013: planning approved

Today – 25 jobs available

(top 2 already filled – Manager and Assistant Manager)

Is Head of Knowle relocation scheme to be trusted?

In a swingeing attack on EDDC Deputy Chief Executive and Head of the Relocation Project team, Richard Cohen, Sidmouth resident Richard Eley told last night’s Public Meeting, that he had no confidence in Mr Cohen because (we quote) he was:

“The man who moved the southern boundary of the Knowle to include the parkland without telling anybody and in contradiction to the specific instructions of the Development Management Committee (1). I was told this would not be investigated because the Inspector (2) would look at it, which he would not do because it was not within his remit. So this has never been investigated by anybody at the Knowle.”

“He did it without managing to record that process; without recording any conversation or without writing a single email, or keeping a single note or sending any kind of correspondence to any third party. Because I made a freedom of information request, and there was nothing there.”

“He did it unilaterally, on his own, secretly, and he didn’t tell a single soul, and I only found out by accident.”

And in another gross miscalculation, added Mr Eley, Richard Cohen had underestimated the size of the Knowle offices by 40%.

He concluded, “This is not the kind of person that I would trust to do these calculations. When he says, ‘It’s going to cost £15.5 million to refurbish (the Knowle)’. I would tell him, “That’s a load of rubbish!”

(1) editorial note: after the DMC had refused EDDC’s outline planning application for the Knowle in March 2013

(2) editorial note: at the public examination of the draft Local Plan, in February 2014.

Last night’s meeting with Sidmouth District Councillors

In a brave, but probably for some politically-suicidal gesture, six of Sidmouth’s seven district councillors met their electors last night at a public meeting organised by the Sid Vale Association to discuss their attitude to Office Relocation Project.
The packed, at times angry meeting in the Dissenters Chapel overran the planned one and a half hours. The key headlines for the evening:
• Councillors Drew, Kerridge, Newth, Sullivan, and Wale basically supported leaving the Knowle, despite protestations of regret, and parroted well-worn phrases, “not fit for purpose”. “too expensive to refurbish”, “people working in bathrooms”.
• Councillors Troman and Hughes oppose the move. Troman mentioning the disastrous loss of jobs; Hughes (in a statement, he was at a County meeting) saying it was the wrong time to be moving, and development of the Knowle site would add to Sidmouth’s flood risk.
• Despite having attended a morning briefing (from Richard Cohen?) most of the councillors seemed out of their depth with the technical details of the project. Christine Drew didn’t even realise a big chunk of the gardens had been offered to developers! Many of the audience were far better informed. Her remark early on in the meeting, that “You’re doing our job for us!” seemed rather ironical.
Stand out contributions from the floor came from:
• Richard Thurlow of Save our Sidmouth who demolished the Council’s figure of £5.5 million in energy saving as a result of the move.
• Richard Eley completed the job saying that Richard Cohen’s estimates of 10% annual energy prices increases over 20 years with 2% annual inflation were “rubbish”, and adding that EDDC’s embedded consultant Steve Pratten would end up costing taxpayers £1 million.
• Keith Northover (Knowle Drive Residents’ Association) pointed out that Robin Fuller’s detailed study in 2012 showed the viability of refurbishing the 1980’s purpose-built offices which could easily accommodate the fewer employees that will be needed.
• Mike Temple passionately condemned the possible destruction of one of the finest gardens in the county as the upper lawns had been included in the area to be developed (apparently by a unilateral decision of Richard Cohen).
• Michael Brittain said it was incedible EDDC felt they needed to move when their existing conditions were better than many hospitals enjoyed.
• Town councillor John Dyson pointed out-as did several others -that relocation would only start to save money after ten years but that the life expectancy of EDDC, because of inevitable local government reorganisation was likely to be less than five.
• John Rayson, who worked for many years at the Knwle, said the staff liked working there and didn’t want to move.

Sadly, it was clear that most of Sidmouth’s representatives were out of touch with their electors. As one frustrated resident shouted out “Start standing up for Sidmouth!”
Some predict a serious electoral cull in the town next Spring

SVA Public meeting with Sidmth District Councillors 20141209_195240

Footnote from an EDA observer, on the above picture: “It would be nice to think enlightenment of the church comes from Tesco – but I think it is just a street lamp”.