New Monitoring Officer for EDDC?

Will EDDC have three Monitoring Officers in the space of a year? A specially stressful job in an authority which engenders an unusually high number of complaints, perhaps? Or simply a natural process?
Rumour has it that Henry Gordon Lennox is now poised to take over from interim MO, Ian Clarke, shared with South Somerset District Council.
If so, wonder when and where the job would have been advertised? And how many people applied?

Can you be sort-of but not really maybe whipped? Or was it just a birthday present for William Hague?

Tories tried to get the Speaker of the House (a Tory they seem to hate) removed by secret ballot as their last act of this Parliament (see post below).

Today’s Guardian reports that David Cameron rushed back to the House to vote for secrecy.

Were Tories whipped?

“Tory MPs say that although it was nominally a free vote, a three-line whip was imposed to be in Parliament. At a parliamentary meeting, Tory MPs were told it was Hague’s birthday and he deserved the present of not being defeated”.

Now we know what model our EDDC Tories follow!

Inappropriate remarks about Parliamentary Candidate, by EDDC Chief Executive

Extraordinarily, there have been two Extra Ordinary Meetings of EDDC on consecutive days this week. On Wednesday evening (25 March), councillors attended a hastily-called decisive meeting about Knowle relocation. The very next afternoon (26 March), with similar rapidity, a meeting about the revised Local Plan was fixed, with the aim of approving it.

A correspondent tells us,

‘At the second of these meetings, Cllr Claire Wright had moved two very sensible amendments which the Chief Executive did not appear to like. The first was to ask the Inspector to allow two weeks more time for public consultation on the changes which were to be agreed at this meeting. The proposal had been to allow six weeks from 1st April. As was said by Hon Alderman Vivienne Ash, this would virtually disqualify many parish councils from commenting, because of the election ‘purdah’ period in which they would not be meeting. Councillors accepted the amendment, and so it was agreed to ask the Inspector to increase the public consultation period from six, to eight weeks.

Cllr Claire Wright’s second amendment was to invite the authors of the report on which EDDC was being asked to increase housing numbers, to a meeting in the near future to explain their findings and give members the opportunity to question them. Cllr Roger Giles backed the idea, adding that two opportunities for questions to the housing numbers experts, had already been missed this week (namely at the special Development Management Committee on 23 March, and ,indeed, at the current meeting (26 March).

It was at this point that the Chief Executive made what could be taken as totally inappropriate remarks. Arguing against Cllr Wright’s amendment, Mark Williams referred to “Councillor Wright`s parliamentary ambitions” and then veered off course, lecturing the rather bemused assembly about about the Exeter wards of Topsham, and St Loye`s being part of the East Devon constituency.

Cllr Giles made a point of order, and protested that what the Chief Exec was saying was irrelevant to the debate and inappropriate.’

Many of East Devon’s electorate, who will be living with the consequences of the Local Plan, would strongly agree with Cllr Giles.

Local Plans: with the same figures, Mid-Devon opts for low growth in housing numbers East Devon opts for high growth


The hugely controversial industrial estate, proposed at Sidford was today struck from EDDC’s Local Plan, following a proposal by Cllrs Stuart Hughes and Graham Troman.

The five hectare site was inserted into the Local Plan at the last minute when I was a member of the panel back in 2011.

It has taken local people four years of campaigning for the council to finally agree to delete it. Many votes of a similar nature have been taken in the past and have failed. Today’s got through.

The move took place at today’s extraordinary full council meeting to discuss revisions to the local plan.
I blasted the council for opting YET AGAIN for unevidenced and huge levels of growth that are contrary to consultants recommendations.

How many consultants have to tell EDDC that the right way forward is low growth before they actually listen? The answer is they never will listen. They (who I am not entirely sure) wants big big levels of development in East Devon – and so shall it be.

That is, until the planning inspector takes a look at it and wonders what on earth is going on.

A press release was issued by EDDC earlier this month which contained a grossly untrue statement about the planning inspector recommending the levels of growth that EDDC have opted for.

The planning inspector made no such recommendation. This was a disgraceful attempt to try and fool the public into believing that EDDC is doing the will of the planning inspector, who threw out the draft local plan last year.

See here for my blog earlier this week on what EDDC has done ….…/eddc_proposes_highest_housin…

Frankly, the council has sold the western end of the district off to the highest bidder. Villages like Clyst Honiton, Rockbeare and Blackhorse are set to be absolutely swamped in urban sprawl.

The council promised Rockbeare that it would be protected by a green wedge. If you saw the area that Cranbrook is set to expand now, massively south of the old A30, you would be shocked. Rockbeare is set to be lost amid bricks and concrete.

Whimple was supposed to have a green wedge to protect it from Cranbrook.
Not any more.

Whimple’s green wedge is proposed to have a great chunk eaten out of it as Cranbrook also sprawls to the east.

Given that councillors have never had the chance to question the consultants I moved an amendment that both sets of consultants are invited to the next overview and scrutiny committee meeting.

This amendment was argued against by the chief executive, who for some reason decided to mention my “parliamentary ambitions.”
It was voted down mainly by the conservative group.

My second amendment proposed an extension of the consultation period by two weeks, making a total of an eight week consultation period. This proposal was carried, despite some senior conservatives arguing against it.

Interestingly, I informed the council that Mid Devon District Council (which has been working with EDDC on this) has opted for a low growth scenario for its district. This is because Mid Devon councillors did not wish to concrete over any more of the countryside than they had to.

So why has EDDC opted for such a high growth level?(it is impossible to even match the levels to any figures in the reports!)

The chief executive said it was because East Devon is a “growth area.”
But I replied, the consultants knew this before they drafted their report didn’t they.

Yet they still recommended a preferred approach of significantly lower development, that is also in line with government growth projections.
Why oh why is EDDC doing this?

The Local Plan, with some minor amendments, was voted through by the majority of councillors.

Senior officers of the council must be politically neutral, especially now

It says so on page 186 of EDDC’s constitution.

Political neutrality

3.1 You must serve all Councillors equally regardless of their political beliefs.

3.2 If you are asked to advise one of the political groups, you must do so in an impartial way and only with the prior approval of the Chief Executive.

3.3 You must follow every Council Policy and not let your own personal or political opinions interfere with your work.

So, why did CEO Mark Williams, when dealing with incisive questions from Councillor Claire Wright at the Council’s meeting about the Local Plan, (when she suggested consultants who wrote recent reports to the council should be questioned by those councillors) refer to her “political ambitions”?