Independent EDA Exmouth Councillor’s speech to Cabinet

Cabinet meeting statement – 7 October 2015 by Independent Councillor Megan Armstrong, Exmouth Haldon Ward, Independent East Devon Alliance:

Thank you, Chair and Members

I wonder if any of you saw the local Westcountry TV news last night? I mean particularly the distraught young woman who, last week, saw the sudden overnight collapse of her father’s Exmouth seafront business, DJ’s Diner.

As some of you may know, the closure raid, which was undertaken by Senior Council Officers, started at 6am on 1st October, without the prior knowledge of the tenant or his family.

Without going into detail now, I believe there are some serious questions to be asked about the methods and the process used, that is prior to, during and since these actions.

I was there later that morning and therefore witnessed much of it at first hand. Apart from the legal process and implications of this situation, I am particularly concerned about the human and moral response, which should be addressed in such circumstances. Surely decency, honesty and respect should be the watchwords of this Council at all times, whether from members or employees and especially towards members of the public, whom we are elected to serve.

Only two days earlier (last Tuesday) the seafront Carriage Cafe closed down and moved to Cornwall, where no doubt it will be a great success, as it has been in Exmouth for many years. The owner, a lifelong Exmouthian, moved out because he had had enough of the constant, ongoing pressure over several years for him to move, from this Council. People are devastated by this loss of a much-valued community facility and are already saying “Exmouth’s loss is Cornwall’s gain.” And they are right to say so.

So what future for the owner of DJ’s Diner and his family? At the moment it is extremely bleak with his business closed and no income.

Do we care that these small independent businesses are being pushed out? If we don’t then I suggest that we as a council should, because it is such small businesses that are the lifeblood of our communities and we should be supporting and encouraging them to be as successful as possible for all our sakes, and not hounding them out.

I question this relentless drive to ‘regenerate’ (not only in Exmouth but also in other parts of East Devon) and at what cost to people’s livelihoods? Is this something of which we as a council, should be proud? And can we as councillors honestly defend the kind of behaviour which makes successful, small businesses feel unwelcome and unwanted?

I leave these questions for you to ponder.
Thank you.”

3 thoughts on “Independent EDA Exmouth Councillor’s speech to Cabinet

  1. Pingback: Exmouth seafront “dangerous territory” says council leader | East Devon Watch
  2. This whole episode of what is happening with this part of the intended Master Plan is no credit to any of us in Exmouth.
    This whole area needed inventive idea’s in encouraging more water sports along with an extended fun park for visitors.
    The fact that this area of the front is known to be dangerous as far as swimming is concerned, should be questioned.
    But most young families who use this part of the sea front do realize it needs improving with some sort of water chute?
    This i am sure if EDDC had demonstrated a more friendly approach, to at least some of the tenants in business, it could have worked to all our benefit. And building Apartment Blocks as on the Quay Side, which one, block has only one resident.
    would perhaps not be repeated.

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  3. This sounds worse now than I realised at the time. So there were senior officers (note plural) skulking around in the darkness as well as the contractors we paid for. Who authorised this and who took part? Funnily enough in a report today the Civil Service is criticised as resistant to recruiting from outside, ie the private sector, and more interested in process than results. The report, written by a former HR director of Tescos, also describes the environment as a snake pit, amongst other choice terms. We won’t go there, but of course the author and those who commissioned his report would obviously be positive about EDDC. They recruit from the private sector, almost to the highest level, and they care far more about results, or “delivery”, than process, or legality. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/senior-civil-service-is-like-a-snake-pit-with-outsiders-isolated-and-rejected-report-warns-a6690091.html

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