A press release from “Save Exmouth Seafront”:
“Councillor Skinner’s initiative with the previously unknown ‘Exmouth Creative Group’
Councillor Skinner, Chair of the secretive Exmouth Regeneration Board has threatened to ignore both the Save Exmouth Seafront (SES) Group and the Exmouth public as he goes to a previously unheard of group of elites for their opinion on the seafront.
In recent months Cllr Skinner has repeatedly avoided engaging with the Exmouth public. He has been avoiding a public Q&A meeting and stated at the East Devon District Council (EDDC) Full Council meeting of 21/12/16 that independent consultation with the public, as requested in the Town Poll, will not happen.
It has now come to light that while Cllr Skinner consistently refuses to engage with the Exmouth public he has meanwhile been in contact with the previously unheard of ‘Exmouth Creative Group’ and asked them to ‘create a vision for Exmouth’, and ‘develop proposals to deliver this vision’. Spokesperson for SES, Louise MacAllister reacted to this news:
“When I heard that Cllr Skinner was seeking the opinion of Exmouth residents regarding the future of the Exmouth Seafront I was really pleased. This is exactly what SES have been requesting through an open and independent consultation.
However I soon learned that Cllr Skinner is liaising only with a group called the ‘Exmouth Creative Group’. There are many established community groups in Exmouth with an interest in the seafront who have not been asked for their opinion.
The ‘Exmouth Community Group’ does not appear to pre-exist Cllr Skinner’s contact with the group. This is concerning as the Exmouth public made themselves very clear through the Town Poll that they want to be consulted, and yet the public are now being ignored in favour of this unknown group.
It is an incredibly disappointing stance from the Chair of the Exmouth Regeneration Board who consistently ignores my emails and fails to live up to the responsibility of his role”.
SES asked the following questions of Cllr Skinner with regards to the Exmouth Creative Group:
– What criteria did you use when selecting potential groups to communicate with?
– Why does this one group get to play a role when you are so dismissive of majority opinion?
– Who is in this group and how does one become a member?
– Why did you select a previously unknown group for this important task?
– With whom in the ‘Exmouth Creative Group’ did you broker your links?
In response Cllr Skinner rudely dismissed the questions posed with the bizarre statement that he is:
“Not a delegate, I am a councillor and am certainly not in the business of responding to you within your time scales or even at all if I so choose.”
So just as Cllr Skinner has dismissed the opinions of the wider Exmouth public, he has made it clear he will respond to a key community group only if he so chooses, and in doing so makes it clear that he does not value the group, or the wider public that SES strive to represent. Meanwhile, he has gone to an unknown group with a brief to design a vision for Exmouth Seafront.
SES strongly welcome the opportunity for the people of Exmouth to feed into ideas on the future of the seafront but not when it is conducted behind closed doors and solely with a previously unknown group who are seemingly as secretive as the Exmouth Regeneration Board members themselves.”