“Exmouth regeneration board chief threatens to ignore key community group”

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.”

6 thoughts on ““Exmouth regeneration board chief threatens to ignore key community group”

  1. That has got to be the rudest response from an elected councillor I have heard in a long while.

    I think that someone more influential than me needs to tell Skinner that he “needs to consider his position” (which is politico speak for RESIGN).


    • Thing is, Paul, he isn’t dependent on getting voted back in by Exmouth voters – so why should he care? Like he says, he is not a delegate. That is the price of representative democracy. He represents everyone, but actually represents only himself as it suits. Now if these committees had to have a majority of Councillors representing the affected area you might see a different voting pattern, or at least that possibility. But just make sure the people involved cannot lose out as a result of their actions and you have got it made.


      • As the Chair of the Exmouth Regen he really is delegated to represent EDDC and carry out the role (and you would hope, with a true range of local stakeholders).
        Separately Skinner has made it clear that he is well aware he doesn’t need to care for how the project goes as it will not effect his efforts to be re-elected for Tale Vale.
        Perhaps an EDDC Cllr should pursue Conrad Black’s point about councillors representing affected areas on such boards – which should surely be made up of a min % or Councillors representing the area. Though I suppose it could get tricky to implement depending on size of remit/number of Cllrs…


  2. Pingback: The “Exmouth Creative Group” vision deconstructed | East Devon Watch

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