“Greater Exeter”: concerns voiced

With Cranbrook pretty much now considered an Exeter suburb maybe East Devon should be voicing its concerns.

” … speaking at a [Mid Devon] full council meeting on Wednesday, February 22, Liberal Councillor Jenny Roach who represents Silverton expressed fears that Mid Devon District Council would be ceding powers.

She said: “We’re looking like we could be ceding power to this planning partnership, and I know people will shake their heads and say no, but there are several points which worry me.

“Exeter needs land and you can imagine where I sit in my ward, Exeter City Council could be looking at developing the swathe of land that is between Silverton and Exeter and similarly between Thorverton and Newton St Cyres. If you look at the East Devon side there are huge estates marching across that land, so this worries me.

“It worries me that it’s being done by degree and almost by stealth. When we went to the public to talk about the sort of governance the district wanted, they didn’t like the cabinet, but unfortunately we didn’t get the 3000 signatures we needed in that period of time.

“There are a tremendous amount of people who were not happy with the governance of this authority as it is now, they don’t like the cabinet system, and it is the cabinet system that is sleepwalking us into a unitary authority.

“I’ve seen this happen before and I would really like to know that the very least we would do is have a state of the district debate on this Greater Strategic Exeter Plan.”

Councillor Nikki Woollatt, Independent for Cullompton North added: “Members of the public may well see this as a step towards unitary. To reassure everybody, I don’t think there’s any problem with having a consultation with the public prior to ceding any powers that we have held.

“People are going to start putting two and two together and if we’re open and say we will consult, I think that would be for the benefit of the public.”

Councillor Polly Colthorpe, Conservative for Way expressed concerns regarding the name.

She said: “The name of this outfit is misleading and I do think that it would be helpful it weren’t called the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan because it makes the whole of the rest of the districts which are involved, subordinate to Exeter.

“None of those districts will want that and they don’t see it like that and I think it would be helpful if you could perhaps consider giving it another title.”