Misleading headline about future of Sidmouth’s Drill Hall

The Midweek Herald website has an article entitled “Concerns over Sidmouth’s redundant Drill Hall site quelled”. On reading the article it will become patently clear that, far from being quelled, the future of the Drill Hall looks extremely insecure:

“… In June, community groups were given six months to make a bid for proposals to redevelop the site – they have until February 4, 2019.

Exeter-based agent JLL, which was appointed by East Devon District Council (EDDC), plans to open the bidding up to the commercial property sector in the Autumn, giving them three months to put forward a bid.

Two members of the public came forward at the latest Sidmouth Town Council meeting on Monday. Resident Di Fuller raised issues with there being no published criteria on what the bids would be judged on. While, resident Simon Fern spoke out about his fears that the owners of the Drill Hall (EDDC) will simply sell to the highest bidder.

District and Town Councillor David Barrett said: “It would be impossible for me properly discuss the details of that criteria until it is discussed in the forum that decides the criteria.”

He added that the forum was hoping to meet soon and that he believed they would be looking at the criteria then.

Town Clerk Christopher Holland said: “My understanding is that it isn’t this council that gets the final say on this, it is not even this council who will have a say on this as such. We are being consulted and that is about it.

“My understanding is that when the criteria has been agreed they will be made publicly available to everybody but that will be through the agent. It won’t be through us, it won’t be through EDDC. It will be through the appointed agent so that they are fair to absolutely everybody and that is commercial and community bids both. They have to be fair to everybody and treat everybody in exactly the same way. So approaching us or EDDC for other information is just not going to work, you have to deal with the agent.”


Are your fears quelled? Owl’s are not!

2 thoughts on “Misleading headline about future of Sidmouth’s Drill Hall

  1. The complete lack of evidence for all manner of official claims, be it by senior councillors/portfolio holders, officers or press offices is commonplace in East Devon. Readers may wish to check out EDDC’s replies to FOIs I have submitted about the evidence for claims for Exmouth’s Premier Inn, or other information about pros and cons and the answers amount to ‘we hold no information’. This despite another reader pointing out that the Deputy CEO had very recently made claims of positive outcomes. You couldn’t make it up.
    In short, if you get promises that a Premier Inn will do great things for Sidmouth get asking for evidence – except that JLL are not bound by the FOI so you are unlikely to get anything from them – as buyer or seller’s agent!


  2. This was published by Archant based on information provided by one of the Councils or by a Councillor.

    Resources in local papers are extremely limited these days (due to having to compete with “free” social media) and, as we have seen by comparing almost identical articles published “independently” by different local newspapers, journalists often use the press releases from councils almost verbatim, particularly if they are already written in a style suitable for newspaper publication.

    So it is quite likely that it was a Council / Councillor who put forward the headline that “fears were quelled”. Indeed, such a comment suggests that they have polled local residents who have these fears to check that they have been quelled, but there is no evidence to suggest this. At best, this is just hopeful (or wishful) thinking by the council.

    Headlines such as these based on biased statements by an interested party are simply FAKE NEWS – and they bring the integrity of local journalism into question and into disrepute.

    As I have also pointed out previously, EDDC spends almost all of its local newspaper advertising with Archant, and perhaps coincidentally (yeah right!) Archant is almost NEVER critical of EDDC in its news articles. After all, if your economic viability is marginal, then should you put that income at risk by insisting on something unimportant like journalistic integrity? And of course, the Tory leadership at EDDC would never stoop so low as to point out to Archant, however obliquely, that this revenue stream was at risk if they kept their integrity and reported news properly and in an unbiased fashion, would they?


Comments are closed.