PLEASE NOTE THIS WILL BE THE LAST RESPONSE TO MS RUSSELL BEFORE THE ELECTION AS SHE HAS ALREADY HAD ENOUGH COLUMN INCHES TO PROPOUND HER VIEWS
Mrs Russell responds again – however some points in her response have never been brought up by Owl, only by commentators on her original response. Much is repeated. And once again she confuses East Devon Watch with East Devon Alliance – two totally different entities (though EDW DOES have a predisposition to the aims of EDA and independents it is NOT a mouthpiece of that group). Owl reports what it wants and takes no direction from any party or person. Should another party or group take control of EDDC rest assured it will be scrutinised as closely as the current ruling party.
Her comments on the closure of the local community hospitals is particularly interesting.
“Thanks for your comments – despite what is continually misreported – I do live locally – my only owned property is in Seaton which I have just finished doing up. My daughter is at school in Axminster where I am a local school governor, another daughter works in Colyford, one about to go to university (admittedly up north) and I still have children (grown up ) who live in Sussex. If you are aware of the electoral system you will know that County elections do not run concurrently with Town and District – I am therefore mid term as a County Councillor and you are correct I have no intention of abandoning the electorate who voted me in midway through a term – that would demonstrate that I was more a fair weather councillor than a committed one – what’s more I have made no secret of that with the electorate on the doorstep. I am not hundreds of miles away – it is precisely 170 miles to my division – most certainly a long journey. But from my division it is 100 mile round trip to County Hall in West Sussex anyway- so I am used to driving lots and lots of miles. My attendance is the high and meetings clash on occasion when you are busy but rest assured if elected I will ensure I fulfil both my local and strategic role at EDDC.
With regards ‘no understanding of local issues’ – firstly I have not received any biased briefings from the local Tory party. I am an experienced Councillor and I can see the issues you face – the challenges of local economic development and the impact in one part of the town (upper end of Queen St particularly which is roughly 5 minutes from my home) as an example – we are facing them too in the south east and the same problems if not already here are headed this way. I know the focal point of the entire EDA campaign is the hospital -yet surprisingly the conversations I have had on the doorstep with voters have not included any mention of the hospital by them. Secondly, it is disingenuous to say that EDDC refused to obtain the hospital as a community asset – when actually a hospital does not meet legislative criteria i.e. for the social wellbeing of the community. The ACV law relates to buildings such as village pubs and shops – not hospitals. Finally if the NHS do not want to sell it, how can the District Council ever hope to acquire it?
Re a Linked in Profile? I do not use Linked in – only Twitter and Facebook. But my life has been in Construction but I am not known for being a greedy person – being the only councillor who did not take her entitlement to the small allowance for East Grinstead Town Council and a regular donator to community initiative funding applications via the Crowdfunding mechanism we have in West Sussex (similar to the one in Devon) and other charities may give some indicator to the contrary here.7
Re my ‘singling out’ of the EDA – in actual fact the EDA have gone to great lengths to try to smeer and dish up dirt on me not to mention the reference on this blog to myself being the ‘Hermione Grainger of local politics with far right links’. One EDA member has gone to the extreme lengths of contacting my local parish council and the County Council – to ensure that I am compliant in attendance and claims of expenses which of course has been clarified. With regards the East Devon Watch as it appears to solely promote positively the EDA candidates and is negative towards others, you will have to forgive me if I tend to think there is a strong connection there.
To suggest I have far right links because a logo has appeared on the ‘likes’ of my Facebook page is a joke. If you could find I had real links to the far right (i.e. membership to a far right organisation) that would be a different matter – but of course you won’t. The simple fact is – like a lot of people in Seaton and in the country – I voted to leave the EU and that’s all there is to it, but for the record I am also of Cornish and Irish descent, grew up in London, lived in Sussex and now live in the West Country.
In terms of my commitment as a Councillor – if one were to really get into the fabric of where I am still currently representing, they would see the results I get for the community – including most recently saving an elderly day care centre from closure – hailed as the deal of the century by many as not only did it save the day care from closure, it enabled other community groups to remain in situ, found a new home for the local Age UK and freed up a delapidated old building for the District Council to turn into social housing.
In terms of challenging me to do the things mentioned in the final paragraph – most of it I have already answered. I have had discussions on the doorstep with residents who quite understand my need to fulfil my final commitments for the remainder of the term in West Sussex – as I would do in East Devon if the situation was reversed. Councillors should not ‘distance’ themselves from a commitment just because their lives have changed. If I was not intending to cut links with West Sussex I would have re-stood as a Parish Cllr in Sussex – but as you will note I did not. I have already stated publicly that if I get elected I will work hard to deliver the towns ambitions and needs so there is little else I can add to this discussion. The proof of the pudding is in the eating and if elected the town will not be disappointed.
Always happy to meet in person to discuss concerns and views irrespective of the outcome next week.”