Former EDDC CEO fears he may have contracted asbestos-related disease at Knowle

Was PegasusLife aware of this?

“A former council CEO has been diagnosed with terminal asbesto-related cancer – and urgently needs to reach out to former co-workers at former East Devon HQ The Knowle.

John Vallender, 72, was given the devastating mesothelioma diagnosis in January last year after seeking medical help having suffered from recurring breathlessness and severe back pain.

Mr Vallender was Local Authority Solicitor and CEO for the East Devon District Council between July 1984 and June 2002.

Initially thought to be suffering from a blood clot, the father of three was referred by his GP for an X-ray, before further intrusive investigations revealed the extent of his condition.

He has now instructed expert asbestos-related disease lawyers at Simpson Millar to investigate his employment history.

It comes amidst concerns that he was exposed to dangerous asbestos fibres whilst at work at the Knowle Council Offices in Sidmouth.

According to a freedom of information request carried out by Mr Vallender, the premises, which it is understood will soon be demolished after the Council moves to new premises in Honiton, contain large quantities of asbestos.

In the 90s action was taken to remove asbestos from the Council Chamber, and whilst the Council acknowledge that asbestos was present in the building, they claim that the fibres were not disturbed and would have been safe.

But Mr Vallender, who clearly recalls work being carried out throughout the Council building at times whilst he worked there, said: “The Council building itself was very old, large and dusty.

“My office was refurbished during my time there and I saw people carrying out maintenance activity over the years and that included rubbing down fire doors and working up in the roof space above the offices on the top floor.

“It feels very plausible that I – as well as my colleagues – would have been inhaling dangerous and microscopic asbestos fibres as a result or working in and walking around the entire buildings, over the years, and I am hopeful that this appeal with provide additional evidence to support my case.”

Simpson Millar is now appealing on behalf of Mr Vallender and his family for anyone else who worked at Knowle Council Offices between 1984 and 2002 to come forward with any information they may have in relation to maintenance and repair work undertaken over the years.

“Mesothelioma is an aggressive form of cancer, and we are now working hard to try to gather as much information as possible to ensure that he receives the answers he rightly deserves with regards how and when he was exposed to asbestos, as well as why more was not done to protect him from its harmful consequences.

“Should anyone have any information regarding the conditions of the Council offices in general and maintenance/refurbishment works during the 80s through to 2002 please do get in touch to help Mr Vallender and his family.”

Mr Vallender continued: “I have so many questions relating to how, when and why I was exposed to asbestos at a time when its dangers were so widely known, and I am hopeful that there are other people out there who worked at Knowle Council at the same time as I did who may have further information regarding the conditions of the offices where I spent almost 20 years of my career.”

If anyone has any information then please do come forward and contact Helen Grady of Simpson Millar on Freephone 0808 129 3320.”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/former-devon-council-boss-terminal-2901167

Mark Hawkins (amended from Councillor Shaw) asks EDDC Tory Chair for clarification

THIS POST HAS BEEN AMENDED AS IT WAS ORIGINALLY ATTRIBUTED TO COUNCILLOR SHAW – OWL’S ERROR – APOLOGIES

“In the interests of clarity could Cllr Hughes please advise us of the date and time he received the invitation from Cllr Ingham? He seems to be trying to infer collusion and deception of Cllr Ingham’s own colleagues which in fact does not exist.”

COUNCILLOR SHAW, ON NOTING THE ERROR, HAS ADDED:

“I was not criticising either Cllr Hughes or Cllr Howe or indeed the Conservative Group. My criticism was directed at the Independent Group for failing to reach an agreement to work with their fellow Independents in the East Devon Alliance, instead allowing the Conservatives to take so many major positions. Cllr Hughes’ statement that Cllr Ingham approached him only reinforces my concerns.”

TiggerTory EDDC Chairman responds to EDA Councillor Martin Shaw

Owl says: Not really sure this makes things any better! Proof positive of TiggerTory chats …

Still not sure this is what voters anticipated … and since when was the post of Chairman of EDDC “non political”? Anyone ever remember Tories electing a non-Tory Chairman in the last 45 years?

I take exception to Martin Shaws assertions that the Independents who formed a minority administration allowed the Conservatives to take the key position of Chair/Chairman of the Council……Wrong Cllr Shaw…. I actually was approached by the leader of East Devon Ben Ingham and he asked if I would consider taking the (non-political) position of Chairman having done a good job from 2015 to 2017….. I accepted the position and he contacted Andrew Moulding to give him the news and Andrew called to congratulate me and asked if I’d get a seconder lined up for the AGM.

I also believe that Mike Howe was approached to see if he would take on the Chairmanship of DMC and so once again Cllr Shaw is barking up the wrong tree.

The East Devon Alliance Party had the opportunity to put names forward for the Chairmanship of the Council … however they chose not to and I do believe some of their members voted for me.

Many outside bodies went to the EDA including Recycling and Waste with Conservatives voting for Denise Bickley…..the Conservatives also voted for other positions to be taken by EDA.

I am delighted to have EDA member Cllr Val Ranger as my Vice Chairman who was voting and she was not only voting for EDA nominations but for also Conservatives, Lib Dem’s and true Independents.

It is comments like yours that are unhelpful and perhaps before writing again you should take time and get your facts right.

Stuart Hughes CC

A visitor to EDDC’s new HQ finds nothing to like … and worries about safety

View from the public gallery at the first Annual Council EDDC meeting (22 May 2019) in the cramped, airless, Council Chamber, poorly provided with natural light. First time visitors and also, no doubt, the impressive number of newly-elected councillors, were in for some further surprises. For instance, people-flow aspects in the arrangement of the room were awkward, as Cllr Moulding signalled early on, when he asked the vicar leading the opening prayer, “Do you want to slip out the sideway or promenade down the middle?” The single-file queue to get out of the room at the end of the meeting, only one door being open, raised questions of health and safety in an emergency.

One veteran former Member of the Council had to point out that in these purpose-built new premises, disabled access was problematic. Other observations overheard in the public gallery questioned why the seating plan allocated to the East Devon Alliance , the third biggest group, was in the back row only, in three separate areas. There was also astonishment that, surrounded by idle hi-tech screens, the CEO had used the oldfashioned, time-wasting way of counting votes.

Some of these evident ‘ teething problems’ can of course be swiftly resolved, under the welcome new cross-Party Leadership.”

East Devon Alliance county councillor Martin Shaw adds his thoughts about TiggerTories

From his blog “Seaton and Colyton Matters”:

“I was unfortunately unable for personal reasons to attend last night’s annual meeting of EDDC, but many Independent supporters who were there have expressed considerable disappointment. I have however close knowledge of the situation and offer the following comments.

Mandate for change

On May 2nd, after 45 years of increasingly dysfunctional rule by the Conservatives at East Devon District Council, the local electorate reduced their number to just 19 of the 60 councillors. Instead voters elected a majority of 31 Independents, including 11 members of the East Devon Alliance (EDA), 8 Liberal Democrats, and 2 Greens.

A clear mandate was given by local people. Big gains by Independents – both EDA and others – Liberal Democrats and Greens all represented their desire for change. The best administration would have been a coalition of some of these groups, which could have formed a progressive majority of up to 40 seats out of 60.

A new ‘Independent Group’ excludes the East Devon Alliance

Before the elections, all Independent councillors including EDA members were part of the Independent Group, led by Ben Ingham. EDA expected this to continue and looked forward to working with other Independents to form a progressive new administration, possibly in cooperation with the Liberal Democrats and Greens.

However on the day after the elections, Ben formed a new Independent Group, which EDA councillors were not invited to join. He was elected leader and Susie Bond deputy leader. As a result of this exclusion, EDA councillors formed their own group but continued to work for an alliance of EDA with the Ingham-led Independent Group.

The Independent Group relies on the discredited Tories

Since the new Independent Group with 20 members is the largest group on EDDC, they had the right to take the initiative in forming an administration. In this light the EDA leader, Paul Arnott, was happy to second Ingham’s nomination as Leader of the Council.

However there was no justification for the Independent Group, with only one-third of all councillors, to form an exclusively Independent Group cabinet. Even the outgoing Conservative administration, which had an overall majority, was more inclusive, including some non-Conservatives in the Cabinet.

In both the Axe Valley and the Sid Valley, the East Devon Alliance had routed the Conservatives, but in Ben’s selection of his new Cabinet and chairs of key committees, he could find no place for EDA Independents from these areas. The east of East Devon is once again drastically under-represented in the EDDC leadership.

Rewarding the discredited Tory party

Clearly there were personal issues here – Ben had left EDA after being voted out as leader in 2017 – but we had still collaborated in the old Independent Group. Nothing can justify Ben’s apparent decision now to rely more on the defeated Tories than on his fellow Independents.

The Conservatives are the official opposition, entitling them to the Chair of the Scrutiny Committee. But the Independent Group have also allowed them to take the key positions of Chair of the Council and Chair of the Development Management Committee. In contrast they offered EDA only the position of Vice-Chair of the Council. In addition they appear to have voted members of the discredited Tories on to other bodies, at the expense of EDA and Lib Dem candidates.

At the very moment when the electorate voted for change, and the Conservative Party has lost all credibility nationally as well as locally, the EDDC Independent Group seems to have breathed life back into this exhausted party and allowed it to keep several important positions, while turning its back on the other advocates of change.

A way forward

The East Devon Alliance believes that many members of the Independent Group share our desire for change at EDDC. They must surely realise that yesterday was a highly embarrassing false start.

Despite the way that group has chosen to form its administration, I know the EDA group will support them, as the Lib Dems have also said they will, when they propose positive policies for the benefit of East Devon, as well as seeking their support for our own proposals.

In particular, I welcome the fact that when questioned by Paul Arnott, Ben Ingham yesterday repeated his long-held position that EDDC should consider the option of a more collaborative Committee system, rather than the all powerful Leader-with-CEO and small Cabinet model which he has inherited, which leaves most councillors with little real input into major decisions (as I know from the County Council).

In any case, EDA councillors will have healthy proportionate representation on key committees such as Planning, Strategic Planning, Scrutiny, Audit & Governance and Overview, and I am certain that this will give them many opportunities to change the district council in a collaborative and positive way.

We must now hope that despite yesterday, both groups of Independents together with the Lib Dems and Greens can do some real work for local communities in the new Council. “

A false start at EDDC sees new ‘Independent Group’ relying on the discredited Tories rather than the East Devon Alliance, Lib Dems and Greens who local communities voted for in order to achieve change. And the Axe Valley is left out in the cold again.

East Devon Alliance leader speech to EDDC last night

Sorry it is all capitals,

“CHAIR

(THANK YOU FOR THIS YOUR CURTAIN CALL IN THE CHAIR. I AM SURE WE WILL ALL BE TALKING ABOUT THE MANNER IN WHICH YOU HAVE CONDUCTED THIS ROLE FOR MANY YEARS TO COME)

TO ME THERE CAN ONLY BE ONE SERIOUS CANDIDATE TONIGHT. HE IS A MAN WHO HAS A UNIQUE RECORD ON THIS COUNCIL. BEN INGHAM STARTED OFF AS A CONSERVATIVE OF COURSE, THEN BECOMING AN INDEPENDENT, AND LATER STILL ASKING IF HE COULD LEAD THE EAST DEVON ALLIANCE INTO THE 2015 ELECTION, AND FINALLY AFTER THE EDA’S LEADERSHIP ELECTION IN 2017 RETURNED CATRHY GARDNER, HE RESOLVED TO BECOME AN INDEPENDENT 1NDEPENDENT ONCE MORE. OR INDEPEDNDENTS FOR EAST DEVON I THINK HIS FACEBOOK PAGE SAID THIS TIME.

THERE CAN BE NO DOUBT THAT NOBODY IN THE CHAMBER WANTS THE ROLE OF LEADER MORE THAN BEN, AND IT HAS BEEN CLEAR TO ME SINCE THE EVENING OF THE COUNT THAT NOTHING WOULD BE ABLE TO STOP HIM.

ULTIMATELY, JUST THIS MONDAY, THE INDEPENDENT EAST DEVON ALLIANCE WAS ABLE TO BE TOLD SOME OF HIS POLICY PROMISES. IN PARTICULAR WE WERE ATTRACTED BY STATEMENT 6.

I QUOTE:

“WE WOULD LIKE TO SEE THE TRANSFORMATION PORTFOLIO HOLDER AND CABINET COMPLETE THE PIECE OF WORK ALREADY COMMISSIONED LAST YEAR; A REVIEW OF THE ALTERNATOVE GOVERNANCE OPTIONS IDENTIFIED IN THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT AUTHORITY GUIDANCE, WITHOUT PRE-CONCEIVED IDEAS. IN THE EVENT COUNCIL CONCLUDES THE COMMITTEE STRUCTIRE IS MORE SUITED TO OUR GOVERNANCE MODEL, THEN THE CONSULATION AND REFINEMMENT PROCESS IS WELL-DOCUMENTED.”

END QUOTE

THE EAST DEVON ALLIANCE OF INDEPENDENTS PROMISED EXPLICITLY TO SEEK REFORM OF THIS PLACE. I BELIEVE THAT THIS IS A KEY ISSUE FOR OUR LIBERAL DEMOCRAT COLLEAGUES TOO.

I HAVE PICKED THE BONES OUT THAT SIXTH PROMISE OF BEN, AND CONCLUDED THAT HE WILL NOT ULTIMATELY OPPOSE A MOVE TO THE COMMITTEE SYSTEM OR DRAG HIS FEET IN ANY UNJUSTIFIABLE BUREAUCRATIC DELAY – AND WITH THAT PROMISE SAFELY BANKED IN MY BACK POCKET I AM GENUINELY DELIGHTED TO NOMINATE A MAN I HAVE A LOT OF TIME FOR, BEN INGHAM.”

East Devon Alliance press statement:

“The Independent East Devon Alliance looks forward to the promise of change made by the new ruling Independent Group. We will act as a critical friend, serving the best interests of the people of East Devon.There are challenging times ahead and only by working together will the Council be able to deliver change for the better. We are pleased that the Leader of the Independent Group accepted our request to explore democratic reform and a move from Cabinet governance to the more democratic Committees system in which all councillors play an equal part.”

Paul Arnott, Leader Independent East Devon Alliance

Editor’s Note: The IEDA has 11 elected district councillors and sits as its own group within EDDC.”

TiggerTories announce new Cabinet at EDDC – more pro- and ex-Tories included

The shoddy saga continues.

“Cllr Bond is in charge of Strategic Development,
Cllr Kevin Blakey the economy,
Cllr Megan Armstrong holds the Homes and Communities portfolio,
Cllr Geoff Jung has the Environment portfolio, with Cllr Peter Faithfull having the assistant environment portfolio.
Newly elected councillors Jess Bailey and Paul Millar have the Corporate Services and Transformation portfolios respectively.

[Note: Owl has been requested to say that those named above are NOT and have never been Conservatives – that refers to those named below in BOLD].

Cllr Geoff Pook retains the Asset Management portfolio he held under the Conservative administration, while Cllr Ian Thomas, the former leader of the council who quit the Tories and became an independent in the run up to May’s election holds the Finance portfolio, the role he held before becoming leader last May.

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/independents-take-control-east-devon-2898391

One must recall Councillor Thomas’s words when he jumped the Tory ship:

“Cllr Thomas said: “With a heavy heart, I confirm my resignation from the Conservative Party on April 17, 2019.

“My decision was in no way related to the excellent case being presented by East Devon District Council Conservatives in the pre-election period. Theirs is an outstanding presentation based on the performance delivered by a capable and experienced Conservative led team.

“It rather reflects deep disappointment in the performance of the Party elsewhere. …”

https://eastdevonwatch.org/2019/04/25/eddc-leader-deserts-sinking-ship-one-week-before-elections-to-become-independent/

Owl taken to task for TiggerTory name – confusion with “Change UK”?

Owl has had an email saying the name for the new administration (TiggerTories) could cause confusion with the small national party “Change UK” which has apparently attracted some similar naming.

Owl is sure no-one in East Devon will make such a link … there is no connection with Change UK and TiggerTories (the acronym of The Independent Group plus bedfellow true blue Tories) will likely be around much longer (four whole years) than Change UK.

So, TiggerTories it is …