“Old Owl” on the contrasting styles and substance of the Strategic Planning Committee speeches

I have now watched the You Tube video of last night’s Strategic Planning Committee, where the committee recommended to Council that East Devon should withdraw from the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan:


There were some stunning speeches.  I particularly commend the speech by young Axminster district councillor Sarah Jackson, whose speech was a masterclass in how to represent the people who vote for you.  Paul Hayward also spoke clearly and sensibly.  Indeed all the new administration speakers acquited themselves well.

Owl has already spoken below on the substance of the meeting, my comments below are perhaps more on style and the way forward.

First : Does being a Tory councillor demand that you speak your stream of thoughts rather than making cogent points?  Mike Howe had some very sensible points which were lost in a morrass of “words” none of which added anything of substance.

Councillor Moulding really should have had the basic wording of his (failed) amendment ready rather than trying to put it together on the waffling hoof.  He’s been a councillor for decades – not a good look.

Both councillors appear to think that the more words they say the more substance there is, when it is the opposite.  And it was interesting to see that the only attempts at political point scoring (which failed miserably) were from the old regime, eager to provide distraction from their previous actions.  Though councillors Skinner and Parr stayed true to their “build, build, build” mantra, as one would expect.  Anywhere and everywhere, if Councillor Hughes’s catchy song is to be believed.

It is now to be hoped that other district councils (and Exeter City Council) accept that, in a post-Covid, enviromnmental crisis world, the GESP is a political dinosaur – not fit for purpose and to be consigned to a museum.  One is showing no such signs (Teignbridge) where a robust independent councillor is being pilloried at this very moment for speaking truth to power.

Yes, it is hard going back to the drawing board and accepting the fact that life is now so different that even recent plans make no sense – but fact it is.

Oh, and I was ASTOUNDED that, while concentrating so hard on GESP, the former council took its eye off its Local Plan and has done nothing to work on its updating before it runs out in 2023, when we will be at a “developer free-for-all” point again if no new plan is in place.  Unforgiveable.  Or maybe unsurprising.

We now have an opportunity – the first one presented to East Devon – to work towards a “new normal” in planning, radically different to the “old normal” and we are lucky to have a council prepared to take this step forward.