East Devon Watch – the first million hits part 3

Old Owl concludes

A million hits – third and final part

So, after parts 1 and 2, here we are.  It is December 2019.  Ben Ingham (formerly Tory, then Independent, then Leader of East Devon Alliance and now Independent again – but not for long as he moves back to his original Tory home soon …) is now Leader of East Devon District Council.  He has steadfastly refused to allow any East Devon Alliance independents to join his cabinet or committees and instead he has allied himself with various Independents, quasi-Independents, “really-not-very-independent-at-all-but-I probably-wouldn’t have-got-in-if-I-still-called-myself-Tory” independents, and real Tories – and all is not well.

There are many rumblings about his management style, his hard-to-uncover motivations and plans.  Eventually these erupt into open disagreement and defections.  By March 2020 it seems common sense prevails and those not allowed into the corridors of power have realised that they now have to desert a sinking ship and/or work together to defeat the current regime, which is anyway falling apart.  Owl describes the situation in February and March 2020 here:



By May 2020, things have sorted themselves out – hurrah!  Although, it has to be said, the sorting out was frustrated again and again by various quasi-independent and Tory councillors, particularly the Chairman of the Council, Stuart Hughes who manipulated the office (with the help of CEO Mark Williams and other old guard Tories) to delay the inevitable changeover of power as much as possible:


However, as it has done recently in the USA, democracy prevailed and a coalition of many different independents and smaller parties rose into the ascendent and in May 2020, Councillor Paul Arnott, Leader of East Devon Alliance was made Leader of the Council:


Immediately the new power group made a controversial (but highly popular) decision – it withdrew East Devon District Council from the much-hated Greater Exeter Strategic Plan – which would have seen East Devon take most of Exeter’s overflow housing into the west of the district, as Paul Arnott explains here:


Tory councillors, who had fought long and hard to see much more development in East Devon were not happy!

Since then, it has to be said, there has been a much more calm, co-operative, transparent and collegiate way of doing democratic business in East Devon – which like all other councils has been torn asunder by the ravages of Covid-19.

Throughout all this time, East Devon Watch has fulfilled its brief – to keep its beady eye on the ramifications of decisions about how East Devon should progress into the future and how that progress should happen.  It has been the source of many scoops, has been loved by many and hated by quite a few (not least our current and past MPs who have never, and will never, escape accountability for what they do and say).

EDW finds East Devon in much safer hands but in much more fragile times and will be reporting on and commenting about the matters that we all need to know about – prodding, pushing, investigating, reporting, criticising (without fear or favour) so that you, the constituents and voters have a better idea of what is going on and who is moving and shaking events.

Soon, if Boris Johnson is to be believed (hhhmmm…) there will be elections to County Council in May 2020 and probably by-elections and elections again in East Devon.  EDW will be on the case.

During its lifetime, this Old Owl retired and handed on the baton (twig, branch) to New Owl who is doing a magnificent job of keeping its fresh, beady eye on the district.  Long may it continue!

And Old Owl feels confident in saying the next million hits will be just as interesting (or even more interesting) than the first million!