‘Openness, Transparency and Democracy’

From Stephen Pemberton, letter published in the Sidmouth Herald: 

EDDC Licensing Committee Agree Sidmouth Town Council and Jazz and Blues Festival Arrangements. 

It’s sad to see that the EDDC Licensing Committee would agree the Application by the proposed Jazz and Blues Festival for 2022, with the backing of Sidmouth Town Council, on the basis of no information and no consultation with the necessary Statutory Bodies, with only the promises and assurances that they will act in the best interests of Sidmouth. 

This is against a background  of the STC Town Clerk and Chairman’s ill-conceived Plans which they have forced through, having informed the Organiser that it was all agreed, done and dusted, even before a full Town Council meeting. 

STC meetings have prevented STC Cllrs from raising concerns about the Proposals. 

There is a lack of Scrutiny and Challenge by STC Cllrs, which is their role to do. 

STC have not consulted Sidmouth Town residents on the Town Clerk and Chairman’s proposals, alerted, or informed Sidmouth Town residents of the details of their Plan. 

The EDDC Licensing Committee has now taken on responsibility and accountability from STC through the Organiser for the proposed Event. 

The concerns relate to: 

– Planned excessive numbers of 2,750 attendees at each of the (2/3?) Events for each Event of each day 

– Full Closure of The Ham and The Ham pathway and Cycleway for 14 full days and nights  

– Disruption for all members of the Public and visitors to the Town and esplanade 

– Unsafe, congested funnelling of people at all times of the day and evening down Mill Street and York Street, and around and over the small bridge and along the riverside path to the esplanade 

We shall have to wait to see if the Organiser and their Event Manager have heeded concerns that STC have fully known and proposed, and drastically adjust their arrangements. 

Stephen Pemberton, 

One thought on “‘Openness, Transparency and Democracy’

  1. As Chair of the Licensing Committee I have several issues with Mr Pemberton’s view and your subsequent reporting of his letter.

    Because I had been contacted last year by the organiser of this event, in my capacity as member champion for Arts and Culture, I did not feel it right to be part of the sub committee to decide this matter. However, I object to the insinuation that my committee colleagues and officers are acting in a shadowy fashion.

    The licensing sub committee which made the decision to grant the license can make a decision using only the 4 licensing principles from the 2003 Licensing Act. In this case, that application would, I’d imagine, have focused around the license for music performance and the sale of alcohol at the event. Those objectives are…
     The prevention of crime and disorder;
     Public safety;
     The prevention of public nuisance; and
     The protection of children from harm.

    It cannot consider traffic, people movement, disruption to the town, or anything outside of the sale of alcohol and performance of music. These are matters for highways at DCC, the events team and Streetscene at EDDC, and have, as I say, nothing to do with the decision to grant or deny an alcohol licence. As a quasi judicial panel, the Licensing Committee can act only according to the law; there is very little room for interpretation. There are conditions which each application needs to meet, and the views with the police and environmental health are sought as a matter of course. If the license was granted, those organisations were happy with the plans in place. Mr Pemberton has been told this by members, officers and others, including lengthy personal correspondence with me, over a protracted period of time. He has been informed of his right to appeal the decision. That he chooses to ignore such missives and continue to repeat his already addressed points, in the process casting doubt on the integrity of my committee, is tiresome, demoralising and pointless.

    I cannot comment on Sidmouth Town Council.

    I would also ask the Owl to directly email me if concerns from Mr Pemberton or anyone else are expressed – I have nothing to hide and would be delighted to address any issues.


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