Former East Devon leader dies following long illness

In the words of “Blue Leader” Cllr. Philip Skinner:

Cllr Diviani was ‘instrumental’ in the creation of the Greater Exeter Strategic plan – although the council eventually pulled out of the proposed arrangement with other neigbouring councils in 2020 – and he praised his ability to “see the bigger picture.”

“He balanced providing good services but at the same time of course driving our economic agenda, which is the agenda I very much wish to promote myself.”

Owl remembers Paul Diviani, alongside the faithful Philip Skinner, as the architect and driving force behind the Tory “Build, build, build” strategy. This resulted in the current Local Plan having a development target of 950 houses/year, based on an aggressive “jobs led policy on” scenario.  Where only around 580 houses/year would be required to satisfy purely demographic growth trends. 

This is an uplift of 370 or 64% and is the target that the current EDDC coalition has inherited (is lumbered with).

Remember this when you read the next post on Simon Jupp’s position on local housing targets.

Former East Devon District Council leader Paul Diviani has died following a long illness.

Rob Kershaw www.sidmouthherald.co.uk

Mr Diviani joined East Devon District Council in 1999, becoming leader in 2011, a role he held up until he stepped down in 2018. He had also served on Devon County Council, representing Honiton St Paul’s, as well as being a board memeber of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership, chair of the Blackdown Hills Area of Natural Beauty, and numerous other public service or community roles.

He joined East Devon Council at the same time as the district’s current Tory leader, Cllr Philip Skinner, a friend both in and out of politics, who paid a heartfelt tribute to him on Friday.

“Paul Diviani was a very selfless man,” said Cllr Skinner. “He was a man who was never critical of other people; he was more concerned about doing good things.

“He had a very good insight to vision work, and he was very much a strategic thinker. Strategic, not just in the planning process, but strategic in the way that the council should operate, and the way that it should run.

“He balanced providing good services but at the same time of course driving our economic agenda, which is the agenda I very much wish to promote myself.”

Cllr Skinner said that Cllr Diviani was ‘instrumental’ in the creation of the Greater Exeter Strategic plan – although the council eventually pulled out of the proposed arrangement with other neigbouring councils in 2020 – and he praised his ability to “see the bigger picture.”

The Conservative leader for East Devon describing Cllr Diviani as a ‘lovely, lovely man.’

5 thoughts on “Former East Devon leader dies following long illness

  1. Unfortunately, Clr Skinner’s recollection of Pail Diviani is not the same as my own.

    I remember a self-serving, smarmy, disrespectful individual who cared little for genuine democracy and who enabled a mass of dubious decisions by the various Tory administrations that used to run East Devon District Council for over a century.

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  2. I can’t comment on Diviani as a person, though of course we plebs are shown a different side of our betters to that experienced by their peers. I remember Darryl Nicholas, a decent occasional tory, describing Skinner to me as a very nice chap. This was the day after I had met the man, when he was hosting a meeting that shouldn’t have taken place, where he was trying to intimidate me with his demeanour and left an abiding memory of a physically unpleasant sensation. Two others have since expressed a similar physical response to me, completely unprompted. It was a worse sensation than caused by encountering John Humphreys. I have also heard Humphreys described as charming, though I imagine none of his fellow tories or masons will have enjoyed his company in a bunker on Woodbury Common.

    I am sure Cllr Skinner is correct that the deceased was a strategic thinker. Both were on the EDBF I believe. Although this was wrapped up 8 years ago with the investigation never satisfactorily completed, the current Local Plan Consultation and various damaging planning verdicts show that it’s still the gift that keeps on giving.

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    • I am sure that there are many other “strategic” decisions that Diviani was behind that with the benefit of hindsight had terrible consequences (like people dying) other than just planning and the NHS.

      We rightly expect our elected politicians to do their best to exercise foresight by doing their genuine best to understand the consequences of their proposals – and of course the independent opposition (especially Claire Wright) always tried to make the Tories listen to what the likely consequences would be – but the Tories simply do not appear to care about consequences to ordinary people, people who have no alternative choices, just about saving money and reducing taxes for the already obscenely rich.

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    • P.S. Just so we are clear about the Diviani decision to close Community Hospitals, when the government decided to discharge patients who might have Covid into Care Homes without testing them for CV19, they did so because they didn’t have Community Hospitals to move them to. There is a direct and clear causation between closing Community Hospitals and large numbers of elderly people in care homes dying unnecessarily (like Cathy Gardner’s father for example).

      Put bluntly, IMO Diviani had blood on his hands. So let’s not get all sentimental and gushing about how this man was a hero. He was a despicable human being who deserves to be consigned to the dusbin of history, and not raised on a pedestal.

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