Sidmouth Councillors, were you listening?

It was left to opposition councillors , and to the public, to point out the “alarming weaknesses” in the relocation project, at the Full council meeting yesterday evening. Here’s what SOS had to say:

Will latest relocation swerve be cost-effective?

Chair of Save Our Sidmouth has asked for clarification on EDDC calculations of comparative running costs. View his question to Richard Cohen, at this link:


Council watchdog toothless

EDA followers will remember our report of the O&S Committe resolve made in January this year :
Eight months on, there are signs that the Council watchdog has been undergoing obediency training…..
An apparently tamed Overview and Scrutiny Chair Tim Wood cast a deciding vote to  accept an unelected council officers’ report last night. He made almost no contribution to his committee’s debate on the uncertainties, omissions,  and setbacks in Richard Cohen’s latest update on EDDC office relocation, except to ask the approximate size of floorspace that a revamped EDDC would require.Richard Cohen’s answer: 3,300 sq metres.
How does this compare with the floorspace of the purpose built Knowle offices? We’ll remind readers on a following link to be posted shortly.

For full account of last night’s meeting, see

Nigel Harrison further distanced from Business TAFF scrutiny


With the news that Nigel Harrison will shortly leave his job as Economic Development Officer for EDDC (see our previous post today), it’s perhaps a good time to look back at some relevant archives.

Here’s one example

Plenty more on SEARCH Business TAFF , on the Sidmouth Independent News website

Eagerly awaited report on Five Year Land Supply..not quite yet

See Item 11 on the agenda of next week’s Audit and Governance Committee (Link to agenda given here:

The crucial importance of the Five Year Land Supply, and EDDC’s lack of a Local Plan which can not be drawn up without it, is explained here:

Don’t miss the chance to enter the East Devon Photo Competition!

Please send in entries by this Friday! Details below:

Photo competition

Book cover

This book (front cover shown above) is being created for publication in December 2014, in support of the East Devon Alliance. There is a competition for original photos to be included in it (See

Precise information about the photo competition is given here: PHOTOGRAPHY appeal details

Please submit images before 15th August 2014, to



Knowle relocation news: Richard Cohen to reveal all at Cabinet meeting next Wednesday (4th June)

Well, maybe not quite all? This, and other highlights of the Cabinet agenda, are listed at

East Devon landscape makes money..amongst other good things, says RSPB.

para 3 – about importance of nature to our wellbeing
para 4 – fundamental to the economic prosperity in Westcountry, “quality of the landscapes that makes the region an attractive place to visit, to work, and to do business.”
para 6 – importance of bees and hoverflies to pollinate crops

Public gagged, councillors gagged … and the strange case of the Legal Highs!

Decisions this week, likely to be rubber-stamped by Cabinet and Full Council, mean that now the public must make written representations in advance before being (possibly) allowed to speak at the Development Management Committee (only 5 objectors will be allowed 3 minutes each on a first come, first served basis).

Councillors are now to be banned from putting motions that are not appropriate to the business of the council – the final arbiter probably being the Chief Executive (or perhaps one of his Deputies – see post below).  The Council’s Constitution will be so amended – even though the introduction of the amendment has not followed the procedure laid down in the current Constitution!

Proposed by Councillor Bloxham who recently put forward a motion to ban the use of Legal Highs and who spoke so eloquently for 27 minutes recently, emphasising that restricting public questions should be an essential part of saving time for committees.

So Councillor Bloxham, which councillor is that is using Legal Highs – I think we should be told!

Guilty, not guilty, punish, don’t punish … the mad, mad world of the EDDC Standards Committee

Councillor Salter, Independent parish Councillor, Newton Poppleford Parish Council.  Spoke out against a develop near to him which majority of councillors seemed to be in favour of, majority of parishoners appeared not to favour.  Reported to police because “anonymous” complainant said he should have declared a pecuniary interest.

Police found no case to answer.  “Anonymously” reported to EDDC for declaring a personal interest but then staying in the room and voting.  Monitoring Officer decided he had a case to answer.  Hearing yesterday, most of the day.

Conclusion:  Yes, he did break the rules.  Three councillors then met in private to decide his punishment (1 Independent, 2 Tories).  Majority decision:  no punishment as he was deemed to have been speaking for the people of Newton Poppleford not just for himself!

Truly, it is a mad world, my masters – with shades of the situation in which which (Independent) Councillor Giles had to face at Ottery St Mary where he was found guilty by his parish councillors when he reported some of them to his (Independent) district councillor because they had not told her about a secret meeting they were having with developers – suggested punishment by majority vote: ban him from the Planning Committee but they voted again and decided not to punish him.

Ottery Town Council and Councillor Giles were then investigated by the Monitoring Officer:  town council found deficient, no charges against Councillor Giles but no apology for his treatment.  And between Independent Councillor Giles and Independent Councillor Salter, Lib Dem Councillor Eileen Wragg (Lib Dem) dragged before the Monitoring Officer (again) for failing to respect another (Tory) Councillor at Exmouth town council and forced to apologise and be named in the press.

Can anyone see a glimmer of a pattern here?

Our Monitoring Officer is one of the two Deputy Chief Executives and each time these hearings take place an independent consultant is brought in to investigate.

Is this the best (or the most appropriate) use of this officer’s time?  How many man and woman hours are being wasted in this way, lost income for the councillors being investigated and all the council’s costs being paid for in the end by US and our council tax?