“The principle interest in a report is its probity”.

This point was made very firmly by Deputy Chair Cllr Bowden, at this afternoon’s Audit and Governance (A&G) Committee meeting at Knowle.
Councillors and the public will naturally bear this in mind when the two independent audits, called for by A&G today, arrive in quick succession. The Committee was assured by EDDC officer Simon Davey, that both reports would be available by mid- to late-February 2015, to give time for a thorough reading before the next A&G meeting in March. They are long overdue!

Individual councillors, and of course Save Our Sidmouth (SOS), have made repeated requests for independent audits over the past two years.Not until 17 December 2014, and long after the political decision to move had been approved by themselves, did the Full Council, prompted by Cllr Graham Troman, vote to ask for a thorough investigation of the figures behind the relocation project.

Today, partly in response to questions from Richard Eley of SOS, and Tony Green of|East Devon Alliance, it was formally requested through the Chair, Cllr Ken Potter, that the the reports must be in writing, and that most of the content should be in Part A…i.e. in the public domain.

Internal auditor, Andrew Ellins,of South West Audit Partnership (SWAP) acknowledged that until now his work had depended more “on reliance than in-depth delving ” into the actual figures given by the relocation team. “If the figures are not accurate, then I have been hoodwinked”, he said. He appealed to members of the public to send him any information about possible errors in the Council’s facts and figures, that they would like him to report on.

External auditors, Grant Thornton, also promised to take a rigorous look at the Council’s calculations including the energy savings claimed by Richard Cohen to justify the move from the Knowle . Richard Eley had already expressed his incredulity at the “maverick and pessimistic” predictions of the Deputy CEO.

Several councillors expressed their awareness of the massive public concern over relocation, and Chair, Cllr Ken Potter declared, “This committee is anxious to get to the detail”. The business plan for relocation, and the soundness of the assumptions driving it, might at long last be thoroughly examined. We shall see.

EDDC needs a new Development Manager who can see into the future in the future!

Thanks to an eagle-eyed correspondent who has noticed on the blog of EDDC Cabinet Member Ian Thomas that

(a) EDDC is advertising for a new Development Manager
and
(b) he or she will need the skill of seeing into the future – in the future!

Curse of the Tory spellchecker (and a grocer’s apostrophe!)?

“Industry publication “The Planner” is carrying in it’s jobs section an advert seeking for a key individual to further bolster the EDDC Planning Team. The position is to be based at The Knowle in Sidmouth although, in line with last evening’s Full Council resolution to progress toward relocation to a combined Honiton and Exmouth future prescience, the advert does confirm that the Council may relocate to new office facilities in the future.”

http://www.trinitymatters.co.uk/index.php/eddc-east-devon/item/1039-key-job-vacancy-at-eddc-for-new-development-manager

Prescience: having prescience, or knowledge of things or events before they exist or happen

Presence: the state or fact of being present, as with others or in a place.

And a new Development Manager to be appointed by the “old guard” before the May election. Sweet!

Councillors: spellcheck those spellcheckers!

Plain English Guide to the Planning System

Of interest is that, if we had Community Infrastructure Levy, parishes would receive 15% of it directly (25% if a neighbourhood plan is in force). Our CIL was thrown out bt the Planning Inspector as having a poor evidence base so our developers are absolved from paying this charge.

East Devon: The Developers’ Dream! No wonder it is Development Wild West here!

Click to access Plain_English_guide_to_the_planning_system.pdf

You have £700,000 to spend …

Do you:

(a) put more resources into delivering your local plan as quickly as possible?

or

(b) spend it all on the pre-planning of an abortive HQ move to Skypark (then hurriedly change your mind, needing even more money for your vanity project)?

Had it been (a) the district would have been safeguarded from inappropriate development such as the 900 houses planned for Clyst St Mary (see below).

It is coming up for a year since the Local Plan was inspected. At that time the Inspector envisaged a re-hearing in October 2014. The last time EDDC communicated with him was in that month when they told him they had no idea how long their re- working would take.

In meetings since then we have had the same message: now that EDDC has decided to join forces with Exeter and Teignbridge (which was not a requirement from the Inspector) it will all take so much longer. Until at least after local elections in May 2015. Convenient for developers.

Uprising in Clyst St Mary

MASSIVE TURNOUT FOR EXTRAORDINARY MEETING OF PARISH COUNCIL IN CLYST ST MARY

On 7 January well over 150 people packed into Clyst St Mary school hall for a public meeting to discuss the impact of massive development proposed for the village. Not just standing room only – villagers were waiting outside to hear what was going on. The meeting was told that Clyst St Mary could more than double in size if all development went ahead. A representative from local action group Save Clyst St Mary reported that the Express & Echo was likely to follow up this week’s article with another next week, and that Radio Devon should be covering the story this Friday morning: several thousands of pounds had already been pledged/promised in the form of voluntary donations to help towards a fighting fund.

The Parish Council is opposing inappropriate development, particularly on greenfield sites, and was to hold a meeting later that evening to discuss the implications of obtaining formal legal advice. But one of the first comments from the floor said it all: had a Local Plan been in place, the village would be in a very different position.

There’s a growing mood across the district that rural communities are paying the price for Council inertia: EDDC supplies the wind, East Devon villages reap the whirlwind

Subjects to quiz Party representatives on, in approach to election

You may have heard Eddie Mair on a recent PM programme (Radio 4), asking guests what they would like him to quiz the various party representatives about, in the run-up to the General Election.

A written suggestion has subsequently been sent by one of EDA’s fellow -members of the national network of campaign Groups, Community Voice on Planning (www.covop.org), as follows:

Dear Eddie Mair,
SUBJECTS TO QUIZ PARTY REPRESENTATIVES
I would like the respective parties to be quizzed on their understanding of how much the rural population feels aggrieved at the exploitation of the current Planning policy by developers and how powerless local councils are in the process of controlling their respective districts. Realistically affordable housing is required for first-time buyers, smaller single/couple only occupied properties are needed and in many areas the ever expanding older population requires bungalow properties. Yet current government policy is blatantly allowing developers unchallenged consumption of green spaces for house construction of the wrong type, in the wrong places and with insufficient infrastructure to support them. Instead, all over the country, open-market ‘executive’ style homes are the predominant design being applied for on agricultural and open greenspace land because its easier and cheaper to develop then brownfield sites. Yet, no constraints are then placed on the developers to proceed with actual construction so the land and its benefit to the community in its original form is lost nevertheless and cannot be challenged.

Paul Adams
DefeND North Devon
Barnstaple