“Take business park land out of Local Plan say campaigners”

“Campaigners have called for land earmarked for a multi-million pound Sidford business park to be taken out of the Local Plan.

t follows East Devon District Council’s decision to throw out an application to build 8,445sqm of employment floor space on an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

The proposed development for the Two Bridges site received 255 comments of objection and 111 in support. A campaign group also submitted a petition to the council with 1,400 signatures opposing the plans.

Now campaigners are calling on council bosses to look at removing the area, earmarked for development, out the Local Plan, claiming it should have never been there in their first place.

The Herald understands the application could once again go to appeal following a response from East Devon District Council saying it would not be appropriate to respond to the campaigners’ comments.

An EDDC spokeswoman said: “As we understand that this matter is now going to appeal, it would not be appropriate to make any comments about the status of the Local Plan.

“The campaigners can make their points direct to the Planning Inspector in support of the council’s decision to refuse.”

Councillor Marianne Rixson has spoken out on the reasons why the town should join her rallying call to pressure the authority to look at taking the site out of the Local Plan at the earliest opportunity.

The Local Plan

“When a Government inspector was examining the suitability of the site in 2014, county Highways failed to point out that the roads would not be able to cope with the traffic an industrial estate would bring. Highways only admitted their error in September 2016.

“After the draft Local Plan had been sent to the Inspector for final approval in 2015, district councillors realised they’d made a mistake and voted almost unanimously to try to remove it from the plan but no effort was made to explain to the Inspector the reasons why the site was unsuitable – consequently he had no option but to rule that the site should remain, subject to planning.”

Flooding issues:

“It is on a floodplain and flooding will inevitably get worse with climate change.

“The Two Bridges site is in zones 3A and two flood risk zones – yet another reason why this site is unsuitable.”

Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB):

“England has 34 AONB all of which are supposed to have the highest rate of protection in law and Government policy.

“We should only build on AONB if there is an overwhelming need for a development. The owners’ plans for a business park were market driven so there isn’t any hard proof. Surely we need to know for sure that there is an overwhelming need for employment space in the Sid Valley before we destroy this AONB?

“I would advocate for the district and town councils to work together to look seriously at how we can attract good quality, well paid jobs into the valley and how we can most effectively locate them without encroaching into the AONB and where there is good transport infrastructure.

“We need to attract good quality, well paid jobs into the area. Surely we can do this without encroaching into the AONB and where there are better road links? Regrettably by mid November Sidmouth will have lost three banks and building societies. Far better to turn these buildings into offices, which would help to keep our town vibrant, rather than build new offices on the outskirts.

Roads:

“Traffic cannot cope on this narrow road as it is due to the bottlenecks and number of HGVs already using the A375 – it will not be able to cope with more.

“Highways now agree this is not suitable for HGVs. “For two lorries to pass you need 6.5 metres. The main access for business park would be School Street which has a pinch point of 4.77 metres. There are several points through Sidbury too where the road is less than 5.5m, including Sidbury Mill and Cotford Bridge.

“Surely there should be a weight restriction on this road?

“According to an FOI submitted by the Say No Sidford Business Park campaigners some 30,000 cars travelled along the road in one off-peak week in April.

“I’d like to call for a weigh restriction on these struggling roads.

Endangered Bats and Japanese knotweed:

“The Two Bridges site is an important wildlife site for species that are protected such as horseshoe bats, otters and dormice.

“Knotweed exterminators have been seen on the site – it takes several years to get rid of.

Light Pollution

“The Norman Lockyer Observatory is both historical and the home to an active amateur astronomical society.

It also has plans to build a £70,000 extension so more experiments can take place than ever before.

“The light from any business park there will have an impact on the night sky, which currently has semi rural dark skies status at Sidford.”

http://www.sidmouthherald.co.uk/news/campaigners-reasons-why-sidford-business-park-land-should-not-be-in-eddc-local-plan-1-5772366

Hospitals should not be used as “weapons”

Here are some images of a few of the responses in the Sidmouth Herald to Hugo Swire after his claims that campaigners for Ottery St Mary Hospital are “anti-Tory” and have “weaponised” their campaign (click on images for better view):

  

     

Independent EDA Councillor Rixon speaks up for Sidford parking

Here is her speech to Cabinet which led to reconsideration of an increase in car parking charges.

“My comments echo those made earlier by Richard Eley, on behalf of Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce.

I would ask you to reconsider the proposal to standardise car park fees. Evidence in my Ward suggests that a one size fits all policy will not help small businesses to survive, let alone thrive.

Sidford is a clear example. We have already lost many shops over the years. Everyone knows that retail is suffering due to competition from online shopping from the likes of Amazon which makes huge profits but contributes little to the UK economy.

Business rates weigh heavily on SMEs, which pay a disproportionate rate by comparison with large business.

Add to this the increase in the minimum wage, high levels of VAT and general running costs.

And then the local council decides to hike up the cost of parking to your customers by a whopping 150%. Taking Sidford Spar as an example, why would anyone pay a 50p premium for half an hour to buy a loaf of bread or pint of milk when they can drive to Temple Street and park for nothing or onto Waitrose and park for nothing, or even Newton Poppleford and park for nothing?

The Operations Director of Spar told me they “lost significant customer flow when the Doctor’s surgery relocated and now these increases will only hit our business even more.”

The owner of Lexys, the hairdressers, said, “I am not happy at all with the charges proposed. If I were to raise my charges by 150%, I wouldn’t stay in business.”

Cllr Pook stated “the Council has listened carefully to what has been said during the public consultation and the cabinet report recommendations reflect the views of the respondents”.

This is not the case with regard to Sidford, where 64% agreed with the proposal to introduce free parking for the first two hours. Nor does it reflect the views of business owners.

Looking at the current revenue generated, this car park contributes only 0.32% towards annual revenue at £10,676 for 2016/17. There are 60 spaces which generate only £29 a day for the whole car park (so less than 50p per space per day). Raising the parking fees by 150% would only equate to £43.50 per day, which is still miniscule. And apparently the amount for 2017/18 was even less, £10,535, so still less than 50p per space per day).

In summary, a dramatic increase in car park charges could hasten the closure of more local businesses through lack of custom. Precisely how much do the Sidford companies pay in business rates? Could it be more than £29 per day? I would suggest that this information be made available, so that it can be reviewed by Cabinet.”

Speeches by councillors for Lympestone and Phear Park led to reconsideration of their charges as reported here:

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/parking-charges-rise-devons-cheapest-1948853

No to Sidford Business Park update 2

From:
nosidfordbusinesspark@yahoo.co.uk

Campaign update no. 2

We are now able to provide the link to Marianne Rixson’s powerpoint presentation – .

http://futuresforumvgs.blogspot.com/2018/06/sidford-business-park-how-to-comment-on.html

At the public meeting we raffled an unframed painting of the proposed business park site, showing how it is today. Thank you to everyone who bought raffle tickets. It helped raise much needed funds for the campaign. The winning raffle ticket number was 61. If that ticket was yours then please contact us and we will arrange for you to receive the painting.

So many of you who attended the meeting were generous and we were able to raise the magnificent sum of £523.17 towards the campaign’s costs! Whilst this is very helpful, it may be that we have to ask for further donations, particularly if we need to undertake a professional traffic survey to submit to East Devon District Council as part of its consideration of the planning application.

A number of you offered to get involved with the Steering Group. Unfortunately, we won’t be able to contact you until early next week. It’s not because we don’t want your help; but rather there just isn’t enough time to do this over the weekend!

Someone at the public meeting left behind a pair of black framed spectacles! If they are yours then contact us and we will reunite you with them!

Please show your opposition to the planning application by displaying a poster in your window. We have attached two versions of a poster. One is in colour and one is black and white. Please print one (or more) and display it. If you can, please also print one (or more) and offer it to a friend or neighbour.

The campaign now has a Twitter account – SayNOtoSidfordBusiness Park. If you are on Twitter please follow this and retweet its tweets. This is another way that we can reach the widest possible audience.

We understand that not everyone uses email, Facebook or Twitter and so one of the early discussions that the Steering Group will need to have is how best to engage with people locally who use none of these mediums. Already one suggestion has been to get up a petition and to go directly door to door obtaining signatures. Watch this space!

If you want to look at the full details of the planning application for the business park this link will take you directly to it – https://planning.eastdevon.gov.uk/online-applications/simpleSearchResults.do?action=firstPage

EDDC Independents lead call for action on local health provision

Owl can’t quite see why Tory Councillor Allen felt the need to table his amendment – perhaps he felt Independent councillors were rather too Independent and therefore needed a dash of Tory policy! Now we just have to hope that new Leader Thomas doesn’t go and do exactly the opposite of what was resolved when he attends to DCC health scrutiny meetings – as Diviani notoriously did last year.

“A motion calling for the community hospitals which have lost beds to be maintained as health hubs, that services and clinics should be moved out of Exeter to local community hospitals and that more outpatient services should be provided in each community hospital was discussed by East Devon District Council at their meeting last week.

Proposing the motion, Cllr Marianne Rixson [EDA, Independent] said that health hubs in local areas need to be supported by the Council.

She added that the need for less travelling and difficult local bus services needed to be taken into consideration and that if place-based care was to be effective then the level of out-patient services need to be increased overall or at least maintained in every town.

She was supported by Cllr Val Ranger [Independent] who added that those people discharged early from hospital, children and elderly living with long-term health conditions should be able to access out-patient services locally in every community.

Councillors voted for an amendment, proposed by Cllr Mike Allen [Conservative], that said that this Council resolves to welcome the proposal of the Devon CCG’s to develop placed-based health care where strong evidence suggested that it would deliver high-quality patient care and sustainable services.

It added: “However, due to lack of supporting clinical evidence and clear future planning, the Council has strongly opposed closure and removal of community hospital beds and hospital-based services throughout East Devon.

“All efforts are made, in consultation with local communities, to ensure the existing estate of community hospitals was retained for health care purposes, where appropriate, the potential development of ‘Health Hubs’ was investigated, and council members received from the Clinical Commissioning Group a review of service changes (bed-based to home/community based care) made during 2017/2018 in East Devon, to include clinical evidence highlighting levels of patient safety and outcomes achieved and an evidence-based forward plan of proposed changes to health services in East Devon, for initial discussion at a future Cabinet.

After the meeting, Cllr Martin Shaw [DCC East Devon Alliance], said that he has written to Cllr Ian Thomas, who is due to become the new leader of the council on May 16, asking for assurances that each of the hospitals which has lost its beds (Axminster, Honiton, Ottery and Seaton), as well as Exmouth and Sidmouth, to be kept open and that a formal public consultation in the affected town and surrounding area should a closure of any community hospital, involving substantial relocation of outpatient services, be proposed.”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/health/closure-removal-hospital-beds-should-1530794

Sidmouth husting cancelled … so what would we have liked to see debated?

It appears only two of Sidmouth’s DCC candidates were prepared to attend tonight’s husting, which has now been cancelled at short notice – Stuart Hughes (Conservative ex- Monster Raving Loony) and Marianne Rixson (Independent East Devon Alliance).

Such a pity as there are burning questions for the Sidmouth and Sidford candidates, and the incumbent in particular, such as:

Asking Councillor Hughes why he seems to value photo-opportunities and silly songs

over action (for example, Alma Bridge…talk for years…no action)

The state of our roads in Sidmouth and Devon – Councillor Hughes having been in charge of them at DCC for years.

His worrying lack of preparedness about said highways when he should have known the information about them that should have stopped Sidford Industrial Estate ever getting into the local plan – information Sidmouth Councillor Rixson uncovered and used to help to stop it. A story of too little too late.

Councillor Hughes also needs to clarify his views on the NHS. While Sidmouth retains beds in this round of cuts, no-one can predict the future and the hospital will certainly come under pressure with extra patients from Axminster, Honiton and Seaton.

Unfortunately, a vote for Councillor Hughes is a vote for cuts – NHS and just about everything else including social care and education – big DCC responsibilities.

Councillor Rixson, and the local community, stopped the industrial estate. Councillor Rixson is an indefatigable supporter of our NHS and sees the issues way beyond the narrow confines of whipped party politics.

Councillor Rixson is the ONLY credible contender to beat Councillor Hughes, given the results from the 2015 election and to help beat any future cuts in the pipeline.

No wonder other candidates didn’t plan on turning up!