Three major developments may affect how people choose to vote in Devon County Council elections next week.
First, and most tantalising, is the ongoing serious allegation that there seems to be a police investigation ongoing into Colyton’s EDDC villages plan, see here:
This project is somewhat similar to the Neighbourhool Plan project which also hit controversy right from the start, as reported by Owl:
Seven volunteers resigned from the project, their letter stating:
… This is the community’s plan, not the parish council’s or a few of the individuals who seem to control it. The entire community has the final say in what goes into it. We urge all residents of the parish to ensure that the plan is truly representative of everyone’s collective aspirations for the parish in the coming years. Our concern is that a few could perhaps dictate how the communities are shaped, which would be disastrous for the parish as a whole. …
Colyton voters might be advised to perhaps go for a DCC councillor from outside the parish this time round.
Second is, of course, the closure of Axminster Hospital in-patient beds to the north and scheduled closure of Honiton’s in-patient beds to the west and Seaton’s to the south. DCC candidate Mrs Parr (Conservative) is on record as having been persuaded by CCG plans to close these beds. Jim Knight, who having been passed over for selection is standing as an “Independent” Conservative (whatever that is – how do voters differentiate it from UKIP these days?) is between a rock and a hard place on this one too?
DCC has the major committee for holding health authorities to account and Independent Claire Wright is doing a sterling job of fighting for us, but she desperately needs the help of others prepared to fight with her.
So, who is left?
Well, that’s the third issue.
Let’s dismiss tha Labour candidate – who had to be parachuted in from Exeter who no-one (including Labour activists) seems to know anything about!
Let’s also dismiss Peter Burrows (Lib Dem) – who declined to face voters at a recent hustings (but apparently crept into the back of the room towards the end). Who uses family connections to the health service to boost himself, rather than his own actions, which are surprisingly thin on the ground. Also Burrows has recently become notorious as a censor on the 1500-strong Facebook group, ‘It’s Seaton Devon Thank You Very Much’, of which he is administrator. After deleting posts by Shaw and others about the hospital beds, he even removed Shaw – and various other people with no connection to his campaign – from the group, provoking a considerable backlash.
With this controversy around Burrows’ role, Knight could come in ahead of him and see Burrows struggling to come third as in 2013.
This leaves the field wide open for the only other contender – Martin Shaw, Independent East Devon Alliance. Shaw has been vociferous in his support of retaining beds at Seaton Hospital, instrumental in organising a legal opinion to fight closures and has proved to be something of a tiger in his role on the town council’s planning committee.
Will voters feel minded to dismiss the “same olds” of the past and vote for someone untainted by past choices and misdemeanors?
Let us hope so.