A final comment on the 2 May election in Seaton – from an East Grinstead voter

Many will remember the ongoing saga of the Tory election candidate – Mrs Jacquie Russell – who appeared to think it was possible to serve two councils at the same time as a member for both Seaton AND East Grinstead:

https://eastdevonwatch.org/2019/04/22/seatons-hermione-grainger-candidate-responds/

Now, somewhat belatedly, at least one voter in East Grinstead has woken up to the fact and today posted this comment to the blog:

“What a joke!

Jacquie, I live in the area you are meant to represent and the residents are not happy. You ignore attempts to make contact, refuse to aid locals and only ever show up if the newspaper photographer is nearby. You even left a meeting early when important residential issues were to be raised so that you could get home to Devon. You are not committed to East Grinstead, so stand down and move aside so that we can receive proper representation!”

Fortunately, the dilemma did not occur, as Mrs Russell was defeated by two EDA independents (Jack Rowlands and Dan Ledger) and a local Tory (Marcus Hartnell) – though the problem of having a Devon resident as a Tory councillor still remains for the voters in East Grinstead it seems.

EDDC Tory chairman appointed by Independent Leader adores Boris …

Really, this council gets more and more strange! After the massive Independent surge in May when people voted to put old-guard Tories out power, we get a Tory chairman who promotes himself and his party in the local press going dotty about Boris! So, everywhere he goes as the Chairman on behalf of the Leader he will be extolling the virtues of a different party!

… Cllr Hughes said: “I am certainly backing him and told him so. I think he’s the only candidate who will pull and unite the Conservative Party.

“I’d just finished chairing my first meeting of PATROL Parking and Traffic Regulations Outside London. On the way out of the rear entrance of Church House near Westminster Abbey met Boris and his team just getting into his Range Rover. [Rear entrance … Boris having been criticised for avoiding the public and journalists]

“I was delighted he agreed to photo, and yes, feel privileged to have been one of the few to have had opportunity to speak to him prior to the BBC candidates’ hustings tonight.”

https://www.sidmouthherald.co.uk/news/sidmouth-councillor-backs-boris-johnson-for-pm-1-6112478?

Reply from EDDC Leader Ben Ingham on previous post

Councillor Ben Ingham, Leader of EDDC and the Independent Grouphas responded to the article below. He responded in red print, which Owl cannot reproduce, so his comnents are in BOLD and a

LARGER FONT

One of the reasons so many Independent councillors were elected was because they were not Tories! People had become sick of the way the district had been run for the last 45 years and demanded change. Part of that change was to see exactly what Tories had been up to in those 45 years when transparency was in short supply.

So, on 3 May, we were presented with:

31 Independents
(20 mostly eastern-based/central-based Independents,

(8 from Exmouth & Budleigh area – west)

11 mostly western-based Independent East Devon Alliance)

(Central and eastern)

19 Tories
8 Lib Dems
2 Greens

An alliance of Independents, Lib Dems and Greens would have produced 41 non-Tories – easily outnumbering 19 Tories.

36 would have been a workable maximum. Some were mutually exclusive.

What we now know happened is that eastern-based Independents (Leader Ben Ingham, Exmouth) refused to work with East Devon Alliance.

The EDA wanted to implement a Leadership Board of 6 at the annual meeting 22nd May, which was considered by the Independents as unnecessary, unworkable and definitely unconstitutional.

We assume that Lib Dems (who agreed to work with an Independent majority, but not form a coalition with them), were similarly excluded by Mr Ingham from working with his group.

The Lib Dems refused to join the cabinet or take up any part if the administration. They turned down Lead positions as well.

Instead, Mr Ingham chose to work with the 19 Tories, an ex-Tory (former Tory Leader Ian Thomas) and several so-called Independent councillors whose late-onset Independent roots had never been obvious or put to the test. He gave the job of Chairman of the Council to Stuart Hughes.

The Tories are not in our Cabinet whatsoever. They hold the Chair because we felt we needed an experienced Chair to make sure Full Council is run properly. This is a civic appointment only.

a Cabinet post to Ian Thomas, one of the jobs representing EDDC at Greater Exeter Strategic Plan meetings to Tory Philip Skinner.

that is not a GESP appointment. His influence iinsignificant (sic) or he would not be there.

and several other posts to other Tory councillors.

The outside bodies and panels are as they describe, not within the core team of the council

Owl has no idea what the two Green (Exmouth-based) councillors think of this arrangement.

They too were invited to join the cabinet or take Chairs/vice chairs. They declined everything until they are better acquainted with the Council’s functions, which is understandable.

Despite this, CEO Mark Williams presumably decided that there were NOT 31 Independents, but two kinds of totally different Independents (Independent Group, EDA).

Very foolishly, it was EDA who created the second group, without any consultation. Their leader insisted this was necessary to get the correct seat allocation. For the four previous years we were one group. EDA opted out with no discussion, therefore making the Tories the biggest group! The Independent group of 15 immediately worked to stop this by inviting the other 5 to join them, there was no choice. Otherwise the Tories would have challenged for leadership of EDDC as the largest group!

and declared Tories as the “official opposition” –

Fortunately the Independents did increase to 20, and stopped that happening, no thanks to the EDA!

in spite of them holding Cabinet and other posts.

No Tories in Cabinet

Is this constitutionally correct? How does one decide? One asks the CEO – dead end there, then!

This has led to a Tory (“official opposition”) Alan Dent, being the head of the Scrutiny Committee – the only committee that now has wide investigative powers.

The main opposition select the Chair of Scrutiny, just like we selected Roger Giles 4 years ago

The Chair of this committee can say Yes or No to requests for scrutiny of any subject – his word is the only word on what goes on an agenda (as long as the CEO agrees, of course).

So, is there any chance of the Scrutiny Committee holding the previous Tory administration to account? No, zero, zilch, nada in Owl’s view.

Your opinion, no evidence

So those Tory bodies – lying quietly tucked away for the last 45 years are almost certain to continue enjoying their slumbers.

Your opinion, no evidence

And all because some Independents can’t or won’t work with other Independents and local Lib Dems are keeping themselves well apart where, in other areas, coalitions of Independents, Greens and Lib Dems is promising real change in formerly true-blue districts.

Unfortunately the EDA leadership ruled EDA out by insisting on a leadership board and splitting the Independent Group in two. We were left on our own. The new 5 Independents would not work with the EDA.

What is so ironic about this whole story is that, in his political career, Ben Ingham has been a Tory councillor, an Independent Councillor and Leader of the East Devon Alliance!!!

And you were a die-hard socialist, but claim now to be an independent? All things must pass.

Pitiful and shameful.

East Devon District Council: will the Tory bodies ever be exhumed?

One of the reasons so many Independent councillors were elected was because they were not Tories! People had become sick of the way the district had been run for the last 45 years and demanded change. Part of that change was to see exactly what Tories had been up to in those 45 years when transparency was in short supply.

So, on 3 May, we were presented with:

31 Independents (20 mostly eastern-based/central-based Independents, 11 mostly western-based Independent East Devon Alliance)
19 Tories
8 Lib Dems
2 Greens

An alliance of Independents, Lib Dems and Greens would have produced 41 non-Tories – easily outnumbering 19 Tories.

What we now know happened is that eastern-based Independents (Leader Ben Ingham, Exmouth) refused to work with East Devon Alliance. We assume that Lib Dems (who agreed to work with an Independent majority, but not form a coalition with them), were similarly excluded by Mr Ingham from working with his group.

Instead, Mr Ingham chose to work with the 19 Tories, an ex-Tory (former Tory Leader Ian Thomas) and several so-called Independent councillors whose late-onset Independent roots had never been obvious or put to the test. He gave the job of Chairman of the Council to Stuart Hughes, a Cabinet post to Ian Thomas, one of the jobs representing EDDC at Greater Exeter Strategic Plan meetings to Tory Philip Skinner and several other posts to other Tory councillors. Owl has no idea what the two Green (Exmouth-based) councillors think of this arrangement.

Despite this, CEO Mark Williams presumably decided that there were NOT 31 Independents, but two kinds of totally different Independents (Independent Group, EDA) and declared Tories as the “official opposition” – in spite of them holding Cabinet and other posts. Is this constitutionally correct? How does one decide? One asks the CEO – dead end there, then!

This has led to a Tory (“official opposition”) Alan Dent, being the head of the Scrutiny Committee – the only committee that now has wide investigative powers. The Chair of this committee can say Yes or No to requests for scrutiny of any subject – his word is the only word on what goes on an agenda (as long as the CEO agrees, of course).

So, is there any chance of the Scrutiny Committee holding the previous Tory administration to account? No, zero, zilch, nada in Owl’s view.

So those Tory bodies – lying quietly tucked away for the last 45 years are almost certain to continue enjoying their slumbers.

And all because some Independents can’t or won’t work with other Independents and local Lib Dems are keeping themselves well apart where, in other areas, coalitions of Independents, Greens and Lib Dems is promising real change in formerly true-blue districts.

What is so ironic about this whole story is that, in his political career, Ben Ingham has been a Tory councillor, an Independent Councillor and Leader of the East Devon Alliance!!!

Pitiful and shameful.

The very interesting back story to those painted Sidmouth cliffs …

Owl shares some of the elephant’s characteristics – never forgetting being one of them.

Recently a story appeared in the local press about Sidmouth cliffs being painted a strange colour after stabilising work. Oddly, although this was done by the previous Tory-controlled administration, this was not mentioned in the article – leading to the assumption that it had been made by the new no-overall-control council (or Independent Group and Tory coalition – take your pick). Owl found it odd that this old information had only now been reported to the press.

When Owl saw the name of the geologist who seemed to have broken the story, Dr Alistair Bruce, the name rang a bell. Trawling through its vast archive, it turned up the information that Dr Bruce is none other than the defeated Tory candidate for Yarty ward in the local election last month.

Dr Bruce was chosen instead of long-serving former Leader Paul Diviani – who vented his wrath in a letter to former constituents calling his removal “a [Tory Party] vendetta:

https://eastdevonwatch.org/2019/05/07/diviani-blames-tory-vendetta-for-de-selection-in-yarty/

Diviani was then relegated to finding another vacancy and chose Broadclyst – which he lost. The successful candidate for Yarty was East Devon Alliance Councillor Paul Hayward.

Owl is happy to be putting the record somewhat straighter with this information that has always in the public domain, though the last word has to go to The Daily Telegraph, with its suggestion for a new posh paint manufacturer Farrow and Ball colour – Sidmouth Cliffs Red:

REAL independence in politics – when ALL independents are in one group

“… As with all the independents I meet, they insist that orthodox party divides have no relevance to politics at the most local level. “If you look at our 16 candidates, we have got leftwing people and we have got a supporter of the Brexit party,” says another DIG councillor, Ged Yardy. “We have not been elected on the basis of our previous politics. Party politics is not in the room.”.

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/jun/12/how-to-take-over-your-town-the-inside-story-of-a-local-revolution?

BUT party politics IS in the room when, as in East Devon, Independents from one group appoint Conservatives into positions of power and/or influence in order to give that pairing a majority rather than appointing other independents whose origins differed from theirs.

Lib Dems and Indies unite against Tories – in Torbay, not East Devon

Here in East Devon it seems the larger group of Independents is working with Tories and very recently ex-Tories (called TiggerTories by Owl), leaving the smaller Lib Dem and East Devon Alliance Independents groups out in the cold. Not what most non-Tory voters were expecting. … or wanting.

“The new political leadership of Torbay Council has announced plans to invest £100m in the local economy.

The authority’s Liberal Democrat leader Steve Darling revealed the initiative to drive economic growth in a video posted on social media.

He said they had told council officers to develop business plans for £100m worth of investments.

The strategy was a key election pledge by the Liberal Democrats, who saw a big rise in support at the election in May.

The party’s councillors have joined with the Independents in a formal alliance to take control of the authority, leaving the Tories in opposition. …”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/new-council-leaders-announce-100m-2949176