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.

Bit of a headache for Cranbrook councillor who is Chair of Exmouth Regeneration Board

Freedom of Information request which will test the (Independent Group) Chairman’s mettle!

“Dear East Devon District Council,

Please advise what independent advice was sought on the governance of: Queen’s Drive Exmouth Community Interest Company, excluding those individuals and businesses associated with OXYGEN HOUSE GROUP LIMITED Company number 08306319?

Please advise what measures have been taken to ensure that there is a truly independent director on the board?

Please advise why Queen’s Drive Exmouth Community Interest Company was gifted a community asset at the nominal rent of £1 per year for 125 years when East Devon District Council does not hold either a majority share interest or the controlling majority of directors?

Please demonstrate what evidence you hold that ensures that the community asset is protected?

Please demonstrate in what ways Queen’s Drive Exmouth Community Interest Company is a Social Enterprise for the benefit of the local community?

Please clarify in what ways it is not merely an extension of the commercial, private and business interests that Dr Mark Dixon and the companies that he controls including Grenadier already have in place key with tenants Edge Watersports and Michael Caines?”

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/was_independent_advice_sought_on?post_redirect=1

Swire leans on new Indies at EDDC in a way in which he NEVER did on his Tory backers

Excerpt below from Swire’s Twitter feed.

Disingenuous Mr Swire (Owl refuses to call him Sir when he got his knighthood for being Cameron’s bottom pinchee):

– very disingenuous. Hypocritical and frankly rather stupid – it smacks of sour grapes.

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:

Why is Exmouth Regeneration Board chaired by a Cranbrook councillor?

Exmouth Regeneration Board
Membership

Councillor Megan Armstrong (Vice-Chairman [Exmouth Halsdon]
Councillor Kevin Blakey (Chairman, Cranbrook)
Councillor Susie Bond [Feniton]
Councillor Nick Hookway [Exmouth Littleham]
Councillor Chris Wright [Exmouth Littleham]

https://democracy.eastdevon.gov.uk//mgCommitteeDetails.aspx?

EDDC Development Management Committee agrees industrial expansion in Woodbury AONB

Details of industrial business expansion plan for Woodbury Common site agreed.

he first phase of expansion plans for an industrial business at the former Blackhill Quarry in Woodbury Common has been approved.

Last year, East Devon District Council’s development management committee gave the go-ahead for outline plans for 35,000 sq ft of additional industrial floor space at the quarry, operated by Blackhill Engineering, in Woodbury.

Tuesday’s meeting saw the committee approve the details of the first of those buildings, which will become the first part of a four-building development for Blackhill Engineering Services.

The site lies in the open countryside, this part of which is designated as an AONB and lies adjacent to the Pebblebed Heaths SAC, where development should be strictly controlled.

Cllr Tom Wright proposed that the scheme be approved, saying that the buildings would be less intrusive than the cranes and the movements to and from the quarry beforehand.

He added: “We also have to take into account the CDE management of the pebblebed heaths and no other organisation is more committed to retaining the high quality wildlife.” …

Cllr Olly Davey said that the ecological measures go some way to mitigating the effect of this, but said it was such an incongruous place for such a development to actually be taking place and that it was unfortunate it is here.

Cllr Nick Hookway added that he also had a real problem with the application. He said: “I understand the need for jobs but I am at a loss as to how the outline permission was passed by the previous DMC as this doesn’t seem to fit in at all here.

But Cllr Wright said that Blackhill have been there for decades and there are time limits of when they can operate.

Councillors voted by nine votes to two, with two abstentions, to approve the scheme.

Outline permission was granted last year despite calls for the former quarry land to be returned to heathland.

Concerns had been raised by parish and district councillors in Woodbury and the Otter Valley Association about the continued industrial use of a site in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Outline permission was granted last year despite calls for the former quarry land to be returned to heathland.

Concerns had been raised by parish and district councillors in Woodbury and the Otter Valley Association about the continued industrial use of a site in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/details-industrial-business-expansion-plan-2970387