“Dear East Devon District Council,
[order slightly changed for clarity]
I am writing to request an internal review of East Devon District Council’s handling of my FOI request ‘Was independent advice sought on the governance of Queen’s Drive Exmouth Community Interest Company’.
A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/w…
Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.
Councillor Paul Millar has made some attempt to answer this FOI via Social Media. He provided more detail to my FOI than provided here, in, as I understand it his new role as a director of Queen’s Drive Exmouth Community Interest Company and a Councillor. However, although he asserted this via social media and also announced that there was another new director, according to Companies House, Cllr Stott and Cllr Williamson are still in place.
Are you able to provide more detail on the £200k that Grenadier made a good business case for according to Councillor Millar? Are you also able to clarify the amount of interest chargeable by Grenadier on the loan and other charges that the company is making to the CIC.
There appears to be some splitting of identity here, that may lead to a conflict of interest. For example when is Grenadier acting as a commercial business and when is it acting as the majority shareholder of the CIC? Are you able to offer reassurance and evidence that a valuable community asset is being utilised for community benefit rather than commercial gain?”
Owl has been passed a copy of a letter (from the writer) sent to EDDC:
“Dear Sir/Madam – I have recently made several visits to this development (EX8 2JB) with a view to our family buying at least 2 purchases there.
On Wed 10th July at around 1230 I attended to see how work was going on and walked the public footpath through the site.
The public footpath runs SSE from Buckingham Close to the vicinity of Green Farm and is marked on OS maps as a Public Right of Way. The building works are all to the south and west of this boundary path.
There was no statutory notice saying that the pathway was closed nor was an advised diversion promulgated. Both these requirements are, I believe, legal requirements, to advise closure.
There were numerous signs warning about the adjacent building site, but from the safety of the public path I was better able to see the areas of build I was interested in. At no time was I in any danger from works vehicles. I passed several workers going to lunch – none of whom commented on my presence.
When I got to the end of the path/works I was rudely shouted at by an operative in a dumper truck who demanded to know what I was doing. I simply replied I was looking at the works from a public footpath. He became more authoritative and aggressive so I walked away on the way back. He then had the effrontery to demand a worker escort me “off the premises”. This chap showed me lots of notices such as “Do not enter site”, “Report to site office” but nothing regarding the public footpath. I pointed out to him the several small statutory yellow discs displaying “Public footpath”. But all to no avail.
So what is the position about this footpath? Why are there no statutory notices closing it – the developers Taylor Wimpey surely cannot unilaterally close it. Indeed is the footpath legally closed at all?
I would have thought a clear notice one way or the other is required.”
[author’s name and contact details given]
It is just a bit rich that the damage was done on the watch of the past chair of Asset Management – who is also the present chair and he now somewhat pompously says it must be put right!!! Er, if, as a council officer says “the survey wasn’t as extensive as in hindsight the council would have wished it was ..” perhaps this is one for the Scrutiny Committee!
“An extra £150,000 will have to be spent on resurfacing an Exmouth car park – because it was never laid properly by the council in the first place.
Improvement works, including resurfacing and construction of a new entrance, had been taking place at the Maer Road car park.
But John Golding, East Devon’s strategic lead for housing, health and the environment, told a cabinet meeting on Wednesday that when work began, it became apparent the car park construction was substantially poorer beneath the surface that had previously been assumed.
He added: “We have found that the construction of the existing surface in the vicinity of the new entrance appears to be made up of compacted stone with a thin veneer of tar and chip over the surface.
“Given the limited depth of construction, and surface condition, it is likely that the car park would deteriorate very rapidly once larger vehicles are allowed onto it.
“More extensive works comprising both new sub-base and a tarmac finish are required to complete the project satisfactorily. We already have the contractors on site and we can do the work before the summer holidays commence.”
He added that this would result in an increase in the total overall budget of £151,760 and asked cabinet for approval to complete the work.
Cllr Geoff Pook, portfolio holder for asset management, added: “We need to do this. We have to look at our assets on a long life basis. We need to do a proper job from day one and don’t want to have to patch in a few years’ time or have a car park that cannot be used by heavy vehicles. It is out car park so we in any case would have had to do something and bring our own car park up to standard.”
Cllr Jack Rowland asked why this defect wasn’t discovered at an earlier stage during the survey works.
In response, Mr Golding said that the survey wasn’t as extensive as in hindsight the council would have wished it was.
Cllr Ben Ingham, leader of the council, added: “We made a false assumption that we had done the job properly in the first place and that they didn’t need to check the sub-layers, but that was a wrong assumption.”
The cabinet unanimously agreed to the extra spending to resurface the car park to provide a good surface and base layer for 20 years.”
“A series of unfulfilled pledges by a housing developer has seen a historic former school remain visibly untouched for five-and-a-half years, but assurances have now been given its transformation could be completed by 2021.
Former girls’ school St Margaret’s in St Leonard’s, Exeter, was granted planning permission to be turned into housing in 2014.
Grenadier Estates promised to turn the Grade II listed building into an ‘exclusive development’ of 35 apartments and four town houses, by winter 2019/20.
Work was due to begin in the summer of 2017, but instead it has remained boarded up and shrouded in scaffolding and plastic.
Last June, the developers said work would begin on the first phase that month.
Among the reasons stated for the delay was making it a sustainable development, and seeking further planning permission.
At that time no date was given for when the project would be completed due to ‘sensitivities of preserving the historic building, suppliers and ensuring the selected construction techniques are appropriate’.
However, Grenadier has announced today it estimates the project will take a further two years to complete.
Its new vision is to provide a mix of 38 high-quality apartments and three individual townhouses which will be high-quality and energy efficient homes.
The Exeter-based developer has pledged not to compromise the historic character of the property by using the latest advancements in building techniques and technology. …..”
Officers sought to get permission to use land it owns at Queen’s Drive, which previously housed recreation facilities, as a temporary overflow car park for 3 years. Exmouth councillors were appalled but could see no option but to agree. Colyton EDA Councillor proposed that the land should be so designated for 14 months only until September 2020.
Compromise achieved and agreed.
Lesson learned? Hhhmmm … let’s wait and see.