INDEPENDENT COUNCILLORS SLAM TORY SUPPORT FOR HIGH RISK EXMOUTH STRATEGY

Press release:

“A series of East Devon District Council Independent councillors strongly criticised Tory proposals to commence work on a replacement car park, as part of the Queens Drive Regeneration Project, at the EDDC Cabinet meeting on 31 October.

Leading the criticism was Exmouth Councillor Megan Armstrong (Exmouth Halsdon – Independent) who referred to the planned new road as “a road to nowhere”.

Other Independent Councillors expressing concern about the Tory course of action were Independents Roger Giles, Ben Ingham, and Rob Longhurst and EDA Members Cathy Gardner and Geoff Jung.

The first criticism related to timing. Although it was a major and contentious issue, the report for the meeting was issued just 24 hours before the meeting.

Megan Armstrong urged that the report be deferred to allow councillors time to properly consider the proposals, and the implications. She said that sending out the report so late was “manipulative management.”

Cathy Gardner said it was “extremely regrettable that such short notice was given for such an important issue”.

It had originally been agreed that the go ahead for construction of the car park would only be given when agreement had been reached between EDDC and Grenadier about construction of the Watersports Centre by Grenadier.

However the EDDC Cabinet was informed on 31 October that no such agreement had been reached. Merely that verbal assurances had been made.

Roger Giles warned the Cabinet that going ahead without the required agreement carried substantial risks. He cited paragraph 2.7 of the report which said : `Cabinet should be aware that this represents a risk that the council is incurring costs without Grenadier being legally committed to delivering the Watersports Centre thereafter.`

Roger Giles asked whether independent audit advice had been sought about the inherent risk. He was told it had not.

Ben Ingham was strongly critical of undertaking such a high risk strategy.

Rob Longhurst criticised the lack of a business plan, and the absence of costings, and said there was a lack of justification for the departure from the previous strategy.

Geoff Jung questioned the income assumptions; he asked how a smaller car park than the original would generate increased income. He also expressed concern about EDDC`s responsibilities anf financial burden, should Grenadier not develop the site.

Megan Armstrong pointed out that the Cabinet agenda papers (item 10 pages 31 to 35) contained the minutes of the meeting of the Exmouth Regeneration Board on 20 September. The minutes contained no reference to the proposed early construction of the car park!

Megan Armstrong asked a series of critical questions, including about the three outstanding `condition precedents`, and seeking explanation of the beach access agreement.

She complained that questions asked by herself, and by other independent councillors, had not received proper answers. Council Leader Ian Thomas told her he would ensure that she received answers after the meeting; Megan Armstrong was very critical of councillors being asked to make a decision – and then to receive the pertinent information AFTER the decision was made: she said “That is a very poor form of decision making.”

In spite of the failure to achieve the necessary agreements the (Conservative) Cabinet agreed to proceed with early construction of the car park after only 3 Cabinet Members spoke very briefly.

After the meeting Megan Armstrong was highly critical of the Cabinet decision.

“Tonight Tory councillors made an important decision relating to Exmouth, and they denied the people of Exmouth the opportunity to comment on it. The Tory councillors agreed a very high risk strategy without justification for it, and without proper safeguard for public funds for which they are responsible. It is irresponsible political management; Exmouth deserves better.”

Call for independents spreads to Bournemouth

Where East Devon (Alliance) leads the “Alliance for Local Living” in Bournemouth follows!

“A NEW political party is planning to contest next year’s election to the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole combined authority.

However ALL, or the Alliance for Local Living, is being set up in contrast to the traditional party system, as its members will all be independents standing under one banner.

They will not be forced to follow the party line via the whip.

The organisers, a group of residents, have now put out a call for candidates.

“We want ordinary members of the public, passionate people who are doing valuable things in their community to think about possibly stepping up and bringing local politics back into that community,” said Felicity Rice (above), one of the founders. “We are happy to have anyone in our group, they can even be a member of an existing party, but they must make their own decisions based on their personal opinion.”

ALL, also known as Three Towns Together in its earlier stages, was inspired by the similarly organised Independents for Frome group, which took total control of the Somerset town’s council in 2015.

The reduction from 120 to 76 councillors covering the three boroughs in the new unitary has led to concern that it will be dominated by one political party. Independents and members of current opposition parties are known to have spoken with ALL as a way to unite a disparate opposition against the Conservative Party.

Current Poole People Party councillor Andy Hadley said he was liaising with the group on behalf of his party, and he thought them “well-matched”.

“We have been passing on advice on what we have had to go through to get elected as independents, the vision of getting 72 seats is is very extreme. But to get enough to make a significant impact on decision-making would be really good.

“I know quite a few people have expressed an interest, but it needs people to stand up and say ‘we want to be part of this’.”

ALL’s first selection day for candidates will be November 24. Visit voteforall.org.uk to get involved.”

https://www.bournemouthecho.co.uk/news/17187673.new-party-of-independents-all-wants-ordinary-people-to-stand-for-election/

Twiss gets his words into a twist – ANOTHER reason we need independent councillors!

This time from the blog of DCC EDA councillor Martin Shaw.

“Conservative County Councillor for Honiton, Phil Twiss told Devon County Council on 4th October that ‘Sonja Manton [Director of Strategy for the Devon Clinical Commissioning Groups] said at the Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee the other week that there no plans to close any community hospitals in our area. We were talking about Seaton, Honiton and Axminster at the time.’

I was surprised that he should give us this good news in passing, and that the CCG had made no announcement of something so obviously important. So eventually I watched the webcast of the Health Scrutiny meeting on September 20th. Although Sonja Manton spoke several times, I couldn’t find her saying anything like what Phil said – indeed anything about community hospitals at all.

So I emailed Sonja and she confirms she didn’t speak about the hospitals. As for the issue, all she would say was, ‘I can assure you that our continued focus remains on planning and commissioning services and support to meet the needs of the Devon population in the best possible way. We recognise how strongly communities feel about community hospital buildings and will continue to work with communities and stakeholders to modernise and evolve the way our services are delivered and where they are based to make sure we make best use of all our resources and public estate.‘

So was Sonja more forthcoming at another, presumably private, meeting, Phil? Or was what you said wishful thinking?”

@philtwiss’claim that @SonjaManton said ‘there are no plans to close any community hospitals in our area’, not backed up by @NEWDevonCCG. What’s the explanation, Phil?

Sidford Business Park – Sidmouth Herald ignores hard work of independent councillors

“East Devon District Council (EDDC) announced the news today (Tuesday) that the site would be a ‘detriment to highway safety’ due to the increase of HGV traffic it would bring to inadequate road.

Therefore the controversial plans will not go before its development management committee, as previously expected.

Last week, more than 100 people attended a campaign meeting objecting to the proposed plans for 8,445sqm of employment floor space at the Two Bridges site. …”

Disgracefully, the newspaper then allows two councillors who played very little part in public protest (and one of whom allowed the hasty decision to include it in the Local Plan) and no mention or comment from Independent Councillors (particularly East Devon Alliance councillor Marianne Rixon) who have been constantly doing all the hard work and (at least in this article) none of the recognition.

http://www.sidmouthherald.co.uk/news/district-council-refuse-sidford-business-park-proposal-1-5738301

Independents knock some sense into DCC Tories about health and NHS

Thank the Lord for independent Councillor Claire Wright and East Devon Alliance Independent Councillor Martin Shaw

Press Release:

“In a hour-long debate in yesterday’s meeting, the Council adopted proposals which Cllr Claire Wright and I, the two Independent members from East Devon, put forward, in place of the original recommendation by the Cabinet. The ruling Conservative group adopted (with a small addition) the wording of my amendment, which Claire seconded, which proposed to work with to influence NHS decisions ‘in the direction of retaining all community hospitals to be used as health and wellbeing centres for their areas’, in place of the original Cabinet recommendation to merely seek ‘decision making appropriate to individual circumstances, including population need and the quality of building.’

This is an important change in direction by the Council, which is now committed for the first time to work to retain ALL hospitals, as Claire (who proposed the original motion) had requested. The Conservative leader, Cllr John Hart, insisted on adding the words ‘where appropriate’ to my proposal, which we opposed because it provides the NHS with additional leeway to close hospitals. Cllr Hart’s addendum was too much for one Conservative Councillor, Jonathan Hawkins (Dartmouth), who voted with the opposition for my amendment without this addition, in the light of his community’s experience of the closure of Dartmouth Hospital.

The Devon Clinical Commissioning Groups could end this controversy with a clear policy statement that all remaining hospitals will stay open and will be supported as health and wellbeing centres for our communities. Until this happens, Claire and I, with the support of tens of thousands of people around Devon who are fighting for their local hospitals, will continue our campaign. On yesterday’s evidence, we are winning.”

Martin Shaw
Independent East Devon Alliance County Councillor for Seaton & Colyton”