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:

EDDC new Leader’s valedictory speech … deputy leader promises continuity

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/independents-take-control-east-devon-2898391

Read it if you must (it reminds Owl somewhat of a Leader’s speech from Paul Diviani in the past promising a “lean, green and seen administration)

https://eastdevonwatch.org/2015/03/30/from-the-archives-1-clean-green-and-seen-promise-east-devon-tories-in-2011/

but Councillor Susie Bond, deputy leader, put it most succinctly:

” … Our first priority is to provide continuity, ensuring the council functions better than ever. …”

So, continuity … not sure that’s what people voted for when the voted for members of the Independent Group.

Watch that space!

What’s the future for the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan? Highly debatable … unless …

Exeter – minor changes on 2 May (new Green Councillor, first Independendent councillor) but Labour still in control

Mid Devon – now no overall control (Lib Dems, Indies and Greens outnumber Tories)

Teignbridge – Lib Dems won control

East Devon – now no overall control (Indies, Lib Dems and Greens outnumber Tories)

Oh dear, looks like GESP may have to go back to the drawing board …

UNLESS the previous (unelected) councillors controlling it (Diviani for East Devon) and their bossy officers stitched it up before the falls from grace …

Diviani blames Tory “vendetta” for de-selection in Yarty …

This communication from ex-Leader and now also ex-councillor Paul Diviani really deserves a far wider audience than former Yarty voters:

“Dear All

As there is not a lot of substance to report other than repetition and the ghastly shenanigans afoot nationally, regionally and within the Conservative Party, I feel I should draw a line under my 20 years representing Yarty.

I have appreciated the many friendships I have made in that time and will always have your best interests in mind.

For the sake of clarity, I was deselected by the Conservative Executive as a result of a personal vendetta from standing in Yarty and had to find another ward away from Tiverton and Honiton with a disastrous personal result.

Wishing you all the best for the future and if I can help in any way (without interfering!) I am at the end of a call.”

No, Paul, everything really is fine in Yarty, the voters have spoken, so its time to hang up your Tory council boots … no-one appreciates old Grandpa insisting he’s the only one who knows how things should be done! And those disastrous results would almost certainly have been just as bad in Yarty.

Though, for the sake of even more clarity, Owl thinks you might name a few names before you hang them up!

And it certainly shows that there is definitely “something VERY nasty in the woodpile” if the current and ex-Leader complain about the party that served them so well until recently.

Owl is STILL waiting for Ian Thomas to explain exactly which of the national Tory policies he disagreed with (since he is on record as saying all was fine among East Devon Tories when it so obviously wasn’t).

Days to local elections – 37: picture and quote of the day

Mark Williams (EDDC CEO),  Paul Diviani (then Leader) and Hugo Swire (current MP) illustrate their cosy relationship.

Diviani quote after success in previous election:

“EDDC Leader Paul Diviani’s pledge when he took office in May 2011:

Turning to his own vision for the future and his style of leadership, Councillor Diviani said: “Some call it safe, clean and green – to which I would add seen.

“Safe comes through good design at the planning stage, through working with the police, fire and rescue and all the other services that deal with our society’s well-being, with particular emphasis on the vulnerable of whatever age.

“Clean is the public realm – paths and pavements on which we travel, the quality of our parks and pleasure grounds, efficient and convenient services, such as waste recycling and collection.

“Green will come as no surprise! Two-thirds of our district is nationally designated as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which makes East Devon such a fabulous place to live, work and play.

“Seen is about perception and reality and is all about effective communication. All too often we read that EDDC doesn’t listen, doesn’t care, sits in an ivory tower – the list goes on. The cynical view of the last government – decide, consult, do it all anyway – is not my approach.”

https://eastdevonwatch.org/2014/07/18/clean-green-seen-or-pale-male-stale-you-decide/

Strategic Planning pitfalls? Certainly for Axminster

A reporter … reports:

“At Tuesday’s Strategic Planning Meeting at Knowle (29 /01/2019), chaired by Paul Diviani, the masterplan for increasing Housing in Axminster by a whopping 30% , was voted through almost unanimously (there was one abstention), despite serious cross-Party criticism of the plan.

As the debate ended, the considerable number of Axminster residents in the public gallery were astonished to hear the Chair’s quip, to Cllr Jill Elson, “ I felt confident that you would come out with something that would stir things up”.

Cllr Elson (shown on right of the photo, beside Cllr Philip Skinner), had argued firmly that “the problem with plans is that they change” , citing her Ward as an example.

“Exmouth ended up with two huge estates with no play space or amenities whatsoever”, she said. Cllr Mike Howe (Con) shared her concerns, saying, (the masterplan) “doesn’t give us much credence or security that we will get the right houses”. But the Deputy Leader of the Council, Philip Skinner (Con ), expressed his view that “Give and take is needed in negotiations with a developer”.

Shortly afterwards, when Cllr Geoff Jung (East Devon Alliance, EDA) observed that the plan might not suit young families, it became apparent that Cllr Skinner was not aware that the proposal to include a primary school had been dropped.

Cllr Eleanor Rylance (Lib Dem) had noticed significant typing and other errors in the masterplan document. Cllr Rob Longhurst (Independent) observed there was no mention of the words ‘Neighbourhood Plan’ in the document.. although Cllr Moulding had told the meeting that he had designed one for Axminster… and suggested this Strategic Plan Committee would like to see “if the community wants and needs” the masterplan.

Cllr Susie Bond (Independent) asked for clarity about the legal implications for the Council if the costs for the relief road “went through the roof” (So far, EDDC has agreed to borrow £7m to ensure the road, estimated cost £16.7m, can be delivered.)

Ian Hall (Con) admitted “this masterplan doesn’t sit easily with the residents of Axminster”, which Alistair Ferguson’s speech in Public Question Time, confirms. The text is reproduced below, with Mr Ferguson’s permission):

In support of the objections, other District Councillors, Cathy Gardner and Marianne Rixson (both EDA), also attended the meeting, though not on the Strategic Planning Committee themselves.

Cllr Gardner pointed out that agreeing to a massive increase in the town’s housing numbers “would not be for the right reasons”, if it was done primarily to fund a relief road. The masterplan “was being done to the people of Axminster, not for them”, she said.

And Cllr Marianne Rixson added that “delivery of affordables does not have a good record” in East Devon.

Having listened to the comments aired, Cllr Geoff Pook (Ind) cautioned the committee not to be “persuaded by the opposition”. “There are just as many people in favour”, he opined.

Finally, the fear that the time-limited government funding for the relief road would be missed, therefore putting in jeopardy the 650 homes allocated in the Local Plan, swayed the committee members to approve the masterplan, albeit with caveats based on their misgivings.

Is this how the wrong sort of housing so often gets built in the wrong place?

In Axminster’s case, how much will the masterplan impact on the historic former deer park? As Cllr Mike Howe, Chair of the Development Management Committee (DMC) told yesterday’s meeting, there’s an urgent need to know….’

New National Park for East Devon? Not while people like Diviani are councillors!

This is the aspiration:

“A new Dorset and East Devon National Park could be created.

Cllr Martin Shaw had called for Devon County Council to support the establishment of a Dorset and East Devon National Park and to submit a case for this to the DEFRA review of national parks.

But Devon County Council agreed that any expression of support for the establishment of a Dorset and East Devon National Park should be deferred until the overriding benefit was clearly demonstrated and that it would come from additional funding. …”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/new-national-park-could-created-2090631

This is the reality (November 2017 and nothing has changed:

It has been suggested that the area might secure some £10million of annual central government funding with more than 90 per cent of this being invested in the local economy.”

Responding to the question, council leader Paul Diviani stated that EDDC is not directly involved in the proposals and awaits further consultation as it progresses through the process of consideration.

When asked if he agrees with claims that a national park would bring significant economic benefits to the district, Cllr Diviani said: “National parks and AONBs are not about making money. The AONBS are much more localised than national parks ever can be.

“It is an opportunistic type of approach that people in Dorset are taking about our assets here in East Devon.”

https://eastdevonwatch.org/2017/11/09/dorset-positive-about-national-park-we-cant-join-up-as-diviani-doesnt-want-to-lose-control-of-assets/

Sidford Business Park – a grubby history

Tim Ford, once a much-respected plumbing and electrical contactor in Sidmouth, is renewing his controversial application to build a business park in the AONB at Sidford. (18/1094/MOUT)

Incredulous locals wonder how it was possible for a council to allocate an ‘employment site’ in its local development plan that is on a flood plain, is a rich wildlife habitat, and whose main access would be a narrow street where two lorries can’t pass without mounting the pavement!

For the dominant Tory group on East Devon District Council it was easy!

First, they let landowners and developers decide where to build. In 2007 they asked East Devon Business Forum how much employment land the district would need over the next 25 years. EDBF was a lobby group which included the Carters of Greendale, the Stuarts of Hill Barton and Tim Ford of Sidmouth. Their answer was predictable: lots and lots!

Second, they put Chair of EDBF, Cllr Graham (‘I ain’t doin’ it for peanuts!’) Brown:

https://eastdevonwatch.org/2017/12/17/the-disgraced-ex-eddc-tory-councillor-graham-brown-if-i-cant-get-planning-nobody-will-scandal-refuses-to-die/

in charge of quietly asking landowners where they would like to build. Apparently, the proposal for a Sidford business park was first mooted at one of these confidential meetings in July 2010.

Third, in 2011 they elected Paul Diviani, founder member of EDBF, as leader. Under him the District Council became what many saw as a ‘Development Corporation’, the planning system became less about protecting the environment and more about encouraging building.

Fourth, they didn’t listen to the public or community groups whom they ignored or misrepresented. Sidmouth Chamber of commerce said the business park would be catastrophic for local businesses, Council minutes recorded the Chamber as supporting it!

Fifth, they whipped their large political majority to vote through the Sidford allocation. When hostile public reaction worried them just before the 2015 council elections they voted to ‘remove it’ from the Local Plan. Universal Rejoicing! But in 2016 the Inspector kept it in the Plan. Why? Because East Devon’s chief planning officer had not been instructed to give the Inspector reasons for the council’s change of mind!

Former EDDC Leader Diviani is now EDDC’s representative on the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan. In its confidential meetings he is helping to oversee a gigantic overspill project along the A3052 in the west end of the District where hundreds of acres of land are being earmarked for a massive expansion of business parks and thousands of new houses.

Indeed one such expansion was announced only this weekend near Cranbrook, where the developer is quoted as saying:

“The first, ‘Scenario 1’ is a response to existing market demand with the provision of a single large unit of around one million square feet (92,9000 sq.m.).

‘Scenario 2’ would see the site offer a multi-unit option, providing a range of sizes and configurations informed by ongoing market need.”

http://www.midweekherald.co.uk/news/huge-distribution-centre-near-cranbrook-is-given-the-nod-by-planners-1-5564832

Which all makes the wretched Sidford application even less necessary!

Would you choose immediate A-road and motorway access to Exeter and the M5 or access down a country road where two medium-size vehicles cannot pass?

“Rural businesses say the government’s review of national parks could fuel economic growth in the countryside”

This will be a REAL test of what EDDC councillors’ priorities: a clean, green environment (remember Diviani promising this years ago!)

https://eastdevonwatch.org/2015/03/30/from-the-archives-1-clean-green-and-seen-promise-east-devon-tories-in-2011/

or more concrete.

“… Country Land and Business Association president Tim Breitmeyer said boosting economic growth and productivity in designated landscapes should be at the centre of the review.

“Designated landscapes are crucial to the wellbeing of the nation, providing opportunities not only for visitors but most especially for those who live and work there,” he said.

The crucial challenge is to strike the right balance between ensuring designation that delivers natural beauty, alongside encouraging the right types of economic activity.

Together, this more positive balance will sustain these areas and create thriving communities, said Mr Brietmeyer.

“Most businesses within designated landscapes experience significant opposition and hostility to development of any kind.”

Success would see more landowners, users, park authorities and conservation boards working together to identify opportunities to deliver sensitive development, said Mr Breitmeyer.

This could help improve the use and enjoyment of these unique areas, he added.

Two-thirds of people in England live within 30 minutes of a National Park or AONB, with visitors contributing more than £6bn each year to the local economy.

Game-changing

Emma Marrington, senior rural policy campaigner at the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), described the review as “potentially game-changing”.

It was an opportunity to shine the spotlight on national parks and AONBs – and to consider whether there should be new additions to the current network of designated landscapes. …”

http://www.rsnonline.org.uk/rural-groups-react-to-national-park-review