Exmouth, EDDC and Grenadier – when does a gamekeeper become a poacher?

“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?”

Tory Councillor blames Tory Government for abandoning Axminster and pleads with Parish and Swire for help

Axminster Conservative Councillor Ian Hall has challenged the area’s two Conservative MPs to press for more credible support from Westminster after the town suffered another in a series of economic setbacks.

The Conservative district councillor, who was re-elected to represent the town in May, despite his party losing control of East Devon after 45 years, says he feels the Tory administration in Westminster has abandoned the town.

This follows news that the Government has rebuffed Axminster’s application for help from a Future High Streets Fund grant at the second stage.

The former Conservative administration at EDDC applied to Westminster in March for Axminster to receive a share of the £675 million set aside as part of Government’s Our Plan for the High Street.

It became clear that Axminster had lost out when the shortlist of successful bids for up to £150,000 was announced last week, with the nearest places to go forward being Taunton and Yeovil.

Ian Hall said: “Axminster seems to be the forgotten town of East Devon when it comes to any kind of support from Central Government. There’s been a catalogue of decisions going against us, which have left those of us who are working hard to revitalise the town during challenging economic times feeling like nobody in power cares about us.

POSITIVE ACTION

“I’ve now contacted our two local MPs – Neil Parish and Hugo Swire – challenging them to press colleagues in Government to recognise that Axminster will be in dire straits if it doesn’t see some positive action”.

In March, Ian Hall described a Whitehall decision to backtrack on an earlier promise of a £10 million grant for the proposed Axminster Relief Road as a ‘betrayal’ because changing the grant to a loan rendered the entire Axminster Masterplan unviable.

Since then, there’s been more gloom for Axminster, with Goulds announcing an autumn closure of the town’s Trinity House department store and McColls newsagent in Victoria Place expected to cease trading.

An angry Ian Hall said: “Enough is enough. Axminster is fighting for its life at the moment. There are people in this town – and I’m one of them – working incredibly hard to keep ourselves afloat against really tough odds. But all we’re getting from this Government [HIS GOVERNMENT!!!] is one kick in the teeth after another.

FIGHTING

“There’s only so much people here on the ground can do. I’m fighting Axminster’s corner at district and county level. But our local efforts can only make a difference if we get support from central funds. No one at Westminster seems to understand the desperate position we are in – let alone care about it. If you take away people’s hope, why shouldn’t they just give up?

“I’m hoping the two men who local people elected to protect our interests [!] will start rattling some cages in Westminster. We will soon have a new Prime Minister and a fresh administration in Whitehall. I’m challenging our MPs to get Axminster on their radar and to secure some tangible recognition of our town’s fantastic record of self-help.

“Meanwhile, we also have a new administration running East Devon. I also challenge them to do their bit, as a matter of urgency, to help our fantastic town to thrive and prosper”.

Grenadier development in Exeter “a series of unfulfilled promises” – MAY be completed in SEVEN 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. …..”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/eight-year-wait-former-exeter-3076220

EDA Councillor helps out Exmouth with acceptable compromise on Queen’s Drive

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.

https://www.exmouthjournal.co.uk/news/queen-s-drive-seafront-car-park-plan-approved-1-6152147

Independent Group councillors getting flak about Exmouth regeneration

Contributors do appear somewhat confused about personal and prejudicial interests and predisposition. This might help:
https://www.local.gov.uk/sites/default/files/documents/members-interests-bias-an-533.pdf

But this is the problem with “social enterprises”, “joint working” and “contractual obligations” – so many grey areas where things can go wrong or be misinterpreted.

Exmouth “Shoreline” – Grenadier yet to choose a construction partner

“Aiden Johnson-Hugill, Director at Grenadier said that the company will be taking control of the site and are ready to start work.

Phase 1 of the Exmouth seafront regeneration project [EDDC-funded realignment of the road] has been completed.

East Devon District Council has confirmed that the works to build the new Queen’s Drive car park and to realign the road were completed by the target date of June 19.

It means that Grenadier Estates are legally required to take over the lease of the site where the new watersports centre they are set to build within five days.

An East Devon District Council spokesman confirmed that their solicitors have been instructed to complete the lease with Grenadier Estates.

And Aiden Johnson-Hugill, Director at Grenadier said that the company will be taking control of the site and are ready to start work.

He added: “Work is due to begin on Exmouth’s new sustainable beachfront development, Sideshore, this summer. East Devon District Council has informed Grenadier that the road realignment has been completed and we will now be taking control of the site ready to start works on this exciting project.

“Grenadier is close to selecting their preferred construction partner who will deliver the building in time for the 2020 summer.

“We are also in the process of starting to market the exciting retail opportunity within the scheme and the summer “pods” that will provide a prime location for small businesses looking to benefit from the development’s dramatic location.”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/road-realignment-new-car-park-3011509#comments-section

Exmouth Regeneration Board – who IS the chair?

Thursday, 20th June, 2019 9.30 am, Exmouth Regeneration Board

Here it is Councillor Megan Armstrong:
https://democracy.eastdevon.gov.uk/mgMeetingAttendance.aspx?ID=1262

Here it’s “new Chair” Cranbrook Councillor Kevin Bailey:
https://democracy.eastdevon.gov.uk/documents/g1262/Agenda%20frontsheet%2020th-Jun-2019%2009.30%20Exmouth%20Regeneration%20Board.pdf?T=0

Confused?