Car parking charges are going up in ALL East Devon car parks by 50% and there will no longer be any free parking anywhere – except for coaches in Seaton it seems.
EDDC says it is to boost tourist numbers at the EDDC-owned but Devon Wildlife Trust-run Seaton Jurassic Centre. Can it do this? Favour free parking for council-owned facilities only?
“Seaton’s busiest car park is facing a 50 per cent price hike – while charges at another site could be scrapped to make it a ‘coach-friendly town’.
East Devon District Council (EDDC) is considering both moves among sweeping changes to its tariffs.
A year-long trial of free parking for coaches at Seaton Jurassic is being proposed in a bid to boost tourism.
The authority is also planning to increase the hourly rate at the Orchard car park from £1 to £1.50.
An evening and overnight levy would also be introduced as the facility. …
““During June and July, our coach parking revenue here was less than £100 so the risks associated with responding favourably to this request are minimal. …” ”
Owl has received information from an interested organisation that:
“Devon County Council is proceeding with compulsory purchase of land for the Seaton to Axminster cycle project.”
Ok – but there is still no National Cycle Path AND discussing compulsory purchase of the land between Seaton and Axminster has been going on (at length) since AT LEAST 2011:
with, so far, no progress whatsoever.
A Jurrasic Coast National Park from Studland Bay to Exmouth? Surely our new ruling group will be keen on that won’t they?
“The organisation that looks after the Jurassic Coast is inviting input from people in East Devon, as it sets out its management plan for the next five years.
A draft plan has been drawn up, and consultation days will be held in Exmouth, Sidmouth and Seaton for people to learn about the proposals and have their say.
The Jurassic Coast Trust’s work includes putting out information about rock falls and landslips, promoting responsible fossil collecting, educating the public through museums and visitor centres, and giving guidance to local organisations, to ensure that development and tourism does not harm the Jurassic Coast.
Public consultation days will take place on
Tuesday, September 10,
at Exmouth Library;
Thursday, September 19,
at Sidmouth Library; and
Wednesday, September 25,
at Seaton Jurassic.
Members of the trust’s staff will be on hand between 10am and 3pm to talk through the draft plan and answer questions.
Following the consultation, the plan is due to be published in the next few months.”
The Impact of Climate Change on East Devon Wildlife
Hosted by Extinction Rebellion Seaton
Wednesday, 14 August 2019 from 19:00-21:00
Tickets by Eventbrite
No venue stated and tickets seem not yet to be available.
“Three towns are joining forces in a bid to improve healthcare provision in the Axe and Lym valleys.
Seaton, Axminster and Lyme Regis have formed a powerful alliance which will represent a combined population of some 40,000 residents.
Working together as the Axe Valley Health Forum the group believes it will have a stronger voice.
The new organisation will work with the NHS on the delivery of a health and care model that fits its demographic.
The vision is to establish a ‘place based system of care’ to meet the specific needs of the people of the Axe Valley where all voices within the community are listened to and everyone has an opportunity to participate in the design of services.
The aim will be to improve health and wellbeing for everyone living within the place identified as the Axe Valley – this includes Seaton, Axminster, Lyme Regis and the surrounding communities.
The Forum will consist of elected community representatives, health and social care providers and volunteers. …”
“The Axe and Otter estuaries are amongst 12 new Marine Conservation Zones created in the south west of England.
The expansion of the UK’s ‘Blue Belt’ was announced by Environment Secretary Michael Gove today (Friday May 31).
Among the species and habitats given greater protection by the designation are fan mussels, native oysters, tentacled lagoon-worms and the deep sea bed. …”
Response from EDDC hopeful councillor for Seaton below.
Firstly, Owl is legion. There are many, many owls in East Devon!
1. Owl has no party – it has predispositions, but no party.
2. Someone formerly from Slough but well-established in this area ONLY for several years is NOT the same as a dual councillor having to make 340 mile round trips perhaps more than once a week to serve on two different councils at the same time. What happens when there is a clash if meetings? A little disingenuous to suggest it is a similar thing.
3. Owl has had no contact with any Monitoring Officer at any time and considers it a sloppy slur for Ms Russell to assume that it is the instigator (or connected with any instigator) of any such request.
4. She has not addressed her Facebook ‘like’ of a far-right splinter group of the BNP – what does she like about them?
5. See 2 above – East Devon doesn’t want only local-born people as councillors – it want councillors who aren’t skittering around the country trying to serve two masters at the same time.
6. Yes, the electorate will decide.
The comment in full:
“Dear ‘Owl’ (wouldn’t it be lovely if you actually revealed who YOU were and where YOU live?) Your article(s) to me portray the EDA as being pretty inward and parochial, a party where only ‘truly local’ people should be able to stand for Town, District and County Council, A party seemingly not open to ‘incomers’, fresh blood or new ideas – an approach which cannot possibly serve the people of East Devon as well as they could be served. I have watched with some amusement at being described as the ‘Hermione Grainger of local politics’ not to mention the laughable, desperate, notion that I have far right links.
I spent 35 years in East Grinstead and was elected to the local town council in 2015 and the County Council in 2017. No doubt as your spies (if you are not one and the same) have confirmed I am not re-standing at Parish level but I am mid-term as a County Councillor. You will also be very aware of your party’s concerted effort to try to find ways to discredit me through various FOIs but to no avail. Your latest request being for details of monitoring officers to complain about my ‘conduct’ – one wonders if you have any time left to talk to residents and do some campaigning of your own? Of course its not illegal to do any of this and I have nothing to hide, but one wonders why the need to go to such vast lengths – unless you felt I was some sort of threat? If East Devon residents really only want people who have been born and bred in the District, then why do they have a County Councillor who previously stood as a PPC in Yorkshire or an Axminster Parish Councillor who originates from Slough, is currently standing in Yarty but living in Axminster? – no doubt there are others in your network who do not originate from Seaton? Ironically your Yarty candidate has made it clear to me that he has ‘issues’ with Councillors representing two places at once. Well I have issues with Councillors who are also Parish Clerks. Either way it doesn’t matter – both are perfectly legitimate positions to be in at the present time. Overall lets agree for obvious reasons above that it doesn’t matter where we originate from, what matters is that we pledge and do our best to deliver for our community we live in. There is very clear evidence that I have achieved much in West Sussex and I will do the same in East Devon if I am privileged enough to be elected of course.
I appreciate you are keen to know my background so here goes. In actual fact my family moved to the West Country in 2016 due to my husband’s business. We have rented in Axminster since 2017 and have been renovating our house in Seaton. I have commuted to West Sussex since then (yes I really do drive the 170 miles) and reside in East Grinstead with my eldest daughter as and when I need to but spend most of my time in County Hall in Chichester – which is a 100 mile round trip from East Grinstead, so I am well used to driving lots of miles. If you dig a bit deeper you will find that out of the three East Grinstead County Councillors – I have by far and away the highest attendance rate at County Council with the most local results – this despite ‘being in two places at once’ (your phrase). At Parish level I have fulfilled my duties and as an aside taken no allowance for these duties. So I have a track record – and its a good one.
I must correct you though on your election literature content and the comments from the incumbent County Cllr, In actual fact I have a home in Seaton town centre and for clarity it is my only owned property. I shop regularly in the town, am a big fan of the Tramway (the whole family have loyalty cards). I drink and eat in the Malthouse pub. I am a big fan of the craft shop in Queen St where I bought my 20 year old daughter’s birthday presents not so long ago (she works in Colyford by the way). My youngest daughter goes to Axe Valley school where I am a governor. So to say I have no links to the area or do not live in the area is a blatant untruth and I would ask you respectfully to retract this and not waste any further time worrying about where I originate from and how in touch I am with the town – because the fact remains I am more in touch than you think and you probably are.
Ultimately the electorate will decide who they wish to vote in . Either way – elected or unelected, it will not change a thing. I shall finish my term in West Sussex and I shall remain committed to the town I have decided to settle in and support the local community as best I can.
Watch this Space”
[Jacquie Russell – candidate – Seaton]
News reaches Owl that flamboyant businessman Nicholas (Nick) Spysnyk, who for a time owned the still-derelict Seaton Heights site (and also owned Stoneleigh Holiday Park near Branscombe), has been declared bankrupt:
Owl is not sure whether he still had involvement in either business up to the date of his bankrupcy, as ownership has seemed to change very frequently, sometimes including Mr Spysnyk and sometimes not. However (at least for the time being, it appears not!
Planning permission for an ambitious holiday venue was granted at Seaton Heights, but despite many promises, the different owners never seemed able to progress them. Subsequently, a Premier Inn opened in the town centre.
“Popular wildlife haven is runner-up in Best Nature Reserve category in BBC Countryfile Magazine’s 2019 Awards
Stunning Seaton Wetlands, one of East Devon District Council’s most popular nature reserves, has won a top national accolade after being voted for by readers of the BBC Countryfile Magazine.
The beautiful wildlife haven is runner-up in the Best Nature Reserve category in the 2019 Awards, which celebrates the best of the British countryside.
The Wetlands was nominated by the magazine’s readers alongside other nature reserves from across the country and a panel of six judges whittled them down to a shortlist of five in each category. Readers were invited to vote for their favourite place online or via a postal form from January to February this year.
The Falls of Clyde, managed by Scottish Wildlife Trust, won the Best Nature Reserve category, with Seaton Wetlands as runner up and Suffolk Wildlife Trust’s Carlton Marshes coming third.”
Bet it won’t only be Cranbrook with its non-High Street (currently only 5 shops for the growing town) that will be miffed but also Seaton, where the Tesco superstore has sucked the life out of its High Street!
“Axminster will be put forward as the East Devon town to try and grab a share of a £675m fund to ‘help failing High Streets’ – ahead of Cranbrook.
East Devon District Council’s cabinet on Wednesday night agreed to submit a bid for Axminster to the Government’s Future High Streets Fund.
The Future High Street Fund has been set up to help address the significant structural changes that are currently having an impact on towns and high streets throughout the UK. …”
Beer and Branscombe
Previous Beer and Branscombe District wards combined with part of the previous Seaton District ward. New part is called Beer Road.
Properties moved from Seaton to the Beer Road register:
Part of Beer Road (53 properties)
Part of Castle Hill (10 properties)
Part of Fremington Road (18 properties)
Part of Marlpit Lane (19 properties)
Previous Beer Road
This means that western Seaton will actually be considered an adjunct to Beer and Branscombe and will NOT be represented by “Seaton” councillors and people on the same road will have different councillors depending on which part of the road they live on! And those councillors for western Seaton will have far more voters in Beer and Branscombe!
Given that Councillor Burrows (Seaton Town and East Devon district) was forced to resign his post as Seaton Mayor and is subject of at least one complaint to EDDC’s Monitoring Officer:
should he still be Chair of the Seaton branch of the Lib Dems?
And he might consider amending his puff-job for himself on his “invitation only” Seaton Views Facebook page (from which he excludes or bans many people who do not share his views) where he says:
“… Peter is currently the Chairman of Seaton & District Liberal Democrats with Lewis Ragbourn secretary and Ron Farlow treasurer. The Liberal Democrats in Seaton are the only party that campaigns and informs residents outside of elections.”
Owl thinks that East Devon Alliance is constantly campaigning and informing residents of the whole of East Devon, AND Seaton in particular, with its high-profile Devon County Councillor Martin Shaw, who is campaigning and working tirelessly for Seaton and Colyton – particularly over issues of the NHS and Highways issues in that area.
Talk about reinventing the wheel! Before the system was changed local authorities were able to suspend councillors for the rest of the full council term, however long that might be or could ban them from office for years.
THIS government changed the rules now it wants to change them back – albeit
in a very, very lily-livered, watered-down way.
This lack if ability to censure councillors in any meaningful way is highlighted by the ongoing scandal of the disgraced ex-Mayor in Seaton, Councillor Peter Burrows. The rest of the council unanimously voted to urge his resignation from town and district posts but he has so far ignored all requests for him to go:
but it is unlikely the EDDC Monitoring Officer will conclude an investigation into his case before local elections on 2 May 2017, leaving voters in the dark as to any action to be taken.
“Local authorities should be given the power to suspend councillors without allowances for up to six months, the Committee on Standards in Public Life (CSPL) has recommended.
In a report, Local Government Ethical Standards, the CSPL said: “The current sanctions available to local authorities are insufficient. Party discipline, whilst it has an important role to play in maintaining high standards, lacks the necessary independence and transparency to play the central role in a standards system.
“The current lack of robust sanctions damages public confidence in the standards system and leaves local authorities with no means of enforcing lower level sanctions, nor of addressing serious or repeated misconduct.”
The Committee said councillors, including parish councillors, who are suspended should be given the right to appeal to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, who should be given the power to investigate allegations of code breaches on appeal. The decision of the Ombudsman would then be binding.
The CSPL meanwhile described the Monitoring Officer as “the lynchpin” of the current standards arrangements, but accepted that the role was “challenging and broad”, with a number of practical tensions and the potential for conflicts of interest. Local authorities should put in place arrangements to manage any potential conflicts, it said.
However, the Committee concluded that the role was not unique in its tensions and could be made coherent and manageable with the support of other statutory officers.
It called for employment protections for statutory officers to be extended, and for statutory officers to be supported through training on local authority governance.
Other key findings and recommendations in the report include:
There is considerable variation in the length, quality and clarity of codes of conduct. This created confusion among members of the public, and among councillors who represent more than one tier of local government.
Many codes of conduct failed to address adequately important areas of behaviour such as social media use and bullying and harassment.
An updated model code of conduct should therefore be available to local authorities in order to enhance the consistency and quality of local authority codes.
The updated model code should be voluntary and able to be adapted by local authorities. The scope of the code of conduct should also be widened, with a rebuttable presumption that a councillor’s public behaviour, including comments made on publicly accessible social media, was in their official capacity.
The current arrangements for declaring and managing interests are “unclear, too narrow and do not meet the expectations of councillors or the public”.
The current requirements for registering interests should be updated to include categories of non-pecuniary interests. The current rules on declaring and managing interests should be repealed and replaced with an objective test, in line with the devolved standards bodies in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The current criminal offences relating to disclosable pecuniary interests are “disproportionate in principle and ineffective in practice, and should be abolished”.
Local authorities should maintain a standards committee. This committee may advise on standards issues, decide on alleged breaches and sanctions, or a combination of these. Independent members of decision-making standards committees should be able to vote.
The safeguard provided by the Independent Person should be strengthened and clarified: a local authority should only be able to suspend a councillor where the Independent Person agrees both that there has been a breach and that suspension is a proportionate sanction. Independent Persons should have fixed terms and legal protections. The view of the Independent Person in relation to a decision on which they are consulted should be published in any formal decision notice.
Parish councils should be required to adopt the code of their principal authority (or the new model code), and a principal authority’s decision on sanctions for a parish councillor should be binding.
Monitoring officers should be provided with adequate training, corporate support and resources to undertake their role in providing support on standards issues to parish councils, including in undertaking investigations and recommending sanctions. Clerks should also hold an appropriate qualification to support them to uphold governance within their parish council.
At a time of rapid change in local government, decision-making in local councils was getting more complex, with increased commercial activity and partnership working. “This complexity risks putting governance under strain.
Local authorities setting up separate bodies risk a governance ‘illusion’, and should take steps to prevent and manage potential conflicts of interest, particularly if councillors sit on these bodies. They should also ensure that these bodies are transparent and accountable to the council and to the public.”
An ethical culture required leadership. Given the multi-faceted nature of local government, leadership was needed from a range of individuals and groups: an authority’s standards committee, the chief executive, political group leaders, and the chair of the council.
Political groups have an important role to play in maintaining an ethical culture. “They should be seen as a semi-formal institution sitting between direct advice from officers and formal processes by the council, rather than a parallel system to the local authority’s standards processes. Political groups should set clear expectations of behaviour by their members, and senior officers should maintain effective relationships with political groups, working with them informally to resolve standards issues where appropriate.”
An ethical culture starts with tone. “Whilst there will always be robust disagreement in a political arena, the tone of engagement should be civil and constructive.” Expected standards of behaviour should be embedded through effective induction and ongoing training.
Political groups should require their members to attend code of conduct training provided by a local authority, and this should also be written into national party model group rules. “Maintaining an ethical culture day-to-day relies on an impartial, objective monitoring officer who has the confidence of all councillors and who is professionally supported by the chief executive.”
An ethical culture will be an open culture. “Local authorities should welcome and foster opportunities for scrutiny, and see it as a way to improve decision making. They should not rely unduly on commercial confidentiality provisions, or circumvent open decision-making processes. Whilst local press can play an important role in scrutinising local government, openness must be facilitated by authorities’ own processes and practices.”
In a letter to the Prime Minister, contained in the introduction to the report, Lord Evans of Weardale, Chair of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, said: “It is clear that the vast majority of councillors and officers want to maintain the highest standards of conduct in their own authority. We have, however, identified some specific areas of concern. A minority of councillors engage in bullying or harassment, or other highly disruptive behaviour, and a small number of parish councils give rise to a disproportionate number of complaints about poor behaviour.
“We have also identified a number of risks in the sector: the current rules around conflicts of interest, gifts, and hospitality are inadequate; and the increased complexity of local government decision-making is putting governance under strain.”
The CSPL chair added: “The challenge is to maintain a system which serves the best instincts of councillors, whilst addressing unacceptable behaviour by a minority, and guarding against potential corporate standards risks.
“It is clear from the evidence we have received that the benefits of devolved arrangements should be retained, but that more robust safeguards are needed to strengthen a locally determined system. We are also clear that all local authorities need to develop and maintain an organisational culture which is supportive of high ethical standards. A system which is solely punitive is not desirable or effective; but in an environment with limited external regulation, councils need the appropriate mechanisms in place to address problems when they arise.”
Lord Evans said the Committee’s recommendations would enable councillors to be held to account effectively and would enhance the fairness and transparency of the standards process.
A number of the CSPL’s recommendations involve legislative change which it believed the government should implement. The Committee has also identified ‘best practice’ for local authorities, “which represents a benchmark for ethical practice which we expect that any authority can and should implement”. …
Source: Local Government Lawyer
“Calls have been made for the former mayor of Seaton to immediately resign as a town and district councillor after he called for residents to avoid a local business on what purported to be a Tourist Information Centre Twitter account.
At Monday night’s full council meeting, Seaton town council unanimously voted for a motion calling for the immediate resignation of Cllr Peter Burrows as a Seaton town councillor and as an East Devon District Councillor, where he represents the Seaton ward.
Cllr Burrows had stepped down as Mayor at a town council meeting on January 7 as he brought the office into disrepute when he called for residents to avoid a local business on what purported to be a Tourist Information Centre Twitter account, but continued in his role as a councillor.
The Tweet, posted by Cllr Burrows, had said: ‘Here in Seaton, Devon, we have a local business who badmouths the Mayor. Please Avoid’.
It had followed a public argument about fox hunting on the Facebook page ‘Seaton Views’, to which Cllr Burrows took exception to being called a ‘very naughty word’.
The business that Cllr Burrows had then called on residents to avoid on Twitter, The Hat, was not involved in any way in the argument, other than the individual involved in the argument occasionally frequenting the pub.
Gary Millar, proprietor of The Hat, had not been involved in the altercation and was therefore an entirely innocent party.
Cllr Burrows did not attend the meeting and has not responded to requests from the Local Democracy Reporting Service for comment.
Speaking at Monday’s meeting, Mr Millar said that it was inexplicable of Mr Burrows to make a direct attack on him using his title of mayor, and it was a grossly stupid response from any public official and it still not clear why he chose to attach The Hat.
He added: “I have yet to receive a proper apology from Mr. Burrows. His statement of resignation last week did not make it clear that I was not the person who insulted him, then he justified his actions, and finally boorishly he ended with him giving himself a pat on the back for a job well done. Unfortunately, any apology at this time now sounds hollow.”
Mr Millar added: “On the afternoon of New Year’s Day, Mr. Burrows had a very public argument about fox hunting with a private individual on the Facebook page ‘Seaton Views’. This escalated to a robust exchange of views between the two protagonists and Mr Burrows, who is surely used to the rough and tumble of political debate, took exception to being called a very naughty word.
“His inexplicable reaction was to use his title of Seaton Mayor to make a direct attack on me, accusing me of being disparaging to the mayor, and to tell thousands of subscribers to a Twitter page called @SeatonTIC, to avoid my business. On the face of it this was the official Seaton Tourist Information Centre page. This is a grossly stupid response from any public official in any circumstances. You could not make it up.
“It is not at all clear why Mr Burrows chose The Hat as opposed to the many other local businesses that his detractor frequents. Surely, as a public official involved in my various applications, he would have known who I was?”
Mr Millar said that he does not use social media for anything other than professional reasons, and said that although both @SeatonTIC and Seaton Views are ostensibly neutral and exist for the benefit of the people of and visitors to Seaton, it is disturbing that they are administered by a public official without a clear declaration of interest.
He added: “For example, Mr Burrows selectively deleted his unsavoury exchange on Seaton Views and blocked his detractor from the site. Yet he also closed the @SeatonTIC page entirely, not at the request from the Council as reported, but unilaterally overnight on January 1 after legal action was threatened against the then unknown poster.
“This had two effects. First, we are unable to see how many people viewed his tweet to assess the damage caused. Secondly, imagine the impression given to thousands of potential holidaymakers following what they would reasonably have considered the formal Seaton Tourist Information Twitter page. A strange tweet from the town Mayor attacking a local small business, followed by an unexplained blackout. This cannot be good for either my business or the image of the town as a whole.
“I would argue that these actions were not a selfless act by Mr. Burrows, or in the interests of myself or Seaton, but a means of covering tracks.”
Mr Millar said that he views both the local and district councils legally culpable for his actions, regardless of these being rogue or not, and expects them both the local and district council to do their legal duty and mitigate any damage against him.
He added: “This includes a full and open investigation of Mr Burrows’ conduct in office, including on social media, and disciplinary or legal action wherever possible. This motion of no confidence, and the complaint to the East Devon Monitoring Officer is a positive response by the Seaton Town Council.”
Mr Millar, who opened The Hat last year, added: “Despite undoubted damage to my business, the support of my regulars, and other public support helps me believe that moving to Seaton to open up a new and innovative business was the right decision. My sincere thanks to you all and I hope to continue to serve you real ales, ciders and other fine beverages in a friendly environment for many years to come.”
A motion debated at the meeting, which was unanimously agreed, said: “This Council condemns the actions of Cllr Burrows, as behaviour not befitting someone holding public office, and calls for his immediate resignation as a Seaton Town Councillor and EDDC District Councillor.
“In a personal capacity he posted defamatory statements about a local business on social media, but used an account purported to be an official account and referring to himself in the capacity of Mayor. Cllr Burrows has admitted his actions were unacceptable and that the target of his comments was an entirely innocent party. He has shown he lacks the integrity to remain a Councillor and to represent the people of Seaton and East Devon.”
At the previous meeting, Cllr Burrows had unreservedly apologised for his remarks that he made after what he said were ‘disgusting personal comments’ that had been made against him and said that he deeply regretted writing the Tweet.
A town council spokesman had previously said: “Seaton town council wishes to make it clear that despite using the term “Mayor” and using what purported to be a Tourist Information Centre account, Cllr Burrows was not authorised to use his title for personal matters, nor was he authorised to represent the TIC.
“He was acting in a purely private capacity and the Council dissociates itself from his actions.”
The council has reported Cllr Burrows to the Monitoring Officer at East Devon District Council for breaching the code of conduct.
An East Devon District Council spokesman said they were unable to comment.”
Statement by recently-elected town mayor Ken Beer:
“I am issuing the statement below on behalf of Seaton Town Council and it’s staff because of recent comments on social media
Complaints have been made to the Monitoring Officer at EDDC about both former Councillor Richard Webster and Councillor Peter Burrows. There are no double standards, since the Monitoring Officer is investigating the complaints against both individuals. Seaton Town Council has made it very clear that it does not condone Cllr Burrows’ behaviour towards Mr Gary Millar of The Hat Micropub. Equally it deplores Mr Webster’s behaviour towards the Town Clerk and Council staff who have behaved in a wholly professional manner, and his latest comments only seem to aggravate his offence. The Council is concerned about councillors misusing social media and will be discussing new proposals to ensure that all members use social media in a responsible manner.
Ken beer-TOWN MAYOR”
This is the full statement by Mr Gary Miller (owner, The Hat micropub) as given to Seaton Town Council last night, along with a screenshot and transcript of the now deleted tweets to which he refers:
Twitter @peterburrows 1 January 2019 11.38 am
It seems that someone who was rude to me on Facebook gave the impression that he was the owner of @thehatseaton in #seaton I wish them well in their enterprise.
Comment on above Tweet
Matthew Lloyd @matthewlloyd 16 hr
replying to @peterburrows @thehatseaton
You might want to advise @seatonTIC to be more professional on here and keep personal squabbles on personal accounts. Doesn’t make Seaton seem very welcoming to tourists like myself.
THE STATEMENT BY MR MILLER LAST NIGHT:
“Good evening. I am Gary Millar, the sole owner of The Hat Micropub in Queen Street. I am addressing the issue of Mr. Peter Burrows, the then Mayor and current Councillor on both a local and district level, attacking my livelihood and business.
On the afternoon of New Year’s Day, Mr. Burrows had a very public argument about fox hunting with a private individual on the Facebook page ‘Seaton Views’. This escalated to a robust exchange of views between the two protagonists. (Amusingly both share the same perspective on the matter). Mr. Burrows, who is surely used to the rough and tumble of political debate, took exception to being called a very naughty word. His inexplicable reaction was to use his title of Seaton Mayor to make a direct attack on me, accusing me of being disparaging to the mayor, and to tell thousands of subscribers to a Twitter page called @SeatonTIC, to avoid my business. On the face of it this was the official Seaton Tourist Information Centre page.
This is a grossly stupid response from any public official in any circumstances. You could not make it up.
It is not at all clear why Mr. Burrows chose The Hat as opposed to the many other local businesses that his detractor frequents. Surely, as a public official involved in my various applications, he would have known who I was?
I do not use social media for anything other than professional reasons. If social media users followed the guidelines given in the Hat including “No nasty opinions” and “Be respectful and remember there are other people around you”, the internet would be a kinder place.
Both @SeatonTIC and Seaton Views are ostensibly neutral and exist for the benefit of the people of and visitors to Seaton. However, they are administered by Mr. Burrows which gives him the control over their content. Reportedly, other supposedly impartial social media sites revolving around Seaton are also administered by him. Personally, it disturbs me that a public official has such a domination of information without a clear declaration of interest.
For example – Mr. Burrows selectively deleted his unsavoury exchange on Seaton Views and blocked his detractor from the site. Yet he also closed the @SeatonTIC page entirely, not at the request from the Council as reported, but unilaterally overnight on the 1st/2nd January after legal action was threatened against the then unknown poster. This had two effects – first; we are unable to see how many people viewed his tweet to assess the damage caused. Secondly; imagine the impression given to thousands of potential holidaymakers following what they would reasonably have considered the formal Seaton Tourist Information Twitter page – A strange tweet from the town Mayor attacking a local small business, followed by an unexplained blackout.
This cannot be good for either my business nor the image of the town as a whole. Surely, directing subscribers to the official Tourist Information Site would at least have been a productive step.
I would argue that these actions were not a selfless act by Mr. Burrows, or in the interests of myself or Seaton, but a means of covering tracks. A clear case of canting.
I have yet to receive a proper apology from Mr. Burrows. His statement of resignation last week did not make it clear that I was not the person who insulted him, then he justified his actions, and finally boorishly he ended with him giving himself a pat on the back for a job well done. Unfortunately, any apology at this time now sounds hollow.
Mr. Burrows was high profile in his role as Mayor and councillor on both local and district levels. As such I view both the local and district councils legally culpable for his actions, regardless of these being rogue or not. I expect both the local and district council to do their legal duty and mitigate any damage against me. This includes a full and open investigation of Mr. Burrows conduct in office, including on social media, and disciplinary or legal action wherever possible. This motion of no confidence, and the complaint to the East Devon Monitoring Officer is a positive response by the Seaton Town Council.
Despite undoubted damage to my business, the support of my regulars, and other public support helps me believe that moving to Seaton to open up a new and innovative business was the right decision. My sincere thanks to you all and I hope to continue to serve you real ales, ciders and other fine beverages in a friendly environment for many years to come.
There is however still much to do from both Councils to support the current small traders and promote the opening of new dynamic, interesting small shops in Seaton. Encouraging visitors to move to the traditional trading area, now called The Cultural Quarter, from the lower end of town is an urgent requirement to start. Regrettably, after a year of trading in Seaton and having contributed in various forums, I have yet to see any concrete or effective steps to this end by the Council. This is an opportunity for both the Council and traders to reset and have a fresh start.
In conclusion I would urge all councillors to support this motion of no confidence. What most surprises me is that Mr. Burrows has not recognised his position as being untenable and has not resigned already on his own volition.
Thank you for your time and attention.”