EDDC Ceremonial roles … and naughty councillors

Leader Ben Ingham is on record as saying of his choice of Tory Stuart Hughes as Chairman of the council:

“The Tories are not in our Cabinet whatsoever. They hold the Chair because we felt we needed an experienced Chair to make sure Full Council is run properly. This is a civic appointment only.”

Apparently, there wasn’t a suitable independent (of either faction), including those who have already served for 4+ years in previous councils, that he felt would be able to take on the role of representing the council and chairing some of its meetings. So, it seems like a Catch 22 – you can’t get get the role if you don’t have experience – and you can’t get experience because it needs someone who already has experience, not even watching someone in the role for years and learning from it, so it seems the role might remain Tory forever!

But it ISN’T a purely ceremonial role – the Chairman of the Council also chairs the Standards Committee – the one that taps the wrists of naughty councillors.

Surely that isn’t a “ceremonial role”?

Or maybe now it is!

EDDC Tory chairman appointed by Independent Leader adores Boris …

Really, this council gets more and more strange! After the massive Independent surge in May when people voted to put old-guard Tories out power, we get a Tory chairman who promotes himself and his party in the local press going dotty about Boris! So, everywhere he goes as the Chairman on behalf of the Leader he will be extolling the virtues of a different party!

… Cllr Hughes said: “I am certainly backing him and told him so. I think he’s the only candidate who will pull and unite the Conservative Party.

“I’d just finished chairing my first meeting of PATROL Parking and Traffic Regulations Outside London. On the way out of the rear entrance of Church House near Westminster Abbey met Boris and his team just getting into his Range Rover. [Rear entrance … Boris having been criticised for avoiding the public and journalists]

“I was delighted he agreed to photo, and yes, feel privileged to have been one of the few to have had opportunity to speak to him prior to the BBC candidates’ hustings tonight.”

https://www.sidmouthherald.co.uk/news/sidmouth-councillor-backs-boris-johnson-for-pm-1-6112478?

East Devon District Council: will the Tory bodies ever be exhumed?

One of the reasons so many Independent councillors were elected was because they were not Tories! People had become sick of the way the district had been run for the last 45 years and demanded change. Part of that change was to see exactly what Tories had been up to in those 45 years when transparency was in short supply.

So, on 3 May, we were presented with:

31 Independents (20 mostly eastern-based/central-based Independents, 11 mostly western-based Independent East Devon Alliance)
19 Tories
8 Lib Dems
2 Greens

An alliance of Independents, Lib Dems and Greens would have produced 41 non-Tories – easily outnumbering 19 Tories.

What we now know happened is that eastern-based Independents (Leader Ben Ingham, Exmouth) refused to work with East Devon Alliance. We assume that Lib Dems (who agreed to work with an Independent majority, but not form a coalition with them), were similarly excluded by Mr Ingham from working with his group.

Instead, Mr Ingham chose to work with the 19 Tories, an ex-Tory (former Tory Leader Ian Thomas) and several so-called Independent councillors whose late-onset Independent roots had never been obvious or put to the test. He gave the job of Chairman of the Council to Stuart Hughes, a Cabinet post to Ian Thomas, one of the jobs representing EDDC at Greater Exeter Strategic Plan meetings to Tory Philip Skinner and several other posts to other Tory councillors. Owl has no idea what the two Green (Exmouth-based) councillors think of this arrangement.

Despite this, CEO Mark Williams presumably decided that there were NOT 31 Independents, but two kinds of totally different Independents (Independent Group, EDA) and declared Tories as the “official opposition” – in spite of them holding Cabinet and other posts. Is this constitutionally correct? How does one decide? One asks the CEO – dead end there, then!

This has led to a Tory (“official opposition”) Alan Dent, being the head of the Scrutiny Committee – the only committee that now has wide investigative powers. The Chair of this committee can say Yes or No to requests for scrutiny of any subject – his word is the only word on what goes on an agenda (as long as the CEO agrees, of course).

So, is there any chance of the Scrutiny Committee holding the previous Tory administration to account? No, zero, zilch, nada in Owl’s view.

So those Tory bodies – lying quietly tucked away for the last 45 years are almost certain to continue enjoying their slumbers.

And all because some Independents can’t or won’t work with other Independents and local Lib Dems are keeping themselves well apart where, in other areas, coalitions of Independents, Greens and Lib Dems is promising real change in formerly true-blue districts.

What is so ironic about this whole story is that, in his political career, Ben Ingham has been a Tory councillor, an Independent Councillor and Leader of the East Devon Alliance!!!

Pitiful and shameful.

TiggerTory EDDC Chairman responds to EDA Councillor Martin Shaw

Owl says: Not really sure this makes things any better! Proof positive of TiggerTory chats …

Still not sure this is what voters anticipated … and since when was the post of Chairman of EDDC “non political”? Anyone ever remember Tories electing a non-Tory Chairman in the last 45 years?

I take exception to Martin Shaws assertions that the Independents who formed a minority administration allowed the Conservatives to take the key position of Chair/Chairman of the Council……Wrong Cllr Shaw…. I actually was approached by the leader of East Devon Ben Ingham and he asked if I would consider taking the (non-political) position of Chairman having done a good job from 2015 to 2017….. I accepted the position and he contacted Andrew Moulding to give him the news and Andrew called to congratulate me and asked if I’d get a seconder lined up for the AGM.

I also believe that Mike Howe was approached to see if he would take on the Chairmanship of DMC and so once again Cllr Shaw is barking up the wrong tree.

The East Devon Alliance Party had the opportunity to put names forward for the Chairmanship of the Council … however they chose not to and I do believe some of their members voted for me.

Many outside bodies went to the EDA including Recycling and Waste with Conservatives voting for Denise Bickley…..the Conservatives also voted for other positions to be taken by EDA.

I am delighted to have EDA member Cllr Val Ranger as my Vice Chairman who was voting and she was not only voting for EDA nominations but for also Conservatives, Lib Dem’s and true Independents.

It is comments like yours that are unhelpful and perhaps before writing again you should take time and get your facts right.

Stuart Hughes CC

“Calls for removal of Sidford business park site in Local Plan are ‘unrealistic’, says Highways boss [Stuart Hughes]”

Owl says: Interestingly Hughes does not explain why the site was added at the very last minute and why officers and Tory councillors did not attempt to remove it BEFORE it went to the inspector when its inclusion had been highlighted by local people in time for remedial action ….. especially as Hughes is the area’s DCC councillor with responsibility for highways.

“Cllr Hughes said: “If the decision is appealed by the applicant then it will be considered by a planning inspector.

“It would however also allow representations to be made to the inspector on other elements such as flooding, AONB etc.”

Calls to change the Local Plan:

“Suggesting the land at Sidford should be taken out of the Local Plan is unrealistic, given the plan is already in place.

“A Local Plan inspector is not going to review a decision for an already ‘made plan’ that has been in effect for some time.

“By the time any refresh of the East Devon Local Plan is completed this matter will have most likely been decided and there should not be any false hope or expectation put forward that this will be any different.

“The simple truth is that the land allocation at Sidford should never have been included in the Local Plan.

“It came in as a late addition without full consideration of its suitability, particularly as other far more appropriate sites which were ‘brownfield’ should have been considered and were put forward at the early stages of the process of making the Local Plan.

“My personal suggested site would have been adjacent to the Garden Centre on the A3052. …”

http://www.sidmouthherald.co.uk/news/calls-for-removal-of-sidford-business-park-site-in-local-plan-are-unrealistic-says-highways-boss-1-5781382

Owl and the Say No Twitter page help out Stuart Hughes about Sidford Business Park

“Rather than attend the Say NO public meeting on Wednesday evening it appears Stuart preferred to hit the gym at some point. He was so proud of his achievements there that evening that he tweeted about it:

https://eastdevonwatch.org/2018/10/10/where-was-eddc-and-dcc-transport-councillor-during-the-say-no-to-sidford-business-park-meeting/

After that post, it appears that this was taken up on the Say NO Twitter page.

It now appears that Councillor Hughes has deleted this tweet!

Owl wonders why one would delete a Twitter post illustrating how fit one is – even if it does show where you were when a crucial public meeting was taking place on your patch. We all know how important it is to keep fit.

However, his absence is noted, especially as he was so vociferous about opposing it in 2015:

https://eastdevonwatch.org/2016/06/10/how-did-business-park-on-a-sidford-floodplain-come-to-be-in-the-local-plan/

and taking into account its grubby history of which surely no Tory politician should be proud of and ought to want to put right:

https://eastdevonwatch.org/2018/06/18/sidford-business-park-a-grubby-history/

It’s a good job that Owl and the Say No twitterati had the foresight to take a screen grab of the original tweet at the time – a great help if ever he wants to refer to a deleted tweet in future.