Save Our Sidmouth

Of Cllr Diviani and the silent majority

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From the very full letters page in today’s Sidmouth Herald (12th October). Reproduced with author’s permission.


“ 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.”

So said Councillor Paul Diviani in his acceptance speech when chosen as Leader of EDDC in 2011! So how about taking some notice of the vast majority of Sidmouth residents and many of its visitors (on whom the town’s economy largely depends) instead of deriding them as a “vocal minority” and accusing them of forgetting there are other towns – a claim that is clearly nonsense. The council is free to decide where it wants to base itself and Sidmouth accepts that – but not funded just by destroying one of Sidmouth’s finest assets and ruining the gateway into the town in the process. If the Council’s “job is to look after our big society – East Devon as a whole” then the big society must share the costs. We have been told that the S106 funding from the Fortfield Hotel site development is to be distributed to the rest of East Devon so they should also share the expense of a new HQ.

Cllr Diviani goes on to say, “Mr Cameron knows what’s happening and, more important, Mr Pickles does.”  Of course he does – we told him in a 4,209 strong petition!

“The Government is fully aware of what we are trying to do – it’s totally in line with the Coalition’s policies.” What about the Localism policy? What about the National Planning Policy Framework?

According to the returned-unopposed Councillor for Yarty, “The silent majority stays silent until it’s time to go to the ballot box”. How many east Devon people have even heard of the Outline Planning Application? Of course they are silent – it doesn’t affect most of them although some might not agree that Honiton is easier to access than Sidmouth. The point is that they are SILENT – they are not expressing support!

He also claims that the Draft Local Plan and Knowle development “are not linked in any way whatsoever.”  Knowle did not feature in early drafts of the LP which was the basis of public consultation. Yet it has now appeared in the latest version which we are told will be published soon. This is necessary because it is not in the adopted Local Plan which currently governs planning issues. The Draft Local Plan for Sidmouth, including 5ha of employment land at Sidford, has yet to be placed before the Planning Inspectorate so approving the Knowle application will pre-empt the Inspectorate’s decision – whether or not “we’ve ticked all the boxes”.

One of the Vocal Minority

Peter Whitfield

One thought on “Of Cllr Diviani and the silent majority

  1. I can only refer you to what is on the Government’ own Dept of Government and Local Communities website about what the Big Society is, and I quote:

    “The Big Society is the Government’s vision of a society where individuals and communities have more power and responsibility, and use it to create better neighbourhoods and local services.

    It lies at the heart of the Department’s work in housing, planning, regeneration and local government.

    The Prime Minister has stated that ‘the people are the boss’ and that four tools – competition, choice, payment by results and transparency – are essential to achieving a radical shift of power away from the centre.

    The Minister for Decentralisation, Greg Clark, has set out three actions for the Big Society to flourish:

    the right to know
    the right to challenge and
    turning Government on its head”

    Any comment there Councillor Diviani?

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