Letter to the Sidmouth Herald ( 25/10/2012), from SOS Chair:
The Herald has interviewed Councillor Diviani, the Leader, (ie of the dominant party), of the EDDC and included this over two reports in the last three weeks.. The headlines and the structure of the articles were rightly the Herald’s: however these could not mask the contempt that Cllr Diviani clearly feels for those who oppose his views. This is evident in not only in the interviews but in his continuing arrogant and patronising attitude in Council meetings to those who hold a different perspective.
We were told that” Cameron knows all about the EDDC plans for East Devon”, and Diviani implies that the PM fully supports them. But EDDC tells us the he was only one of a number of council leaders invited to No. 10. Cllr Diviani is trying to try to raise his profile by claiming an acquaintance with senior politicians.
He describes the valid opposition to his plans as” a vocal minority”, and that “Sidmouth tend to forget there are six other towns”. We are told that the SOS campaign is “orchestrated by a small number of people” In the recent past he has described those who oppose his plans as “the same OLD people” What we are is in reality a group of concerned citizens and organisations, of many political hues, who quite rightly exercise their right to comment and object to his outrageous plans.
He says that the Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty are the key to Tourism in East Devon. We must remind him that visitors come to Sidmouth, not only because of this, but the nature of the town and its environs which are unique. In reality EDDC fails to fund Tourism, but is happy to enjoy its success. He is prejudicing this success by his proposals.
He implies that anybody who opposes his proposals for the destruction of the Parks and gardens at the Knowle, and the imposition of 12 acres of Employment land at Sidford in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is a crank and is misguided. . But he should remember that it is easy to destroy landscape, but impossible to recreate it.
EDDC’s plans for relocation to the Knowle are founded on nothing more than “an ambition to move to Honiton” and if this happens it will result in a drastic change for the worse in Sidmouth’s ambience. EDDC is intent on selling off as much of the Open Space as is necessary to fund their unwarranted ambition. Their record of making substantive changes in documentation does not inspire any confidence in the robustness of their plans. For instance EDDC now admit that 33 people will lose their jobs as a result of the move to Honiton as against a net gain of 3 in the earlier version; various previously omitted statutory documents are now included. However the basic premise of the move still remains unsound, their proposals are contrary to their own existing Local Plan, and have many deficiencies.. SOS is against the proposal.
EDDC’s forthcoming proposed Local Plan also contains many invalid assumptions..
20% of the residents of Sidmouth, nearly 3000, signed a petition against the allocation of EmploymentLand in an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The figures speak for themselves. SOS is against these proposals.
SOS is not against development, nor against the provision of affordable housing or the encouragement of employment in the town. But there are better ways of providing these, which EDDC wilfully ignores. Thus SOS has to oppose EDDC’s present proposals.
We find it sad and demeaning to those who do not hold his views, that Cllr Diviani shows such contempt and arrogance towards them, and it shows his unsuitability for the position he holds. It is a sad reflection on the state of democracy in EDDC when the Council Leader and his cronies can drive though plans which are clearly against the wishes of local residents.
All we can do is continue our fight for what is right and plan for the next three years when he and his associates will be due for re-election. Cllr. Diviani’s interview may contain the seeds of his own demise.
Chair, Save our Sidmouth Campaign