Save Our Sidmouth

No “trial by hearsay”

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At last night’s Full Council meeting, EDDC Leader Paul Diviani promised to answer the public’s questions in writing. At Councillor Roger Giles’ request, he agreed, albeit ungraciously, to send all councillors a copy.

( The Leader had remarked that he would comply with Councillor Giles’ proposal, “in order to change your tune”. This prompted Councillor Trevor Cope to jump to his feet and ask Councillor Diviani to withdraw what he had just said, as he didn’t think it was a suitable tone in which to address a colleague. After some hesitation, the Leader replied with a smirk, “Only in the interests of good humour and well-being will I withdraw my comment, even though what I said is correct”. )

The questions, and eventually, the Leader’s answers, will be published on this website.

This was the question put by SOS supporter, Tony Green:

Question to the Council Leader concerning misleading public statements by the Council’s Communications Office

In the Sidmouth Herald on 22nd March 2013, an EDDC spokesman commented on my call for the Chief Executive to resign. The spokesman’s comments were misleading and inaccurate.

1.He said my criticisms of the Chief  Executive were “trial by hearsay”.

Untrue: they resulted from detailed research and I made very specific allegations against Mr Williams.

a)For example that, for years he had ignored concerns, about the influence of the East Devon Business Forum under Graham Brown. Instead he dismissed such concerns as politically-motivated.

b)He also interfered with the TAFF set up to look at the EDBF. This included giving dubious ‘legal’ advice that removed planning from its scope, and taking control of the agenda from chairman and committee.


2.He said my criticisms had been “conducted through the media”. Untrue.

I put them bluntly to the TAFF on 12th March when Mr Williams was present.


3.He said my criticisms had been fully answered by Mr Williams. Untrue

Mr Williams chose not to answer them on March 12th and  failed to respond then to a media request for an interview. He has not addressed any of my specific allegations.


4.He said anyone with a complaint against Mr Williams could ultimately take it to the Local Government Ombudsman. Untrue. The LGO can only consider cases where the complainant can prove a “personal injustice” and cannot look at matters which affect “all or most of the people in a council’s area.”


Would the Council Leader let me know, in writing if necessary, who the spokesman was? And who briefed him?

Could he please instruct the Communications Officer to meet with me to agree a press release to set the record straight?

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