There were two questions from the public.
- The first was from Barry Sangster of Sidmouth, who asked why it was necessary to have Party Whips in local politics, as they would run contrary to the Government’s policy of Localism. Councillor Paul Diviani denied ever using a Whip, and Conservative Party Whip, Phil Twiss, replied that there was no Whipping at EDDC. Sarah Randall-Johnson said that Whipping was used only rarely…just once during her own 10-year period as Leader of the District Council. Councillor Eileen Wragg , Leader of East Devon Liberal Democrats, added that they do not have a Party Whip.
- The second question was from Paul Hayward of Axminster Town Council. He asked what EDDC was going to do about the worrying decline in voter turnout. In the Devon County elections earlier this month, he said, voting was as low as 27% in some places. The Leader replied that every single Conservative Candidate had been returned, but that he would give a written answer.
And two agenda items at this meeting have left disquiet amongst some Councillors and the public:
- Firstly the attempt to determine some Departure planning applications under delegated powers. This would be away from public scrutiny, and would deny the public and Parish/Town Council representatives the opportunity to attend the meeting to hear the arguments, and would also deny the public and Parish/Town Council representatives the opportunity to speak at the meetings. It would also have diminished the role of Local Members in determining Departure applications.
SOS note: The proposal, had it been agreed on 22 May would have been a substantial reduction in the democratic arrangements at EDDC. Had such arrangements been in place at the time, almost certainly the Kelly Lynch (at Tipton) case would have been taken as a delegated decision, as this would have lessened the prospects of reporting of embarrassment to EDDC because of its handling of the matter. And what about The Knowle?
The matter is to go to EDDC Development Management (perhaps at the June meeting). But very few people outside EDDC are aware of what was proposed. Surely Parish and Town Councils should surely be consulted about such a change, and given the opportunity to comment on it.
- The second issue of great concern was an apparent attempt – yet again – to constrain what the Scrutiny Committee, and its East Devon Business Forum TAFF, is able to do in terms of its consideration of the activities of EDBF. In spite of a full debate and a vote to allow consideration of planning matters at the EDDC Scrutiny Committee, somebody appears to have been making further attempts to frustrate what the majority of members voted to do.