At last night’s Full Council Meeting at Knowle, Richard Thurlow, Chair of SOS and the Sid Vale Association Conservation and Planning Committee, asked the Chairman of EDDC whether he approved of Cllr Diviani’s words and views as regards SOS and did they represent the views of the EDDC?
The Chair was also asked to put the record straight if he did not approve.
At the end of the speech, the Chair was obviously at a loss as to know what to do. After a pause has asked Cllr Diviani to respond., which he did, stating briefly that he stood by his opinion. The Chair then attempted to move on to the next question.
After expressions of dismay from the public, about the lack of response, the Chair said that he would reply in writing.
We shall see what happens.
For background, last week’s Press Release from Save Our Sidmouth is published below:
SAVE OUR SIDMOUTH GROUP REJECTS DIVIANI ALLEGATIONS
East Devon District Councillor Paul Diviani recently sent an email to nearly 100 people regarding budget cuts by Devon County Council and EDDC. He contended, wholly inaccurately, that “The Ottery Councillor and her allies in the political opposition groups EDA / SOS are running campaigns which simply do not deal in the facts, invariably giving half a misinformed story and making no useful or positive contribution to the debate”.
SOS, like the East Devon Alliance, strongly objects to the inaccuracy and implications of this statement. Mr. Diviani should know that SOS is a totally non-political umbrella grouping of organisations in Sidmouth, including the oldest Civic Society in England, the Sid Vale Association, whose constitution does not permit political activities; the Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce, which promotes business in the town; the Sidmouth Hospitality Association, which represents the important local hospitality industry; the Futures Forum,of the Vision Group for Sidmouth, whose objective is to examine and promote appropriate sustainable development in Sidmouth; and the Knowle Residents’ Association, who examine and comment upon developments in their geographical area.
None of these groups has a political view and nothing done by the SOS has implied otherwise. SOS oppose certain proposals contained in the Local Plan and those which would desecrate the Knowle, but, emphatically, these are not aimed at any political party. Any comments and objections SOS makes are to EDDC as the originating authority for these proposals.
SOS were also accused of “not dealing in facts and invariably giving half a misinformed story”, (sic), and “making no useful or positive contribution to the debate”. The Local Plan consultation specifically asks comments and objections, as do EDDC proposals for the Knowle!! All SOS comments and objections, none of them “political”, are based on facts.
The email referred to an “Ottery Councillor”. Presumably, Mr. Diviani meant the Independent Councillor, Claire Wright. SOS emphasises that she is not a member of any of the above organisations, but that SOS shares some of the concerns of Councillor Wright, as well as other councillors, about the opacity of the workings and decisions of EDDC. Mr. Diviani’s statement shows a lack of respect to a fellow councillor (inexcusable, whatever their political persuasion), and this saddens SOS.
The openness and quality of debate in EDDC is poor and the latest comments from Mr. Diviani continue this unwelcome stance. He should avoid irrelevant and false accusations against those who disagree with him or who are merely seeking information, and try to deal with legitimate comments and questions from local ratepayers in an adult manner.