Save Our Sidmouth

“I am beginning to feel sorry for EDDC”, the Chair of SOS explains

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From Sidmouth Herald letters page, Friday 5th December 2014:
‘I am beginning to feel sorry for EDDC; an emotion which I never expected.

Nothing seems to go well for them; everything connected with the planned relocation from the Knowle and the Local Plan goes awry.
How unfortunate they are.

The Inspector’s complete rejection of their Local Plan was not their fault. How could they be expected to prepare robust data during the five years of its preparation? What a pity they have had to go back to the drawing board and start from scratch, leaving the District at the mercy of developers. But never mind, they will produce a new plan in due course….

How could they be expected to produce accurate proposals for the Knowle Planning Application? They had only three attempts after all… And then how devastated they must have felt when they saw their proposals for the destruction of the beautiful Knowle gardens rejected by the Planning Committee.

How unfortunate to have the Freedom of Information Commissioner rule against them for refusing to release information to the public…

And now their promotion of Skypark for their new HQ has fallen apart, How could they have been expected to understand EU procurement regulations, and appreciate that no developer would want the Manstone depot for unprofitable Affordable housing? Or that there is an oversupply of supermarket developments? It’s surely not their fault for failing to foresee the problems, or the risks of assuming land values in these dire economic times.

I could go on……

Despite their best intentions, it seems that the gods are against them. Or could it be that they just incompetent?

However they haven’t let these setbacks dishearten them. They now have a new plan of action. Sell the Knowle, (including a good percentage of the public land), borrow £4.8m for 20 years, (after which there might be a small benefit from the reduction in operating costs), refurbish old vacant offices at Exmouth, build a new office at Honiton, split the EDDC operations between them, “hot desk and implement new methods of working”,(except senior staff of course), and keep adding to the £500,000+ which they have already spent on the planning shambles. And also ignore the probability that EDDC will not exist in its current form in the near future (for which we should be grateful). Nor the possibility that a developer of the Knowle might not be able to get Planning Permission….

Of course they cannot be expected to consider that the most sensible way forward would be to put on hold any proposals for relocation of the Knowle, bearing in mind the uncertainty of predicting costs and savings over 20 years, the probability that their tier of Local Government will be removed, and that the forthcoming local elections in May may well remove them from office.

Why should they consider that when they know that nothing, absolutely nothing, ever goes wrong?

Richard Thurlow
Chair, Save Our Sidmouth

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