Cllr Chris Wale steadfastly supported the move from Knowle…conspicuous as the sole Sidmouth representative to do so, at tonight’s Extra Ordinary meeting.
Public question time included this speech from Jeremy Woodward of Save Our Sidmouth. (More to follow later):
RE. INFORMATION TRIBUNAL
I don’t know how many of you are aware that this Council has been involved in a lengthy case with the Information Tribunal.
A year ago the Council appealed against a decision to publish key documents about its relocation project, and since then the process has just run on and on and on.
In fact, very conveniently for the political leadership of the Council, the Tribunal will not be making its final decision known until Friday – that is, two days after you, the Members, have been asked to make your own final decision.
What is clear, though, is that these secret reports would throw all sorts of unwelcome light on the whole relocation issue – reports which you are being denied access to.
And yet, the Leader of the Council has sought to belittle the importance of these reports, saying that (quote) “The meeting update reports in question are now over two years old. These are historical reports that are not a consideration in the current reporting process and financial imperative of relocation. In due course and at the earliest opportunity the Council has already committed to publish reports currently held as confidential.”
In which case, why has this Council gone to such extraordinary lengths to prevent the publication of these reports?
Not only that, but the Council has spent a huge sum in pursuing this action – rumoured to be over £40,000.
This is all in the name of preserving something called ‘confidentiality’ – and yet what has actually happened in the political leadership’s determination to minimise any opposition to their relocation project, is that a truly informed debate has been quashed and only lip service given to the notion of ‘transparency’.
In which case, Members, are you really willing to take such a momentous decision today without having access to the clearly important information contained in these reports? Are you in fact not being taken for a ride by your leaders?
In conclusion: What is clear is that when the Information Tribunal publishes its decision on Friday, this Council will have brought itself seriously into disrepute – and that it will find it very difficult to extricate itself from the mess it has created.