The old guard of EDDC Councillors (with a few new faces) have this week refused the new Independent Councillors’ call to delay relocation for six months to enable proper consideration of what MP Hugo Swire has called “more intelligent ways” of using the Knowle site.
But could EDDC, literally, profit from ‘intelligent’ options from Opposition Councillors and from the public , such as two cited here, summarily dismissed at the June 3rd meeting?
1. Cllr John Dyson’s suggestion that twin sites at Exmouth and Sidmouth (newer offices only) could be a more cost-effective way forward. The increasing real estate asset of the Knowle site, and mature parkland, would not be damaged.
2. SOS member Richard Eley’s suggestion that there is a strong economic case for excluding the main car parks from the sale to Pegasus, arguing that the car parks would provide a lucrative income stream for EDDC, and offer a huge boost to Sidmouth’s economy. He compared the car parks, a low maintenance high income asset, with the Thelma Hulbert Gallery in Honiton which he described as ‘haemorrhaging cash to the tune of £150,000 per annum’ and being an expensive old building to maintain. He recommended that the Gallery be sold and the Knowle car parks retained, estimating that EDDC would be better off by at least £200,000 per annum. He then used EDDC’s own statistics to demonstrate that retaining the car parks would bring 30 jobs to Sidmouth’s economy and boost town centre income by £1.6 million per annum.
Are our majority Party representatives wise to put their trust wholly in unelected officers, to the exclusion of public expertise?