Sidmouth Ward Member, Cllr Cathy Gardner (EDA Ind) made the following speech, at last Thursday’s Extra Ordinary General Meeting:
Adoption of Local Plan, Item 6
“The responsibility for putting the Sidford site into the LP lies squarely with the leaders at EDDC and has done since 2007.
They chose to include the site, based on arguments put forward several years ago by a variety of interested parties. There was no real desire to remove this site from the LP last year, otherwise why was the Planning Officer not instructed to provide evidence for an alternative? Can the Leader explain the purpose of the vote to ‘remove’ the site if it was not purely a vote winning exercise?”
Although the question was specifically addressed to the Leader (Paul Diviani) who was in the room, it was Chief Executive(Mark Williams) who attempted an answer. He said that councillors “in their wisdom” had gone ahead with a late-in-the-day vote to delete Sidford employment land from the Local Plan, despite his own warnings that their action could derail the Inspector’s approval of the whole Plan. There was a strong hint that Councillors should have known that, as the completed Draft Local Plan was already with the Inspector, it was anyway too late for them to make changes.