Save Our Sidmouth

Councillors’ “fundamental responsibility to be impartial when deciding planning matters” glossed over by CEO?

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A suggested New Year’s Resolution for EDDC Leadership is to ensure that DMC members and council officers behave with complete probity, and that Chairs are adequately trained to know what that entails.

The current conduct of some old-school DMC members,  and the attitude of the Chief Executive Officer, Mark Williams, are indicated in the following question from a member of the public.

Question to CEO Council Meeting, 21 December 2016
‘I would like to ask the Chief Executive two questions concerning comments made at the Development Management Committee DMC meeting on December 6th which are clearly audible on the recording.
I attended the meeting, and would congratulate most members of the Committee on a thorough and fair discussion of the issues and on a decision that was clearly justified by the evidence.
But, in my opinion, comments by a veteran member of the committee were unacceptable.
Councillors are expected to be completely impartial in their consideration of a planning application, especially where a council has a vested interest in that application.
As in this case where a refusal might “stymie” the relocation project.
Therefore, the Council’s wish to relocate was not a material planning consideration for the Pegasus Life proposal. Any mention of it should have been completely taboo at this meeting.
So it was shocking that a member of the committee considered it appropriate to declare that the current Knowle buildings were “not fit for purpose,” digressing at some length to tell what he said was a joke about lost souls wandering for years in the labyrinth of the old hotel.
A councillor who spends some minutes rehearsing one of the Council’s main arguments for selling the Knowle, and goes on to vote against refusal, is bound to appear biased!
Does the CEO agree with me that the council’s relocation project was not a material planning consideration in the Pegasus Life Application?

Will he therefore remind committee members that that in any future DMC meeting to determine a proposal to develop the site, reference to the council’s project should be strictly avoided?

Tony Green, East Devon Alliance (EDA) ‘

This and other clearly expressed concerns raised at public question time,  and the CEO’s response to them, can be heard in the recording on the EDDC website, at this link:

http://eastdevon.gov.uk/council-and-democracy/committees-and-meetings/council/council-minutes/

from 06:48 Sally Galsworthy, Exmouth (on £3m+ ‘road to nowhere’)

from 09:15 Laura Freeman, Exmouth (calling for Independent public consultation before further planning applications, and a rethink of the whole project, with genuine public engagement)

from 13:00 Alec Huett, Exmouth (Reviewing 7 years of costly Masterplan changes, and calling for priority of town centre, rather than seafront, development )

from 14:43 Richard Thurlow, Sidmouth (relocation budget a ‘dodgy deal’ )

from 17:15 Tony Green , Sidmouth ( Some DMC members allowed to display bias at planning decision meetings)

from 20:29 to 21:05 CEO Mark Williams responds to (5 x3 = 15 minutes of public question time).

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One thought on “Councillors’ “fundamental responsibility to be impartial when deciding planning matters” glossed over by CEO?

  1. This suggestion would be great! EDDC should not have the right to decide and vote for their own planning decisions. It should be decided by a higher authority who is unbiased.

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