Save Our Sidmouth


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Who do you want to represent us? Quiz Devon County Council candidates at hustings TONIGHT, 7pm, Sidford Social Hall

All six candidates have been invited to answer the public’s questions at tonight’s hustings, organised by the Sidford-Sidbury Residents’ Group. Don’t miss this chance to assess who will be your best choice.

Jeannie Alderdice (Green)

Ray Davison (Labour)

Stuart Hughes (Conservative)

Lewis Ragbourn (Liberal Democrats)

Marianne Rixson (Independent East Devon Alliance)

Richard Wright (UKIP)

Whatever happens at national level, your vote at the local Devon County (DCC) elections on 4th May will affect your daily life.  Sid Valley has experience of this, having being let down by a flawed County Highways report, which initially supported a proposed Business Park site at Sidford. The report was only re-assessed, and the proposal rejected, after massive public pressure inspired by meticulous research from our newly elected District Councillors and the Sid Vale Association (a founder-member of the Save Our Sidmouth, SOS, campaign).

As reported in the Sidmouth Herald (14 April 2017), the date limit for an appeal on the Business Park refusal expired on 27th March 2017. Richard Thurlow, Chair of the Sid Vale Association (SVA) Conservation and Planning Committee , is quoted as saying, “We were all delighted when the application was refused in September last year, but there was always the  chance that the decision might be appealed. We can now feel relieved that this ‘Sword of Damocles’ has been lifted. However, the site still exists in the Local Plan as an ’employment site’ and we must still be aware that other proposals might come forward–and we must be prepared to fight them if they do.”

Meanwhile, South West Water began drilling boreholes on the ’employment site’ in January this year. Results of their testing for water quality, apparently relating to a possible new supply for a rapidly expanding Sidmouth, are awaited.

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Appeal to councillors ”secretly sat on a few acres of land”, by senior EDDC officer

Ed Freeman, EDDC’s  Lead Planning Officer appears to have re-ignited potential conflict of interest in his e-mail to East Devon District Councillors, on 23 Feb 2017. In it, he says,”…if you are secretly sat on a few acres of land and would like to put it forward for development now is the time to tell us!”

The context of this appeal by Mr Freeman, is the preparation for a “Greater Exeter Strategic Plan” (GESP), with Exeter in partnership with Teignbridge, Mid-Devon, Devon County Council, and EDDC, for the period up to 2040.  He explains that it will “address large scale housing sites (around 500 homes or more) and employment sites”, along with associated road and rail networks, and that GESP “will ultimately supersede some of the strategy policies in the Local Plan”  www.gesp.org.uk.

This morning, Mr Freeman has issued a subsequent e-mail, assuring the public that “Engagement with stakeholders and communities will be critical to the success of the Plan”. He is unlikely to create confidence, given EDDC’s sorry record in this respect: the ongoing Knowle relocation mess is just one prime example.

Stuck with the taint of the Graham Brown affair, EDDC’s “call for sites” should be correctly handled. Complete transparency does not fit with hints that some councillors might be  “secretly sat on a few acres of land” .

Note from SOS: Some dangers of planning secrecy are clear from this example:

How did business-park on-a-Sidford -floodplain come to be in the Local Plan?

 


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Turning our backs on 2016. Raising a glass to the New Year!

As the New Year approaches, some seasonal left-overs require some imagination. For SOS they include the turkey of EDDC’s relocation project, and the mincemeat that was made of the relocation budget, for its uncertainty and overspends, by Opposition Councillors and members of the public*, at the final Full Council meeting of 2016. That meeting (21 Dec, at Knowle) is pictured below, viewed  from near the microphone stand used for public question time. (See link  below**, for comments on this seating / speaking/ arrangement.)

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With seasonal irony, Sidmouth Town Ward  Member, Cathy Gardner (Leader of East Devon Alliance), spoke of a revelation by Deputy EDDC Leader, Andrew Moulding as “a miracle”.  She was drawing attention to  Cllr  Moulding’s surprise statement a few days earlier, (rather oddly included in a press release on Sidmouth’s beach management plan), that the District Council’s relocation project is “cost-neutral”.  Cllr Moulding, looking serious and possibly flustered, did not respond, and disappointingly was not asked to do so by the Chair, Stuart Hughes. But councillors and the public alike will presumably want to know what change has brought about this new “cost-neutral” stance.

No doubt all will become clear as 2017 unfolds..

Happy New Year to all who have contributed to the Save Our Sidmouth campaign (There’s a reminder of actions and progress timetabled on the OUR CAMPAIGN page). 2016 has seen curtailed two major developments planned for the Sid Valley : a large Sidford Business Park on a floodplain, with highways problems; and at Knowle, a change from major employment land to restricted (over 60’s) residential use.  The outcome may result in a more appropriate type and scale of development to secure Sidmouth’s  future as a unique, balanced community and tourist town. But SOS is very aware that the Port Royal and seafront ‘regeneration’, in EDDC’s hands, will be key.

So let’s raise a New Year glass to continued active public support for our new EDDC local representatives; to the Neighbourhood Plan Team born of the refreshed Town Council http://www.sidmouth.gov.uk/index.php/neighbourhood-plan ; and to all other Voluntary Groups, notably the  Sid Vale Association http://sidvaleassociation.org.uk and Vision Group for Sidmouth http://futuresforumvgs.blogspot.co.uk  , and the recently established Sid Valley Residents’  group https://www.facebook.com/sayNOtoSidfordBusinessPark/.  All contribute to ensuring that those responsible for re-shaping the Sid Valley, led by Cllr Andrew Moulding, and Deputy CEO Richard Cohen, will get things right.

*https://saveoursidmouth.com/2016/12/22/eddc-relocation-has-hallmarks-of-a-dodgy-project-full-council-is-advised/

**https://saveoursidmouth.com/2016/12/22/eddc-majority-turn-their-backs-on-the-public-yet-again/