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Campaigners: ‘We need root and branch reform of EDDC’

17:30 15 April 2014

SOS chairman Richard Thurlow says the Government

SOS chairman Richard Thurlow says the Government's rejection of the Local Plan leaves the East Devon district 'dangerously exposed' to developers


‘SHAMBOLIC’ East Devon District Council’s latest Local Plan knockback has prompted calls by campaigners for a ‘root and branch reform’ of the authority.

Save Our Sidmouth (SOS) says the council has left the region ‘dangerously exposed’ to developers after the document was rejected by a Government inspector – for the second time of asking – following a public inquiry.

The warning came last week after the inspector, Anthony Thickett, told EDDC bosses: “I do not consider that the Local Plan is sound – nor at this stage can it be made so by main modifications.”

Mr Thickett’s criticisms highlighted a lack of justification for the number of houses proposed, unreliable support documents, a failure to comply with the national guidelines, inappropriate and out of date evidence, a failure to co-operate with neighbouring authorities and to assess the necessary five-year supply of housing land.

The plan, five years in the making, was also only valid for 12 years – instead of the 15 asked for by the Government.

Issues such as the contentious employment site at Sidford will not be commented upon by the inspector until EDDC resubmits its housing proposals.

SOS chairman Richard Thurlow said EDDC’s ‘incompetence’ – on the plan and its relocation project – has cost tax-payers’ cash, adding: “The Local Plan has been rejected in its entirety.

“The district is dangerously exposed for the next year or so to the depredations of developers, since we don’t have a plan in place.

“The Local Plan preparation demonstrates EDDC’s shambolic and woeful performance. They have had five years to produce their plan, and now they are back to square one. We need a root and branch reform of EDDC.”

Mr Thurlow also accused council bosses of ‘a considerable glossing over of the truth’ by saying they expected more information would be required for the plan.

Without a Local Plan in place, national guidelines point in favour of planning development.

East Devon Alliance vice-chairman, Dr John Withrington said: “We should not be surprised if the Local Plan has to recommend many more houses than it does at present, to recommend substantially more growth in villages in East Devon, and for developers to be even more aggressive in their proposals as a result. And all this could have been avoided had EDDC got its act together.

“Given the seriousness of the situation, the starkly complacent comment by council leader Paul Diviani, that he is ‘very relaxed’ about starting work again on the Local Plan, is incomprehensible.”

1 comment

  • Richard Thurlow isn't the only one who thinks that EDDC is a shambles under the current Tory leadership. And not only a shambles, but secretive and wanting to avoid public scrutiny and accountability. Aside from the development free-for-all that has resulted from the lack of a Local Plan, other recent examples include: * Keeping minutes of meetings confidential possibly in contravention of the Freedom of Information Act and or the Local Government (Access to Information) Act 1985, most notably relating to the current intent to spend millions of pounds possibly unnecessarily (we don't know because the information is being kept secret) relocating the council HQ to the very edge of East Devon rather than to Honiton as promised; * Severely restricting the ability of local residents to speak against planning applications; * Criticising hard working independent councillors in this very newspaper (see the letter from local leading conservative party member John Rowland in in yesterday’s OtterySidmouth Herald heavily plagiarized from a comment from the "mysterious" Elizabeth Jones on independent EDDC Councillor Claire Wright's blog) who are simply trying to find out what is going on and hold EDDC Councillor's accountable for their decisions on our behalf. I urge everyone who cares about their local community to read the blog's from local independent councillors and make their own judgements about whether EDDC needs a 'root and branch reform'.

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    Saturday, April 19, 2014

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