Councillor quartet bid to justify move to SkyPark
09:30 08 March 2014
FOUR of Sidmouth’s seven district councillors have voiced a united verdict over the authority’s controversial move to SkyPark.
Councillors Peter Sullivan, Frances Newth, Christine Drew and Chris Wale issued a joint response after being asked to say why they believe the mooted relocation is in the best interests of residents and traders.
The poser was issued by their town council colleague Kelvin Dent, who wanted to know the members’ thoughts on the impact on Sidmouth’s economy and delivery of services. The quartet of councillors, who stressed a final decision on the relocation has not been made, said in a statement: “Where the district council operates is a matter for the district council.”
They added that officers and staff who live in Sidmouth are ‘unlikely to move and will still maintain their current spending pattern in the town’.
“Many EDDC staff members do not live in Sidmouth and their spending pattern is clearly different in Honiton, Seaton, Axminster and Exeter where they do,” said the councillors.
“There is comparatively little ‘footfall’ between EDDC staff at Knowle and the town centre during working hours and very little economic activity providing benefit to Sidmouth from the sandwich and ice cream trade. A new development at Knowle will bring in an additional and probably new set of people to the town - as was the case when the homes in Knowle Drive were built in the grounds of Knowle, and where Cllr Dent lives - to spend some of their cash locally.
“We do question how EDDC’s moving is a complete disadvantage given that Skinners, Bagwells and Fords provide services to EDDC across the district and will continue to do so with no loss of employment or local spend in the Sidmouth economy. New homes at Knowle will be an economic benefit to Sidmouth given the likely development type that will take place there. This makes room for a good ‘trade-off’.
“EDDC will also have a ‘touch pad’ in all major towns…in addition to mobile working where the staff get to people who can’t get to them to deliver services.”
They added that all residents will also be given access to the council through its website, by telephone, visits by staff ‘so no one will be disadvantaged wherever EDDC’s future location may be’.
Cllr Stuart Hughes did not sign the statement as he is ‘totally against’ any move from Knowle. He said there will be a ‘detrimental effect’ on Sidmouth that will impact on the town’s economy, adding: “East Devon’s consultants will tell a different story – but they will always tell you what you want to hear.”
Mr Hughes added that he had spoken to staff and he ‘hasn’t found one who wants to move’.
The question was put to the district representatives who also sit on Sidmouth Town Council.