A dirty business

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- Credit: ©ARCHANT } NORFOLK 2002.

You have probably been inundated with letters about the sacking of Councillor Hughes from his chairmanship of the overview and scrutiny committee at EDCC.

I am sure you understand it is the right of the leader of the majority group at any council, or indeed in parliament, to appoint the chairman and members of committees, as it is the right of leaders of other parties/groups to nominate their preferred members to these committees.

The sacking does however stink of revenge for Cllr Hughes’s strong representation of the people of Sidmouth.

Not being in favour of the planning application for the Knowle and agreeing as chairman of the overview committee that its subcommittee, the Task and Finish Forum (TAFF), can not only look at the goings on at the Devon Business Forum but include “planning” in its search for the truth.

The chief executive had previously ruled this was outside the remit of the TAFF.


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I hope the new chairman permits the TAFF to continue, but I have my doubts if it will ever be permitted to be effective.

One has to ask the questions “What, if anything, are they trying to hide?” and “Is this an attempt to force other councillors to keep quiet in case they get the same treatment?”

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It’s time for Sidmouth councillors to stand up and be counted – we will see if they have the courage.

I know Cllr Troman, as present chairman of the TAFF, will continue to do his best despite being promoted to vice-chairman of Cllr Hughes’s old committee. “Divide and conquer” won’t work with him.

The excuse is that Cllr Hughes is too busy at county to do his job properly at EDDC.

What total bunkum. He has had the post at Devon County Council for many years and at the same time been the chairman of the town council while being the chairman of the committee at East Devon.

He has done his time at town council and no longer has chairman’s responsibilities there, so actually has more time.

There are other East Devon councillors, one at cabinet level, who also hold or are about to hold senior positions of responsibility at county. They remain in post at EDDC. Double standards, I think.

The leader of EDDC who made this decision is himself a Devon county councillor. How, on his own judgement, can he properly carry out his duties as the leader of one council while staying a member of another?

It’s a long time to the next EDDC elections, but I hope we all remember how one hard-working member was treated for representing us properly and how others, who kept quiet, appear to have been rewarded.

Politics is a dirty business.

Chris Gibbings

Retired Sidmouth town and district councillor

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