Drill Hall matter needs resolving


- Credit: Getty Images/Hemera

In my letter of May 2, I aimed to defend myself and colleagues against the claim by Chris Gibbings that we were an ‘unrealistic group’ that had given ‘the EDDC an excuse to do nothing’ with the Port Royal area.

It is unfortunate, as I in fact agreed with most of the rest of Chris Gibbings’s letter.

I am a citizen of East Devon, not a council leader.

The letters page of the Herald is one of the only opportunities that myself and others have to air our views.

Perhaps soon the only opportunity when EDDC reduce options for the public to attend hearings on major developments.

Should I be flattered or just appalled that two council leaders should show such complacent disregard for their responsibilities as representatives by taking up an issue with a member of the public in the letters page of the Herald without attempt to make contact first, and then make accusations of being strident, antagonistic and of kicking off a debate in the papers while themselves doing exactly that.

It shows all the disingenuous manipulation of a couple of playground bullies, rather than the actions of respected councillors.

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Perhaps they might now start using the letters page to congratulate those members of the public that work hard at their own expense to improve the tourist offer of Sidmouth on their behalf?

There is neither room nor will here to point out the flaws in their letter, but two things:

Firstly, I did meet on August 6, 2013, with the EDDC leader, chief executive and his deputy, where I presented them with a proposal for a staged redevelopment of the Drill Hall that would work with EDDC.

I will very happily publish every bit of the so-called ‘dialogue’ before and since that meeting, including Cllr Diviani’s far from amenable two-word response to an invitation to the EU TourFish conference in June.

Secondly, would EDDC please just show everyone their masterplan for the Port Royal area? That was all we asked at the start of 2012, and again only they can stop people ‘chasing hares’ if they actually revealed their plans for the area, and named the developer.

Or, if neither do exist, then maybe they can drop assertions that I stopped such a development from happening, which really is as utterly ridiculous as it sounds.

The Drill Hall has remained boarded up since 1994, and will remain so for another 20 years or more as long as EDDC continues to maintain the myth of the ever imminent redevelopment of Port Royal.

Convenient as it might be for EDDC and a select few to keep everyone believing that, but it shows only contempt for all others.

I would as ever welcome a meeting. I am still awaiting a reply from the deputy chief executive to my last email of December 20, 2013, requesting precisely that.

Matt Booth