Public spirited

SIR - With reference to Mr Graham A Bishop’s letter in the Herald of May 20, in which he “freely” offers his time to sit on a group to benefit the town in discussing what should be done with any money which may be forthcoming from the Fortfield development, if, in fact, planning permission is granted.

I applaud his public spirit, but we already have just such a group operating in the town, duly elected members of the Town Council. People who, just like Mr Bishop, are public-spirited and give freely of their time and, what is more, are prepared to put their head on the block to stand for election.

Mr Bishop makes a point about being “free”. Well, most of the Town Councillors don’t take the few hundred pounds a year expenses they could claim and others I know make a claim and then donate it to a local charity not otherwise supported by the Town Council. Even those who do take what is available, are well out of pocket by the end of the year.

The Town Council is a “Statutory Consultee” to the planning authority and, as such, has to be listened to, though not necessarily agreed with, by EDDC.

That is much more power than any non-elected pressure group can possibly have. Mr Bishop, why not take what is a second chance and answer an advert shortly to be placed for three Councillors to be co-opted on to the Town Council to fill those three places no one was prepared to put themselves forward for election? Not one of the other seats on the Town Council resulted in a contest; obviously everyone in the Town must be totally satisfied with everything they do.

It is a matter, finally, for decision by EDDC and at least some put themselves forward in the recent elections for that, though, even then, three of the EDDC seats in Sidmouth were uncontested. Once again, obviously total confidence and no need for unelected pressure groups. Why not contact Cllrs Sullivan (also past Chairman of the Town Council), Newth and Kerridge, the three recently elected EDDC Sidmouth Town ward members in whose area of responsibility the Fortfield site lies? Tell them what you all want, so they can do what you elected them for, represent your views. I, for one, hope they fight to keep any money that may become available in Sidmouth for the good of Sidmouth, so it’s now up to them.

Maybe the Herald can lead a campaign to find out just what people in the town do want and assist the elected members make their decisions.

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My two pence worth - redevelop the Port Royal area, now totally owned by EDDC and the Town Council, with some seafront tourism employment to replace the jobs lost at the Fortfield. Maybe the proposed developers of the Fortfield site could put some ideas forward here too.

Of course, provision for the Lifeboat and the Sailing Club is a must. With so many new houses going up in Sidmouth (another debate) we need more employment opportunities.

Chris Gibbings