Sensible move?


- Credit: Getty Images/Hemera

I trust that readers will bear with me in this reply to Councillors Twiss’s letter which was in last week’s Herald

I only hope that they have the willpower to follow the somewhat tortuous discussions about the real effect on Sidmouth of East Devon District Council’s proposed move and the costs of doing so.

As usual, EDDC’s comments are complicated by obfuscation and lack of clarity, leaving out inconvenient facts and considerations.

We will, we fear, have to agree to disagree about some of the facts relating to the council’s pipe-dream of relocating from Sidmouth, but it is worthwhile asking some questions;-

? Cllr Twiss baldly states that;-

? “remaining in Knowle is not an option”

? “the move is necessary”

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? “the Knowle buildings are not Fit For Purpose”

None of these statements is supported by any facts; they represent an EDDC predetermined view, to which any evidence is then related.

We challenge Cllr Twiss to define ‘fitness for purpose’ and then provide real measured evidence as to how the Knowle fails this definition.

? Cllr Twiss acknowledges that there will be significant job losses in Sidmouth, (90). The 20 jobs he sees as being created were in fact estimated to be created by the provision of a Care Home on the Knowle; which has now been abandoned by EDDC.

In the light of this, perhaps he can tell us where and what these new jobs will be; in any event they will hardly be an adequate replacement for high quality jobs in EDDC offices.

? EDDC’s own figures state that local spend by EDDC employees is nearly £1m pa, and that £3.5m pa accrues to the Sidmouth economy through competitive tendering.

Should a move take place, Sidmouth will certainly lose the former, and may well lose much of the latter, because it will be geographically more remote and therefore costs will be higher.

Perhaps Cllr Twiss will let us know how these economic losses to Sidmouth will be replaced?

? Our detailed calculations show that the existing “modern” offices, (built by EDDC in 1970 onwards), are nearly sufficient in area to satisfy their needs. Cllr Twiss disputes our figures.

Perhaps Cllr Twill can provide the detailed calculation which supports his rejection of our figures.

? We know that a 20 per cent design and construction contingency has been incorporated, but the existence of build and occupation risks has been omitted from the risk table.

Perhaps Cllr Twiss will say why EDDC is not considering publicly and proactively managing these risks through the table.

? Perhaps Cllr Twiss will let us know why EDDC propose to relocate from the Knowle, when their proposals are in direct contravention of Policy E3 in their new Local Plan, which states that “Permission will not be granted for the change of use of current or allocated employment land and premises where it would harm business and employment opportunities in the area”.

Finally, what Cllr Twiss cannot dispute is EDDC’s proposal to borrow £4.8million in order to finance an unnecessary move that council tax payers were promised would be cost neutral.

How sensible is that at a time when councils everywhere are being forced to tighten their belts?

Richard Thurlow

via email.