Another jobs blunder puts Knowle D-day back- AGAIN

RED-FACED district council chiefs have admitted that yet another gaffe in their relocation proposals underestimated how upping-sticks would cost Sidmouth jobs.

Campaigners who spotted a second blunder in the space of a fortnight have branded the project a ‘farce’ and called for it to be halted after corrected figures revealed the mooted move would ‘double’ the town’s unemployment.

The discovery this week of the fresh error in data that supports a �12,000 economic impact assessment has seen a decision over plans to redevelop Knowle postponed by another month.

A post-code mix-up has been blamed and an outline application for 50 homes and a care facility will now be debated in February.

Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce labelled the economic assessment ‘misleading and inaccurate’ after a member uncovered a new mistake in already revised statistics.

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It is the third time Save Our Sidmouth (SOS), of which the chamber is a constituent member, has queried the figures.

The data referred to the number of predicted jobs losses in Sidmouth should East Devon District Council (EDDC) move to Honiton.

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The estimated number is now around 75 – compared to an original prediction of three gains, according to protesters.

“This will double the current levels of unemployment in Sidmouth and is a completely unacceptable level of damage to the local economy,” said SOS chairman Richard Thurlow, who welcomed the latest delay.

“Confidence in the authority to competently deliver the relocation has accordingly collapsed. The process has descended into farce.

“The only sensible course of action is for EDDC to withdraw the application and reconsider the matter in a calmer way.”

An EDDC spokesman confirmed ‘a further inconsistency’ had been found in the employment statistics relating to the potential relocation.

He said figures quoted in the economic impact assessment, for the number of current employees of the council who live in Honiton, was calculated using ‘different parameters’ to Sidmouth.

This ‘skewed’ the number of potential job losses downwards by a ‘small margin’, he added.

EDDC deputy chief executive Richard Cohen said: “While it is certainly embarrassing that our figures have again been subject to an error, the latest delay demonstrates the council’s willingness to listen to those who are scrutinising our processes from outside, and the robustness of our planning service in insisting that the reports are completely accurate before taking them forward for determination.”

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