Business park petitioners defend claim of ‘aggressive’ doorstep tactics

Landscape Framework Plan of the application

Landscape Framework Plan of the application - Credit: Archant

Doorstep petitioners, campaigning against Sidford Business Park, have defended themselves after they were accused of being ‘aggressive’ towards residents refusing to sign their petition.

Landscape Framework Plan of the application

Landscape Framework Plan of the application - Credit: Archant

A Sidford High Street resident, who wished to remain anonymous, contacted the Herald after an incident last Tuesday evening (July 10).

The resident said a man knocked on his door, asking him to sign his petition against the plans, to which they declined.

He added: “Instead of accepting my decision, he asked why I declined to sign, to which I said I had no comment about it so wasn’t in a position to sign. He then continued to question me and said ‘you’re a supporter of the site then?’ in an aggressive tone.”

The resident refused to discuss it any further.

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He said: “I am in fact a supporter of the site as we need it in the Sidmouth area and I don’t think having it in Sidford will cause any long-term disruption, yet at the time

“I felt I didn’t want to give my opinion because of the aggressive nature of the campaigner.”

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The resident said he went around to his neighbour when a lady campaigner knocked on his door too, before he also declined to sign.

He added: “The lady was very pushy and wouldn’t accept that as a decision. She then went on to give figures on how many extra cars it would create through Sidford, which seemed very exaggerated.

“Like the man at our door, she started to get aggressive.

“We both felt like we were being pushed into signing something we didn’t want to, and threatened by their aggressive nature, which is not how campaigning should be.

“A petition is there for people who want to sign it because they have an opinion against something, but it felt like they just wanted as many names as possible on their petition papers, regardless of how people actually felt.”

A Say No to Sidford Park spokesman said: “It appears that strong opinions were expressed on both sides and I’m sure this was not the intention of either party.

“Our job is to tap into the views of residents rather than to seek to change opinions.

“Any such claims are disappointing to hear and 97 per cent of the people we have met on the doorstep respect our position and we respect their’s.”

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