Gagged over Dove licensing says Sidmouth Town Council

PUBLISHED: 12:28 09 November 2008 | UPDATED: 11:36 17 June 2010

GAGGED from making representation during the recent Dove Inn licensing inquiry, Sidmouth Town Council is writing to Government ministers and East Devon MP Hugo Swire to express their anger and frustration.

GAGGED from making representation during the recent Dove Inn licensing inquiry, Sidmouth Town Council is writing to Government ministers and East Devon MP Hugo Swire to express their anger and frustration.

Six town councillors, also serving district councillors, left the room for Monday's discussion, instigated by chairman Councillor Tom Cox.

He said under the Gambling Act regulations the town council was not allowed to make representation.

"It was said we were not a responsible authority, which we take great exception to. The council was essentially gagged.

"We have been told, and the clerk checked several times with EDDC before the hearing, that we were not a responsible authority.

"This is completely against local democracy. The people of Sidmouth expected us to make a louder noise on it."

He said while the council objected at the planning stage to an adult gaming centre, it was hamstrung at the licensing hearing.

However, since then he had been told by EDDC that had individuals asked councillors to make representation for them, they could have spoken.

"I find that disgraceful if that is a result of central Government legislation," he said.

Mr Cox wanted to write to the Ombudsman complaining about the lack of democratic representation allowed to the council.

"We need to mobilise against this destruction of local democracy.

"I don't want to challenge people's representation, I want to widen it. How can certain organisations be there and not us?"

Councillor Chris Wale proposed writing to Government, Mr Swire and EDDC.

He said: "We are local democracy, the voice that represents the public. If this is Government legislation this is gagging.

"I want us to make a strong statement and not be fobbed off. If we take this and walk away who knows what comes next?"

Councillor John Dyson described the situation as "despicable."

He said: "I have had all sorts of people ask about this and I have had to stonewall on it.

"I think we should look to get the support of the community through some form of petition."

Other councillors spoke in similar vein and Councillor Simon Pollentine suggested contacting the relevant government minister to express concerns of a flaw in the Gambling Act.

*Write to the Editor at 106 High Street, Sidmouth, EX10 8EF.

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