Move to delay Knowle sale by six months is launched

EDDC's Knowle HQ. Ref shs 7701-15-12SH Picture: Simon Horn

EDDC's Knowle HQ. Ref shs 7701-15-12SH Picture: Simon Horn - Credit: Archant

Newly-elected independent representatives have launched a bid to delay East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) relocation from Sidmouth.

The attempt, led by Sidmouth Town ward representative Councillor Cathy Gardner, will be debated at an extraordinary meeting next week.

Talks were called specifically to discuss the authority’s contentious move to Exmouth and Honiton.

If successful, the proposed motion would see the sale of Knowle put on hold for six months while reports to address ‘inadequacies in the entire relocation process’ are prepared.

Cllr Gardner said: “The implications of the way the relocation project has been run affect all of us.

“This is not just a Sidmouth issue - residents all over East Devon are concerned about the conduct of the council on this matter and the financial risk of borrowing in the current climate.

“This issue has caused so much unhappiness and disquiet across the district, it is very important for a lot of people.”

Most Read

EDDC decided to proceed with the move on March 25, with councillors voting 37 to 13 in favour of a move to purpose-built facilities in Honiton and refurbished offices at Exmouth Town Hall. Council rules say that decisions can not be reviewed until six months after they are made, unless 15 members agree they should be revisited.

The extraordinary meeting on Wednesday, June 3, has been backed by other recently-elected Sidmouth councillors including David Barratt, Matt Booth, John Dyson, Dawn Manley and Marianne Rixson. Other East Devon Alliance and independent representatives have also lent their support.

EDDC’s leader, Cllr Paul Diviani, said: “While I am mindful of the fact that full council debated and approved the council’s relocation back in March and that internal and external stakeholders gave the proposed move a clean bill of health, this issue needs to be debated as quickly as possible, in order that the council can move forward and embrace modern working practices, which will reduce operating costs and prove an investment for the future.

“This motion is part of the democratic process and, as such, can happen at any time. It is not unusual for a council that is considering relocating to go through this procedure.”