Ottery councillor battles onto LDF Panel

An Ottery district councillor has battled her way onto an important committee despite opposition from the ruling Conservatives.

Claire Wright, one of the Ottery St Mary Rural Ward representatives at East Devon District Council, initially had her name removed from a list of candidates for a position on the LDF Panel.

But after following up by fellow Independent councillors Roger Giles and Trevor Cope, her name was allowed back onto the agenda papers for last week’s meeting.

But there her nomination met with opposition by Tory whip, Phil Twiss who claimed she was ineligible for the position after her work with campaign group ‘Communities Before Developers’.

Cllr Wright’s name went forward for the panel after it was deemed there was no legal problem with her being part of the team to construct the Local Development Framework, which will decide on the controversial blueprint for the future of East Devon’s housing and business.

Once her position was ratified, she gave a speech in the chamber last Wednesday defending her membership in the face of criticism from Councillors Phillip Skinner and Graham Brown, but she did get support from Councillor Tom Wright.

She said she and Geoff Pook, the new Independent Beer and Branscombe councillor both put their names forward for the one independent spot on the panel to be decided at the meeting. But the agenda for the Annual Council Meeting only had Cllr Pook’s name on it.

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She said: “It was unclear why this omission happened and I was a bit fatalistic about it realising that despite my best efforts I could end up taking part of the blame for a horrendous final document.”

But now she is on the panel she hopes to increase transparency on LDF meetings, allow minutes of meetings to be made public along, and make sure the public and press will now be able to attend as part of her plan to help produce a strategic plan that is acceptable to East Devon residents.