WHEN Paul Diviani was elected Leader of East Devon District Council he made the pledge that he and his administration would be “clean, green and seen”.
Clean? I am not sure what he meant, it might have been a promise about rubbish collection, but the scandals that have beset him – particularly that of disgraced ex-councillor Graham Brown – have ensured that “clean” cannot apply to our council at this time.. He was simultaneously a builder, planning consultant, councillor in charge of drafting the Local Plan, and chairman of the dubious East Devon Business Forum (a group of developers totally funded by EDDC and with one of EDDC’s senior officers as its busy honorary secretary).
Green? We have no Local Plan (in preparation since 2007 and recently thrown out by a planning inspector for having plucked housing numbers “out of thin air”), leaving us at the mercy of rapacious developers. Our areas of outstanding beauty are under threat from these same developers and Gittisham, a small village, has been assessed as being a “sustainable” development despite protests from the county council (inadequate school places), the National Health Service and Natural England and having non-existent infrastructure nor any to be provided.
Seen? Are they having a laugh? Restrictions on public speaking, secrecy about the move of their HQ from Sidmouth to the far western edge of the district (22 miles from Seaton, five miles from Exeter city centre) that has led to the council appearing in Exeter Magistrates Court to appeal a decision by the Information Commissioner who says at least some of the secret information should be shown to us, the public, who are paying for the move which needs the council to sell their land in Sidmouth and Honiton (the latter for yet another supermarket).
The general concensus of opinion in East Devon seems to be that the democratic process has been abandoned and we are at the mercy of a group that is totally out of touch with the wishes and needs of its electors, but totally in touch with the wishes and needs of its developers.
How can we get out of this mess? By standing for election as truly independent district councillors (and not the paper independence of some who will shrug off party loyalty to get elected again this time and support that party thereafter), by voting in May 2015 for truly independent district councillors and by voting for a truly independent MP who will represent the district 100 per cent of the time and with 100 per cent of their commitment.