Cllr Graham Brown (Con) and East Devon District Council’s economic development officer, Nigel Harrison, will appear together at the meeting, following Cllr Graham Troman’s (Con) call for the forum to be debated by EDDC’s overview and scrutiny committee.
Cllr Troman asked chairman of the scrutiny committee, Cllr Stuart Hughes for East Devon Business Forum to be listed on the committee’s agenda, following my motion lodged at the full council meeting on 25 July, where around 100 people were present to hear the outcome.
I proposed that EDDC should withdraw its funding of over £5,000 a year for the forum, which largely consists of major local landowner-developers.
East Devon Business Forum led by Cllr Brown, a planning consultant, has had a significant impact on EDDC’s Local Plan, including overruling the findings of an independent report on the need for employment land and instead coming up with very different conclusions – that the district needed many new industrial estates instead.
Since EDBF dismissed the independent Atkins ‘employment land’ report, which was published in 2007 – and got their own recommendations adopted instead – other organisations have stepped in to express concerns over the amount of employment land now proposed, including an independent report conducted in 2011 and Dorset County Council, which says it has ‘significant concerns’ over the amount of land proposed.
The amount of agricultural land proposed to be converted into industrial estates (employment land) means that 12 acres of land designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty at Sidmouth is now set to become an industrial estate, in plans put forward by Fords of Sidmouth, also East Devon Business Forum members.
My motion was heavily defeated as it was voted down virtually unanimously by EDDC’s conservative group.
See my blogs from July for more detail on the meeting.
Cllr Troman is concerned that East Devon Business Forum is not representative of the businesses in area.
Cllr Brown runs East Devon Business Forum alongside vice-chair, Roy Stuart – a former EDDC councillor who owns Hill Barton Industrial Estate and was behind a controversial application for 400 houses at Westclyst, which was approved by EDDC in 2010.
The link to the agenda for the scrutiny committee, which will take place on Thursday 27 September, is below. The meeting starts at 6.30pm and members of the public can speak at the beginning of the meeting or prior to each item.