• Railway motion rescued at the last minute

    14th October 2012 | News | Claire
  • The motion, which was debated at last week’s full council meeting on 10 October, called on the government to provide early improvements to the railway line, including a passing loop near Broadclyst which would allow a half hourly service to Exeter for East Devon residents.

    Cllr Giles gave a colourful speech where he paid tribute to local councils efforts to get the work agreed.  He outlined how important the improvements were for the economy and for the convenience of local people.  Cllr Giles added that there were also significant environmental benefits.

    Following a short speech by me as seconder, council leader, Paul Diviani spoke up.  He was very supportive of the scheme but there was no need for such a motion, he said, because work was already ongoing in an attempt to provide such improvements.

    Then Cllr Peter Bowden reeled off a list of people he had met, which included former environment secretary, Caroline Spelman, adding:  “I am sure Cllr Giles accepts much has already been done.”

    But LibDem, Martin Gammell urged the council to support the motion.  He said:  “We need to keep the pressure up.  We should not be congratulating ourselves, we need to keep pecking at important people.”

    John Jeffrey, independent councillor from Seaton also backed the motion, as did independent, Ben Ingham, who said that focusing on road improvements over and above rail improvements was ‘ethically wrong.’

    Responding to mine and Cllr Ingham’s comments about the government’s apparent priority for dualling the A303 (with potential serious environmental consequences) over and above dualling of the railway line, with little or no consequences, Cllr Diviani told the meeting that East Devon “needed two roads and two railway lines,” adding:  “This motion doesn’t help that position.”

    Cllr Giles had the final say in the debate.  He was incredulous that the conservative group appeared to be about to vote against such a positive and non controversial motion.  He asked councillors why, as it was clear there was no opposition to it, it couldn’t be supported?  He said he had deliberately phrased the motion in a way that no one could possibly have any objection to it. 

    He added that he was well aware of all the work that was ongoing but it was a “long road” and now was the right time to try and drive the scheme forward.  He would have been willing to accept an amendment, he said, but he could not believe that the motion would not be supported by the conservative group.

    Then Cllr Giles requested (and it looks as though this may well have been the turning point) a recorded vote.

    The chairman, Cllr Peter Halse interjected.  He asked whether there was any possibility of the motion being ‘salvaged.’

    Cllr Peter Bowden sprung up to suggest an amendment to include words relating to the recognition of work already done on the project.

    Cllr Giles withdrew his request for a recorded vote.

    The motion was unanimously carried.

    What a palavar.