• Secrecy ‘torpedoed’

    2nd November 2012 | News | Claire
  • Cllr Cox has used some emotive language in the article, including:

    ‘torpedoed’ ‘meddling’ and accusing Cllr Giles of ‘scuppering the whole thing.’

    But why and what is he so furious about?

    Last week, Cllr Giles spotted an innocuous looking report in the confidential section of EDDC’s cabinet agenda papers (meeting on Wednesday 31 October), written by economic development officer, Nigel Harrison. 

    As Cllr Cox outlines in today’s Herald it related to plans to create office space in the ground floor of the Ottermill Switchgear factory site – the dilapidated building at the entrance to the town. 

    This was significant.  Firstly, because the ground floor of the factory site has been talked about for years by community groups and by Ottery St Mary Town Council, as having the potential for community use. 

    Secondly, a planning application for developing the factory site, is imminent.  The correct route for deciding the use of the ground floor SHOULD have been the subject of community debate, as part of the application.

    Thirdly, what is the justification for taking a secret decision behind closed doors, at this early stage, that has not been consulted on with the community, Ottery St Mary Town Council, or his fellow ward member?

    Fortunately, thanks to Cllr Giles’ representations to the deputy chief executive and chief executive, a decision was taken to withdraw the agenda item from Wednesday’s cabinet meeting. 

    If the report had been debated and approved, which would have been the likely outcome, Ottery people’s options would have been removed before they even knew anything about it. 

    But EDDC would have been quids in!

    Cllr Cox seems furious that democracy has taken precedence over secrecy. 

    It seems to me that this little vignette is a symptom of the deep malaise that afflicts East Devon District Council.  The ‘we know what’s best for you’ attitude of the ruling conservative group gives it a licence to bulldoze what’s in its way, to get what it wants. 

    But this attitude cannot last forever because people will not put up with it forever. 

    I am looking forward to tomorrow’s march at Sidmouth, starting at 11am near Alma Bridge (eastern end of the seafront).

    I hope to see you there!

    Read the ‘Torpedoed’ Ottery Herald story HERE