The meeting was called by the Sid Vale Association, which has long campaigned for scrapping the five hectares of industrial land at Sidford, which is an allocation in the draft local plan. It has also campaigned against selling off the Knowle and building on the beautiful parkland, which has public access.
Six Sidmouth councillors were present – Graham Troman, Sheila Kerridge, Peter Sullivan, Chris Wale, Frances Newth and Christine Drew.
The councillors (with the exception of Graham Troman, who expressed much concern) all defended the office relocation and said that it needed to happen.
Cllr Stuart Hughes couldn’t be there but sent an email to say he thought it was the wrong time to be pursuing such a plan at a time of probable local government change.
There was huge scepticism about the claimed cost of refurbishing the Knowle – £15m.
Members of the public were polite, very well informed and many were outraged by the shambolic manner of the project and how astonishingly expensive it has become.
Councillors will be voting on recommendations which will give the green light to pursue Exmouth Town Hall and Honiton Business Centre as locations for relocation, next Wednesday evening at full council. To achieve this will cost around £10m of works to the existing buildings.
The council also needs to borrow in the region of almost £5m to kickstart the relocation.
And let’s not forget that the council is STILL paying barristers to keep reports secret that the Information Commissioner ruled must be public. This has been going on for MONTHS.
Many of those present wanted the Sidmouth councillors to vote against the plans when they come before full council (Wednesday 17 December, 6.30pm).
East Devon Alliance’s perspective of the meeting is here – http://eastdevonalliance.org/2014/12/10/last-nights-meeting-with-sidmouth-district-councillors/
Photograph: Last night’s meeting.