• THOUSANDS turn out for Sidmouth protest rally

    3rd November 2012 | News | Claire
  • Representatives from villages and towns right across the district who were unhappy with EDDC’s development plans in their area, were out in force bearing placards with anti-EDDC slogans.

    It is thought that around 3,800 people marched in the chilly November winds, from the seafront to the Knowle.

    Tipton resident, Kelly Lynch was there, leading the march alongside residents from Feniton, West Hill, Whimple, Wiggaton, Seaton, Exmouth, Budleigh Salterton, Ottery St Mary and Westclyst.

    Members of the Green Party were also there supporting the cause.

    A reporter from The Daily Telegraph was present, as was ITV Westcountry, reporters from the Express & Echo, Western Morning News and the Sidmouth Herald.

    The rally kicked off to a rendition of Joni Mitchell’s, ‘Big Yellow Taxi,’ followed by speeches from Save Our Sidmouth’s Richard Thurlow and Robert Crick.

    Then, just after 11am, the march started, led by vintage car, nicknamed ‘toastrack’ with thousands tracking along the seafront and crossing the road on the way up to the destination – EDDC’s offices at Knowle.

    I was walking in the middle of the procession and there were so many people I could not see the beginning or the end of the line of people.  Just a crowd snaking ahead and behind. 

    The enormous crowd of people made a beeline for the Knowle, where EDDC leader, Cllr Paul Diviani, was pouring tea and coffee for protesters, along with Seaton councillor, Stephanie Jones. Some other senior officers and councillors were waiting outside the building to receive protesters as they arrived, including chief executive, Mark Williams and head of finance, Simon Davey.

    We gathered and heard more rousing speeches from SOS’s Richard Thurlow, Michael Temple, Robert Crick and Ed Harrison.

    Then to a chorus of jeering and booing, EDDC leader Paul Diviani addressed the crowd.  It was difficult to hear what he said amid the shouts and angry catcalls, but I think I caught something about the crowd being ‘thanked for taking an interest in planning,’ which I thought may have been a bit of an understatement in the circumstances!

    It was unprecedented and amazing.  And it was clear that Sidmouth – or in fact anywhere in East Devon – had probably never seen the like of this ever before.

    History was made today – and things have undoubtedly changed.  People will have sensed what can be achieved when they unite for a cause.

    And so has East Devon District Council.

    ITV Westcountry’s report is here:  News at 17.50 this evening.

    Photograph courtesy of Diane Kendall-Torry:  Some of the crowd gathering at the Knowle.