The Leader of the District Council has defended the Cabinet recommendation of a move from Knowle to Skypark:
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Futures Forum: How to alienate your electorate and lose influence
At tomorrow's full Council meeting, several members of the public will be speaking - all of whom beg to differ.
Futures Forum: District Council meets to consider issue of relocating from Knowle to Skypark ... Weds 26th February
In the previous two weeks, there have been several letters on the subject - and many of the issues will be raised tomorrow - all published with permission:
Stop this Skyparking
21st February 2014
East Devon District Council's cabinet decision to re-locate its offices to Skypark (or else Clyst
House which is larger than Knowle while its offices are older than the purpose-built ones at
Knowle) represents yet another phase of an ill-thought-out project taken in the face of common
sense, in direct opposition to the wishes of the people of East Devon and in reckless disregard of the
financial risks and costs involved.
Public assets are to be sold off right left and centre to fund a move to an area which is almost
outside the limits of the district – these include Knowle, with its historic house and precious
community asset, its purpose-built modern offices, together with the best of its heritage park, plus
the Manstone site and the Heath Park site at Honiton; and hubs are to be set up around the district,
all adding to the enormous costs incurred so far, not to mention the huge borrowing costs over the
next few years. No doubt, too, building costs will rise as in nearby Dorchester, North Somerset and
elsewhere. Moreover, jobs will almost certainly be lost to East Devon residents, these being taken
by people nearby in Exeter. (I gather, too, that in a recent “survey”, current staff did not vote for the
move to Skypark and they were not even allowed to vote for the option of staying at Sidmouth.)
And what is all this for? EDDC claim it will save council-tax payers money. And if it doesn't, who
will pay? You got it – we the taxpayers. Perhaps if the Cabinet, their leader and Mr Cohen, for
instance, were prepared to underwrite any loss we might be convinced, but we see no reason to trust
their maths, especially as they were unable even to count the number of jobs that would be lost to
workers from Sidmouth and have signally failed to estimate the costs of renovating the purposebuilt
1980s offices at Knowle or to consider selling/renting the historic hotel building to fund this.
Why has there been no independent survey done on the current offices?
In the meantime EDDC have failed in their duty of care in maintaining their present offices over the
past few years with the result that they have inflated the costs of repairs. Was this deliberate or sheer
It was clear, when EDDC announced the optional sites for re-location, that a key consideration was
the “need” for a Business Centre which presumably will be incorporated into the new offices. Why
is this? Could it possibly be that they intend to return to “business as usual” as in the heyday of
disgraced ex-councillor Brown who chaired the Local Plan Panel while also being the Chairman of
the East Devon Business Forum, an unelected body representing mainly large developers.
Did the people of East Devon really vote to be ruled by such a “joint body”?
Call for call-in of Cabinet’s decision to move to Skypark | Save Our Sidmouth
Meanwhile, the chair of the SOS grouping has written directly to District Councillors:
SOS to EDDC Councillors, re Skypark | Save Our Sidmouth
And the secretary of the Knowle Residents Assn sent a letter to the Rt Hon Hugo Swire MP, following a face-to-face meeting on the matter:
Letter to Hugo Swire, MP, re. voicing shared concerns about Knowle relocation | Save Our Sidmouth