Thursday, 12 March 2015

Knowle relocation project: deciding to sell >>>>>>>> Cabinet: Wednesday 11th March >>> reports

Later this evening, the Audit & Governance and Overview & Scrutiny Committees will be meeting to consider the selling of Knowle:
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: deciding to sell >>> Audit and Scrutiny combined Cttees: Thursday 12th March
Audit and Governance Committee agendas - East Devon District Council
Overview and Scrutiny Committee agendas - East Devon District Council

Last night, the cabinet met to do the same:
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: deciding to sell >>> Cabinet: Wednesday 11th March

Here's the view from the East Devon Watch blog:


12th March 2015

True to form, East Devon District Council’s all-Conservative Cabinet tonight voted unanimously to press on with relocation from the Knowle.

There were two questions from the public, from Dr Cathy Gardner of East Devon Alliance, and from 16-year-old Gemma Manley. (We’ll post details later)

Five Sidmouth Ward members were present (no sign of Cllr Hughes).

Graham Troman spoke out against the loss of Sidmouth jobs; the rising asset value of the Knowle site; and of the potential better use of the 1980s purpose-built offices.

Peter Sullivan asked if the Town Council would get a pay-out from EDDC to help maintain the gardens. Richard Cohen replied that a deal would probably be struck with them.

Frances Newth wondered how much the local ‘hubs’ would cost ( Cohen said “Hubs” (his own term!) “is a bit of a misnomer” . EDDC would provide services, using existing sites where possible, but this would become clearer “when we know what the needs are”.

Cllrs Drew and Kerridge didn’t have any questions, as “Everything’s been asked”.

Ward member for Exmouth, Cllr Tim Wood congratulated the Sidmouth members “for fighting so well on behalf of Sidmouth”, and said they had got “an extraordinarily good deal. “I get annoyed”, he said,”When we are told we are abusing Sidmouth’s heritage”. (Was he referring to the SVA publication, ‘A Stately Pleasure Dome’ ?).

But Cllr Pook reminded his colleagues that the relocation build costs “were going over our budget”, and that he would rather have a “break even situation” . (EDWatch note: Yes, whatever happened to “Cost neutral”?) “I take on board your challenge to keep costs down”, promised Richard Cohen.

Cllr Ian Thomas seemed to have overstepped the mark with his long list of concerns. The Leader impatiently chided him, saying “How many questions are you going to ask?” One of those questions was about risk, and what the consequences would be “in the event that no planning permission was given”.

Rounding up the debate, Cllr Diviani acknowledged that £7-8million for Knowle “was not the best deal I thought we might have got” . There was “a blight on it from the planning application that got turned down”, he claimed, putting the blame for the low price entirely on Save Our Sidmouth!!!

6 thoughts on ““A very noisy group of people in Sidmouth” have irritated Cllr Tim Wood”

Vikki says:
12 Mar 2015 at 8:38am

A few things struck me at last night’s Cabinet Meeting.
The best example of how little some Tory councillors know and understand the detail of the relocation project, and how they are just there to vote as told, was to be found with Cllrs Drew and Kerridge concluding early on in question time, that everything seemed to have been asked. No wonder Leader Diviani was so tetchy when Cllr Ian Thomas raised a good number of important questions that hadn’t occured to Cllrs Drew and Kerridge. How refreshing to hear someone say, if you want my support I need some answers.
Given the enthusiasm for an EDDC branch in Exmouth from Cllr Elson, I wondered why I could recall nothing of her arguing the Exmouth case when Honiton was the original choice, or subsequently, Skypark. Another example of the all too frequent selective support.
Tim Wood, as may be expected from a former Tory MP Whip, lashed into residents who had exercised their democratic rights to speak out. Dissent is not something he is used to.
One particularly worrying view that became clear was the appaent view, from officers and some members, that green space had little integral value. It would appear that unless hoards of people are constantly using it, then it is quite approprate to take legal steps to acquire it and change its legal status, and then flog it off. Is it any wonder that EDDC approve so many developments on green land?
Leader Diviani raised an interesting point in closing the debate, saying he had been behind the relocation idea for ten years; others too had mentioned that they had supported the project for many years. Given such historical support, should it not have been a leading item in their past manifestos?

Councillor Eileen Wragg says:
12 Mar 2015 at 8:48am

Tim Wood cannot be a Cabinet Member as he is Chairman of Scrutiny. Scrutiny Chairmen cannot be Cabinet Members (yet!) as Scrutiny have to scrutinise decisions/recommendations made by other Committees. That is one of their functions.

East Devon Watch says:
12 Mar 2015 at 10:13am

Thank you, Eileen. Text corrected.

Sandra Semple says:
12 Mar 2015 at 11:08am

So, nothing to do with the buyers having taken advantage of EDDC painting themselves into a corner then? EDDC has put its deposit down on a new, as yet unbuilt, home whilst not being able to sell its old one first and needing planning permission from the next council as its version of a (huge) bridging loan. Buyers knew this and lowered their prices.

How ironic if “Greater Exeter” becomes a unitary authority and decides that the Honiton (and/or Exmouth) offices will be redundant!

Or maybe this is the Masterplan. And, as Mrs Wragg so rightly points out, if this move was discussed by Tories for 10 years and never made it into their manifestos, what else is going on behind our backs?

Graham Sidmouth says:
12 Mar 2015 at 12:19pm

There are so many flaws with this scheme that it is doomed to fail.
1 No Mandate, If Cllr Diviani has waited 10 years, why the unnecessary rush before Election Day?
2 The newer purpose built Knowle office IS FIT FOR PURPOSE.
3 Why trash a spectacular park landscape of national significance to pay for a tin shed on a remote industrial estate?
4 Location Location Location Selling the Knowle at the bottom price is foolish particularly when the Honiton site is of such low value. What will be the resale price of the new £12m HQ be? £1m or £2m? If so EDDC will be in negative equity.
5 Makes no financial sense to risk so much of our money for such little return over 20 years. Better surely for district to invest in Tourism, affordable homes and improved services.
4 Energy Bill Projections false! Multi -centre programme will increase energy usage and what about increased journey distance to a place which is poorly located for public transport?
5 Carbon emissions are therefore greatly increased particular with hubs and new retirement development.
6 Sidmouth will lose quality jobs to economy and doesn’t need yet more old people. (Retired people are more likely to vote Tory – anyone remember Shirley Porter scandal at Westminster!) .
7 The way to save money would surely be to remove this tiresome and incompetent layer of LA bureaucracy.
Do not let a small number of developer friendly individuals and their bean counters ruin Sidmouth’s magnificent Heritage on this totally unnecessary waste of public money.

“A very noisy group of people in Sidmouth” have irritated Cllr Tim Wood | East Devon Watch

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