Friday, 21 December 2018

Knowle relocation project: selling off council furniture and chattels to councillors

The District Council's leadership clearly felt that the fittings and furnishings at Knowle are rather nice - as they had a photo of their leader standing in front of a fireplace for the latest press release:

Futures Forum: District Council annual message: "East Devon's many achievements over the last year"

When the District Council moves to Honiton, it will not be taking the Victorian fireplace with it:
Futures Forum: Knowle: Victorian hotel: heritage asset or not...
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: and protecing our heritage

However, a Councillor (who makes it clear that they are from Exmouth) will be taking something with them: the rather nice table in the Members' Room:

Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: "Impressive 1880s Victorian heritage"

As revealed earlier today by the East Devon Watch blog:


21 DEC 2018

It appears that councillors and officers have been given first dibs of Knowle assets, in advance of the move to Honiton and one of them has rather jumped the gun on claiming his prize.

Is this best value or equitable, Owl ponders? As does at least one independent councillor.

Note: Neither of these emails were marked private and/or confidential when acquired by Owl.

From a well-known Conservative councillor:

Subject: Re; Large Table In Members Area

“Dear Members and SMT,

Subject: Re; Large Table In Members Area

You will all be aware there has been an auction of council furniture, chattels etc of which I bid for a few bits and pieces.

I bid on behalf of my partner for the very large table in the members area along with the 20 green chairs that we all sit around.

I have been told that I have been successful in my bid so the table along with the 8’ extension is heading back to Exmouth to sit in (address of councillor), Exmouth in its rightful Town (some may say).

The relevance of my informing yourselves is that the rightful date of removal is end of January/ beginning of February when we finally ‘pull out of the Knowle.

I would apologise for the short notice but we have 22 family members to Christmas dinner and would like to pick the table up tomorrow as it appears it is the last day of our offices being open, which of course would mean I couldn’t collect it on Monday, 24th, as we will be closed.

We do have one or two meetings between the New Year and our final pull out but I feel it only right to ask members if indeed anybody felt offended if it was collected tomorrow on our last day.

I will fully respect any position any member may feel regarding it being removed earlier and would kindly request your thoughts.

If indeed it were removed earlier I have spoken to Simon Allchurch who feels we could put a few of the red tables on wheels in the place of the table and there is an array of chairs to use for members in the interim so it doesn’t look bare.

I must again apologise for the short notice but with the closing date being the 19th and all that goes with it at this time of year I would like to think you may grant me a little latitude (or not).

Best wishes and a Happy Xmas to one and all.”

And here is the response from an Independent councillor

“I feel I must reiterate my comment from when this started. Who authorised the ‘private sale’ of Council property to staff and members? Why are we not duty-bound to seek the best price at public auction? No-one answered my questions.

Will we ever know the proceeds of this internal sale for the public record?

I strongly suspect that members of the public would be shocked to know that councillors have been able to buy items in this way. It is somehow appropriate that 22 family members will sit down to feast at this table, assuming the removal goes ahead.”

Plundering of Knowle assets by councillors? Best value? | East Devon Watch


Pat said...

How nice for you to have your table and chairs for Xmas when some homeless people had a tent given to them removed by your council. It has rained on them ever since, but enjoy your good fortune. I wonder did you even pay the cost of a 2 person tent???

Jeremy Woodward said...

Thanks, Pat,
Spot on!
Especially in light of a piece on Devon Live:
There are two takes on this, I'd say:
1) Rather than give us much needed affordable housing at Knowle, the District Council have instead sacrificed it for an expensive retirement complex:
2) On the other hand, the District Council does have a lot of stuff on-line re homelessness. But it does get rather party-political, with the East Devon Conservatives making much noise about what they are doing:
You wonder why the guy in the car on the seafront hasn't been helped, then:
Thanks again.