Sunday, 28 December 2014

Knowle relocation project: District Council leader 'has refused to back down over the plans'

The Rt Hon Hugo Swire MP has declared that the move from Sidmouth should be delayed until after the election - with his statement carried in the Herald:
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: "The prudent thing to do is put everything on hold."

The Western Morning News has picked up the story:

Tory rift over costly council relocation plan in Devon

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: December 28, 2014
 Comments (1)
A Conservative MP has urged his party colleagues to put on hold a costly and controversial plan to move a council headquarters across his East Devon constituency.

Tory Hugo Swire has told the district council leader Paul Diviani it would be “prudent” to wait before relocating from Sidmouth to Honiton and Exmouth.

The plan to leave the current offices at the Knowle, which has generated widespread opposition, had targeted a newly-built HQ at Exeter’s Skypark.

But earlier this month the ruling cabinet, which insists the existing building is inefficient and dilapidated, performed a U-turn and instead backed a revised plan to move to Heathpark in Honiton and make us of existing space at Exmouth Town Hall.

Now Mr Swire has added his name to the list of opponents in calling for a pause in the proceedings.

“The prudent thing to do is to put everything on hold and not proceed at this stage,” he told the Sidmouth Herald. As MP for East Devon I would be very unhappy if it moved outside my constituency.”

Mr Swire said a number of his constituents had raised concerns about the relocation project’s figures, which “need to be looked at more closely”.

“This is not the time to do anything,” he added, suggesting the proposal be delayed unto the extent of Government cuts to grant funding is known.

Councillor Diviani has refused to back down over the plans, which would most likely see the demolition of the existing buildings at the Knowle.

Despite the commercial interest in the site, the sale of which would make up the bulk of the relocation costs, no developer has “shown an interest” in retaining and refurbishing the offices.

Independent district councillor and parliamentary candidate at the general Election Claire Wright, who attempted to halt the move earlier this month, welcomed her rival’s intervention.


  • Profile image for miniman1
    miniman1  |  December 28 2014, 7:09PM
    What Hugo Swire is really saying is "put it on hold till after the election, then we can throw money down the drain as we please"

Tory rift over costly council relocation plan in Devon | Western Morning News

This is the blog entry from independent Councillor and Parliamentary candidate Claire Wright - together with comment:

MP Swire: “Put EDDC HQ relocation on hold”

Wednesday, 24 December 2014 2 Comments by Claire
Front page story of today’s Sidmouth Herald…...
Some key quotes:
Tory MP Hugo Swire has told the leader of East Devon District Council to put its relocation project on hold.
Mr Swire says it is ‘prudent’ for the Conservative-led authority to wait before committing to a costly move from Knowle to Honiton and Exmouth.
The MP for East Devon has contacted Paul Diviani to say he does not want EDDC to move to Honiton – as it is outside his constituency – and thinks ‘more intelligent ways’ of using Knowle should be explored.
“The prudent thing to do is put everything on hold and not proceed at this stage,” Mr Swire told the Herald.
But Councillor Diviani said yesterday he will not back down – especially after the plans got the go-ahead from full council last week, when Cllr Wright’s motion was defeated.
Mr Swire commended Cllr Diviani and EDDC’s leadership for looking to operate from a more efficient HQW, but said he could not back a move to Honiton.
“As MP for East Devon, I would be very unhappy if it moved outside my constituency.” Said Mr Swire.
“Sidmouth is at the heart of my constituency”.  Mr Swire would, however, support the council and its jobs going to Exmouth – and even ‘growth point’ SkyPark.
1. At 09:25 pm on 24th Dec Sandra Semple wrote:
What tosh this man speaks.  First he says he is against relocation until the project finance is clearer and then he says he would have been ok with EDDC moving to Skypark!  Anyone else see the flawed logic here?  EDDC has been as secret about Knowle and Skypark as it is about Knowle and Exmouth/Honiton, so he is just being oportunist as a vote-catcher in his (now very threatened) constituency!
Still, one thing is clear: our Tory council doesn’t care a jot what our Tory MP thinks - so that okd chestnut of council and MP working together if they are the same party isn’t true -  so best vote for the Independent who has shown common sense and integrity throughout and hasn’t wavered!
2. At 11:07 pm on 24th Dec RealZorro1 wrote:
This has made my Xmas! Keep going Claire!  Clr Diviani et al have got it so wrong. Even Hugo sees votes going south at the election. There will be local Conservative fallout as we get closer to May.  A cull (can I say that?) might end up being such an understatement yet.
MP Swire: “Put EDDC HQ relocation on hold” - Claire Wright

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