Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Regenerating Exmouth seafront >>> the District Council gets 'creative' with creating a new 'community group' to 'deliver a vision for Exmouth'

Things aren't going very well with the District Council's pet projects - not only are they not happening, but they are not happening very expensively:
Futures Forum: The unravelling of projects in East Devon

The Exmouth seafront project has been discussed at Cabinet 
Futures Forum: Regenerating Exmouth seafront >>> cabinet report Wednesday 9th November >>> demonstration Saturday 12th November >>> reports

And it has been the focus of a pretty large demonstration:
Save Exmouth Seafront demo, Nov 12, 2016 - YouTube
Nearly 400 march to save Exmouth seafront - News - East Devon 24

Things seem to be getting out of hand:
EDDC majority turn their backs on the public yet again | Save Our Sidmouth
Exmouthians and the recent full council meeting – not happy … | East Devon Watch
Bay FM interview: Skinner (EDDC) v MacAllister (SES) | East Devon Watch

The latest in this extraordinary tussle between the District Council and the Save Exmouth Seafront campaign group is published on the EDW blog today:


4 JAN 2017

A press release from “Save Exmouth Seafront”:

“Councillor Skinner’s initiative with the previously unknown ‘Exmouth Creative Group’

Councillor Skinner, Chair of the secretive Exmouth Regeneration Board has threatened to ignore both the Save Exmouth Seafront (SES) Group and the Exmouth public as he goes to a previously unheard of group of elites for their opinion on the seafront.

In recent months Cllr Skinner has repeatedly avoided engaging with the Exmouth public. He has been avoiding a public Q&A meeting and stated at the East Devon District Council (EDDC) Full Council meeting of 21/12/16 that independent consultation with the public, as requested in the Town Poll, will not happen.

It has now come to light that while Cllr Skinner consistently refuses to engage with the Exmouth public he has meanwhile been in contact with the previously unheard of ‘Exmouth Creative Group’ and asked them to ‘create a vision for Exmouth’, and ‘develop proposals to deliver this vision’. Spokesperson for SES, Louise MacAllister reacted to this news:

“When I heard that Cllr Skinner was seeking the opinion of Exmouth residents regarding the future of the Exmouth Seafront I was really pleased. This is exactly what SES have been requesting through an open and independent consultation.

However I soon learned that Cllr Skinner is liaising only with a group called the ‘Exmouth Creative Group’. There are many established community groups in Exmouth with an interest in the seafront who have not been asked for their opinion.

The ‘Exmouth Community Group’ does not appear to pre-exist Cllr Skinner’s contact with the group. This is concerning as the Exmouth public made themselves very clear through the Town Poll that they want to be consulted, and yet the public are now being ignored in favour of this unknown group.

It is an incredibly disappointing stance from the Chair of the Exmouth Regeneration Board who consistently ignores my emails and fails to live up to the responsibility of his role”.

SES asked the following questions of Cllr Skinner with regards to the Exmouth Creative Group:

– What criteria did you use when selecting potential groups to communicate with?
– Why does this one group get to play a role when you are so dismissive of majority opinion?
– Who is in this group and how does one become a member?
– Why did you select a previously unknown group for this important task?
– With whom in the ‘Exmouth Creative Group’ did you broker your links?

In response Cllr Skinner rudely dismissed the questions posed with the bizarre statement that he is:

“Not a delegate, I am a councillor and am certainly not in the business of responding to you within your time scales or even at all if I so choose.”

So just as Cllr Skinner has dismissed the opinions of the wider Exmouth public, he has made it clear he will respond to a key community group only if he so chooses, and in doing so makes it clear that he does not value the group, or the wider public that SES strive to represent. Meanwhile, he has gone to an unknown group with a brief to design a vision for Exmouth Seafront.

SES strongly welcome the opportunity for the people of Exmouth to feed into ideas on the future of the seafront but not when it is conducted behind closed doors and solely with a previously unknown group who are seemingly as secretive as the Exmouth Regeneration Board members themselves.”

“Exmouth regeneration board chief threatens to ignore key community group” | East Devon Watch
Exmouth Splash - Public Opinion & Discussion Page | Facebook

It is quite a well-known and rather hollow political strategy to 'create' a group you'd like to work with - rather than the one which is already there:
Wal-Mart Concocts Fake Community Group to Gain Chicago Support | AgencySpy
Did an Industry Front Group Create Fake Twitter Accounts to Promote the Dakota Access Pipeline? | DeSmogBlog
Gatwick airport claims Heathrow set up fake support group for new runway | UK news | The Guardian

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