Wednesday, February 22, 2012
“We’ve run out of time, we know that”
SIDMOUTH civic leaders failed to submit a response to a controversial blueprint for the future of the parish they represent – because they never officially discussed the issue.
Town councillors didn’t form a unified opinion on the district authority’s Local Plan, and missed the deadline for comments, as the matter wasn’t ever placed on an agenda for discussion.
A meeting heard how the closest the body came to formulating a response was when the chairman and vice chairman of its planning committee met at one of their houses.
One member said he was “gobsmacked” at the situation - as others voiced fears the council was “out of the loop”.
East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) vision for Sidmouth over the next 15 years features proposals for 150 new homes and the creation of five hectares of employment land.
A public consultation on the plan ended on January 31.
“We’ve run out of time, we know that,” Councillor John Hollick, town council planning chairman, told colleagues when they met last Monday.
“It should have come before this council, it hasn’t. This hasn’t progressed forward. It should have done. It has not been an agenda item and it should have been,” he added.
Councillors heard how Mr Hollick and planning vice chairman John Dyson met at one of their homes with representatives from Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce and the Sid Vale Association to formulate an opinion on the plan - but the full council never debated the topic.
“I’m gobsmacked really,” said Cllr David Addis.
“We seem to be slipping out of the loop at times,” said Cllr Simon Pollentine. “Whatever this loop is, we need to get back in it.”
Cllr David Barratt regretted the council not having its say.
“Let’s take this as a wake-up call,” he said.
“We can be parochial, because we’re just for Sidmouth.”
Cllr Ann Liverton labelled the issue a “chapter of misunderstandings”.
She said: “I’m not sure it’s the end of the world. Our EDDC members are capable of fighting Sidmouth’s corner. It’s all our faults if it’s not come here (to the town council) before.
Sidmouth Town Council did present a ‘wish list’ to EDDC last September and the draft Local Plan- the subject of the recent consultation – was subsequently drawn up.