Budleigh Council anger at EDDC's 'deaf ear'

PUBLISHED: 12:23 01 November 2009 | UPDATED: 12:13 10 June 2010

An open letter to East Devon District Council on behalf of Budleigh Salterton Town Council.

An open letter to East Devon District Council on behalf of Budleigh Salterton Town Council.

Many people will know that the Budleigh Salterton Town Council has recently been awarded Quality Council status. This recognises the professionalism of its approach to many matters, including the effort it makes to represent the views of the majority of townspeople on local issues. For some while now, the council has been striving to protect our world-class heritage that is the beach, the Jurassic Coast and the unique town of Budleigh Salterton. In this work, it is being seriously impeded.

It is very depressing for us to discover that the district council is not so protective and not so concerned about the town and its residents.

Look at the facts: the town council has recently made constructive representations to East Devon about the planning process. To date, no constructive response has been received. On September 23, the town council, worried about the seeming lack of concern about the planning process as applied to the controversial proposals for the Longboat Cafe, wrote a letter to EDDC, asking them to join with us in an effort to discover what the people living in the town think about this planning proposal.

The only response so far has been a telephone call from the head of planning, following a written 'chaser' letter, to say that our first letter had been lost! Presumably, the copy of the letter that was sent to the chief executive of EDDC at the same time was also lost!

Some would interpret the above as EDDC having little regard for the democratic process, for the views of the town council, and for the views of the majority of local townspeople. Others would question how and why district councillors could think that acting in this way is justified. Why is there so little heed paid to the views of the town council and those they are trying hard to represent? Such actions cannot but give the impression that EDDC officers and district councillors 'know what is best' for this town and that it is only their opinions that matter.

In its wide consultations with many and varied interests, the town council is unanimous in thinking that one thing emerges very plainly. The EDDC planning process appears to be very bureaucratic and is the subject of criticism from town councils and ordinary ratepayers alike. The perception is that the driving factor for officers and councillors is 'hitting targets' which, in turn, gives the impression that listening to the sensible views of consultees appears to have become of little or no importance.

As a council, we call upon EDDC to take heed of what is being said about their planning process and respond to some of the suggestions that have been made.

Regarding the recent application for the café on Budleigh seafront, it was said at the relevant and widely reported EDDC planning meeting that design is a subjective matter - Why should EDDC's subjective views on design outweigh the subjective views of the local population, which were expressed to the committee, both orally and in writing?

The impression given is that, as far as this application is concerned, you are making preparations to ride roughshod over moderate opinion.

The town council has offered to work with the district council to ensure that all views receive proper consideration and that some 'carbuncle' is not perpetrated upon the 'face of an old friend'. Please give that offer serious consideration.

Mrs J E Vanstone, Clerk to the Council.

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