Exmouth councillor quits Independent Group after Seaton Hospital funding decision

Councillor Joe Whibley has quit the Independent Group. Picture: Joe Whibley/Archant

Councillor Joe Whibley has quit the Independent Group. Picture: Joe Whibley/Archant - Credit: Archant/Joe Whibley

An Exmouth district councillor has left the ruling Independent Group, saying the cabinet’s decision to vote against saving Seaton Hospital was ‘the final straw’.

Joe Whibley has become the second Exmouth councillor to leave the controlling group and will now represent the town ward as a non-affiliated independent.

He made the announcement at a meeting of Exmouth Town Council on Monday (January 20).

Following Cllr Paul Millar's decision to stand down last year, this leaves the independent group with 18 district councillors, one fewer than the Conservative Party.

READ MORE: Independent group loses majority in East Devon after councillor's blistering attack on senior management

He said the decision to not give a £2.1 million loan to Seaton Area Health Matters for the purchase of the hospital prompted his departure.

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EDDC leader Ben Ingham told the Journal he was 'puzzled' by his decision.

Cllr Whibley said: "When elected I stood on a platform of change - an alternative to the status quo.

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"I have seen little evidence that this desire is shared by the Independent Group and, to be true to myself and those who put their trust in me, have decided that I can no longer associate myself with them.

"The decision made to effectively vote against saving Seaton Hospital was the final straw.

"I wish all of the Independent Group the very best, and I hope they prove me wrong - the electorate voted for imaginative thinking and a council that would look out for everyone, whatever their situation."

In response Cllr Ingham said: "I am very disappointed that his decision is to stand down.

"I think it's unnecessary.

"If you want to influence people the strongest way to do that is from within the group."

Cllr Ingham said he has already held a meeting with Devon County Council leader John Hart about the authority providing funding for Seaton Hospital.

He said if the county council cannot provide the funds, the district council will consider it again.

Cllr Ingham added: "I am puzzled by Cllr Whibley's decision - for him to leave the group for a decision that may all come back is baffling."

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