Let's keep people informed

PUBLISHED: 02:01 07 July 2008 | UPDATED: 09:15 10 June 2010

Every issue of the Journal contains angry readers' letters about ASDA and Chapel Hill apparently going ahead in spite of protests by local people. What is EDDC doing about it? A dozen district councillors have been asked to act as champions". The

Every issue of the Journal contains angry readers' letters about ASDA and Chapel Hill apparently going ahead in spite of protests by local people. What is EDDC doing about it? A dozen district councillors have been asked to act as "champions". Their brief is to "improve communications and business service between the public and the district council... Each will raise any related concerns the community has with the council, and show the public the council's commitment to solving the problem". (Journal, May 15, 08) Alas, the district council has not made the task any easier for the "champions" dealing with planning. Have you noticed that the number of planning applications advertised in the Journal has been dwindling during the last two months? Site posters have also become scarcer. Most people who spotted this will have attributed it to the credit crunch, and the reluctance of developers to build new houses when house prices are falling and mortgages are hard to get. Not so! There is another reason. On April 3, the Journal published an article by Di Bowerman outlining EDDC's intention to hire Vanguard Systems Thinking to speed up the planning process to meet Government targets. Cllr Franklin said: "If you don't meet targets on a regular basis, you run the risk of Government sending their own planners in." So Vanguard has been hired (the firm's claimed expertise appears on its website). An experimental "Team 1" has been allotted a number of applications - some without being advertised or sign-posted. Only neighbouring householders (one on either side of the application site, and one opposite) have been informed by letter, giving a deadline by which comments have to reach EDDC. A planning officer told me that advertisements in the Journal are not compulsory except for Listed Buildings, Conservation Areas, and "major" developments for 10 or more dwellings. A letter (dated May 6) to our town clerk stated that more attention is to be paid to the needs and satisfaction of the "customer" (ie the applicant) and "remove the administrative burden that has currently built up over the years of servicing other interested parties". Mr Karime Hassan, Corporate Director for the Environment, has handed over the task of "overseeing the planning system" to fellow Corporate Director Mr Peter Jeffs. Mrs Kate Little remains head of development control and countryside services, with Mr Stephen Belli as development control manager. A couple of recent unadvertised applications for Salterton have sparked off public protests. Ward councillor Steve Hall has done a champion job of listening to them and passing them on. Hopefully he will succeed in getting press advertisements and site-posters restored to keep local people informed - not everyone has a broadband computer to check EDDC's website. (Dr) Anita JenningsNorthview Road, Budleigh Salterton.

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