My money spent on EDDC spin
PUBLISHED: 11:42 02 August 2008 | UPDATED: 09:25 10 June 2010
Proof that David Cameron is losing his battle to reform the character of his party came through my letterbox at 5 o clock on Friday in the shape of a copy of East Devon Talk. This document presents a very biased view of the impact of the Boundary Commiss
Proof that David Cameron is losing his battle to reform the character of his party came through my letterbox at 5 o'clock on Friday in the shape of a copy of East Devon Talk. This document presents a very biased view of the impact of the Boundary Commission's preferred option for a unitary authority for Devon and, as it seems to mirror Hugo Swire's column in the previous day's Exmouth Journal, is, in my view, little more than Tory party propaganda.If the Tory party wishes to spend its own money on such documents, I would have no complaint. However, this is an official publication from East Devon District Council and, as such, is paid for by council taxpayers. I strongly object to my council tax being used in this way and, if it is not illegal, I believe that it must certainly be well outside the spirit of local government law.I understand this document was not discussed in full council and was initiated by the council leader, Miss Randall Johnson, whose photograph appears prominently on the front page and centre spread of this article. She attempts to frighten people by suggesting that, if the proposal for a unitary Devon is adopted, we will inherit a large amount of debt. This issue was raised at the recent Exmouth Community Association/Exmouth Residents' Association joint meeting on the unitary options. The leader of Devon County Council, Brian Greenslade, explained that the so-called 'debt' was no different than having a mortgage on a house, that it was easily serviced by money coming in to the council and needed because Devon, unlike EDDC, has responsibility for large scale and expensive projects, such as schools, which cost millions of pounds. It should also be added that, under all recent administrations, Devon County Council has always been described as having sound financial management. Miss Randall Johnson boasts of the surplus in the funds of EDDC. She does not, however, mention the £12 million that was transferred to EDDC from Exmouth Urban District Council when it was re-organised, which appears to have been subsidising the council tax of the rich burghers of Sidmouth since 1974 while the redevelopment, long sought by Exmouth, has been ignored.Miss Randall Johnson further worries about the 'remoteness' of the new structure. Obviously, she does not 'do' irony, as for many in Exmouth the EDDC often seems to be far away on another planet. Contrast the lack of consultation over the proposed ASDA with the much more inclusive and sophisticated exercise in consultation on the future of The Strand, conducted with the help of the so-called potentially 'remote' Devon County Council where, without bias, many design options were illustrated and the views of all who wished to contribute were sought.Sadly, it seems to me that rather than an informative, spin free and unbiased article setting out the pros and cons of retaining the current structure of district/county council or the two options for a possible unitary council contained in the Boundary Committee report, which I believe would have been a legitimate use of my council tax, and would have helped everyone consider the facts and make up their own minds, the people of Exmouth are once again treated like children who have to be told how to respond and this serious issue is trivialised by being made party political. What a terrible shame. Clearly, if EDDC were to be dissolved, a lot of district councillors would be out of a job. I do hope that this is not the sole motivation behind the publication?Mike Hinds,The Brambles, Cranford Avenue, Exmouth.