Time for real consultation

PUBLISHED: 09:00 21 February 2009 | UPDATED: 10:31 10 June 2010

I wonder now if it might be possible to begin a genuine consultation in Exmouth a thorough democratic questioning process involving everyone from the town. Not key stakeholders and panels of assorted businessmen holding secret meetings without minutes

I wonder now if it might be possible to begin a genuine consultation in Exmouth - a thorough democratic questioning process involving everyone from the town. Not 'key stakeholders' and panels of assorted businessmen holding secret meetings without minutes in smoke-filled rooms. Us deciding our future together. Our elected representatives have shown they cannot be trusted to manage an effective consultation. Perhaps we can find some way to organise one ourselves. One free from the taint of partiality. One which would come to conclusions about how we should proceed as a town - conclusions which might then be acted on with the approval of the entire community. This is really a very exciting time for Exmouth. We can take charge of our own destinies. We can decide how we want to proceed. This is our town and what we say goes. This place, its past and its future, belong to all of us. It's not for sale to any corporation. This place and everything in it, the streets you walk down, the ground you stand on - all of it belongs to you. All you have to do is reach out your hand and take it. It's not East Devon District Council's town. It's not Sara Randall Johnson's county. It's not Hugo Swire's either. It belongs to us. We have to make sure that everyone remembers that. I hope we can be worthy of what we have inherited and I hope we can live up to the responsibilities we have to all the generations who will follow us. If we wanted, we could organise the best and most comprehensive consultation this county has ever seen. We could hammer out a way forward. A five, 10, 15 and 25-year plan. One which was fiscally responsible. We could attract new sustainable business to Exmouth which would provide skilled remunerative labour. We could set up the town centre so that small businesses could thrive there and a diverse and unique shopping provision could be created. We could have a non-profit food co-operative selling inexpensive high-quality locally sourced food. We need to start talking to each other and quickly before the council comes up with a plan to put a nuclear power station on the estuary. We need to find out definitively what the people of this town want Exmouth to look like. We need what EDDC have never had: an authentic democratic mandate for the development of Exmouth. Daniel Ashdown, Underhill, Lympstone.

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