Time to tackle Vanguard

David Keep's excellent letter on the Vanguard planning system (Journal, April 16) will go down well with many residents.

David Keep's excellent letter on the Vanguard planning system (Journal, April 16) will go down well with many residents. Budleigh Salterton, too, was within the "experimental area" saddled with Vanguard last April - so we have been sharing Exmouth's plight for over a year. I attended East Devon District Council's scrutiny committee on January 21 and heard Mrs Little's eulogy of the re-named "systems thinking" (a euphemism if ever there was one!) There were plenty of complaints from councillors and residents. The public were allowed to speak for three minutes. I questioned the validity of the statistics underlying the claimed success of the system (see Journal, February 12). The complaints voiced at that meeting appeared to cut little ice with the salaried staff, but several useful resolutions were passed by councillors. Two little rays of hope. A Vanguard working party of district councillors has been formed. Cllr Hall (Salterton) is one of them. He has found the time to listen to moans from citizens whose life has been blighted for varying periods as a result of Vanguard. Secondly, Mrs Little is to meet representatives of town councils at the end of April, ahead of the EDDC's full council meeting on May 20. David Keep suggests aggrieved residents should write to Hugo Swire, MP. Some people's sufferings result from EDDC's administrative shortcomings or from the all-too-frequent crashes of the website. Make a list of your grievances (eg no notification of applications affecting you and your neighbourhood; receiving misinformation like wrong dates for the consultation period; notification of amended plans reaching you too late to respond because of public holidays; letters of objection failing to appear on the website; no notification of extensions to consultation period, etc). Ask your ward councillor to hand your list to a member of the working party. Tell your friends and neighbours to be vigilant. I feel the whole ethos of EDDC planners is crying out for drastic change. What has happened to local democracy? Why are parish councils being sidelined? Why have committee clerks of yesteryear been re-named "Democratic Service Officers"? Planning officers seem at times to adopt an adversarial attitude, almost as if they wanted to show "who is the boss". Have you heard the recent joke that people wanting a controversial application to be refused by EDDC should persuade their parish councillors to recommend approval? (Dr) Anita Jennings,Northview Road, Budleigh Salterton.