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Stand Up For Seaton (SU4S)

Community Action for Seaton's Regeneration Area, 80% owned by Tesco - a floodplain on a World Heritage site bordered by nature reserves, tidal river, the sea and the unspoilt town. SU4S is a state of mind - no members, no structure, no politics. SU4S has objected to 2 planning applications by Tesco, including one for a massive superstore/dot com distribution centre which led to the recent closure on the site of 400 tourist beds with the loss of 150 jobs,a gym and pool - all used by locals.

Friday, March 30, 2007

A thought from the SU4S poet- Malcolm

Well, it's been quite an active week, as it's poets day, here's another gem from our talented colleague...


At the top of the hill on your way into town
You’re amazed by the view as you slowly drive down.
You can see Haven cliff and the harbour below
You can see all the boats, as they come and they go.

The feeling is great and it never gets lost
You could never get better, no matter what cost.
So let us have pride and let us be bold
And let us make sure that we are not undersold.

We’re unique in our way and have plenty to show
We’ve got lots of potential and more room to grow
But we need more than houses to bring in more wealth
And we need other ways to improve the town’s health.

Now that we’re part of the heritage coast
Prestige is the word we should try to use most
We should gain from the status of worldwide renown
with continuing growth as a holiday town

The land should be used to attract folk to come
to stay here in Seaton and to laugh and have fun.
With hotels and markets and tourist events
Where the spend will be mostly in Pounds and not Pence.

But those planners seem to have made up their mind
That we’ll never catch up and we’ll stay well behind.
So let us take notice of what they’re about
And if we don’t like it, then let us all shout.

A Vibrant Resort ?........ or A Dormitory Town ?

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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Seaton Development Trust AGM this evening - interesting speaker

Just to remind everyone that it is the Seaton Development Trust AGM this evening from 7 pm at the Football Club on Colyford Road.

The guest speaker is Andrew Turpin of SUSTRANS. You may recall that the SUSTRANS cycle route from Minehead will terminate at Seaton at the Visitor Centre (but see post below about that and its unlikely future).

Please do support the Trust - it has done a lot of excellent work for Seaton over the last 10 years and will continue to do so.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Seaton Visitor Centre

Have a quick look at the sketch map - to scale - on the right (you can click to enlarge it - you may need to!) and refresh yourself about the size of the Seaton Visitor Centre (500 sq m ground footprint) compared to the supermarket and non-retail store (5,000 sq m + 2,600 sq m = 7,600 sq m).

There it is - that little thing which will be stuck next to the hypermarket if you can spot it (it is superimposed on it so you can see how much smaller it is than the supermarket). It will need to be at least three storeys high to be the size that consultants say must be the minimum for a visitor attraction (1,500 sq metres). If it's three storeys high it cannot have big "wow" rooms and the square metreage of each floor is reduced further by the need to have lifts for people with disabilities and stairs for fire exit.

They say that they anticipate some 230,000 visitors to this place. Well, tonight on "Spotlight" there was an item about declining visitor numbers to tourist attractions in the south west. Here are a couple of figures from that report:

Plymouth Aquarium
270,000 visitors last year
Size: 9,000 square metres
that is to say, about the same size as the Seaton Visitor Centre AND the supermarket AND the non-food store combined.

Living Coasts (Torquay)
124,000 visitors last year

5,666 sq m
that is to say, very, very slightly larger than the supermarket (excluding the delivery area at the back) on the Liatris planning application and nearly five times larger than the Seaton Visitor Centre.

So - do you think the Seaton Jurassic Coast Visitor Centre is programmed to fail and, if so, who do you think did the programming?

image m.greenyer

Stand Up For Seaton planning objection

This post is "sticky" until the end of March so it will stay at the top of the blog until then. Scroll down for latest news

To see the Stand Up For Seaton planning objection in full, click the link on the right marked "SU4S objection (word document)" or go here

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Bits and pieces from letters to EDDC about the Liatris application

EDDC Planning Dept has to consult other departments in EDDC about the Liatris planning application. Here are just some comments from other departments - others will follow over the next few days. If you are in a hurry, just read the red bits:

Landscape Architect:

"Landscape visual impact assessments should consider the "worst case situation". The most significant concern is that the red line bounday [of this application] does not propose the waterfront adjacent to the River Axe. The current outline proposals do not address any form of substantial mitigation measures on this boundary should the adjacent land not come forward for development......"

"The Environmental Impact Assessment states:" No specific mitigation is required". However, the character of the site will be very different upon completion and consent should not be granted unless there is clear evidence that a strong landscape framework can be achieved on site and sustained throughout the life of the development. Failure to achieve this will result in a "bolt on" high density residential estate to the back of Seaton".

"The scale of the development warrants on-site provision for play and recreation facilities".

"8.102 the boundary between the development site and the existing tramway may prove to be very positive. However, information should be provided to consider the "worst case" situation. These issues might include: security fencing, concerns for health and safety, vandalims and the long term visual quality and management of this area ...".

"The buffer zone to the northern boundary of the site adjacent to Seaton Marshes is considered to be too narrow ....".

"8.140. The scale and mass of development within the site will have increased significantly and the supermarket is a departure from the existing type of structure. The character of the town will change and the width of the town from the sea front will have essentially doubled, dramatically changing the form and structure of the town both visually and physically. This should be recognised within the environmental impact assessment."

"The subsidence risk is considered to be moderate given the increase in ground levels through importaion of "fill" and it is essential that the characteristics of this material meet the requirements of the constructed elements but also the tree planting and shrub planting".

16.28 " "Approproate Project Management "would ensure that the landscape and visual effects would be acceptable for the duration of works on the site". This statement suggests that an on site environmental clerk of works will be required and this position should be tied to a Section 106 agreement to ensure on site inspections and enforcement action

17.4 [THIS SECTION IS IMPORTANT] "No contribution towards public open space. The cost of bringing ground levels up to the required level has raised concerns for the viability of the scheme...... The scale of Development warrants a more comprehensive solution to public open space and recreation within Seaton."

SUMMARY [part of]:

It is understood that the site has a number of constraints which are likely to require high cost and possibly high technical solutions, however, the land areas plan submitted as part of this application clearly indicates some of the failings that have not been addressed in terms of layout and quality fo spaces.

There are no "off site" works intended as part of this major development, which raises concern in how beneficial this regeneration proposal is for the town of Seaton."

The scheme's viability is in jeapordy due to the high costs associated with the importation of "fill". In order to enable development on this site alternative solutions, an alternative desing approach or a reduction in the net developable area with should be rigorously tested."

From Streetscene:

"Who will own and maintain retail car park?"
"Access to Harbour Road car park 0n to busy Underfleet."
"Loss of open space".
"Why an open channel? [the monsoon drain] Could the piped culvert with grille access for water potentially be adopted by South West Water?"
"Maintenance cost and amenity value of open channel/cycleway could be a burden to EDDC."
"Management of existing drainage ditches (currently blocked and ineffective) to the north of the site."
"Section 106 money: Lots of money probably going to wetlands north of the development (Countryside). Some monies need to be diverted to other facilities referred to above [referred to: enhancing play area, adopting flood channels, street furniture].
"Public conveniences: This area of Seaton requires public convenience if existing to be demolished. New modern PCs should be provided for use by car park, seafront/market square, etc."
"Wheel bins and recycle bins storage facilities."
"Access for refuse lorries."
"Public open space: residential properties next to play area and stake park could lead to complaints of anti-social behaviour.

Guess who I saw at the EDDC offices at The Knowle today

Went down to the EDDC offices at The Knowle to check up on the latest correspondence on the Liatris bid (just sorting it out - any interesting info online soon).

Sitting at one of the desks with a large set of box files looking very grumpy was one of the Liatris/Terry Dinham henchmen - one of the youngsters who didn't have any answers to our questions when they did their famous exhibition last year - you know, the one that later on (just like the Wetlands exhibition last week) later got called "public consultation".

Seems he has the unpleasant job of summarising the 800-900 objection letters for his lords and masters. Still, the 8 letters of support won't take him too long to summarise - especially as at least two of them are in the wrong box!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Councillors in Birmingham reject Tesco store

From the BBC website today:

Alcohol has been banned from being sold in Bournville since the village was built by Quaker chocolate baron George Cadbury for his workers in 1890. Tesco wanted to build a store on the edge of the alcohol-restricted zone in Linden Road. But the city council said the store could increase anti-social behaviour, crime and litter. Councillor Penny Wagg added: "Even with conditions applied, we feel the granting of a licence would only exasperate these."

Tesco said it was "disappointed" by the decision and was "considering its options". The council's decision was welcomed by residents who had campaigned against the store opening. Councillor Nigel Dawkins, who led the opposition, said: "It's a fantastic result. This shows Tesco that they have to talk to communities and they cannot just walk over them. "This has put a line in the sand - people like Tesco who think they can come and sell alcohol without consulting the communities cannot. "It feels pretty good but the victory is a victory for Bournville."

Well, at least some councils have guts.

Of weblinks and events

Now available are two myspace sites, both aimed at youth.
The first is the SU4S webspace here, and there is also the Seaton Kids site here.
Both sites have been added to our link list on the right, and we warmly welcome their appearance.

Also, tonight from 7pm at St Clares, there is a meeting re the youth facilities in the town. If you can make it, get along there. Whilst this meeting and the town council's general meeting co-incide (probably as a result of room availability, still if we had a decent community hall...), it's hoped a constructive line of communication and dialogue will be set-up.

The Wetlands project and Natural England - your views

I have been asked what can be done to alert Natural England (who were taken on a "special" tram ride to view Seaton Marshes last Friday) to the REAL cost of the new Wetlands Nature Reserve to Seaton.

Bear in mind that Natural England have already sent a fairly strongly worded letter to EDDC about the Seaton Regeneration scheme (look at the archive for 21/22 February 2007).

However, if you want to press home your feelings about this, the person to write to is:
Amanda Newsome, Natural England, 2 Renslade House, Bonhay Road, Exeter EX4 3AW.

I did have correspondence with Ms Newsome before they sent in their letter to EDDC and tried to alert her to this, but the more people who do this the better.

What's in it for Seaton - caption contest

See comments for some suggested captions.
Pic/Starter captions :- M.Greenyer/SU4S caption crew

Sunday, March 25, 2007

An interesting statistic on affordable homes in East Devon

According to EDDC's own committee papers, the number of new homes built in East Devon in 2005/2006 was 583, of which 62 (10.6%) were affordable. The target is 40% .

In Liatris's submission to the Planning Inquiry in November 2006 they asked for their 40% requirement for 500 homes (200 homes) to be reduced to 15% (75 homes) due to the high cost of importing the infill to raise the site.

Affordable homes in East Devon? Forget it. Unless, of course, you go for a more sustainable way of developing the Seaton Regeneration Area - for which the Seaton Sustainable Living and Environment Group has a solution.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

How do you influence a major conservation organisation to accept your Wetlands project?

You take them - along with EDDC bigwigs including Karime Hassan and Kate Little and Paul Diviani (Portfolio Holder - Economy) on a specially laid-on trip on Seaton Tramway to show them the potential delights of an enlarged megamarsh - which is what happened yesterday apparently. Then you gloss over what it is going to cost Seaton and hope you get away with it.

I wonder if Natural England (the guest) knows what it is going to cost Seaton (economically and socially) to get half a wetland nature reserve? Why half a wetland nature reserve? Because the other half is going to be built on with a million tons of infill, have at least 630 little boxes and two enormous retail sheds 2m up in the air so that none of us can actually see the new reserve at all. It will be interesting to see how EDDC and Natural England square that with their supposed insistence on sustainability?

I wonder if Natural England has read the letter from the Tramway in the local press about the shameful way the developer is bending the truth about what the Tramway wants and needs?

Why are EDDC shelling out to influence Natural England at this point. Surely they haven't predetermined the outcome of the Liatris planning application and so know that they will be financing the Wetlands from it? No, they are honourable and working for US, they wouldn't do that!

What price quality of life and Seaton's future? Any price, it seems.

It seems it is full steam ahead for post-Liatris these days - what do they know that we don't? We can't even find out the timetable for when it goes to the Development Control Committee and nor are we allowed to know how much Section 106 money there will be and what it will be used for. Let's hope Natural England got more "truth" and detail that we have had.

More about Tescopoly

From Simon Hoggart, Guardian today:

"I've been enjoying a new book called Tescopoly by Andrew Simms. I think what councils don't realise when they are bullied into giving permission for yet another Tesco, sometimes the third in a small market town, is that big supermarkets such the money out of communities. If you buy meat at the local butcher, he spends much of his earnings on going to the barber, or solicitor, or greengrocer, or hiring a cleaning lady. Money spent at Tesco disappears to headquarters, never to be seen again".

Friday, March 23, 2007

Is the Wetlands Nature Reserve dependent on a successful Liatris planning application?

Read below and decide for yourself.

If you belong to EDDC, it can stand alone. HOWEVER:

if the Liatris planning application is NOT successful:

1. EDDC will lose the main southern entrance route to the extended marshes. The Seaton entrance has a problem because the tramway runs all along it. You therefore have to put a bridge over the tramway or a tunnel under it to get people to the nature reserve. The only other alternative is for everyone –pedestrians, wheelchair users, families with young children AND cyclists to use the SUSTRANS cycle route – making it crowded, dangerous and not a cycle route. If you do not use the SUSTRANS cycle route, that leaves entry only by the two fields north of the tramway between the cycle route and the river. The field nearest the cycle route (Salter’s Field) cannot be built on as it contains the remains of the medieval salt pans and is also directly below St Gregory’s church. It is therefore of great archeological importance. The other field (24 acres) belongs to Liatris. If the Liatris planning application goes through it will form part of a “cash and land deal” (already agreed by the EDDC Executive on 15 November 2006) between EDDC and Liatris so EDDC gets the field at agricultural prices (at the moment about £3,000 per acre = £75,000) and Liatris gets the land which is currently the car park, tram terminus and derelict Youth Centre. If the planning application does not go through and Liatris refuses to sell the land to EDDC they will probably then have to compulsorily purchase it. This will take time and mean that until the compulsory purchase is done the only route into the reserve will be the SUSTRANS cycle route.

2. There will be no shop, no interpretation facility and no parking on the extended nature reserve at the Seaton end. EDDC are relying on having these facilities in the new Jurassic Coast Visitor Centre as part of the Liatris plan. If the Liatris planning application is not successful the only option would be to build the Visitor Centre on what is currently the EDDC car park. This is impossible as a Visitor Centre needs parking but there would be no parking as you would have built on the car park!

3. EDDC say that the new nature reserve can go ahead without Liatris money. However, in the Minutes of the Executive Board of 15 November 2006, it was agreed that:

“Members confirm their resolution to make available a site for the Seaton Gateway Visitor Centre and for the site to be available at the same time as the development”.

“It is the intention of the developer to make a significant financial contribution to meet the anticipated cost of land acquisition to deliver the extended wetlands marshes as part of the anticipated Section 106 agreement”.

“Support in principle be given to releasing funds for the programme of land acquisition in advance of any planning application through the capital programme”.

In other words: The Visitor Centre cannot happen unless the Liatris planning application is successful. EDDC is using money they currently have to purchase land they do not own in anticipation of receiving money from the developer. There appears to be no contingency for what happens if the Liatris planning application is not successful.

Now convince me that the Wetlands and the Liatris planning application are NOT linked and that the cost is NOT our community facilities.

How can you convince me? EDDC can put out a press release saying that, due to enormous adverse public reaction in Seaton, they have decided NOT to use developer money for the Wetlands Nature Reserve project and that the money that had been earmarked from the developer’s Section 106 contributions will be used to provide new community facilities and replace or enhance those about to be lost when the holiday village is demolished.

Chances of this happening: ZERO.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Two observations on "truth"

For those who didn't manage to get to the "Truth about the Wetlands" exhibition it will be held again at the Seaton bird hide tomorrow between 10 am and 3 pm. I just hope you are luckier about being offered cakes than we were!

I would suggest that you go and ask about (a) access to the wetlands from the Seaton end (bearing in mind, of course, that with the flood plain raised 2m, covered in houses and with the view to the new Reserve totally blocked, your first problem will be to find it, let alone visit it (b) parking for its customers in Seaton - where, how much, how long (c) where its literature and shop will be in Seaton (d) where its parking and educational buildings will be in Colyford (e) the financing of it (f) is what you are attending an information event or public consultation (g) what will happen to the project (i.e. where will the shop, parking etc be in Seaton) if the Liatris planning application is rejected (h) how it will benefit Seaton socially and economically (please note this is SEATON not the supermarket and socially means what happens if Section 106 money is used for this project and not for replacement or enhanced community facilities to take the place of those we lose at the holiday village and those we need for the extra 1,000 plus inhabitants of the town).

Also, on a separate but related subject, - still on the issue of "truth"- for those who don't know EDDC's casino policy (see this week's Midweek Herald), this is it:

"East Devon District Council has not passed a 'no casino' resolution under Section 166 of the Gambling Act 2005 but is aware that it has the power to do so".

However, this is somewhat negated elsewhere in the document when it talks about the "vibrancy" that casinos can bring to the local economy. Personally I think putting a casino at The Knowle and relocating the District Council offices to the Seaton Regeneration area would just about sort things out - Sidmouth can be as vibrant as it likes and council staff can get used to parking in the supermarket car park for 3 hours max or risking a £70 fine.

You may recall that EDDC was going to have a "no casinos" policy until one of its councillors made a visit to Bristol and came back converted to the idea - though, on questioning, it appears that it was a family visit and he only looked at the casino from the outside!

Your starter for 10: What is the meaning of "truth"?

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Our visit to "The Truth About the Wetlands"

So, we went to the “Truth about the Wetlands” presentation. Held in the foyer of Seaton Town Hall, so rather crushed. Somewhat oddly, the cakes (which we were not offered!) were in the main room of the Town Hall. Surely some mistake there? This is a summary from those of us who went.

We asked numerous questions and will report on them here. No doubt if we have anything wrong, EDDC will put us right quite quickly.

Q: Whose idea was it to purchase the extra 225 acres of marshland?
A: This has been ongoing for about 10 years as an EDDC aspiration. They have been talking to landowners for 5-6 years around the time the SUSTRANS cycle route negotiations started.

Q: So why has the Seaton community never been told about it or consulted about it?
A: We have told people.
Q: Who? One of us was a member of Seaton Development Trust for four years until October last year and had never heard about it. Who did you discuss it with?
A: Er …….

Q: How many discussions have you had with Liatris about this?
A: One presentation similar to the one in the Town Hall last November, one with Liatris and Seaton Town Council about this and other matters and some informal meetings (plural).

Q: How much money has Liatris promised towards this project?
A: None, though it has made suggestions about how its Section 106 money might be used.

(Here we should explain that Liatris owns 25 acres of marshland north of the tramway. It is adjacent to a field owned by a Seaton landowner that cannot be built on as it is where the original salt pans were and close to the church so they are of great archaeological importance. This has the effect of making the Liatris land a “ransom strip” since the only other way on to the marshes from the regeneration area will otherwise be the SUSTRANS cycle route. The deal appears to be that when EDDC sells its land on the regeneration site – currently where the car park and empty Youth Centre are – Liatris will sell EDDC its land north of the tramway. This is classed as agricultural land and will cost EDDC about £75,000 at current prices. We are not yet allowed to know how much EDDC will get for selling its land (with planning permission) if they grant planning permission to Liatris for the Seaton Regeneration Area although we have been told that, as soon as this information is given to the Development Control Committee, it will be released into the public domain).

Q: How advanced are these plans?
A: Currently only some of the current landowners (including Liatris) have indicated that they would be willing to sell their land to EDDC. Negotiations with others could take months or years and there is no guarantee that they will be successful. Compulsory purchase is an option but they hope to do it by negotiation.

Q: Have other organisations or individuals been involved or given any money to this project?
A: £20,000 from the Environment Agency and £15,000 anticipated from Natural England towards start-up of the project (see below).

Q: What will happen if the Liatris planning application does not go ahead?
A: The project will still continue. [So,
the Liatris land as essential for access to the marshes, but they still insist that the project will go ahead without it, even though it will mean that access from the Seaton end will be a very difficult problem to overcome. There are no contingency plans for interpretation at this sourthern end if Visitor Centre is NOT built on the regeneration area - yet another link with Liatris].

Q: Who will run the Wetlands Centre?
A: EDDC. Long term the Countryside Team – currently at Honiton Business Centre - will probably re-locate its office to the Wetlands project and will probably employ at least one more member of staff for start up - a Project Manager whose job it will be to get the funds for it. They anticipate at least two-thirds will be derived from lottery funding, the remainder from EDDC and others. However, a bid cannot be put in until the land issue has been settled.

Q: Will it have its own interpretation and education facilities or will these need to be in the Jurassic Coast Visitor Centre?
A: Both. It will have an education centre and classrooms at the north end but it is anticipated that there will be education, interpretation and sales facilities (for leaflets, etc – entry to the marsh will be free) within the Jurassic Coast Visitor Centre. [As stated above, there is no contingency for if the Visitor Centre is not built].

Q: What happens to any profits from such a venture? What if it makes a loss?
A: The Wetlands Centre is not being run primarily for profit. Other councils (e.g. Teignbridge, Torbay) run national nature reserves as flagship projects of national importance – this will be the flagship nature reserve for East Devon. Some money will come from agri-payments and grazing rights. There will be no shop on the site – sales will be from the Visitor Centre. I then asked why the Exe Estuary wasn’t going to be the flagship nature reserve for East Devon. I may have got confused but I think they said that the Exe Estuary isn’t a managed nature reserve – it is mostly tidal and therefore doesn’t need much management.

Provision has already been made to employ a start-up Project Manager who should be in post soon whose job it will be to acquire further funds.

Q: How will it benefit Seaton?
A: The town can market and promote the site, there will be 3 km of extra access to the marshes, there will be untold benefits for wildlife.

[So, we do the marketing and promoting and in return we provide short-term parking for the tourists, 3 km of walkways and untold benefits for wildlife – which would probably happen anyway, even the project doesn’t happen. What we don’t get, of course, are our replacement and enhanced community facilities if they use Liatris money for this].

Q: How will it connect with the town?
A: (see also above). This is a detailed planning issue.

Q: Where will people park their cars and bicycles? Where will they stay?
A: In the car parks. There was no answer to where they will stay.

Q: What will happen if twitchers descend on the town given that parking is shared with the supermarket?
A: (Frankly, they were so excited about twitchers coming, they didn’t actually answer this one!).

Q: It seems that the Development Control Committee will be put under enormous pressure when deciding the Liatris planning application since it is apparent that Liatris has a ransom strip on the marshes which, if EDDC cannot purchase it, gives major access problems. This gives the impression that the Wetland project cannot advance without the Liatris planning application being granted.
A: That’s your assumption.

Q: Why haven’t the RSPB or Wetlands Trust been asked to run this as a joint venture or themselves?
A: RSPB do not get involved in conservation projects where a local council will do the conservation themselves. The Wildlife and Wetlands Trust is much more interested in global and larger projects – this is too small for them.

Q: Are you considering this exhibition and your presence at it as consultation with residents of Seaton?
A: Yes.

SUMMARY: The Liatris money isn’t important, yet it is. Their land isn’t important and yet it is. Classrooms and interpretation for the reserve will be at Colyford. Here in Seaton we get parking and some space in the Jurassic Coast Visitor Centre to be used for interpretation and education – all of it in a building that has no more than 500 sq m per floor. There are no contingency plans for what happens if the Liatris application is refused. And how come, yet again we are not being told that this will count as consultation when it is being publicised as an information event?

OUR VIEW: This is a project that is good for the Countryside Team, good for EDDC and of doubtful benefit for Seaton. Should the Liatris planning application go through we won’t be able to see this Nature Reserve from the (tiny) Visitor Centre yet we will be expected to promote and market it. With only 3 hours maximum in a car park shared with the supermarket most visitors will have to choose between three possible things to visit: the Wetlands OR the Jurassic Coast Visitor Centre OR the Tramway. Then they will get in their cars and leave Seaton as they will have nowhere to stay. That is if there is car parking space in the first place.

One of the Countryside Team asked me what we would do if the majority of people in Seaton were shown to be in favour of the project.

Our answer: everything depends on how you present the project. If you do it the way you did last November – skirting over the issue of funding and other major concerns – and if you do not present ALL the information available - the disadvantages as well as the advantages, then we will think they will have been hoodwinked and will not believe you.

We will think more highly of you if you keep your integrity and refuse to touch the Liatris money and go it alone.

AND we think the people of Colyford should be asking some questions about parking and access at their end of this reserve as this seems just as wooly as at our end!

"The truth about the Wetlands" TODAY

Just a reminder that EDDC has taken the Town Hall to have a "Truth about the Wetlands" event until 3 pm today.

It will also be held at the bird hide on the Marshes on Friday.

We encourage you to attend and ask questions - as we shall be doing. Report later.

The “benefits” of large supermarkets

A new book (“Tescopoly” by Andrew Simms, Constable, £7.99) has come out about what large supermarkets do to towns and cities. Here are a few quotes from an interview with the book’s author in today’s Guardian (which by the way has a very interesting supplement on Rural Communities – of which Seaton is a part – and, in particular, Community Land Trusts).

“You end up with a paradox … flying under the flag of promoting free markets: monopolies”.

“There is the poverty of our “cloned” commercial surroundings, the poverty of knowing the hardship of the people who fill the supermarket shelves and the overwhelming (spiritual) poverty of actually getting to and shopping in a supermarket”.

“When you see a Tesco hypermarket on the edge of town what you are seeing is the surgical removal of the economic underpinning of neighbourhood and communities, to a sort of sanitised, laboratory environment, physically removed from the body”.

“He lambasts [supermarkets] for undermining democracy by flexing their legal and financial muscle against much weaker local authorities and employing former government advisers to forge close relationships with Whitehall”.

“It’s not necessarily good [to have a big supermarket]. It doesn’t make the environment around it a pleasant place”.

“ ..the winner takes all dynamic is killing off alternatives”.

“Local food co-ops, farmers’ markets and loyalty cards for small shops are some of the alternatives to supermarkets that Simms wants to see promoted and encouraged to the same degree that supermarkets have, in effect, been subsidised by a favourable planning regime and business climate that has nurtured their concentration of power”.

We have always had a link to the Tescopoly site on this blog.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Cranbrook New Town

Most of us know that there will be a new town in Devon, by Exeter Airport, called Cranbrook. It will initially have 2,900 houses and may end up with more. There will be retail, COMMUNITY and LEISURE facilities, 2 primary schools, a secondary school, SPORTS AND RECREATION FACILITIES including all weather pitches and floodlighting CHILDREN’S PLAY FACILITIES, a country park and allotments.

In order to bring this new town into being, EDDC will employ three people for three years – a Project Director (£50,000 - £56,000 per year), a Spatial Planner (£29,000 - £31,650 per year) and an Administrator (£13,850 - £15,825 per year). One usually adds to that some 20% to cover national insurance contributions, employers pension contributions, etc. This means that the bill for these three people will come to about £335,000 - £372,000 over the 3 years. This is quite reasonable – after all, a town needs good planning doesn’t it? Otherwise you end up with a second-class town, and no-one wants that do they?

HOWEVER, this town at 2,900 homes will be smaller than Seaton (which currently has around 3,400 properties and, if the developers have their way, around 4,000 properties). What do you see in the list above (the “shopping list” for a new town”) that this “old” town of Seaton doesn’t have. Well, it doesn’t have any sport and leisure facilities, it has no sports and recreation facilities provided by EDDC, certainly no all-weather pitches or floodlighting!

Why does a “new town” automatically get these facilities when an “old” town doesn’t deserve them? This is the only “old” town in the area that doesn’t have these facilities (we can’t count the facilities at the holiday village as EDDC doesn’t count them – and they are happy to see the holiday village demolished and replaced with no facilities at all - except a tiny visitor centre for tourists (who won’t be able to stay in the town) and an extended Seaton marshes (for visitors who won’t be able to stay in the town).

Funny that – Cranbrook gets the action, we get the silence. Well, what’s new there then!

Of course, EDDC Planning Department is very short-staffed (one third of posts vacant a few weeks ago) so the sooner they get Seaton off their hands the sooner they can all concentrate on their “jewel in the crown” Cranbrook.

8 new Independent Candidates for election to Seaton Town Council

See today's View from Seaton for more details.

Important Announcement on Tuesday 20 March 2007

This post will be "sticky" - that is will remain at the top of this blog until 07.00 hrs on Tuesday 20 March

Look out for an important announcement about Stand Up For Seaton's campaign HERE on Tuesday 20 March 2007 and see View from Seaton that day.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Seaton and the 2012 Olympics!

You may laugh but there is an article in the newspaper today saying that teams which have to come to the UK in advance of the Olympics may go as far afield as Yorkshire so that their teams can get the facilities to practice before the Games.

Bearing in mind that Seaton is only 40 miles from Weymouth, where the sailing will be, it is totally possible that a team (or many teams) would need accommodation not too far from Weymouth. How many towns within 40 miles of Weymouth could put up 500 Olympic team members every single night?

Well, pretty soon if our developers have their way the answer will be that Seaton certainly won't be able to do it, as they plan to demolish our holiday village (along with all our community facilities) which would have taken up to 500 people per night before, during and after the Olympic events at Weymouth.

Just think of the small fortune that Martyn Harrison, owner of Lyme Bay Holiday Village, will be forfeiting. Unless, of course, he gets oodles of money for leaving the site to the developers.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Pause for thought - the supermarket factor

An interesting article is available on the BBC website about supermarkets, especially the stripey one.


Friday, March 16, 2007

What news of the developers and their agent these days?

None at all.

Stand Up For Seaton, the Town Council and Seaton Development Trust co-signed a letter to Terry Dinham (the developer's agent) suggesting that we all meet to try to find a way out of the current impasse about what the developer wants and what the people of Seaton want. A copy of the letter was sent to EDDC.

Some two weeks later there has been no reply from the developer or Terry Dinham.

We are prepared to talk and happy to talk - it appears that Mr Dinham is not.

Meeting with our prospective MP

This evening we met with Neil Parish - the man who is going to replace Angela Browning in Honiton and Tiverton (which will be the new constituency which will include Seaton). He is currently a Conservative MEP (Member of the European Parliament) for South West England.

Representatives from Seaton Development Trust, its Sustainable Living and Environment Group and the Gateway Town Group joined us. We showed him the presentation we had done at the 2 day Stand Up For Seaton exhibition in the Town Hall and talked him through our concerns and told him some of the solutions we had discussed and wanted to put to the developer - except his agent won't speak to any of us.

He listened, he took away some of our materials and asked us to keep him briefed (which, of course we will do).

Good of him to see us so quickly but subsequently actions are MUCH louder than words. We shall see ......

Councillors attitude to development and how it affects votes

From the Financial Times -Distrust of councils and developers

By Tom Griggs

Published: March 13 2007

Housebuilders may be frustrated with local councils for their failure to grant planning permission for new developments, but most Britons distrust councils and developers for being in each others' pockets, according to a survey. It found nimbyism to be alive and well, with 83 per cent of respondents to a recent survey saying they wanted no more development in their local area, and 58 per cent saying that councils and developers were too close.

In addition, the survey said a councillor's attitude towards development was a key factor for 70 per cent of voters ahead of the council elections in May.

Nick Keable, managing director of Saint Consulting, which conducted the survey, said the message from the survey was clear.

"Those engaged in development, across all property sectors, need to stop moaning about how councils refuse their applications," he said. "They need to understand public opinion and then react to it by changing the way they operate.

"Councillors are not recruited from Mars," he added. "They simply reflect the wider public attitude."

The Housebuilders' Federation said the time taken for a planning application to be approved was excessive and the relationship could hardly be described as "pally".

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Stand Up For Seaton meets with Seaton's new Conservative candidate for MP tomorrow

Stand Up For Seaton campaigners are meeting Neil Parish, Conservative party candidate for the seat of Honiton and Tiverton, (which includes Seaton) tomorrow evening, Friday 16 March 2007. We contacted Mr Parish yesterday after learning of his adoption as candidate to replace Angela Browning who is retiring at the next election and he responded today.

We feel very strongly that we should not work in isolation from other groups in the town who are also working to overturn the current planning application for the Regeneration area so we have invited representatives from Seaton Development Trust and its Sustainable Living and Environment Group to the meeting.

More on this after the event.

Reply from our prospective MP

Let's give our new prospective MP a silver star - he has contacted me and says he wants to meet up and talk about the Regeneration area. A gold star if he does anything useful!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

New prospective Honiton (Seaton) MP announced

The Conservative Party have adopted Neil Parish - currently a Conservative MEP - for the Honiton and Tiverton seat which will include Seaton at the next General Election. You will be sad to hear that Hugo Swire will no longer be our MP after that election.

Details about Mr Parish appear here:

Those of you who think he should know something about Seaton (and its votes) can contact him at:


Let's see how environmentally-friendly our prospective MP is. I look forward to meeting him.

Assuming, of course, that it isn't too far for him to drive as he lives in Bridgwater, Somerset and, as we know, Hugo Swire and his staff find the 18 mile drive from Woodbury to Seaton too onerous and insist we drive the 9 miles to EDDC Council Offices in Sidmouth if we want to consult him.

Seaton: locked in a spiral of decline - article in Midweek Herald

In response to the article above, I have sent the following email to the Press Office of East Devon District Council:

"In an article entitled "Seaton: Locked in a spiral of decline" an EDDC spokesperson (anonymous) is quoted as saying:

"Seaton exhibits many of the characteristics identified in the report [on the decline of seaside towns]. This includes a massive decline - almost 50 per cent in bedspace capacity in the town over the last 20 years. This means fewer people staying overnight in the town and spending money. There is also significant leakage of expenditure out of the town to other centres such as Exeter with residents spending their money in shops elsewhere. Traditional employment opportunities are declining"

This gives the impression that Seaton is different (and negatively different) to other towns in East Devon and in need of the "special treatment" that only a current planning application can remedy. I wish to know (in writing)

1. Who is the person responsible for this statement?
2. What evidence do you have for the statements above?
3. What is the corresponding like-for-like situation in Exmouth and Sidmouth in the last 20 years compared to Seaton?
4. What is the amount of leakage (per person) of expenditure to Exeter and other towns in Seaton - what is the evidence?
5. What is the amount of leakage (per person) of expenditure to Exeter and other towns from Sidmouth in the same period as (3) above?
6. What evidence is there that more people from Seaton are spending their money elsewhere compared to people in Sidmouth?
7. How do you justify the statement about bed spaces in Seaton when the holiday village currently has 400 beds occupied on average 80 per cent of the time all year round for 50 weeks of the year? Seaton has 60% of the total bed spaces in the entire area from Branscome to Axmouth and north to Colyton - all of which will disappear if the current planning application is allowed to go ahead.
8. If bed spaces are declining why it planned for the holiday village to be demolished and replaced by day visitor attractions? Where will day visitors stay if we lose 380 beds per night?

Manipulation of facts to suit expediency does EDDC no favours."

Council tax bills and Seaton

A correspondant writes:

I had the pleasure of receiving my council tax bill for the year today. I'm sure you will too.
The accompanying brochure was, well, a riveting read. We can read all about how EDDC have spent money doing something in Budleigh, something else in Sidmouth. Something more in Sidmouth, something in Exmouth etc etc.
Does Seaton get a mention? Only for the skate park event last year.
I do question what our district councillors are doing. Or not doing when I read this. I know that a strong Town Council will help, but still, do they do anything to fight for Seaton?
I see also there is a nice little piece about Cranbrook.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The benefits of owning public spaces if you are a developer

This is an extract from an online magazine called “Regenerate Now”. The article is by Howard Bassford and appeared in November 2006. It is about whether developers should seek to control the public open space in their developments.

Basically, if you think you (the developer) may be able to build on the public open space or other useful spaces later on, keep hold of it; if there is money to be made from it in any way, shape or form, try to keep hold of it and try to make sure the local authority doesn't have a share in it; if it is likely to cost you money, pass it on to others as soon as possible but make sure you retain the right to things which might generate income such as car parks and lifts, leaving others to cover the costs of everything else. If you really have to involve the local authority, try to get the them in partnership with something that will give them a bit of profit from something you own so that they get a bite of the cherry too, but try to avoid this if possible.

In other words, ensure that wherever possible, you have everyone on the site by the short and curlies.

The items marked in bold are my highlights from this article.

The benefits of control
Retaining ownership makes possible a more comprehensive maintenance programme and allows more control over who has access to the public spaces and how they are used.
Retaining ownership means retaining the ability to benefit from future development. Control can be used to prevent dedication of open space as a highway. In years to come, the reduced risk resulting from the ability to close and reconfigure public realm may make future development more certain. Be aware, though, that opportunities may be limited by Section 106 agreements preserving the nature of the public space. Local authorities may even seek a share in any commercial opportunities.

Meeting the cost of ownership
Maintenance costs will inevitably be borne by a developer who owns and manages public spaces. Even if the local authority takes over the public space, it may still require the developer to contribute to the cost in advance by a commuted sum.
If paying for maintenance, developers look to occupiers to fund these costs, often via service charges. If the development is sold on a freehold basis, an estate service charge could be set up either through the use of rent charges or by a chain of positive covenants to contribute to maintenance cost when purchasers acquire their “plot”.

Ongoing responsibilities

Many developers wish to avoid continuing responsibility once a development has been completed and sold. If public spaces are not already sold to others, the developer will need to transfer ownership and management to achieve this.
Where the development is sold off on a leasehold basis, the developer is most likely to sell the freehold of the entire development, including the public space, to an investor.

If the development is primarily residential, developers need to be aware of the statutory rights of residential tenants to acquire the freehold. The value of the freehold to a potential third party buyer is likely to be reduced as a result and the developer may prefer to sell the freehold, including the public space, to a management company controlled by the tenants. Indeed, as residential tenants have a collective statutory right of first refusal, there may be no choice.
Where the development is sold on a freehold basis, public spaces may be transferred to a specially set-up management company, usually owned by the owners of the individual plots. The developer is likely to set up a management company for the ownership and management of common parts which are not public spaces (for example, private car parks or lifts) and vesting the public spaces in such a company would therefore make sense. "

How much of this do you think EDDC knows or cares about?

What might you do, for example, if you live in a leasehold flat on a development site. The developer says "OK you guys, you can manage your own block now, you don't need us". Now, isn't that nice of them. EXCEPT they still own your car park and your lift. Your lift needs replacing. OK says the owner (the developer) that will be £100,000 - £50,000 for the work and £50,000 for me for having all the trouble of owning the lift and having to get the work done. And what if you think your lift needs replacing but the person who owns it doesn't agree?

And what if the developer owns the Town Square and decides to build another shop on it, or what if the supermarket owns it and they decide to extend their car park?

Monday, March 12, 2007

The East Devon Local Plan - does it apply to Seaton?

"The East Devon Local Plan to 2011" is supposed to be the “bible” for what is allowed/not allowed, encouraged/not encouraged, wanted/not wanted as regards planning in East Devon. The Local Plan is considered to be a very important document and is often cited in planning inquiries or a judicial reviews, so it carries a lot of weight - or ought to. If you live in Seaton this is a document to make you want to cry or scream and make you wonder if Seaton really does exist in the eyes of the EDDC Planning Department.

The policy on the Seaton Regeneration Area in the East Devon Local Plan says:

Local Policy LSE 1 (Seaton Regeneration Area)

Within the Seaton Regeneration Area, as defined on the Proposals Map, mixed use development proposals will be permitted. Individual proposals will need to accord with the principles established for a comprehensive scheme in the Interim Supplementary Planning Guidance for the Seaton Regeneration Area, to include the following:

1. Enhanced pedestrian and cycle access to and through the Regeneration Area, including linkages between the town centre, Seaton Marshes, sea front, Axe riverside and harbour;
2. Enhancement of community, leisure, tourism and recreation facilities, including the Seaton Tramway and Holiday Village;
3. Promotion of the harbour area as a distinctive gateway to Seaton;
4. Retail and commercial frontage development along Harbour Road and The Underfleet, complementing town centre facilities;
5. Employment floorspace within the mixed-use areas;
6. Residential development, involving a variety of dwelling types and sizes, to accommodate approximately 400 units;
7. Flood management measures for land currently within indicative floodplain;
8. Measures to retain nature conservation interest within the northern area of the regeneration area and to enhance neighbouring areas of conservation importance.

The Local Plan also says, in other parts which refer to the Seaton Regeneration area:

“Planning permission for individual schemes will be granted provided mechanisms are in place that will achieve the delivery of a comprehensive regeneration scheme for this area. Necessary and reasonable developer contributions towards infrastructure, affordable housing, public realm, visitor and community facilities will be a priority for the delivery of regeneration”


“The proposals seek to improve linkages between the holiday village and the rest of the town, and to promote greater use of the publicly accessible facilities at this site. A strategy for upgrading the holiday village visitor facilities, accommodation and the associated environment will be prepared in consultation with the operator, which should include improved pedestrian routes through the site.”


“Residential development, involving a variety of dwelling types and sizes, to accommodate approximately 400 units”.

Anyone like to comment on any of the above?

For example, that is 400 homes for the WHOLE site - which includes the Racal site as well as the current planning application area. The current area will have at least 500 homes according to the developer, the Racal site probably at least 150 - total 650 - or more.

The Local Plan will be replaced eventually by something called the “Local Development Framework” (LDF). All councils will have to create one of these and they must be unique to their area – they cannot just copy the bits of someone else’s plan that they like the look of. It will set out “how the planning system will shape the local community”.

The LDF MUST contain something called a “Statement of Community Involvement” (SCI). This MUST show how and when planning authorities intend to consult local communities and other stakeholders when preparing documents. A key outcome of the SCI will be to encourage 'front loading' - meaning that consultation must begin at the earliest stages of each document's development so that communities are given the fullest opportunity to participate in plan making and to make a difference. Every Statement of Community Involvement must provide open access to information, actively encourage the contribution of ideas and representations from the community and provide regular and timely feedback on progress.

So, we only have to wait until 2012 and then we can be consulted about Seaton! I can't wait!

Date for your diary - calling youth to action

Seaton's bored young people have a chance to make changes. On March 26th
between 7.15 and 9pm there will be an opportunity at St Claire's to say what
they want from a youth club - and bring supportive adults prepared to help
staff it. With the aid of a local builder it could be possible to put Seaton
Youth Centre back into action. More volunteers would be needed to make it
happen - not only to do things with the young people but also to sell soft
drinks and to help with decoration.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

The European Court of Town Rights

What does make a town a town rather than a village?

Well, let's look at our local towns: Axminster, Honiton, Sidmouth, Ottery St Mary.
They are all shopping centres for the villages around them. Yes, well we can say that about Seaton. They all have town halls - yes, Seaton qualifies there too. So, we must be a town like all the others then?

No, definitely not. So what is different about the others? What do they have that we don't have?

Well, Sidmouth, Honiton and Axminster have public swimming pools - here we have a "fun" pool at the holiday village, which we may be about to lose. They ALL have sports and leisure centres AND youth centres - even Ottery, which is smaller than Seaton. We have no sport or leisure facility and neither do we have a youth centre. Can you imagine a town without ANY of these facilities? Yes, it exists here in Seaton.

Perhaps we should be downgraded to village status - except that many East Devon villages have more facilities than we do!

What is it about Seaton that means that East Devon District Council pretends that we don't exist when it comes to the facilities that all the other towns in the area take for granted? Why is Seaton always refused facilities that others have had for years? Why can money be found to run something like the "East Devon Tennis Centre" in Exmouth and yet there isn't enough money either in EDDC's coffers nor the developers to let us have a purpose-built community centre in the regeneration area? The developers say they can't afford it. Well, if they can't afford to let us have a small piece of land as a community centre and a relatively straightforward building, are they financially fit enough to develop the land at all?

How come they can bring in one million tons of infill to raise the site 2-3 metres (guess how much that will cost) yet they can't afford to build us a community centre. No wait - there is Section 106 money - that's what it is supposed to be for. So what will it be spent on: 250 acres of marshland, a tiny visitor centre and maybe up to 75 affordable homes out of 500. And that's it, folks.

1,200 new people in the town, possibly more (hopefully, some of them children but the homes will probably go to the elderly and second homers). What will they all do in a town where the last bus from from Exeter is 20.45 and the last bus from Axminster is 18.25 and there are absolutely no facilities for them?

Oh, I remember now what the developer said to me personally when I asked this very question: "Shopping as leisure". So, instead of going to our gym or swimming pool or youth centre, we hang out at the supermarket - the biggest building by far in the town. Yeay - can't wait!

It's not going to be easy living in a town with all those new people and only up to 150 new jobs (they say 300, but that includes the 150 to be lost at the holiday village and takes no account of the jobs that will go when other shops close). AND the jobs will almost certainly be minimum-wage part-time, temporary or seasonal jobs.

So, what will we all do if we can't (or won't) "shop for leisure"? What will the youngsters do, what will those who want to keep fit and healthy do (we can't walk on the marshes in the dark EDDC).

If there were Human Rights legislation for places as well as people and you had "Town Rights" we could take our case to the "Europen Court of Town Rights" and EDDC would certainly be found guilty of violating our Town Rights and be forced to make available in Seaton the same facilities as in ALL the other towns in the area!

Stand Up For Seaton!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Seaton Sports Centre

Seaton Sports Centre

Er….. we haven’t actually got one. Or a community centre, or a youth centre, or a public swimming pool, or a leisure centre.
Still times are hard, other places in East Devon are probably similar to us.
No wait, Sidmouth, Axminster, Exmouth and Honiton all have swimming pools.
Still, I’m sure they are no better off than us for other facilities.
I’ll just have a look on the web to check. All this info taken from EDDC's own web site (unedited):

Sidmouth Sports Centre - Facilities

  • Fitness suite

  • Four Badminton Courts

  • Basketball

  • 5-a-side Football
  • Indoor Cricket
  • Netball
  • Volleyball
  • Two squash courts (enclosed) with viewing balcony
    ...and more!

Colyton Sports Centre - Facilities

  • Main sports hall equipped for:
    • 4 Badminton Courts
    • Basketball
    • 5-a-Side Soccer
    • Netball
    • Volleyball
  • Dance Studio
  • Synthetic Turf Pitch
  • Birthday Parties (including go carts, sports or trampolining).

Axe Valley College - Facilities

Axe Valley Sports Centre has a range of facilities and activities to suit most ages, including a multi-function sports hall that caters for classes, casual hire and even children's parties.

  • Fitness suite, including a range of cardio equipment, free weights and static weight stations.
  • 4 Badminton courts
  • Basketball
  • 5-a-side Soccer
  • Cricket practice nets
  • Netball
  • Volleyball
  • Floodlit hard court area

We offer a range of fitness classes and courses.
5-a-side league starting September 2006.
Holiday programmes run every school hoilday.
Please contact the centre for more details

Honiton Sports Centre and Swimming Pool - Facilities

  • Swimming Pool
    25m ozone treated, 0.9m-2m depth range. Disabled changing. Free use of arm bands and floats.
  • Main sports hall
    Equipped for: 4 badminton courts, basketball, 5-a-side soccer, cricket practice nets, netball, volleyball, birthday parties, with balcony area for crèche and meetings
  • Lifestyles Fitness Gym
    with Technogym CV and Powersport Integra Resistance equipment (suitable for people with disability)
  • Dance Studio
  • Two Squash Courts
  • Outdoor Floodlit all weather surface
    for tennis,netball, football and hockey training
  • Parent and Child Room
  • Ample free parking
  • Vending Machines
    Wide range of vended snacks, confectionery and drinks. Limited range of sports/activity goods available for purchase

Ottery St Mary - Colin Tooze Sports Centre - Facilities

  • Main sports hall equipped for:

    Four Badminton Courts
    5-a-side Soccer
    Cricket Practice Nets
    ...and more!
  • Fitness Suite
  • Full size, outdoor all-weather pitch suitable for hockey and football.
  • Tennis courts available throughout the summer months.
  • Balcony Suite available for meetings, parties, courses.
  • Multi use Dance/ Aerobic Suite

Exmouth Sports Centre - Facilities

  • Two Heated Swimming Pools
  • Fit 4 Fitness Suite
  • Martial Arts Studio
  • Dance Studio
  • Function Room
  • Creche
  • Four Squash Courts:
  • Main Sports Hall
  • Cafeteria Area:
    Drink and snack vending machines
    Viewing of both pools

Karime Hassan talks sustainability - honest!

Today, Karime Hassan (our esteemed "Corporate Director, Environment at EDDC) speaks at a conference on "Sustainable Development and New Settlements" at the RIBA, London.

His talk: Cranbrook: A New Community for East Devon

The blurb for the conference reads (partly): "The new town is beginning to resume its proper place ..... popular backlash against high densities and town cramming ... more realistic look at the land required to handle an area's need for new homes and associated facilities. ..... Case study presentations ..... reali life current information [showing] the current approaches to developer's Section 106 contributions ....."

That's right, that's what our esteemed Corporate Director is speaking about. And here we are in Seaton - high densities, town cramming, no associated facilities, nothing to show for town residents for the Section 106 money - and there he is an "expert" on these things. Oh, would that I was there to ask some questions after the talk!

Well, we must hope that he comes back from the meeting A Better Man!

And whilst we are on the subject: when I went to check the planning application letters recently, there was a poster up in the room which said you will find it difficult to get hold of a planning officer as one-third of jobs in the planning department are unfilled. That seems an awful lot. Why?

Monday, March 05, 2007

Spot the difference competition

Hat tip: Sidmouth Herald 03/03/07

A proposal to build a marina in Sidmouth will involve building a new swimming pool before the old one is closed to make way for the development...be a bit of a blow for Sidmouth residents to lose any leisure facility y'see

Sunday, March 04, 2007

The Wetlands Centre - dates for your diary and questions you might like think about

As you know, the EDDC Rangers are presenting a "Everything (sic) you wanted to know about the Wetlands Centre but didn't dare ask" on
Wednesday 21 March 2007, 10 am - 3pm (Town Hall) and
Friday 23 March 2007, 10am - 3pm (Bird Hide)

It seems a shame that the 70% or 80% of people who have day jobs won't be able to go to either of these venues (the reason we had our Open Advice Days 10 am - 10 pm so everyone could attend) but if you can make it you might like to think up suitable questions, such as (in no particular order of priority):

Whose idea what it to purchase 250 acres of marshes to construct a Wetlands Centre?

When did they think of it and when did they start to discuss it internally and externally (remember the Freedom of Information Act and the Environmental Information Regulations will allow us to get this information eventually even if we can't get it at the moment).

How many discussions have they had with Liatris about this? What form have these discussions taken?

How much money has Liatris promised towards this?

How much have any other organisations or individuals promised towards it?

What sort of conditions were placed on these promised payments?

How much is EDDC paying Liatris for the land Liatris owns north of the tramway?

Why was there no public consultation about this project?

How advanced are these plans?

What will happen to these plans if the Liatris planning application is not successful?

Who will run the Wetlands Centre?

Is it planned that its interpretation will be part of the Jurassic Coast Visitor Centre or will it have its own facility?

If any profit is made from the Wetlands Centre, who will it go to?

What responsibilities will Seaton Town Council have for this project bearing in mind a large part is within the Seaton boundary?

How will it connect with the town - how much of its infrastructure will be in Colyford/Colyton and how much in Seaton?

If you have any other questions make sure you go, or if you can't write them here and we will ask them on your behalf.
What are you NOT telling us now that you know about which will come out later?

Friday, March 02, 2007


This is a copy of a press release put on the EDDC website today. Please contact the email address or telephone number shown below if you wish to volunteer to clean up the beach at Seaton and turn up at 2pm on Saturday 10 March 2007. I can’t be there as I am in Cambridge on a training day but other Stand Up For Seaton volunteers will be attending.


The Press Release reads:

VOLUNTEERS are at last being called into action to help clear East Devon's beaches of debris, following the grounding of MSC Napoli on Saturday 20 January. The first of several beach clean-up events will take place at Seaton on Saturday 10 March, starting at 2.00 pm.
This event is being organised by East Devon District Council in conjunction with the Marine Conservation Society and Devon Wildlife Trust, who have been waiting for this moment to mobilise the army of volunteers who have already indicated their willingness to assist once the salvagecontractors say it is safe to do so.

“A lot of work has been going on in the background, but we were not permitted to organise anything until we were given the OK by the contractors clearing the area of large debris,” said EDDC’s Education Ranger, James Chubb, the man responsible for leading the volunteer operation for the Council.

Get in touch first please

All those who have emailed the EDDC on napoli@eastdevon.gov.uk will be contacted directly with details of the clean-up events. Safety is paramount and the Council urges anyone wanting to help to get in touch with them, either using the Napoli email address or telephoning Jane Voller at EDDC on 01395 517472, as only people who have registered their details will be permitted to take part.

Clear guidelines will be issued to each volunteer, which will include a request to turn up at the start of an event to ensure they hear the safety talk and receive gloves and a safety vest. Volunteers are also being asked not to bring their dogs with them, due to potential oil contamination on the beach.

“We won’t be turning away anyone who wants to help,” says James, “as long as they let us know they are coming along. The terrain might be quite rough at times, but there are always jobs that can be done by those people who are less mobile.

“Further events are in the pipeline – including one at Branscombe in conjunction with the National Trust. This will depend on progress with the ongoing salvage operation at Branscombe. Once the further events have been organised we will be getting in touch with volunteers either by email or by letter”.

Wetland Centre days publicised below

Please note that the meetings on 21 and 23 March 2007 are NOT PUBLIC CONSULTATION of which there has been NONE AT ALL so please do not confuse them with being asked what you think.

The poster specifically says that the meetings are for us to be told (NOT CONSULTED) about "what will happen, where and when" and NOT to get your views on WHETHER IT SHOULD HAPPEN, WHAT SHOULD HAPPEN, WHERE IT SHOULD HAPPEN, WHEN IT IT SHOULD HAPPEN AND HOW IT SHOULD BE FINANCED.

EDDC will buy (or has already bought or agreed to buy) 250 acres of marshland with OUR money with no public consultation whatsoever.

As we have said and will continue to say, we have no objection to making the marshes more accessible for residents and tourists, but not at any price.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

The Wetlands Centre

Have been asked to publish the following on the blog:

"On Wednesday 21st March in Seaton Town Hall and on Friday 23rd March in the Bird Hide at Seaton Marshes, both days between 10.00 a.m. and 3.00 p.m., the officers behind EDDC’s ambitious new plans for the marshes will be available to tell you everything you want to know about a major wetland reserve. Tea, coffee and cakes will be available, so come and ask those questions!"

Friday 2 March addition to this post: I now have the poster for this event and will quote it in full:

EDDC Countryside Service The Truth About the Marshes

Everything you wanted to know about a wetland but were too afraid to ask.

An introduction to the proposed Axe Estuary Wetland project, meet the officers behind East Devon's ambitious new wildlife attraction. Find out what will happen, where and when.

Tea, coffee and cakes, 10-3 pm, 21st March at the Town Hall, 23rd March at the bird hide.

Perhaps this time, when questions are asked, someone might be more open and transparent about where the money is coming from and how much.

Stand Up For Seaton has no objection to the creation of a Wetlands Centre in principle. HOWEVER, many of you will recall the first presentation on 1 November 2006 when it was stated that the money for this project would come from lottery applications and grants. It later (i.e. only a couple of weeks later) transpired that, in fact, it is also to be funded by Section 106 money from Liatris (with no consultation with the people of Seaton whatsover) thus depriving us of community facilities. (Sorry, I must not forget - we are being told we might get a small "room" which must triple up for use as a gym, nursery AND meeting room).

Karime Hassan and Kate Little seem to think that the Wetlands project is a suitable substitute for the swimming pool, nursery, meeting facilities, gym and youth centre (which itself housed also bowls, table tennis, ballroom dancing, other indoor events and acted as a changing room for the Grizzly).

Any questions?