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SIDMOUTH: EDDC’s move to Skypark ‘belies common sense’, say campaigners

Thursday, 27 February 2014

The proposal to move East Devon District Council’s head office to Skypark, Exeter, “belies common sense” and is “financially flawed”, according to campaign group Save Our Sidmouth.
District councillors will meet tomorrow (Wednesday) to decide on the controversial relocation, and Save Our Sidmouth Chairman Richard Thurlow has written to councillors ahead of the meeting to express the group’s concerns.
In the letter, Mr Thurlow refers to the Knowle – EDDC’s current premises – as the “family silver” and suggests the decision to sell it has been made on “emotional grounds”.
He said: “EDDC made the decision to move away from the Knowle without a full investigation of all the options.
“It is clear that the choice to move was made on emotional grounds rather than on merit and without a full understanding of the fundamental considerations.
“We believe that the planned move from the Knowle should not go ahead as it is financially flawed, exceptionally risky in these difficult economic times and detrimental to employees and the town of Sidmouth,
Councillors made Skypark their preferred choice for its new headquarters earlier this month, disregarding alternative locations in Clyst St Mary and Cranbrook, as well as two sites in Honiton that were more central within the district.
Leader of the Council Paul Diviani described Skypark as a “key emerging employment and commercial development location” that offers a “secure future” for the council.
But Save Our Sidmouth has argued relocating to the new site would create further problems for district residents and has urged councillors to reconsider the proposal.
Mr Thurlow added: “We fail to understand any rationale for the choice of Skypark. It has no supporting infrastructure for the convenience of staff or the public.
“The location came last as a choice of location for staff polled recently by EDDC and it will create great difficulties for travelling for EDDC staff from their current residential locations.
“There is a great danger that, over a period of time the location will attract employees resident in Exeter and westwards, to the detriment of district residents currently employed.
“The decision belies common sense. There is absolutely no rationale for incurring costs of perhaps £15million at this time, even though the sale of ‘family silver’ might raise sufficient sums to fund the move.”


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