SIDBURY EAST DEVON DC COUNCILLOR

This page has been included to enable the Sidmouth Rural EDDC Councillor to be in touch with those who they represent and to ensure that Sidbury residents are aware of happenings that may affect Sidbury, and what may be of interest that is happening in the Valley.

The Councillor for Sidmouth Rural on the East Devon District Council is:
Cllr. John Loudoun

Councillor Loudoun

Tel: 01395 597166
Email: johnloudoun4sidmouthrural@yahoo.com
Blog: http://johnloudoun4sidmouthruralhome.wordpress.com

Fore Street closure 13-17 May
April 30th 2024

Devon County Council have autorhorised the closure of Fiore Street next week. I have heard that although the closure notice has allowed the road to be closed for up to 5 days, it may in fact only be closed for 2 days.

I have asked our County Councillor whether an alternative free taxi service will be provided as I assume the bus service will be interrupted.

John Loudoun


Sidbury Hill closure
March 25th 2024

Here we go again! The County Council has allowed the A375 from Cotford (it's unclear precisely where) up to Putts Corner (Hare & Hounds) from Wednesday 3 April until (at the latest) Sunday 7 April.

It appears that this is to allow the road surface to either be repaired or replaced.

John Loudoun


Seeking answers about constant A375 flooding
February 23rd 2024

Like so many residents, particularly those living in Sidbury and those who rely upon the A375 through Two Bridges Road in Sidford as a through route, I have become more than fed up with the regular flooding that occurs there virtually every time we have any significant amount of rainfall. The fact that this flooding now makes the road impassable, or at best passable with extreme care, when it rains heavily brings disruption and even isolation to the village of Sidbury, not to mention to problems for general road users.

This disruption has become far too regular now. I, like anyone who relies upon this road being passable, have become totally fed up at the disruption to residents’ lives and the County Council, which is responsible for the highway, seems unable, or unwilling, to sort this out and I cannot understand why.

So, in order to try and understand what the County Council has been doing and to what effect, I have now submitted the Council with a Freedom of Information request. The County Council has 20 days to provide me with the information I have asked for.

Read what information I have asked for in my blog http://johnloudoun4sidmouthruralhome.wordpress.com

John Loudoun


Chapel Street road closure - update
January 23rd 2024

The A375 turned out to not to be needed to be closed on Chapel Street all day yesterday (Monday 22nd). It is closed again today (Tuesday 23rd) with the works expected to be completed today. This would allow the reinstatement of the tarmac road surface to take place on Wednesday 24th and hopefully the road would then be reopened from Thursday 25th onward.

This is an update received from the County Council.

John Loudoun


Chapel Street - road closure. Again!
January 16th 2024

Yesterday Devon County Council issued a road closure notice for Chapel Street from Monday 22 to Friday 26 January to allow National Grid to undertake works. I have complained about the extremely short notice of this road closure.

The County Council will put up at bus stops showing a restricted temporary replacement free taxi service that it is putting on. This will need to be ordered the day before, by 6.00 pm, from Peak Taxis (Tel: 01395 513322).

There will be two services from the village to Sidmouth at 10.00 am and midday, as well as from Sidmouth Triangle to the village at 10.30 am, 1.30 pm and 6.00 pm.


John Loudoun


Proposed Sidbury to Sidford path - Ward Member comments
January 7th 2024

My Ward Member consultation response to Devon County Council’s public consultation on its latest proposals to create a Sidbury to Sidford Multi-Use Path is on my blog page at http://johnloudoun4sidmouthruralhome.wordpress.com

In summary I have a number of concerns and reservations about these proposals which are the same as the County Council published over 2 years ago. Residents, particularly those who live in Sidbury, have been desperate for so many years, for a safe path to link Sidbury to Sidford and beyond. Regretfully, I don’t believe this unfunded 2 phase proposed route will deliver the best option.

The County Council have literally had decades to come up with the funding and a set of proposals for a route that will work for Sidbury. I am concerned that these proposals could at best become an unused white elephant.

John Loudoun


Multi-use path to Sidford proposals resurface
December 5th 2023

The need for a safe multi-use path to connect the village to Sidford and beyond is something many have asked for so many years. The responsibility with developing and building a multi-use path is the responsibility of Devon County Council.

Some residents may recall that previously a proposed scheme to route such a path on the eastern side of the A375 (on the right-hand side as you head towards Sidbury) was the subject of a planning application by the County Council, although it subsequently withdrew the scheme and the planning application. The proposed route would only have entered/exited the village at Burnt Oak, thus leaving most of the village still unconnected.

Out of the blue, two full years ago the County Council came forward with a revised scheme. This time it would be routed on the western side of the A375 and developed in two phases. Phase 1 took it as far as Hillside over Cave Estate land, with Phase 2 taking it via Cave Estate land between Ebdon Lane and Furzehill. Although Phase 2 was reliant upon the landowner footing the cost of the multi-use path over land it wanted to build houses on.

Since then, nothing more has been said about the County Council’s western side scheme. However, it has now, again out of the blue, published what is effectively the same two-phase scheme for public comment. At this stage the County Council has still has no funding for its Phase 1 proposals, and it still is reliant upon the landowner funding Phase 2, presumably as part of a potential housing development between Hillside and Furzehill.

If Phase 1 is completed it will terminate/start at Hillside. If Phases 1 and 2 are completed this will mean that the path will finish/start where Furzehill joins Greenhead or possibly by the War Memorial.

I believe this village has not been well served by the County Council in this matter. It has taken more than a decade to get to this point. This proposal is at least 2 years old. It will not guarantee a path that links the centre of the village directly to Sidford. It has no funding in place to develop either Phase 1 or 2. I believe a path should preferably be routed on the astern side of the A375 linking up with the footpath that skirts the leat and the cricket pitch and joins up with the Millenium Green.

The concerns that I made two years ago, on 15 October 2021, when these proposals were first published remain and they can be seen on my blog at –https://johnloudoun4sidmouthrural.home.blog/2021/10/

The County Council is seeking your views on its proposals. You can view the background to these proposals at – https://www.devon.gov.uk/haveyoursay/consultations/sidbury-to-sidford-cycle-route/

You have until 5 January to give your views on the proposals by emailing to transportplanning@devon.gov.uk or by writing to Transport Planning, Room 120, County Hall, Topsham Road, Exeter. EX2 4QD. On there is also a link on the County Council web page to allow you to post your comments on-line.

John Loudoun


A375 night road closure
November 10th 2023

It would appear that some work to repair the road surface between Putts Corner (Hare & Hounds) and Cotford bridge will take place over the nights of 4 and 5 December. Therefore the road will be closed between 7.00 pm and 7.00 am on both nights.

John Loudoun


Deepway road closure
November 10th 2023

Work to allow the installation of sewer level equipment in a manhole will mean that Deepway will be closed for all, or part of, 5 December. This could be from 8.00 am until 5.00 pm.

John Loudoun


A375 Road closure - temporary taxi service
October 9th 2023

Work has started on the A375 between Burnt Oak and Sidford to lay new gas pipes. Temporary traffic lights are currently regulating traffic. However, as part of these works the road is due to be closed for up to 2 weeks from Monday 16 October possibly until Friday 27 October.

This road closure will mean that there is no bus service serving the village. However, I understand that the number 9 bus service will still connect Sidmouth with Honiton, but travelling on a diversion from Sidford on route to the Hare & Hounds and onwards.

The County Council has however put in place a limited temporary replacement taxi service to allow residents to travel free from the village bus stop outside the Old Coach House stopping solely at the Hare & Hounds and Sidmouth Triangle, with return journeys only stopping and picking up at the same places.

This replacement taxi service will not run on Sundays. Students on County Council school transport affected by the closure (route SID01 to Sidmouth College) will also be accommodated and timetables will be adjusted to allow for extra journey time for the diversion.

Residents wanting to use the replacement taxi service need to book by 6.00 pm the day before wanting to travel by telephoning Peak Taxis on 01395 513322. The County Council has promised to post all this information at each village bus stop by the middle of this week.

The following taxi timetables will operate:
Monday 16 until Friday 20 October 2023
SIDBURY, Old Coach House 10.00 12.00 -
Hare and Hounds 10.07 12.07 -
SIDMOUTH, Triangle Stop B 10.27 12.27 -

SIDMOUTH, Triangle Stop B 10.30 13.30 18.00
Hare and Hounds 10.51 13.51 18.21
SIDBURY, Old Coach House 10.57 13.57 18.27
Saturday 21 & Monday 23 to Friday 27 October 2023
SIDBURY, Old Coach House 08.20 10.00 12.00 14.00 16.00
Hare and Hounds 08.27 10.07 12.07 14.07 16.07
SIDMOUTH, Triangle Stop B 08.47 10.27 12.27 14.27 16.27

SIDMOUTH, Triangle Stop B - 10.30 13.30 15.20 18.00
Hare and Hounds - 10.51 13.51 15.41 18.21
SIDBURY, Old Coach House - 10.57 13.57 15.47 18.27


John Loudoun


A375 upcoming closure - update
October 3rd 2023

Work has started on the A375 between Burnt Oak and Sidford to lay new gas pipes. Temporary traffic lights are currently regulating traffic. However, as part of these works the road will be closed for up to 2 weeks from Monday 16 October until Friday 27 October.

This road closure will mean that there is no bus service serving the village. Since mid-August I have been arguing for a shuttle bus service to connect the village at the Hare & Hounds to the rerouted number 9 bus service. As recently as the end of last week I was being reassured that a temporary shuttle bus would be timetabled. I was even ready to ask Sidmouth Town Council last evening to pay towards these costs.

At the Town Council meeting I was advised by our County Councillor –
“Given the relatively low bus patronage from Sidbury (Stagecoach shared it was around 20 passengers a day across 13 journeys) it does not warrant a bus sized vehicle to act as a shuttle. The (County Council) team are in discussions with a local taxi company who will offer a pre-bookable shuttle service at designated times.

Unfortunately, during the first week of the closure the shuttle will only operate during the off peak, but this will still enable a shopping trip or access to health appointments for local residents. During the second week (which is also half term) they are able to secure peak journeys too and offer a wider timetable. We are also hoping to have an evening journey too.

I am confident that by the middle of this week we will have secured a contract with the local taxi company to provide the shuttle service”.

It’s disappointing that my discussions over the past 6 weeks to provide a shuttle bus haven’t been successful. I hope that a taxi service will offer residents the service that a shuttle would, and I am concerned that this decision is driven solely by money.

I have raised questions about whether the taxi option will help those who use the bus at the start and end of the day, as well as pupils and students, given the proposed taxi service will be “off peak” in the first week. I have also asked for the details of the timings of the taxi service, where it will take residents and how to contact the taxi company to be laminated and put on all the village bus stops.

As I find out more, I will update residents.

John Loudoun


A375 road closure & traffic delays
September 27th 2023

An update -

Several months ago, the A375 between Burnt Oak and Sidford was closed for a couple of weeks to allow National Grid to relay gas pipes. Because this work was going to require a further couple of weeks to complete and this would require continuing with the road's closure, National Grid agreed to pause its works and to recommence and finalise it at a later date.

That later date is now coming! The road will be closed for up to 2 weeks from Monday 16 October until Friday 27 October. If National Grid is able to complete the work earlier than anticipated then obviously the road would be opened up sooner. In the preceding 2 weeks, from Monday 2 October until Friday 13 October the road will be subject to temporary traffic light control which will probably bring some travel disruption.

There has been so inaccurate information provided about where the road will be closed. National Grid has confirmed it will be between 1 Hillside (the last property in the village) and a stretch of the A375 heading towards Sidford. Chapel Street is not affected by National Grid’s works.

This road closure will bring significant disruption to village residents and our businesses. Particularly affected will be the bus service. I am still trying to get Stagecoach to lay on some element of a temporary bus service from 16 October until 27 October to allow residents to go from St Giles church to the Hare & Hounds and visa versa.

The intention would be to link up with the timetabled number 9 service at the Hare & Hounds. Any temporary service would probably not cover the whole daily service but I await Stagecoach's proposed temporary arrangements.

At present this is still being discussed between Stagecoach, Devon County Council and National Grid. I am trying to get each of them to contribute to the cost of a temporary link up bus service. At present I cannot confirm an agreement by the three organisations to fund this.

John Loudoun


Temporary Road Closure - Burnt Oak to Sidford
September 5th 2023

Several months ago, the A375 between Burnt Oak and Sidford was closed for a couple of weeks to allow National Grid to relay gas pipes. Because this work was going to require a further couple of weeks to complete and this would require continuing with the road's closure, National Grid agreed to pause its works and to recommence and finalise it at a later date.

That later date is now coming! The road will be closed for up to 2 weeks from Monday 16 October until Friday 27 October. If National Grid is able to complete the work earlier than anticipated then obviously the road would be opened up sooner.

This road closure will bring significant disruption to village residents and our businesses. Particularly affected will be the bus service. I have already had one meeting with Stagecoach and have another one on 7 September. I am trying to get Stagecoach to lay on some element of a temporary bus service to allow residents to go from St Giles church to the Hare & Hounds and visa versa.

The intention would be to link up with the timetabled number 9 service at the Hare & Hounds. Any temporary service would probably not cover the whole daily service but I await Stagecoach's proposed temporay arrangements. Once I know what these are I will share them.

John Loudoun


Preparing to vote in the next general election
August 14th 2023

I don't usually post directly politically related comments on this website, however locally would be MP's for our newly created parliamentary constituency of Honiton and Sidmouth have already started their election campaigns. Our constituency boundary has been redrawn by the Boundary Commission for England and therefore as from the next general election we will no longer be the East Devon constituency and will have different local populations sat in the constituency.

I would like to continue to support a good, credible local independent, such as Claire Wright was, in the next election. However, it is clear to me that now that Claire has decided to retire from fighting elections there is no obvious independent that I would want to support. I have therefore made the decision to lend my support in the next election to the Liberal Democrat Richard Foord who currently is MP for the Tiverton & Honiton constituency. This constituency is being carved up at the next election with part of it migrating into East Devon to form Honiton & Sidmouth.

I am not a Lib Dem, nor have I previously supported one of its candidates. But I feel I must vote tactically and pragmatically in the next election as I explain and expand upon, in my blog johnloudoun4sidmouthruralhome.wordpress.com in my post "I've decided who to give my vote to in the next general election".

Richard Foord is currently touring the new constituency meeting voters. As part of this he will, along with Claire Wright, be coming to the village hall on Friday 25 August from 2.00 - 3.00 pm, with an open invitation to residents to pop along and meet him. I intend to do just that.

If you want to catch up with Richard but can't make this event, then he is going elsewhere locally on the same day or on Wednesday 23 August. His calendar of local meet and greet sessions are all listed at www.richardfoord.org.uk/summer-tour


John Loudoun


Some evening bus services returning!
August 9th 2023

It’s now a year since Stagecoach cut a number of services from the number 9 bus route leaving this village isolated, particularly during the evenings and on Sundays.

In the lead up to the services being cut and during the intervening time I have lobbied Stagecoach, our MP and Devon County Council to reinstate the services. This has included having two meetings with Stagecoach South West’s Managing Director.

I made the points about the detrimental impacts that the cut services made to those who rely upon the bus service for work, and for our young people who would otherwise rely upon parents or friends to get out and about. The cut in evening services has also affected the pub and some customers.

I am pleased to hear today from Stagecoach’s Managing Director that “From 3 September an additional journey will operate Monday to Saturday evenings at 2130 from Honiton to Sidmouth (connecting with rail services at Honiton Rail Station). Also, an additional journey will operate Monday to Saturday evenings at 2210 from Sidmouth to Honiton”.

This is good news. However, it doesn’t give this village back its full previous service. I don’t want to sound disingenuous about the positive service changes but I will continue to argue for a later bus into the village as well as a better Sunday service.

In the meantime, this is a welcome positive development for villagers and no doubt the Red Lion.

John Loudoun


Temporary traffic lights in Sidbury
May 10th 2023

From Monday 15 May for a week there will be temporary traffic lights on Cotford Road, outside of Bourne Cottage (on the bend near the school), for a week from Monday 15 May.

This because there will be temporary scaffolding on Cotford Road to allow work to replace the thatch on Bourne Cottage.

John & Jackie Loudoun apologise for any inconvenience this will cause. If there are any issues with the traffic lights or scaffolding, please contact them on 01395 597166.

John Loudoun


Thank you to Sidmouth Rural voters
May 8th 2023

Now that the dust has settled on the district council elections I would like to extend my sincere thanks to the voters in the Sidmouth Rural Ward who in last week’s elections re-elected me with a 73% share of the vote. It is humbling to have so many people to place their faith in me and in what I expressed to them through my election communications. I intend to continue to represent them, and our wider Sidmouth and Sid Valley communities to the best of my ability.

Given the outcome of the elections I anticipate that the broad coalition of Independents, Greens and Liberal Democrats will return to form the new council Administration within which I hope to again serve as a Cabinet member.

The next few years are only going to become even more financially challenging which will bring further difficult decisions, but that's what we are elected to handle. I trust those who have been elected and will sit outside of the ruling group will show some respect for the mandate given by electors to those who will be in the Administration.

Its easy to criticise from the side lines, its much harder and more grown up to take or support the difficult decisions.

John Loudoun


A parking plea to Sidbury Primary school parents & carers
April 11th 2023

I have been working with Sidbury Primary school, as well as the police and the highways authority to try and find ways of minimising the impact of school run parking on the residents who live in the centre of the village. I am hopeful that the highways authority will introduce some parking restrictions but in the mean time the school included the follow letter from me in its newsletter at the end of the first half of this term. The letter to parents and carers is below -

Parking at the beginning and end of the school day has been something that has been raised on a number of occasions since I was elected as Sidbury’s District and Town Councillor; I am also a member of the school ‘s local governing and wish to support both the school community and local residents with this matter. The issue is a regular matter that residents often raise with me as a concern and I recognise that the school is not responsible for enforcing or ensuring that parents and carers park safely or in appropriate places.

As someone who lives in the centre of the village (although I am not directly affected) I can see the difficulties facing parents and carers in trying to find parking spaces, and I can see how, inconsiderate parking can make residents lives difficult. This is a symptom of an expanded popular school being located in the centre of a village where there just isn’t enough parking places or spaces. We are desperately trying to put a pint into a quart pot!

To elevate congestion during busy times, I am aware that there is a window of 10-15 minutes either side of the school day to try to elevate congestion. The breakfast and after school clubs are very well used as well, reducing the number of vehicles before and after school. Where possible, if you are able to consider car sharing or walking to school this would also be appreciated. Parking within the village is unavoidable for most families, so I urge you to carefully consider safety for all and residents access to houses, driveways and garages.

The main two areas of concern are in and around Ridgeway and in Church Street. In Ridgeway parking that restricts residents access to their drives or safe walking on the pavement is an issue, the same stands in Church Street. In Church Street if a vehicle is parked on the houses side of the road this can potentially block the use of the road. There are valid, serious concerns about emergency vehicles accessing this road, if required, during drop off and pick up time and that it may be unable to get through.

I have recently managed to have a meeting with the police and County Council representatives who are responsible for the highway, its safety and enforcement. They were particularly concerned about the parking in Church Street, in Ridgeway and outside of the school car park entrance (parking on the pavement here is not safe and should be avoided). I understand that they will be pursuing proposals to introduce additional parking restrictions in these areas.

I had hoped to persuade the County Council to extend its school bus service to help to reduce parents and carers reliance on bringing their cars to the village. Regretfully, this is not an option that is being considered and I understand that many families who are eligible for the school bus do use this service.

It is difficult to find a balance but as residents, parents and carers we have to try and work around the impact of restricted parking spaces in the village centre. I would like to take this opportunity to kindly ask that you consider safe and considerate parking in Sidbury. Sidbury CE Primary School are very supportive of this matter and together we would like to work in partnership, striving to ensure that residents access points are respected and that pavements remain accessible for all of the community, including those using pushchairs and wheelchairs.

Thank you in advance for your support with this matter, it is very much appreciated.

John Loudoun


Your local INDEPENDENT voice
April 5th 2023

As a proud Sidbury resident I want to continue to represent the Ward where I live, on East Devon District Council.

I have a strong commitment to public service and a proven record of standing up for Sidmouth and the Sid Valley. I want to continue to make positive and effective improvements that support local residents and businesses.

I have no personal vested interest to pursue other than to give something back to our communities. I hold myself to the same ethical and high standards that I demand from everyone else in public life. Tough times, such as now, need high standards and leadership. I will continue to provide both.

I continue to support local community campaigns. Through Sidmouth's Beach Management Plan, I support residents on Cliff Road, above East Beach, whose gardens are being eroded. I still argue for improved road safety through Sidbury. As the need for the Sidford business park site to be solely an employment site has changed, I support houses being built there.

I am standing as an Independent candidate. I will continue to work across the political divide in coalition with others who share my objectives, values and priorities. I am a Cabinet Member in this Council Administration and I am proud of our achievements through the pandemic and these tough economic times. Please help me to continue my work.

I was elected to East Devon District Council in 2019. Since then, I have worked across the political divide. In 2020 I joined the current Council coalition Administration and am currently a Cabinet Member. We are proud to have worked positively and collaboratively for the benefit of East Devon’s residents and businesses. With your support I can continue that work.

If my key objectives for Sidmouth and the Sid Valley reflect yours, then please vote to re-elect me as your District Councillor. I will continue to bring positive change locally, and to do so with your support, in the best interests of our Sidmouth and Sid Valley communities.

My key objectives will be posted as the campaign rolls out and are contained in my election leaflet that should be with you shortly. Thank you to those in the village who are helping me to deliver my leaflets as well as those who have allowed me to put my election boards up.

I am also active in supporting:
 Sidbury Primary School – as a Community Governor
 The Sidmouth Trust – as a Trustee

In addition to informing the local press, I also post Council and election information on social media -
 Facebook: johnloudoun4sidmouthrural
• Blog: johnloudoun4sidmouthruralhome.wordpress.com

Continuing to stand up for Sidmouth & the Sid Valley, not national politics.
Local issues, local voice

John Loudoun


Polling Day is on Thursday 4 May
April 5th 2023

Applications to register to vote must reach the Electoral Registration Officer at Blackdown House, Border Road, Honiton, EX14 1EJ by 12 midnight on 17 April 2023. Applications to register to vote can be made online at www.gov.uk/registertovote.

Applications, amendments or cancellations of postal votes must reach the Electoral Registration Officer at Blackdown House, Border Road, Honiton, EX14 1EJ by 5 pm on Tuesday, 18th April 2023.

Applications to vote by proxy at this election must reach the Electoral Registration Officer at Blackdown House, Border Road, Honiton, EX14 1EJ by 5 pm on Tuesday, 25th April 2023.

Voter photographic ID is now required at a Polling Station in order for you to be allowed to vote. If you do not have the required and appropriate voter ID then you can apply for a Voter Authority Certificate. Basically, it’s no photographic ID, no vote.

Applications for a Voter Authority Certificate or an Anonymous Elector’s Document valid for this election must reach the Electoral Registration Officer by 5pm on 25 April 2023. Applications for a Voter Authority Certificate can be made online at eastdevon.gov.uk/elections-and-registering-to-vote/voter-id-2023/voter-id-2023.

John Loudoun


No airfield approval for Sidbury site
March 16th 2023

Planning application 22/2087 Moorlands Farm, Mincombe Post, Sidbury

I’m not sure how many Sidbury residents were aware that we had an airfield within the village boundaries. Quite a lot more residents were aware after last September when the owner of the then, recently purchased Moorlands Farm submitted an application to the District Council planners.

Moorlands Farm is located at the top end of Hatway Hill by Mincombe Post. It isn’t a working farm but rather 30 acres of grassland with a barn and a bungalow.

It transpires that this site was developed into two grass landing strips back in the mid 1980’s for the then owner’s personal flying use and by the early 2000’s a flying group was holding annual fly-ins. A fly-in is what it appears to be, aircraft fly into a location and a social time is had by everyone, and then they all fly out again.

As recently as 2010 a flying school was operating from this site, whilst various aircraft were kept in the hangar barn.

Under the previous owner there had been a number of planning applications submitted and even planning appeals lodged. Initially back in 1989 this was to change the use of the barn, as associated with the farm, into a hangar, and this was rejected by a planning inspector, but he accepted that the owner could house his own aircraft in the barn.

There then followed planning appeals to allow the site to be used for agricultural purposes and as an airstrip and again to turn the barn into an aircraft hangar. It would appear that since the early 1990’s a limited number of small aircraft flights took place each year, and this continued until Moorlands Farm was sold last year. I believe that the owner was allowed to facilitate the use of the site as a small aircraft airfield for up to 28 days a year.

In summary the application as presented was for a “certificate of lawful development for the 30 acres that is used as an aerodrome, this involves taking off, landing and manoeuvring of aeroplanes on the ground, 365 days per year; existing outside parking and an established hangar for the storage of the same; operation of a commercial flying school from the airfield”.

This application caused a great deal of concern locally across the Sid Valley as it could have led to significantly more aircraft movements both on the ground and in the surrounding air space. This in turn could have resulted in a significant increase in noise, again both on the ground and above the Sid Valley and the AONB.

Today the District Council has published its determination on this application on its
planning portal –
https://eastdevon.gov.uk/planning/planning-applications-and-information/view-planning-applications-enforcements-and-planning-appeals/

The determination as issued states “the decision notice for 22/2087/CPE which has granted lawfulness for the use of an existing barn as a hangar. As for the wider use of the site as an aerodrome, for the taking off, landing and manoeuvring of aeroplanes on the ground, and for the operation of the commercial flying school, we are unable to grant lawfulness. This is primarily due to the requirements of an enforcement notice, served on the land on 26th April 1991, which required any landowner or occupant of the land to cease use of the two runways”.

The applicant has also been advised that “the enforcement notice and its requirements have remained in perpetuity and impose a continuing obligation on any current or future landowner. As per S171B, (3) of the Town and Country Planning Act (1990), the notice served on the 26th April 1991 effectively ‘stopped the clock’ on the former and current landowners being able to accrue lawfulness. As a result, a certificate for the use of the site as an aerodrome for the landing and manoeuvring of planes and as a commercial flying school cannot be granted”.

Additionally, the council says “that any aviation activity involving the landing and taking off of aircraft that exceeds 28 days in any calendar year is unlawful. Failure to adhere to the requirements of the enforcement notice will lead to the Council taking legal action to secure compliance”.

As Ward Member I have, like so many others, argued against the application and I believe that local residents will be greatly relieved by the very clear determination that the District Council has issued which I believe brings matters back to the status quo will be widely welcomed across the Sid Valley.

John Loudoun


Trying to follow up with Stagecoach
March 7th 2023

Back on 20 September I met the Mike Watson, the Managing Director of Stagecoach South West to discuss the cut evening bus service, route number 9, serving the village and linking it to Exeter, Sidmouth and Honiton. As a result of this service cut our village residents are isolated each evening and for most of Sunday.

When I met the Managing Director, he told me that this service would be reviewed in the New Year. Mike Watson left his job at the end of 2022 and he assured me that he would ask his successor to follow up on the matters that I discussed with him.

I have therefore today asked the new Managing Director, Peter Knight, if he would meet me as I specifically would like to be able to update residents on what activities Stagecoach has taken since September in doing what I was promised, consideration of reinstating the cut service.

I also want to understanding what Stagecoach now intends to do regarding this route. I raise this as the loss of this service has had a detrimental effect on residents and local businesses.

I hope that I’m not given the run around and that I can get some positive information from the new Managing Director.

John Loudoun


Reflecting on 3 years of District Council Administration
March 5th 2023

As we head towards the District Council elections in May I have started to post my reflections as a member of the Council's Administration over the past 3 years, and as a Cabinet Member for the past 2 years.

Part 1 of my reflections is on my blog http://johnloudoun4sidmouthruralhome.wordpress.com

John Loudoun


Is Stagecoach stringing us all along?
February 10th 2023

Will Stagecoach give the communities of Sidmouth, Sidford and Sidbury an evening bus service again? Last week’s Sidmouth Herald had a piece reporting about our MP’s recent meeting with Stagecoach South West’s new Managing Director at which he appears to have been given an understanding that the axed evening service on the number 9 route will be reviewed.

I was given the same assurance last September by the previous Stagecoach managing Director. Call be sceptical but I fear that our MP, along with me and residents are being strung along by Stagecoach. I have voiced these concerns in a letter printed in today’s edition of the Sidmouth Herald. Here’s the letter’s contents –

As we know last summer, with under a fortnight’s notice, Stagecoach South West stopped providing a bus service beyond the early evening along the bus route that runs from Sidmouth through to Sidford and onto Sidbury. This had the effect of inconveniencing those in Sidmouth and Sidford who relied upon the bus, whilst isolating those who live in Sidbury.

I have previously written about the impact that the loss of this evening bus service has upon those who need a bus to get to and from work, as well as those who use it to go out to socialise in the evenings. It also affects the local night time economy and residents’ ability to keep Sidmouth alive in the evening.

On behalf of local residents, last September I took my concerns to then then Managing Director of Stagecoach South West, Mike Watson, who told me that at some point the evening service could be revisited. He also advised that by the end of 2022 there would be further consultations around local bus services.

I also raised my concerns with our local MP when I met him back in October. I was pleased therefore to read in last week’s Herald of Simon Jupp’s meeting with the new Stagecoach South West Managing Director. It appears that Mr Jupp raised the issue of the cut to the number 9 bus service out to Sidbury. He said that the Managing Director “has promised to review these services in detail”.

Stagecoach seems to have now given the same verbal assurance to our MP by to look again at the to this deleted bus service that I was given 5 months ago. The longer this service remains cut from the timetable the harder I fear it will be to get it reinstated. I don’t question our MP’s desire to argue our case but I do wonder whether he, me and local residents are just being strung along by Stagecoach. Perhaps the Herald could follow this matter up directly with the new Stagecoach Managing Director.

All Residents who are served by the bus service out to Sidbury continue to be inconvenienced by the withdrawal of the evening buses. A bus service is not a luxury, it is a social benefit for the whole community.

John Loudoun


4 May local elections - voter ID now required
January 23rd 2023

There are elections on 4 May for both the District Council and Sidmouth Town Council. It is now a legal requirement that if you turn up to the polling station to cast your vote there in the traditional way, you will now have to provide a specified form of photographic ID to prove who you are.

However, you can still apply for a postal vote without having to show this photographic ID. If you want to apply for a postal vote you will need to do so by no later than 25 April. If you haven’t already asked to have a postal vote then you can apply for one to Electoral Services at the District Council offices or do so on line at https://eastdevon.gov.uk/elections-and-registering-to-vote/electoral-services/voting-by-post/

You can check what forms of photographic ID are acceptable at polling stations at
https://eastdevon.gov.uk/elections-and-registering-to-vote/voter-id-2023/accepted-forms-of-photo-id/

If not have any of the accepted forms of photographic ID, you can apply for a Voter Authority Certificate (VAC) and the above link will take you to the appropriate website. However, the latest that you can apply for this VAC is again by no later than 25 April and in order to do this you must be registered to vote.

If you are not yet registered to vote you can do so, but by no later than 17 April, at https://eastdevon.gov.uk/elections-and-registering-to-vote/electoral-services/register-to-vote/

John Loudoun


EDDC Local Plan Consultation - my comments
January 13th 2023

East Devon District Council’s Local Plan public consultation is just about to close and as part of my consideration of local sites contained within the draft Plan, I set out here my views on the Plan and various specific sites.

In approaching my opinions on each of the proposed local sites that have been put forward by landowners and/or developers for consideration to be adopted within the local Plan that emerges following this period of public and subsequent District Council consideration I recognise the need to build more homes across East Devon, particularly social housing and affordable properties.

Equally, I recognise the need to provide sites to support local businesses, be they one person firms or larger SMEs, as we need to find ways to attract and retain employment locally. Additionally, we must find ways to build our tourism offer which is something that strongly supports our local economy and provides necessary local employment.

The big conundrums that the public and the District Council have to grapple with is how many homes and employment sites do we really need, not just for the immediate future but across the life of this Local Plan and where should these be allocated? In Sidmouth and the wider Sid Valley there is clearly a need for more homes. But where should they be built is a far more vexing question. If most people were honest, they would probably say that they don’t want anything build near to them, but we all know that is both impractical and more than likely quite selfish.

There are several red lines I would like to see protected. One of these is respecting and protecting the AONB that surrounds us here in the Sid Valley, and to do this would mean severely restricting and potentially refusing to allow building to take place in the AONB. This is not NIMBYism but a genuine wish to defend our attractive and essential environment.

Another is ensuring that there is no further coalescence of the green buffer zone that exists between Sidbury and Sidford, although the granting of planning permission in 2019 by a Planning Inspector, for the business park at the site on Two Bridges Road in Sidford has moved the boundary between these two parts of the Sid Valley unnecessarily closer. I would not want to see the boundary between Sidbury and Sidford to move any closer.

Any further local development has to be linked to better and additional infrastructure and whilst this is not something that is taken into account when assessing the appropriateness of sites, it is none the less critical. To build more and more residential properties as are necessary, will inevitably place greater stain on our existing infrastructure including schools, GP surgeries, public transport, highways, as well as our mains water and sewerage systems and our other utilities.

The infrastructure issues are beyond either the responsibility or probably the influence of the District Council but it, as it develops our Local Plan must highlight these and at some point, they will all need to be addressed. If they are not then all of them will move from creaking to failing.

The following sites are ones that I have taken a particular interest in locally and which I have submitted comments as part of the public consultation around the Local Plan.

Sidbury
Sidm_34: land between Furzehill and Hillside, Sidbury EX10 0QZ.
This site has the potential to be developed for around 38 homes. In the draft Local Plan this site has been designated, by Officers, as a Second-Choice site.

This site was previously put forward by the landowner but at that point its development was on a much-reduced footprint and for fewer properties. This site now straddles the three fields that sit between Furzehill and Hillside and is not a flat site. A significant concern about this site is its road access. Two of the site’s three fields could provide road access via both Furzehill and Ebdon Lane (by Hillside). However, both these access points would not be suitable for a housing development of the proposed size. I think that accessing the site from Ebdon Lane (at the Hillside end of the site) would be incredibly difficult as it is a very narrow single-track road. Subsequent access from Ebdon Lane onto the A375 could be difficult.

Devon County Council, as the local highways authority, have indicated that its preferred access to this site would be via Furzehill but that is again a narrow road, with residents’ vehicles parked on it. Additionally, allowing vehicles for anything up to 40 homes on the site to access it via Furzehill is probably not appropriate. It would also create a potential bottleneck at the War Memorial junction.

The Landowner’s stated preference is to have a road access off of Chapel Street on the A375. This is not only a potentially dangerous spot as anyone who drives along it can recognise. It is a pinch point and has poor lines of sight, this potentially dangerous. I cannot see how this could be suitable or safe.

The site sits within the AONB with parts of its with steep slopes and below adjacent to it is the Grade II listed Furzehill Farm and would have a detrimental impact upon it.

I do not support including this site in the Local Plan.

Sidm_25: Field bordering junction of Cotford Road and Roncombe Lane, Sidbury EX10 0QN.
This agricultural site has been submitted for residential purposes to accommodate just under 40 properties. In the draft Local Plan this site has been Rejected by Officers.

The site is situated within the AONB, with landscape visibility, on the edge of Sidbury village outside of its boundary settlement. Access to the site would be either from Roncombe Lane, which is a narrow lane or from the busy A375 at a point where joining it from the site would not be appropriate and potentially dangerous.

Some or all of the site is contained within Flood Zone 3 and there is high risk flooding along roads adjacent to the site and the development of this site could add to increased storm water runoff will exacerbate downstream flooding.

I do not support including this site in the Local Plan.

Sidm_11: Burnt Oak, Sidbury.
This site has already obtained planning permission. Although given the access to the site is on a blind junction on the busy A375 I am surprised that this alone did not lead to the site being rejected when previously considered.

Sidford
Sidm_08: Land at Two Bridges Road (designated employment site), Sidford.
This site is where the business park has already been granted planning permission. Since the draft Local Plan was published the site’s owners have put the site up for sale and in doing so, they have raised the possibility of this site obtaining change of use from employment land to either residential or a mixed use of employment and residential.

I have never been convinced that this site was suitable for use as employment land but that argument was lost in 2019 when a Planning Inspector determined it was suitable. As this is no longer agricultural land is a brown field site, I am in principle supportive of its future use being subject to change of use to either residential or a mixed use of employment and residential.

I hope that whoever owns this land going forward will approach the District Council for such a change of use.

Sidm_09: Land at Two Bridges Road (immediately north of the designated employment site), Sidford.
This site has previously been identified as a potential extension of the business park site next door; however, this site is not being pursued by the owners of the business park. In the draft Local Plan this site has been Rejected by Officers.

The development of this site would lead to the loss of agricultural land in the AONB. It would leave to the creeping coalescence of Sidbury and Sidford which is protected within the Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan.

The use of this site for industrial purposes would add to the already congested roads through Sidbury and the School Street part of Sidford and this would impact negatively on these areas.

I do not support including this site in the Local Plan.

Sidm_06a: Land at Two Bridges Road (immediately west of the designated employment site), Sidford.
This site has been submitted for a potential development of around 30 homes. This site is linked to site Sidm_06b (below). This site has been designated Preferred by Officers.

The development of this site would lead to the loss of agricultural land in the AONB. It would leave to the creeping coalescence of Sidbury and Sidford which is protected within the Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan.

The use of this site for industrial purposes would add to the already congested roads through Sidbury and the School Street part of Sidford and this would impact negatively on these areas. This site cannot be considered in isolation to the existing permitted development at site Sidm_09 and the cumulative negative impact that this additional site would have upon the local community, the road network and the local vista.

I do not support including this site in the Local Plan.

Sidm_06b: Land at Two Bridges Road (immediately west of the designated employment site), Sidford.
This site has been submitted for potential development of up to around 300 homes. This site is linked to site Sidm_06a (above). This site has been Rejected by Officers.

The development of this site would lead to the loss of agricultural land in the AONB. It would leave to the creeping coalescence of Sidbury and Sidford which is protected within the Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan.

The use of this site for industrial purposes would add to the already congested roads through Sidbury and the School Street part of Sidford and this would impact negatively on these areas. This location would not be appropriate for permitted development that a site of this site could deliver. This site cannot be considered in isolation to the existing permitted development at site Sidm_09 and the cumulative negative impact that this additional site would have upon the local community, the road network and the local vista.

I do not support including this site in the Local Plan.

Sidm_12: Land adjoining Fortescue Road, Sidmouth.
This agricultural site of just under 5 hectares has been submitted for the residential development of around 50 homes. This site has been Rejected by Officers.

This site slopes from Fortescue Road towards the River Sid in the vicinity of the Byes which I believe is a restricted development area and the AONB forms part of this site’s boundary. Part of the site at least is within Flood Zone 3.

The site is located at the edge of Sidmouth and would encroach upon the boundary of Sidford.

I do not support including this site in the Local Plan.

Sidm_13: Land adjoining Fortescue Road, Sidmouth.
This agricultural site has been submitted for the development of just over 30 houses. This site has been Rejected by Officers.

The site is located at the edge of Sidmouth and would encroach upon the boundary of Sidford.

I do not support including this site in the Local Plan.

Sidm_14: Land adjacent to Stevens Cross Close, Sidford (east side), EX10 9Q.
This site is located adjacent to the A3052 at the edge of Sidford. This site has been Rejected by Officers.

This site is within the AONB and any development on this site would be highly visible.

I do not support including this site in the Local Plan.

John Loudoun


Sidford business park site - up for sale
December 16th 2022

As I'm sure residents will be only too aware, I have been a long objector to the land at Two Bridges Road in Sidford being used as employment land. This is not because I am against maintaining or creating jobs locally, but rather I have never believed at the site is the right one to be used as employment land. But as we all know in 2019 the Planning Inspector disagreed and so since then the site's owners have step by step obtained planning permission for all the necessary aspects of developing the site as a business park for small businesses. Since I was elected I have sought to work with the site's owners to ensure that the right balance of design and infrastructure is created for the planned units.

As we have learned this week the site's owners, who also own the Alexandria industrial site in Sidmouth, have put the Sidford site up for sale. The reason for the sale is so that they can afford to redevelop and upgrade the Alexandria site. They are able to do upgrade Alexandria as they have now managed to purchase a strip of land bordering Station Road which will now allow better access to Alexandria negating the need to carry on using the inappropriate access off of Alexandria Road. I believe that if this option had been available to them all those years ago, they would not have looked to develop the Sidford site.

As I say in order to fund all of this the site's owners now need to sell the Sidford site. Since I was elected I have advocated to the site's owners that we don't need employment units both at Alexandria and across the full site at Sidford. I believe that they now also are of that opinion.

The Sidford site just will never be returned to agricultural use and so we need to look at what would be best for residents, as well as businesses locally for operating from this site. I am advocating for the site to be developed for housing, possibly supplemented by, say 25% of the site at the rear, being used as employment use. Using only 25% of the site for employment, added to the extra employment that an upgraded Alexandria would deliver would meet the local total square footage required for employment. It would also deliver extra much needed homes without having to raid other agricultural land locally.

After such a chequered recent past that the Sidford site has had, and despite the eye watering sale figure attached to it, I hope that the real story that will emerge is whether this sale could be a good thing for residents and businesses with Alexandria being upgraded and Sidford being put to a better use through most of it being given over to housing.

This is why in today's Sidmouth Herald I have called upon whoever purchases the Sidford site to take advantage of the current Local Plan consultation (see my 8 December posting "Time to give your views on EDDC draft Local Plan) to seek to have the site's designation as solely employment land changed to mixed use to allow homes to be build there.

John Loudoun


A lovely gesture
December 16th 2022

We have received a hand drawn and coloured in Xmas card (photo below) from pupils at Sidbury Primary School. I understand that similar cards have also been delivered to others who, like us, live immediately by the school.

The dedication inside the card says, in great joined up hand writing "Dear neighbour. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from the children at Sidbury Primary School".

The card is sitting in pride of place alongside cards from our own grandchildren. The card is a really nice thought which we appreciated.

John Loudoun


Time to give your views on EDDC draft Local Plan
December 8th 2022

The future planning of East Devon is something that will really impact on all our lives for years to come. The Local Plan is the key document used by the District Council in making planning decisions in East Devon. In order to fully prepare for the future across East Devon the existing Local Plan has been revised and a draft new Plan has been created and is now out for public consultation.

People often only get interested in planning issues when a specific development directly affects them, but this Plan will affect us all and how we as a community respond to key issues like climate change and housing our residents.

The document sets out how East Devon District Council (EDDC) intends to meet housing targets, to meet the needs of local residents and ensure new homes are net zero carbon, ensuring they are more efficient and cheaper to run.
The draft plan also outlines how the district addresses the climate change emergency, how and where new jobs should be created, how town centres should be supported and how the district can protect build heritage and the natural environment.

EDDC launched its consultation on this draft Plan last month seeking residents' views on the specific sites for development that have been put forward. In particular within this draft Plan there are a number of proposed sites that landowners and developers have put forward in Sidbury, Sidford and Sidmouth that will be of interest, and possibly concern, to local residents.
This is a key consultation and your chance to tell us how we should shape communities across East Devon, please use it.

The feedback EDDC receives on this draft Plan will be used to help inform and refine the council’s thinking as the Local Plan is progressed.
In just over a year’s time, it is hoped a final version of the Plan will be ready – having been shaped by the public’s comments and consultations before being subject to an examination by a government appointed planning inspector.

It is so important that people look at this consultation and tell EDDC what they think. The consultation site is at https://eastdevonlocalplan.commonplace.is/. It is vital that residents have their say on proposals now as the consultation closes on 15 January 2023.

Residents might want to consider commenting upon the following local proposed sites –
Sidbury
Sidm_34: land between Furzehill and Hillside, Sidbury EX10 0QZ. Potential development of around 38 homes. In this Plan this site has been designated as a Second-Choice site.
Sidm_25: land in Roncombe Lane, Cotford, Sidbury. This site has been Rejected.
Sidm_11: Burnt Oak, Sidbury. This site has already obtained planning permission.
Sidford
Sidm_08: Land at Two Bridges Road (designated employment site), Sidford. This site is where the business park has already been granted planning permission.
Sidm_09: Land at Two Bridges Road (immediately north of the designated employment site), Sidford. This site has previously been identified as a potential extension of the business park site next door; however, this site is not being pursued by the owners of the business park. This site has been Rejected.
Sidm_06a: Land at Two Bridges Road (immediately west of the designated employment site), Sidford. Potential development of around 30 homes. This site is linked to site Sidm_06b (below). This site has been designated Preferred.
Sidm_06b: Land at Two Bridges Road (immediately west of the designated employment site), Sidford. Potential development of up to around 300 homes. This site is linked to site Sidm_06a (above). This site has been Rejected.

I shall post further setting out my own views on each of these sites.

John Loudoun


Road works on A375 - they will return!
November 29th 2022

As we know the latest set of road works on the A375 between Burnt Oak and Sidford that were linked to the laying of replacement gas pipes have finished. By finished, I mean just for now!

National Grid has contacted me to advise that it still has another three weeks or so of work to undertake, by the sounds of it, at the Burnt Oak end of the pipeline. This will mean that there will be further disruption. However, as I understand it, it cannot be for at least 3 months as that is the minimum time that it needs to give the highways authority to dig up the road and affect traffic.

I have been advised that it is likely that when National Grid return it will need to close the road fully for a week and that for the other two weeks it would put in place a single lane driving controlled by traffic lights.

I have asked national Grid to do two things when they consider the dates for the next set of works. Firstly, I have asked that they ensure Stagecoach will have the dates of when it is intended to fully close the road. I will then ask Stagecoach whether it would put in place a temporary bus service to avoid residents becoming unable to travel on buses during that period.

Secondly, I have asked National Grid to timetable any full road closure so that it doesn't take place within school or college term time. We cannot have pupils from the village who rely upon the bus service put in a position of having no bus to take them to and from their school or college.

Once I know more I will post further information.

John Loudoun


Cinderella panto - a triumph!
November 27th 2022

Last evening, along with around another 100 punters, I attended the last evening of the 2022 Sidbury panto Cinderella. The panto ran for four evenings and brought much joy to all who braved the bad weather to attend.

This village is blessed to have so many brave souls who are prepared to give so much of their time to put on drama events in the village hall. This years Sidbury Into Drama (SIDs) panto was the 15th it has held, and as ever we had great acting, we have great over-acting, many missed lines and so many recognisable songs altered to give them the Sidbury effect.

The cast gave it their all as did the behind the scenes SIDs, which led to two and a half hours of boos, hisses, communal singing and so much laughter. The panto, as ever, attracted residents of all ages from the age of five up to those of us of a much older age.

A big thank you to all involved in SIDs for brightening up our evening and being prepared to make a fool of yourself all in the name of enjoyment. As we were reminded last evening SIDs only continues to deliver a range of drama events each year due to the involvement of volunteers who are prepared to give of their time. SIDs are always looking for willing volunteers to act or deliver front of house and behind the scenes roles.

The photo here is of the whole cast on stage as the panto was reaching its finale. I think we all have another couple of years to recover from Cinderella and to prepare for the net SIDs panto. I for one can't wait!
SIDs bringing Cinderella to its finale

John Loudoun


Remembrance Sunday
November 13th 2022

I was proud today to lay two wreaths at Sidbury’s war memorial and to participate in the village’s act of remembrance. The first wreath that I laid was that from East Devon District Council officially on behalf of the King. The other was on behalf of Sidmouth Town Council.

We were lucky to be able to hold the service in glorious warm sunshine and I estimate that around 50 residents attended from the young, possibly around aged 5 or 6 up to those of us who are much older.

The war memorial is situated at the junction of the busy A375 and Greenhead. For the first time during the service, we had two drivers, who could see that a crowd was gathered across Greenhead and around the memorial, determinedly drive up separately through the crowd, albeit at a slow pace. The crowd had to part to let them both through.

Bizarrely one even came back down moments later having collected someone. I genuinely don’t understand why they, having seen we were all conducting the Remembrance service, didn’t hold back. These things don’t go on for hours! I found the action of both drivers most disrespectful.

John Loudoun


Remembrance Sunday
November 13th 2022

John Loudoun


A375 road closure hokey pokey
November 7th 2022

So the road signs that went up at the end of last week telling us that the A375 would be closed from 7 until 18 November didn't quite tell the correct story!

I am pleased that the road closure isn't happening as signed, rather the temporary traffic lights are continuing. That is a better outcome.

John Loudoun


A375 to Sidford closed 7 - 18.11.22; what about the buses?
November 4th 2022

The A375 between Burnt Oak and the sewerage treatment works has had temporary traffic lights for the past couple of weeks whilst replacement gas main works are being undertaken.

That same stretch of road will be closed to traffic from 7 November until probably 18 November for the same works.

I have contacted Stagecoach to ask what bus replacement service will be provided as the usual route via the village to Sidford and Honiton won't be usable, thus stranding those in the village who rely upon the bus service.

If I receive any information from Stagecoach I will post it on this site.

John Loudoun


£2 per day car parking is back!
October 31st 2022

The District Council is again introducing a winter car parking deal across its car parks. From 1 November until 30 March you can park all day for a maximum payment of £2 per day.

Both cash and card payments are accepted, and if you are using the RingGo app on your mobile, the location code is ‘42973’.

Although your printed ticket may not display an expiry time of midnight, it will still be valid for the whole day.

John Loudoun


Still no funding secured for village multi-use path
October 17th 2022

Sadly, the multi-use path that would connect the village to Sidford and beyond continues to elude us. This sorry saga has dragged on for so long now and still shows not likelihood of becoming a reality ant time soon. You will recall that this matter is the responsibility of the County Council with the latest two phase proposed route being touted by County a year ago.

Phase one would run from the Sidford Business Park site, cross the A375 into the field behind the Wales & West Utilities site. It then would cross Ottery Lane traversing the fields up to where it joins the edge of Hillside. It then goes through Hillside, probably down to Burnt Oak, re-joining the A375 again.

Phase two is proposed to go from the end of phase one into Ebdon Lane and from there it would enter the fields on the right and go all the way up to Furzehill, finally reaching Greenhead and down to the war memorial. From there you would need to cross the A375 to reach the footpath into the centre of the village.

A year ago, on this site I set out my significant reservations about these routes.

In the past few months our County Councillor has provided a couple of updates on this project. Firstly, at the Sidmouth Town Council meeting at the beginning of August we were advised that the current approach was to submit a planning application (presumably for phases one and two), obtain agreement from the landowners for use of their land and then look for funding!

Our County Councillor said that the planning application was being prepared and that County had as yet identified any sources of funding for this project.

Within the last fortnight our County Councillor has confirmed to me that County only has funds allocated in 2022/23 and 2023/24 for further development of the route, including seeking planning permission. He has also confirmed that at this point County still don't have sufficient funds to bring phase one to a successful conclusion. Further, the cost of phase 2 would be borne by anyone developing the Cave Estate land between Hillside and Furzehill (see my post on 13 October “A possible new housing site for Sidbury).

My personal opinion is that given the County Council has a budget deficit this year of around £60m and given the parlous state of this country's finances, then funding phase 1 still remains a significant challenge for County. Even if County ever do raise funding for this the projected costs of £1m per kilometre that was being budgeted for a year ago will today be significantly higher. Who knows what the costs will be next year, the year after or whenever.

This village has and is being badly served by the County Council on this matter and I see no sign of anyone there taking steps to drive this project forward.

John Loudoun


A possible new housing site for Sidbury
October 13th 2022

The District Council is required to have a Local Plan that sets out which sites it has allocated for both employment and residential housing. The council is currently going through a process to produce a draft new Local Plan which should, by early November, be put out to public comment and consultation.

The council has to identify a certain number of sites for housing as set by government. This is causing the council difficulties as it needs to balance meeting these housing targets with ensuring that the sites allocated for these are the right ones in the right places and not just ones that landowners and developers want to pursue, such as the site that was previously allocated for the Sidford Business Park.

The process of developing a new draft Local Plan is coming to a conclusion and is being undertaken in the council’s Strategic Planning Committee. Through the committee’s lengthy process of developing the new draft Plan it has been guided by officers’ assessments of sites that have been put forward. Through this process sites have been identified as preferred sites for allocation for development along with what officers have termed as second-best choice sites.

In Sidbury several potential sites were put forward by a couple of landowners. One in Roncombe Lane has been deemed not appropriate by officers in their initial site assessment. This still leaves a site that the Cave Estate is proposing across three of their fields that lie between Hillside and Furzehill.

Back in January I commented on this site but I can now provide an update.

Recently Savills, on behalf of the Estate, made a presentation to the Strategic Planning Committee outlining the benefits of this proposed site which would potentially house between 38 to 50 residential properties. From my initial assessment of this site, which officers have identified not as a preferential site but rather a second-best choice site, is that I concur with this assessment. This site will be included in the draft Plan as part of the public consultation.
We know that we need more homes build locally and they need to be affordable. The site between Hillside and Furzehill is probably the best location to consider in Sidbury, but its not an easy site to place houses on and its road access is problematic. I think that accessing the site from Ebdon Lane (at the Hillside end of the site) would be incredibly difficult as it is a very narrow single-track road. Subsequent access from Ebdon Lane onto the A375 could be difficult.

Devon County Council, as the local highways authority, have indicated that its preferred access to this site would be via Furzehill but that is again a narrow road, with residents’ vehicles parked on it. Additionally, allowing vehicles for anything up to 50 homes on the site to access it via Furzehill is probably not appropriate. It would also create a potential bottleneck at the War Memorial.

Bizarrely Savills have said that their preferred access point to the site would be from Chapel Street which would be at some point opposite where the footpath down to the cricket pitch is located. This is not only a potentially dangerous spot as anyone who drives along it can recognise. It is a pinch point and has poor lines of sight. Again, allowing vehicles for anything up to 50 homes on the site to access it from here would probably not be appropriate.

Whilst these are some of my initial thoughts about this site, you all will be able to make your own minds up and submit your thoughts as part of the forthcoming public consultation that should be starting next month.

John Loudoun


Possible housing site for Sidbury - Part 2
October 13th 2022

Here is the potential layout for the housing site that the Estate is proposing (see my posting below).Possible Sidbury housing site

John Loudoun


A plea to DCC & Stagecoach to reinstate cut bus service
October 12th 2022

I have today emailed the County Council Cabinet Member responsible for transport matters, as well as Mike Watson, Stagecoach South West’s Managing Director. I have also copied our County Councillor Stuart Hughes and our MP Simon Jupp into thus correspondence -

I believe that the County Council has almost �£600k that it is making available to Stagecoach as additional funding to support some existing routes and I presume that as the relevant County Council Cabinet Member you have been directly involved in this decision.

You may be aware that Sidbury is served by the number 9 bus route which connects the village to, in one direction, Honiton and in the other Sidford and Sidmouth and beyond, including Exeter. Residents in this village have no safe way of walking to Sidford and Sidmouth as there is no footpath along the connecting part of the busy A375 that runs through Sidbury. This road carries around a million vehicles a year including large long wheel base lorries, farm vehicles, as well as cars, including those towing caravans, motorhomes and motorbikes.

In addition to the primary school that is situated in the centre of the village there are also two shops, the church, the parish rooms, the much-used village hall and the pub. I know that the two shops and the pub are most concerned that without a regular bus service their trade will suffer. Many of the village's residents work outside of the village and young people in the village gravitate to Sidmouth and even to Exeter for entertainment. Residents also use Sidmouth for accessing pubs and restaurants, particularly in the evening. The village pub relies in part on trade from outside the village and it hosts league skittle and darts teams. Without an evening service village residents and those coming into the village to use the pub cannot travel using public transport.

The village has been well served by the bus service that ran daily from early morning until late in the evening. However back in the summer Stagecoach, with very little notice stopped providing a service to and from the village after around 7.00 pm. It also reduced the Sunday service to just two buses.

This village is effectively now isolated on a Sunday and each evening. Such isolation will impact upon the confidence of residents to stay living in the village, as well as could be a barrier to those who might move here. The village very much needs a thriving pub, shops and locations such as the village hall to keep it alive. Having a regular bus service helps maintain local confidence and brings much needed trade to our amenities.

I fully appreciate that Stagecoach is a commercial entity and that generally bus patronage has reduced since the start of covid. I also accept that the level of patronage into and out of Sidbury can be sparce. Sidbury has a population of older people as well as families. Some have to rely upon the bus service and others should be encouraged to use a bus rather than their vehicles in order to help the country tackle the perils of climate change.

A couple of weeks ago, after I made representations to Stagecoach, I met with Stagecoach South West's Managing Director Mike Watson to get a better understanding of why Stagecoach had made the cuts to Sidbury's bus service. It was made clear to me that I shouldn't get my hopes up for a reversal of these cuts, although should circumstances change then the level of the service could be revisited.

I believe that a regular bus service, which includes it running into the evening, is an essential social service particularly for villages such as Sidbury. As Stagecoach runs a commercial operation then somehow or another services serving places such as Sidbury require either cross subsidy within Stagecoach and/or a subsidy to make routes financially viable. As for the former the village is at the whim of Stagecoach and as for the latter Sidbury requires financial support from either local or central government.

My plea to Stagecoach and the County Council is for some of this latest �£600k funding to be used to reinstate some of Sidbury's lost service, particularly in the evenings. Indeed, I would ask the County Council to consider providing a regular subsidy to support services for Sidbury. I trust that the County Councillor and MP that represent Sidbury would support my requests.

I look forward to receiving positive feedback from all of you that I have included in this email.

John Loudoun


Cuts to Sidbury bus service - battle continues
July 26th 2022

On 18 July I emailed Martin Griffiths the CEO of Stagecoach about its decision to cut the bus service serving Sidbury. Today I have had to ask him where my response is. This suggests to me his, and his company’s disregard for Sidbury and its residents.

It has been suggested that one of the reasons Stagecoach is cutting its evening bus service to and from Sidbury is its lack of drivers. I understand that across all sectors of the UK economy there are staff shortages. However, according to the local press Stagecoach is to take up to possibly 50 drivers who drive Devon’s buses to work in the midlands during the Commonwealth Games, which runs from 28 July until 8 August. So, I have followed up by asking Stagecoach’s CEO why it is prioritising driving athletes and spectators around a sporting event over providing essential travel for Sidbury residents.

I understand that our local MP has asked residents to let him know how often and for what reason they use the bus service. It wouldn’t hurt for residents to share that information with him at simon.jupp.mp@parliament.uk.

A local resident Corrine Sycamore has created an online petition via change.org which criticises the cuts to the bus service. I genuinely applaud Corrine for doing this and hope that Stagecoach and our County Councillor will take notice of it. As I post this the petition has gained 800 signatures in under a week. That is a great achievement and a great local response.
If you haven’t already signed the petition, please do at https://www.change.org/p/stop-stagecoach-cutting-the-number-9-sidmouth-sidbury-honiton-bus-route-after-7pm

John Loudoun


A plea to Stagecoach CEO not to cut Sidbury's bus service
July 18th 2022

Below is an email I have sent to the Stagecoach Group CEO. I would encourage residents to also contact the CEO and object to the cut to this village's evening bus service. You can contact Martin Griffiths at martin.griffiths@stagecoachgroup.com.

I would also encourage you to contact our County Councillor as it in part subsidies (which I understand it has cut back) the bus route. You can contact Stuart Hughes on stuart.hughes@devon.gov.uk


FAO: Martin Griffiths, CEO, Stagecoach Group – martin.griffiths@stagecoachgroup.com

I am writing to you as an elected representative of residents in the East Devon village of Sidbury. The village is located about 3 miles outside of its nearest main town Sidmouth and is served by the Stagecoach operated local number 9 bus route that links Exeter, Sidmouth, Sidbury and Honiton.

Unless a resident of Sidbury has a vehicle then in order to go to work which is most likely to be in Sidmouth, Honiton or Exmouth they will be reliant upon the bus service. As are those who will shop in those three locations, or go to school and college or go out to socialise in a pub, café, restaurant or cinema.

The bus service is a life line for this village as it connects its residents to its immediate environs. The village has a high degree of elderly residents for whom the bus is their means of transport, as is also the case for the village youngsters.

Out of the blue last week I found out that Stagecoach is to cut its bus service to the extent that the village will become isolated in the early evening each day, as the established hourly bus service that runs until just before midnight will be cut with the last bus arriving in the village at 7.20 pm. Equally, of concern is the fact that residents have been only given about three weeks’ notice of the cut to this service.

This means that after 7.20 pm the village will not be served by a bus. Already villagers cannot travel to Honiton beyond this time. This will effectively cut this village off from Sidmouth and Exeter from early evening. This will not only affect those who have to use public transport to get to and from work, but also those who use it to access social activities, not least our youngsters.

It will also detrimentally affect the village pub and local B&Bs. It will mean that villagers will not be able to easily travel into Sidmouth to visit pubs, restaurants or the cinema. This will be a loss of income to those businesses.

It will also potentially lead to more residents resorting to walking along the dangerous part of the dangerous A375 between Sidford and Sidbury with the potential for those doing so being involved in an accident. This road is very windy and without a footpath. It might also increase the level of drink driving.

These cuts to the service are not short-term measures but appear to be here to stay.
This all comes at a time when, in late June, I read in the Independent newspaper that “Bus giant Stagecoach said it has “firmly returned to growth” following recovering customer demand after the pandemic as revenues rose to £1.2 billion. The group saw underlying pre-tax profits more than double to £44.1 million for the year to April 30, up from £17 million the previous financial year”.

Indeed, at the end of last year as Stagecoach’s group chief executive you said “We are pleased at the positive progress of the business as confidence in public transport returns and more customers use our bus, coach and tram services” and that “The group maintains a solid financial position” plus “We continue to see a positive outlook for our bus, coach and tram services”.

So, my questions to Stagecoach are –
Why, if stagecoach is so hugely profitable, are you cutting bus services that residents, such as those in Sidbury, rely upon not only for work purposes, but to have a social life?
Why, could Stagecoach not have amended the evening timetable to allow some semblance of a bus service until late evening?
Why, did Stagecoach not consult residents about their intended cuts to the village’s bus service?
Why, has Stagecoach only given residents around three weeks’ notice of the cuts to the bus service.

Finally, on behalf of the residents of Sidbury village I would ask stagecoach to step back from the cuts to its service that will lead to this village and its residents becoming isolated each evening from 7.20 pm.

For transparency I am publishing this email and any response on the village website so that residents fully understand what is happening to their bus service.

John Loudoun


Ukrainian flag raised over village hall
March 14th 2022

The local reaction to the plight of the Ukrainians has been amazing. Indeed, the response and support for Tony and Rhian Hall (Furzehill residents) initiative to call for donations of essentials and clothing was fantastic. It took 20/25 volunteers all Friday afternoon (4 March) and much of the following day just to sort the donations and bag them up.

Tony, with the support and assistance of Big Paul (he of Big Paul's garage) managed to move all of the boxes to several local containers. Since then Tony and Rhian have managed to get mush of what was donated over to others who can drive them to eastern Europe to the Ukrainian refugees. They are still working on getting the rest sent.

On Saturday (11 March) I was pleased to be able to donate a Ukrainian flag to allow Roger Davey to fly it above the village hall to show our support for the people of Ukraine. It was good that Tony and Rhian were able to be there when Roger got the flag up.

It brings a lump to the throat to see the flag fluttering in the breeze. We have followed in the footsteps of the District and Town Councils who are also flying the Ukranian flag, as are the Bedford Hotel on the sea front.

I never thought we would have to fly a flag to show solidarity with a European country that had been so brutally invaded by its bigger neighbour. Certainly, not in 2022.

Many people have also donated money to aid agencies who are assisting the refugees. It's not for me to tell anyone who to donate to but I know that one of the established organisations is the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) dec.org.uk.

John Loudoun


Additional 20 mph signs erected
March 8th 2022

I have spent the past 4 years trying to get our County Councillor to organise through the County Council to provide the flashing speed sign that he promised to part fund on Cotford Road. I even got agreement in principle from the Town Council to fund the balance of the cost and also had agreement in principle from private land owners on Cotford Road to allow a sign to be put up on their land.

Annoyingly, after 4 years of badgering the County Councillor and County Council officers, I have now been told that there is no suitable spot along Cotford Road to safely erect a flashing sign. I find this most galling as we have been led a merry dance by them as we have discussed various locations, how a sign might be powered and what type of flashing sign we might be able to have.

I have continually asked the County Council to provide more 20 mph signs through the village and finally a number were yesterday attached to lampposts through the centre of the village.This is a small positive step forward. But I still want there to be more 20 mph signs painted on the road and I still will carry on calling for what I believe we really need, a flashing speed sign. After all, the village was publicly promised one 4 years ago.

John Loudoun


EDDC Small Grants
February 28th 2022

EDDC is encouraging local community organisations to apply for a small grant, of between £300 and £500, to fund specific local projects.

These grants are available to be applied for until 16 December 2022.

Please draw this to the attention of any local community organisation and encourage it to apply.

John Loudoun


Update: Gas pipe works – Cotford Road
February 19th 2022

I’m grateful to Wales & West Utilities for having reacted positively, and swiftly, to the concerns that I and some residents have raised about the length of time and the impact on the flow of traffic along the A375 and through the village that these works as originally planned would have had. This has resulted in me having a number of discussions with Wales and West Utilities to try and reduce the length of time that Cotford Road will have to be closed. That said, I recognise that these are clearly essential works.

As a result of these discussions Wales & West Utilities has updated its plans to upgrade gas pipes in the Cotford Road.

The £165,000 work, which started this week, was originally planned to include a month-long road closure on Cotford Road. However, after discussions that I have had with them, plans have been updated and will now include a number of smaller and shorter road closures, allowing for increased access to the village. Traffic plans now include:

• 14 - 23 February: Buckley Road will be closed at its junction with A375 Cotford Road and a diversion will be in place.
• 28 February – 4 March: A375 Cotford Road will be closed from Cotford Bridge (over the River Sid) to Roncombe Lane – including the first 100m of Roncombe Lane. A diversion route will be clearly signposted. Barring any engineering difficulties, A375 Cotford Road will reopen on 4 March.
• 7 - 14 March: the first 100m of Roncombe Lane will remain closed. Access to the Cotford Road will be maintained for homes in this part of Roncombe Lane
• From 14 March: 3-way traffic lights will be in place on Cotford Road at Cotford Bridge (over the River Sid) and Buckley Lane. Barring engineering difficulties, these lights are expected to be in place for 1 week.
The overall work is now expected to finish by the end of March.

I’m sure that residents will be pleased that the disruption that these works will bring, has now been significantly reduced. Potentially we could now see the time that Cotford Road is closed for these works now being reduced by some 75%. I am pleased that with Wales and West Utilities were both willing and able to work constructively with me on behalf of the village.

Should you need to contact Wales and West Utilities about these works you can contact their Customer Service Team on freephone 0800 912 2999.

Alternatively, you can contact the company on Twitter @WWUtilities or Facebook.com/WWUtilities.

John Loudoun


Greenhead closure - another & latest South West Water update
February 9th 2022

Today's update from South West Water on the closure and works in Greenhead starting next week -

We wrote to you previously to advise that we are installing a new water supply in the above
location. To undertake this work safely and efficiently, we’ll need to close a small section of
Greenhead in the proximity of Bristol Cottage.

This is an update to inform you that the highways authority has stipulated a change to the
diversion route. The route now avoids Ottery Lane, due to concerns over the road surface,
replacing it with one which goes via Burscombe Lane.

Please note, our schedule has also been amended to 14 to 18 February.

Signs will be placed in the relevant locations to direct the traffic through the diversion.

Access to Furzehill will be maintained from the Sidbury village centre direction from the
A375/Chapel Street/Fore Street junction with Greenhead.

Please be assured that the Emergency Services have been made aware that the road will be
closed and in the unlikely event of an emergency, we will work with them to provide access
to any sick or injured parties. Local bus companies, schools and refuse collectors have also
been notified.

Pedestrian access will remain unaffected.

If you have any additional requirements or would like any further information, please contact
the South West Water Helpline on 0344 346 2020.

Thank you for your patience and understanding whilst we carry out this essential work. We’d
like to assure you that every effort will be made to keep disruption to a minimum and for the
work to be completed as quickly as possible.

John Loudoun


New community grants available from EDDC - check it out!
February 3rd 2022

Grants are now available from the District Council. Please check this out, as your organisation might be able to apply. If you are eligible, then apply asap! See the information taken from the EDDC press release below –

Grants of up to £500 are now available from East Devon District Council for voluntary, community and other not for profit groups.

The District Council has set up a one-off Small Community Grants scheme to provide grants to support community-led ideas and initiatives across the area. Applications are sought from groups looking to fund smaller projects, rather than it being a small percentage contribution of a big costly project.

East Devon District Councillor Jack Rowland, Chair of the Community Grants Panel said:
I’d encourage eligible groups to apply for this one-off grant to assist you in meeting a need in your community as you are best placed to identify the priorities in your area of the district.”

Projects that would be eligible for funding must help achieve either or both of the following
One or both of the key priorities listed in our Council Plan:
- Better homes and communities for all.
- A greener East Devon.

Please see more details about what is included within each priority to see whether your application would be eligible: eastdevon.gov.uk/council-plan

One or more of the actions listed in the Council’s Poverty Strategy: eastdevon.gov.uk/council-and-democracy/council-business/poverty-reduction-strategy

Examples of projects that might be eligible include (but aren’t limited to):
Improving people’s mental health
Community events
Communities taking over their own assets
Improving the quality of homes
Reducing hardship and inequality, supporting people on low incomes and working to combat poverty
Improving community spaces
Environmental and climate change related projects
Improving people’s health and wellbeing

Who can apply?
Applications are accepted from properly constituted and not-for-private-profit:
Voluntary and community sector groups and organisations
Parish Councils
Charities
Others such as Community Interest Companies
Or a combination of such groups working together. Non-constituted groups without their own, separate bank account may apply but will need to do so by an accountable constituted organisation acting on their behalf.

When you can apply
You can apply anytime until 16 December 2022, applications will be considered as they come in. Decisions on applications will be made within about 4 weeks of them being submitted and any follow up questions being answered. However, the amount of available funding is limited, once it runs out the fund will close to applications, this may be earlier than Friday 16 December 2022.

To find out more and to apply
eastdevon.gov.uk/grants-and-funding/grants-available-from-us/small-community-grants

John Loudoun


EDDC's New Local Plan - Potential Local Implications
January 31st 2022

The District Council is revising its Local Plan that guides where residential and industrial developments can take place across East Devon. As part of this process last year the District Council issued a Call for Sites which allowed for possible development sites to be put forward for consideration.

These sites are being evaluated by the District Council. Two Sidbury sites and one site this side of Sidford were submitted. The initial District Council view is that one of the Sidbury sites (in Roncombe Lane) is not suitable for inclusion in the new Local Plan. The other Sidbury site might be suitable. This second site is a sloping agricultural field adjoining the northerly edge of Furzehill and has the A375 as its eastern boundary. The proposal is for about 38 properties to be built here.

Last week the landowner, Sidbury Manor Estate, presented its vision for residential development on this site. I’m not sure that the presentation achieved what it intended.

I have reported on this and other related local sites that have been put forward for inclusion in the Local Plan. Read about all of this on my blog – http://johnloudoun4sidmouthruralhome.wordpress.com

John Loudoun


Sidbury to Sidford Multi-Use Path Consultation Response
October 15th 2021

EDDC Sidmouth Rural Ward Councillor & STC Sidbury Ward Councillor – Response to Devon County Council’s limited public consultation

I am responding to the limited public consultation on a revised route for a proposed multi-use path linking Sidbury to Sidford and into Sidmouth. This limited public consultation was set out in a letter from Devon County Council (DCC) to some Sidbury residents, dated 29 September 2021. Included with this letter was a plan showing a proposed revised route for this path.

I have subsequently been advised by a DCC officer that this letter and plan were only sent to “residents in Sidbury in the immediate vicinity of the route, including properties on Hillside and Burnt Oak”. The letter stated “We would invite you to feedback your comments on the attached proposals … The consultation will be open for just over 2 weeks closing 15 October”. I am disappointed that DCC chose to restrict its consultation to only these Sidbury residents, as the path must be intended to link the whole of the village to Sidford and beyond. Therefore, the vast majority of Sidbury residents would have no knowledge of the revised route or the consultation. I cannot see how this limited consultative exercise could be seen to be meaningful, open or transparent.

Whilst DCC has no requirement to consult Sidbury residents, it seems to me that as the whole village needs to be linked up that all residents, and local organisations, groups and businesses, should have a say in any proposed route. DCC equally has no requirement to consult me as the local District and Town Councillor, however I feel that it would have at least have been courteous to have informed me of the consultation and revised proposed route, which it did not. I was alerted to DCC’s letter and route plan by a resident who had directly received them. Indeed, it took DCC seven days to respond to my two emails, one of which was a chase up email, about this consultation.

I was elected as both a District and a Town Councillor in May 2019 and since then I have, through our County Councillor, several times requested to be able to engage with DCC about where a potential path might best be routed. Regretfully, my requests were not acted upon.

The last proposed route for the path, published five years ago, skirted the southern boundary of the A375 entering/exiting Sidbury at Burnt Oak. This would have left those who live in most of the village to have to walk/cycle along the A375 between Burnt Oak and just opposite the Pound on Chapel Street before they could use a short length of footpath.

Residents would then have had to walk/cycle again along the A375 between the end of that footpath, past the Chapel and to join the next piece of footpath just opposite the War Memorial at the start of Fore Street.

As residents and DCC Highways are aware the A375 from Sidford, through Burnt Oak, all the way through to the village, and out beyond Cotford bridge is narrow, windy, in many places has parked vehicles and despite the village being subject to 20-mph and a 30-mph zones, drivers, according to official DCC data (2018) breach the speed limits.

Not only is speed through all parts of the village a concern, the village also has to contend with in excess of 1 million vehicles travelling annually through it (2018 DCC data). These vehicles include HGVs, including the largest ones, vans, caravans, motorhomes, cars, motorbikes, buses and farm vehicles, such as tractors and trailers. The road from Sidford to Cotford bridge is dangerous to walkers and cyclists, which is why there is a need for a path to bypass the road.

With the revised proposed route entering/exiting Sidbury at Burnt Oak only a couple of hundred yards closer to the village than the previous proposed route, this does nothing to connect the village to the path any better than had previously been proposed. Indeed, what this revised route does is to require residents to have to cross the A375 by the phone box at Hillside/Burnt Oak in order to walk against the traffic towards the village. The previous route would not have added this requirement as the entry/exit to the path was on the opposite side of the A375 to this.

In order to effectively connect the village to Sidford any path needs to enter/exit the village in its centre. It also needs to have a spur to an entry/exit at Burnt Oak. This would allow all residents across the village to access the path in a safe manner. Ideally, an entry/exit in the centre of the village would be in Deepway, as it would not be possible to enter/exit via the cricket ground and the Millennium Green off of Bridge Street.

Equally ideally, a route from the centre of village, spurred off at Burnt Oak, would hug the River Sid joining up with the existing path in Sidford at the bottom of the business park site by Laundry Lane. I am confident that locating the path across the business park site at this point would be something that the landowners could be encouraged to agree to.

The revised route will enter/exit Hillside from Sidford. Hillside only has a footpath for about half of it, from its junction with Burnt Oak up until the three-way junction at the top of Hillside. From there to the entry/exit point into the field below Ebdon Farm there is no footpath and it is narrow with residents’ parked vehicles.

The route then traverses the three fields between the entry/exit in Hillside until it meets Otter Lane. The route across these fields is at an incline. At Ottery Lane the path then crosses it just above where it joins the A375. Any crossing at this point would be fairly blind particularly to drivers entering Ottery Lane from the Sidford direction.

Having crossed Ottery Lane, the route passes through four fields and has to skirt the Wales and West Utilities site. The route then enters/exits onto Two Bridges Road/A375 opposite the proposed entrance to the business park. Two Bridges Road is a fast road despite its 30-mph speed limit, particularly at this point as it is a straight piece of road. The road is wide enough to facilitate vehicles travelling in both directions.

As this part of the A375 directly ends up going through Sidbury the same comments about traffic are appropriate, in that over 1 million vehicles travelling along it (2018 DCC Sidbury data). These vehicles include HGVs, including the largest ones, vans, caravans, motorhomes, cars, motorbikes, buses and farm vehicles, such as tractors and trailers. This is a dangerous road to have to cross.

Whilst the business park is being built this part of the A375 will have more and often bigger vehicles using it. Once the business park is built there will be hundreds of additional vehicle movements each day from those delivering to/from it and those working there. This will all add to the difficulties facing those needing to cross the A375 to access/exit the path. This really is not an appropriate access/entry point to the path.

Having crossed the A375 those using the path will then need to be mindful of all the vehicles entering/exiting the business park.

In order to make the path effective in its intention of linking Sidbury to Sidford and beyond it has to be useable and safe for all of its users. Not only would this include able bodied adults and youth, walking and/or cycling, but also children of all ages walking and possibly on scooters and bikes, babies and toddlers being pushed in prams, the partially sighted walking, those with mobility difficulties either on foot or using a wheelchair or a mobility scooter. A path that takes users into/out of the centre of the village could allow children who attend Sidbury Primary School, and their parents/carers, to walk/cycle directly to/from Sidford without having to drive or rely upon school transport.

A path has to increase the access to and from Sidbury for not only its residents but to also open it up to visitors and those walking in the area, such as those using the East Devon Way. This would assist the local economy as visitors could make greater use of visiting St Giles Church, Drews the village shop, JA Nice’s shop, the Village Hall and Parish Rooms, the Red Lion pub, as well as the Millennium Green and Sidbury Cricket Club’s ground.

From the basic information provided about the revised route I am not convinced that it is safe for users, that it will link the whole village to Sidford and beyond, or that it will be used to any great extent. This would probably lead to this path sadly becoming a white elephant, a waste of public money and a lost opportunity for linking an isolated village and its residents to Sidford and beyond.

It is five years since the previous proposed route was withdrawn by DCC. Since then, I am unaware of any discussion that DCC has had with Sidbury residents or local groups or organisations. This appears to have been a wasted five years during which, as I have asked over the past couple of years, broad local engagement could have taken place in order to develop a route that would truly link the whole of the village to Sidford and beyond, and be supported and used by the residents of Sidbury.

John Loudoun


Sidbury to Sidford Multi-Use Path Consultation
October 11th 2021

I am grateful to a Burnt Oak resident who sent me the letter reproduced below that they received the other day from Devon County Council. This letter informed them that after five years of silence from the County Council, a revised route for a multi-use path , previously known as a cycle path, linking Sidbury with Sidford and on into Sidmouth, had now been designed.

The County Council attached an outline map which showed this revised route. I have also attached that to this posting.

As the local District and Town Councillor the County Council has no requirement to have discussed this matter with me as they designed this revised route. This is the responsibility of our County Councillor, Stuart Hughes. Neither did the County Council have the requirement to discuss the matter with any local groups or residents.

The County Council has not spoken to me, nor to my knowledge has it spoken to any local groups or residents over the past five years. I find this most disappointing as between us we would have good local knowledge and understanding of what this village’s residents and businesses would want the multi-use path’s route to follow.

The County Council’s letter and the revised map of the route don’t appear to have gone to all village residents, nor have they been sent to me. The letter says that the County Council is conducting a two-week consultation, which closes on 15 October.

Over the past week I have twice emailed the County Council officer whose email address is contained in the letter asking a number of questions about the revised route and this public consultation. I have not had any acknowledgement of my emails nor have I had any response.

I believe that there are a number of shortcomings with this revised route which I will send to the County Council in response to their consultation. Once I have submitted my comments, I will publicise them.

Residents might want to respond to this public consultation and may also want to let their County Councillor know of their opinions.

Letter sent to some Sidbury residents, from Devon County Council, dated 29 September 2021

29 September 2021

Dear Resident,
Re: Sidbury to Sidford Multi-Use Path

Devon County Council are developing proposals to enhance the existing multi-use path through the Byes at Sidmouth, by extending it from Sidford through to Sidbury. A public consultation was held looking at route options in 2014.

The proposal is to provide a multi-use active travel link between Sidbury and Sidford which will improve connectivity between the settlements. Not only will this provide a safe path for active travel, providing health and wellbeing benefits, it will also provide a place where cyclists of all ages can gain confidence and skills.

The route will be designed to be suitable for a range of users, allowing easy access for those with disabilities, mobility problems or parents with prams and buggies.

I am writing to inform you that we are planning to proceed with developing proposals for the westem option for the trail, as can be seen on the attached plan. We have considered a number of options and believe the attached plan provides the best trail for the safety and convenience of users, as well as the feasibility of construction and improving access to Sidbury.

We would invite you to feedback your comments on the attached proposals which can be sent by email to transportplanninq@devon.qov.uk. The consultation will be open for just over 2 weeks; closing 15th October.

Subject to the feedback received, we are aiming to present the proposals to East Devon Highways and Traffic Orders Committee, seeking approval to proceed towards the development of a planning application for the through detailed design stages whilst appropriate funding will be sought for the scheme delivery.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Yours faithfully
Hannah Clark
Transport Planning Team Leader Planning, Transportation & Environment
01392 383000
hannah.clark@devon.gov.

John Loudoun



October 11th 2021

John Loudoun


Sidford Business Park Update
October 11th 2021

Land East of Two Bridges Road, Sidford
Planning Application: 21/1723/MRES subsequent to 18/1094/MOUT

Following the appeal hearing in front of a planning inspector in July 2019, the planning application 18/1094/MOUT to build a business park on the land east of Two Bridges Road at Sidford was upheld. This provided the applicants with outline planning permission to progress with building there. The inspector’s decision left only the scale of the site’s infrastructure and its appearance to be determined at a later date by the District Council.

The scale of the buildings is now covered by this latest planning application, 21/1723/MRES. I understand that the appearance of the buildings, their architecture, will still remain to be decided upon at a later date, probably in early 2022.

The applicants have over recent months, as will be evident from looking at the site, been undertaking some significant preliminary landscaping and flood alleviation work, not least straightening the course of the brook that flows through the site.

As the District Councillor for Sidmouth Rural Ward within which this site is located, I attended a site meeting on 1 October with fellow Sidford Ward District Councillor, Marianne Rixson, to meet with the applicants’ agent, Joseph Marchant. We wanted to look at what works have been undertaken so far and to understand where the proposed buildings would be located.

The site has clearly had significant works undertaken so far and to my mind the works look as if the applicants are doing what has been required of them. Indeed, we were told that in the southern third of the site where the flood improvement works have taken place there will soon be about 2,200 native trees planted there. I understand that across the remainder of the site considerably more trees and planting will eventually take place. We were assured that as a result of all of the planting the site will become more ecologically rich than when it was a field.

I believe that the applicants’ intentions are that building work would not commence for probably another 24 months allowing the initial planting to mature.

I understand that the flood improvement work will make the site less liable to future flooding allowing a greater flow of water through the site, reducing potential flooding in local lower lying areas.

I noted that all the current ground levels of the flood improvement area would be its future ground levels. The plans submitted with the latest application show the cut and fill across the site to create the base levels.

When trying to understand where the buildings would be located and their scale, we were able to use the “Proposed Block Plan” site plan that is part of the latest application’s document submissions to the District Council.

The key information about the buildings that I took from our discussions was -
1. The site layout, as set out in the Block Plan, is the same as included in the previous 2018 application, and there will be fewer buildings than originally proposed when the site was reviewed as part of the 2012 Local Plan process.
2. Many of the buildings will now be a storey lower than had been proposed in 2012 and are as proposed in the 2018 application. The planning inspector included this detail in Condition 4 of his decision.
3. The ridge heights of the buildings will be roughly no higher than those of the bungalows facing the site on Two Bridges Road, with the exception of the two larger buildings at the front of the site (coloured red and light blue on the Block Plan) that would be about the same height as the former police house facing them on Two Bridges Road;
4. All the buildings, with the exception of two larger ones (coloured red and light blue on the Block Plan) closest to the Two Bridges Road, will be single storey at heights of about 5 metres to their eaves and 6 to 6.5 metres at their ridges.
5. The two larger buildings will be two storey office buildings at a height of about 6 metres to their eves and about 7.5 metres to their ridges.
6. The buildings’ height detail was covered at the planning inspector’s hearing.

In the run up to the site meeting Mr Marchant provided me with an informal letter in which he set out the applicants’ intentions and approach to the final phases of developing the site. Mr Marchant’s intention was to try to ease any remaining local resident concerns about what is, and will, be happening at the site, and he has allowed me to reproduce the content of his letter. His letter is below –

“As you know, in late 2019, we sought to vary the Conditions on the Appeal Decision in order to allow the landscape works to be brought forward early. The original Inspector’s Conditions meant that no implementation could occur until all designs for the buildings and other built elements were in place. The adjustment to the wording meant that we were able to bring forward the archaeological dig and the earthworks to secure the flood benefits, along with the landscape provision for new trees, hedges, new Devon banks and the meadow as early as possible, such that the landscape has a chance to mature as soon as it can. The applicants and I could see the benefit of landscaping maturing as soon as possible.

As I explained to you, having worked in this industry for over 25 years, I do know that in most cases where development is proposed, local residents are naturally concerned with impact. Where planting or the level of landscape to be provided is a significant element, this is not always fully appreciated or understood by local people, and, in some cases, averting this misunderstanding can reduce concern. I am conscious that understanding plans of the site remains a difficulty for some. With the benefit of the earthworks related to the landscape area, the new Devon banks, the flood basin and the enclosure to the tree zones of the site, it is now possible to depict where the planting will occur and therefore to more easily interpret the plans. I am pleased that you have agreed to view these works with me.

It may be that the turfing and tree and hedge planting will have started when we visit the site. The seeding has already occurred. This is the meadow rich seed mix for the main flood improvement area. Turfing is due to start at the end of this week and into next. In respect of the Devon banks along Laundry Lane, until recently, it has not been possible to lay this turf due to the dry weather, such that it would survive. With recent heavy rain, we can now proceed with this. The tree planting will also start in coming days. My understanding is that over 2200 trees and hedge whips have been ordered and will be planted across the site as planned. The ambition is that by the early spring of next year, these planted elements will be well established and will have a full growing season ahead of them next year. Some of the trees that will go onto the site will be quite significant in size and hopefully within a year or two, will have a significant impact.

I would hope that on the site visit, we can look at this element of the investment, such that you can advise any local people that may come to you with queries. I think it will also be of significant interest to see just how much open space is allotted to the development, which I think will be of comfort to many local people. Again, this is an element that I think may have been under appreciated from the technical documents. A site visit should bring this to life.

The second issue which I think has been of concern to many local people, has been the worry that the development may be overbearing in its height. As you know, the recent appeal scheme detailed the layout, which is fully approved. The height of the ridges and eaves was supplied as an indicative figure. This indicative figure enabled the modelling of the Landscape Impact Assessment. As you are aware, the greater majority of the development is single storey. A few buildings are two storeys.

The concern of many local people was that the scale of the buildings may expand to more closely represent the scheme that was supported by the Inspector in the 2012 Local Plan Inquiry. This was a much denser scheme. To put to bed that concern, I can confirm that the scale, as now submitted, will be as detailed in the LVIA of the appeal scheme, to exactly the heights that were identified at that stage.

The current Reserved Matter application will hopefully avoid a worry from local residents that somehow the Reserved Matter would be submitted showing two and three storey buildings across the site. The scale that is shown in the Reserved Matters application which is currently submitted is as low as possible, particularly given that the greater majority of buildings are single storey.

My hope is that a combination of a large part of the landscape being in the ground, and a confirmed position from the applicant on the scale of buildings, will mean that those most affected by the development will hopefully obtain some peace of mind, knowing that the single storey scale of the majority of buildings, to match exactly with L002 Rev A and SK001, and the positioning and extent of landscape works will mean that the development is much less impacting than they had anticipated, giving regard to residents’ outlook and relationship with the development site.

I look forward to being able to explore these things with you so that when you are approached by local people, you are able to put them at ease”.

I have been asked by some residents about what they might usefully say as part of the consultation on the latest application, for which the closing date is 14 October. The application and its supporting documents are accessible at –

https://planning.eastdevon.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=documents&keyVal=QV41TVGHFQE00

Given that the latest application is in effect about scale, I hope that the information that I have obtained will assist residents as they consider whether they are reassured by the scale of the buildings. Whatever residents’ opinions on the latest application, these can be made directly to the District Council as part of its current consultation process.

Further, I hope that Mr Marchant’s letter is helpful to residents and that the wider information I have set out here is also useful.

Since this note was drafted the Sidmouth Town Council’s Planning Committee has met and considered this application. It was unable to support the application giving its reasons as –

UNABLE TO SUPPORT
The Council continues to oppose the establishment of employment land in this location but subsequent to the approval on appeal by the Planning Inspectorate, viewed the application regarding scale without prejudice.

Members were unable to support the application regarding scale as they felt that the location of larger and taller buildings (Blocks N & K) closer and more prominently next to the road was detrimental to the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. They suggested that those buildings could be relocated further back into the site so that the height and size of buildings increased as the distance increased from the main roadway.

As a member of this Committee, I participated in the discussions and I and share its concerns about the scale of the two higher buildings at the front of the site and would welcome anything that could be done to reduce their scale.

John Loudoun


Sidbury to Sidford Multi-Use Path Consultation
October 11th 2021

DCC proposed multi-use path route

John Loudoun


Sidbury to Sidford Multi-Use Path Map
October 11th 2021

This is the County Council's revised Sidbury to Sidford multi-use path's proposed route.Cycleway map

For a larger version click here.

John Loudoun


Further Covid related grants available from District Council
June 11th 2020

East Devon District Council has already distributed over £40m of government mandatory Covid related grants to some 3,500 local businesses. This has been to give some element of financial support to assist businesses in these difficult trading times.

A number of businesses were not covered by this initial grant and the government has now provided the District Council with a further £2.4m discretionary grant. Whilst this might sound like a lot of money, when you consider the number of predominantly smaller business locally that are losing income due to the Covid crisis, this will be a bit like spreading jam thinly over bread.

There is a short application period for businesses which meet this discretionary grant’s criteria to submit an application.

The main businesses that will benefit from this fund, must have been trading on 11 March, and include –
 Small businesses in shared offices or other flexible workspaces;
 Regular market traders;
 Bed & breakfasts that pay Council Tax;
 Charity properties in receipt of charitable relief;
 Businesses within the retail, hospitality & leisure sector or who predominately supply this sector;
 Language schools.

If you think your business might meet the criteria to receive a discretionary grant check out the District Council website as soon as possible as applications have to be received by no later than 24 June –
https://eastdevon.gov.uk/coronavirus-covid-19/businesses-employers-and-employees/discretionary-business-grant-support/

John Loudoun


Change as new District Council Chair & Vice Chair elected
June 11th 2020

On 8 June the District Council held a virtual Full Council meeting to elect a new Chair and Vice Chair of Council. This date had previously been agreed upon at an earlier virtual Full Council meeting that was held on 28 May.

Despite this date to elect a Chair and Vice Chair had been well publicised much in advance to Councillors, sadly only 43 attended from the comfort of their own homes via the handy facility that the internet provides which allows the Council to hold virtual meetings.

With the incumbent Chair, Stuart Hughes (Conservative), having resigned in the lead up to the meeting, the post of Chair looked as if it was wide open for nominations.

In the event there was only one nomination for the post of Chair of Council, that of Cathy Gardner (Democratic Alliance). Despite there only being one nomination each of us Councillors had to vote whether or not we accepted Cathy to fulfil this role.

It was interesting that the 5 Conservative Councillors who were in attendance at this meeting all appeared to be following a party line and each one abstained from voting, whilst the remaining 38 Councillors representing the Democratic Alliance, Independent Progressives, The Independents, Cranbrook Voice and an Independent all voted in her favour. Cathy was duly elected with 38 votes in favour, none against and 5 abstentions.

A similar pattern of voting followed when the incumbent Vice Chair of Council, Val Ranger (Democratic Alliance), was the only nomination received for that post. In this vote a Conservative Councillor broke ranks with the rest of his Group and voted in favour of Val allowing her to be elected with 39 votes in favour, none against and 4 abstentions.

It really does make me wonder whether the Conservative Group on the Council, which consists of 20 Councillors now that the previous Leader of the Council who was elected as an Independent has joined their ranks, took a decision to boycott the meeting or perhaps all 15 of them were unavoidably detained elsewhere. It just seems a bit odd that so many of them weren’t able to participate in the internal democratic processes of the Council.

It is really pleasing that the Council is now represented in its 4 most senior elected Member level by 3 women in the roles of Deputy Leader, Chair and Vice Chair of Council. This is a first for East Devon and signifies a real change, and most pleasing is the fact that this wasn’t tokenism, it was electing the right and best Councillors to do the jobs.

John Loudoun


East Devon District Council's updated advice on bonfires
April 9th 2020

East Devon District Council is regularly updating its advice to residents on its services and what we all should be doing during the coronavirus difficulties. Its worth keeping an eye on this advice at https://eastdevon.gov.uk/coronavirus-covid-19/latest-updates/east-devon-district-council-latest-coronavirus-updates/

Many residents with gardens are making use of them now the weather has turned nice. As gardens are tidied up and whilst the District Council’s green waste service has been suspended to allow resources to be directed to keeping the recycling and landfill waste collections going, many residents are considering burning their garden waste.

Bonfires can cause annoyance and aggravate some people’s health conditions, so please take a look at the District Council’s updated advice on bonfires https://eastdevon.gov.uk/environmental-health-and-wellbeing/land-air-and-water-pollution/bonfires-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/ the introduction to which starts -

Bonfires during the Coronavirus outbreak
Please avoid having any bonfires whilst the Coronavirus controls are in place if smoke or smell from them might affect neighbours or aggravate any health conditions.
Cut up your woody garden waste and store it somewhere safe to dry out for the next few months.
Never burn garden waste that is still green or recently cut, and never burn any other household waste.

John Loudoun


Queuing comes to Sidbury!
April 3rd 2020

Who would ever thought that residents would have to queue up the road to do their shopping in Drews of Sidbury!

A great village asset being widely supported by its community.

John Loudoun


Take aways from the Red Lion continue
March 26th 2020

Let's continue to support our local pubs, restaurants and cafes that are able to offer take away services during these difficult time!

Our local village pub here in Sidbury, the Red Lion, is obviously closed for normal business. However, as they are able to do, the pub is offering a limited take away service on food and alcohol.

The Red Lion's reduced its take away hours to 6.00 - 9.00 pm on Friday and Saturday nights. The pub has some stock of Otter beer, lager and cider available to take away, but you would need to provide your own containers.

The Red Lion can be contacted on 01395 597313.

John Loudoun


Sidmouth Town Council COVID-19 Community Resources Leaflet
March 23rd 2020

Sidmouth Town council has responded swiftly to the coronavirus difficulties we are all facing and has produced highlighting some of the key community resources available for residents in Sidmouth and the wider Sid Valley.

The leaflet is in the process of being delivered door to door by over 100 volunteers. Many of you will already have received yours. Below is a link to the leaflet.

Whilst much of the leaflet is taken up with providing information about which local small businesses will deliver food and groceries, it also highlights community groups which can offer support and assistance to those who are isolated and required to stay at home continually.

Please also do your bit by looking out for friends and neighbours who need help, assistance or just a friendly word (from a distance!). If needed you can cut out and post through a neighbour's door a postcard which gives them your contact details. But please, don't put yourself or others at risk whenever you try to be a good neighbour.

https://dl-mail.ymail.com/ws/download/mailboxes/@.id==VjN-esj4PsrNPVZhGnaeKlrsolwnoQXH9Omzij_jtzjWjbr5vybBTan2ctEnL4coNOCJ_5G7VqWCDzu060qr7vdsMlFoYyL9rh1QtkdFr_EPVYE/messages/@.id==AG27PqsKGOK7XnjRjQ8m6EyRNJI/content/parts/@.id==2/raw?appid=YMailNorrin&ymreqid=b245e925-35c4-cc54-1c8d-aa000201ab00&token=zitEzqOML3j84e6ealFTT5U7-km5qEQF52lp7AcCuBZs9Vw4by_1lafDnlfvbx9_IsaAwarpNAIkyLPWpeISgqtWuUGrZESXMNN1YxUHpRSpyBCoDLHqLJe5d5dfeFo2pXSQPIt7834jXjyRXCwNNg
Stay safe

John Loudoun


Reserved shopping times for those in greatest need
March 23rd 2020

Here's the latest information about the supermarket opening times for NHS workers, as well as for the elderly, disabled and vulnerable members in our communities. Please shop responsibly and respect the reserved slots for those in the greatest of need.

Stay safe

John Loudoun


Red Lion supporting the village
March 20th 2020

Richard and Bib at Sidbury's Red Lion are offering a take away service. Let's support our local landlord and landlady as they enter such uncertain times. they are also offering to help with local shopping needs too.

John Loudoun


Sidbury Coronavirus Support
March 16th 2020

As a result of the coronavirus some people in the village will find themselves unable or unwilling to leave their homes or go to the shops.

Our village shop, Drews of Sidbury, are offering anyone in that situation to take their shopping order over the telephone and to deliver it directly to their doorstep.

Volunteers are needed to help with the deliveries. Please let Drews know if you are willing to help with making deliveries in the village.

If you have any neighbours who you think may have to shut themselves away at home and who might need help or assistance during these difficult times, please do the neighbourly thing, and keep in regular contact with them.

Local contact points –

Drews of Sidbury 

Tel: 01395 597373

St Giles Church, Sidbury (Pam Ward) 

Tel: 01395 597691

Beacon Medical Centre or Blackmore Health Centre   

Tel: 01395 512601

NHS Coronavirus Contact Line

Tel: 111

Please remember –

Wash your hands regularly

If you think you have coronavirus symptoms, then self-isolate

Don’t put your health or that of others at risk when being a good neighbour, but if you can, help those in need

John Loudoun


A farce, a Dutch auction & East Devon's car parking fees deb
October 3rd 2019

I attended last evening’s District Council Cabinet meeting to join 23 other Councillors in voicing our opposition to the proposed increases in parching fees at some car parks and changes to the number of publicly available spaces at others.

In particular I was concerned about the proposals as they will detrimentally affect the car parks in Sidbury and Temple Street, as well as the Ham East, Ham West, Roxburgh and Mill Street car parks.

The meeting ended up in a farce as the Cabinet carried out a Dutch auction when it came to trying to agree by how much it would increase the parking fees. It was no way to run a whelk stall!

Read my take on last evening’s Cabinet meeting at “A farce, a Dutch auction & East Devon's car parking fees debate” on my blog –
http://johnloudoun4sidmouthruralhome.wordpress.com

John Loudoun


Sidford Business Park, the CEO, the Leader & Private Eye
September 30th 2019

On my blog I have written up how it came about that the Chief Executive of East Devon District Council and the then Conservative Leader of the Council responded quickly to a request from Mike and Tim Ford to meet to discuss their planning application being refused back in late 2016. This information was provided to me in response to a series of questions that I posed to the District Council recently.

This matter has also caught the attention of a recent edition of Private Eye (see below).

To read the full detail go to my blog - johnloudoun4sidmouthruralhome.wordpress.com/

John Loudoun


Neighbourhood Plan needed more than ever!
August 31st 2019

I know that so very many local residents are utterly disappointed at the recent decision by the Planning Inspector to allow the outline planning application for a Business Park at Sidford submitted by Mike and Tim Ford, in the name of OG Holdings Retirement Fund.

I fully share that disappointment which is primarily for those who live in Sidford and Sidbury, and particularly those who live on Two Bridges Road, School Street and Sid Vale Close as they all literally will be living on the doorstep of this development.

That said, we must remember what a great job the 1,400 local residents who signed the Say NO Campaign’s petition against the application did, as well as the time and energy taken by the 255 residents who took the time to write to the District Council objecting, how in the run up to the Planning Inquiry so many residents again took the time to write expressing their concerns about the application’s proposals and the many hundreds of residents who attended the Campaign’s various public meetings.

So many residents put their heart and soul into expressing their genuine concerns that the planning proposal was the wrong thing in the wrong place. And let us not forget that, despite attempts by the applicants to paint those against the Business Park as against having local jobs, that this was never the case. It was solely that the site, as the County Council Highways professionals said would make the A375 through Sidford and Sidbury more congested and potentially dangerous.

Sadly, in spite of the objections by the residents, their Town Council and their District Council, the Inspector supported the application. In my opinion this was because once the site had been included in the District Council’s Local Plan, those opposing the application were fighting from a position of significant weakness.

It is important therefore that the new District Council administration scrutinises how the site became included in the Local Plan. Those who allowed it to go into the Plan did residents a huge disservice and deserve to have their actions put under the microscope. I hope that the District Council’s Scrutiny Committee will now do this and call to account those who failed local residents by letting this site ever get into the Local Plan.

If the Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan, which is being voted on through a local referendum on 19 September, had been in place at the time the site was being shoehorned into the Local Plan, then I believe it would not have been included in it.

I therefore believe that it is important that residents vote to accept the Neighbourhood Plan. A vote in its favour will give residents a greater ability to resist similar future unwanted planning applications and would undermine any applicants’ ability to successfully appeal legitimate planning objections.

I fully appreciate the cynicism that I have read on social media and heard from residents about not seeing the point in bothering to vote in favour of the Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan. However, that cynicism is misplaced. Without the neighbourhood Plan we will be even more powerless than we are today in resisting unwanted speculative developments such as the Sidford Business Park.

So, a plea goes out to everyone across Sidmouth and the Sid Valley; in order to stop future similar speculative developments, get out and vote in favour of the Neighbourhood Plan.

Apathy on 19 September will only benefit developers, not residents. We have an opportunity to shape our futures, let’s grasp it!

John Loudoun


Sidford Business Park Gets Approved
August 20th 2019

My response to the Planning Inspector’s decision as District Councillor for Sidmouth Rural Ward within which the Business Park site is located –

This is incredibly disappointing news for all those who live near to the planned Business park site and also for all those who live in and nearby to Sidford and Sidbury who, as a result of the Planning Inspector’s decision, will have to put up with significant increases in traffic, particularly HGVs.

However, a big thank you must go to all those local residents who have actively supported the local campaign to oppose the Business Park which remains the wrong thing in the wrong place.

If the County and District Councils had originally effectively scrutinised and challenged this site being included in the Local Plan then this site would never, and should never, have been included in it. Ever since the site was allocated as employment land within the Local Plan everyone who has opposed the proposed plans to build the Business Park have effectively been fighting with one hand tied behind their backs.

This is a sad day for local residents whose voices might have been heard, but they haven’t been listened to.

John Loudoun


Register to vote - action needed now!
August 3rd 2019

East Devon’s Electoral Registration Officer has issued a timely letter to residents asking that we check who, at our home address is currently registered to vote. This is so easy to do as enclosed with the letter is a list of all those currently on the electoral register. All you need to do is check it, amend it if necessary, sign and date it, pop into the pre-paid return envelope provided and post it!

This will ensure that all those eligible to vote at your home is on the electoral list and will be able to vote next time.

The next time will be very soon as Sidmouth Town Council’s Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan is about to be put to a referendum and we all will be able to have our say. The referendum will take place on Thursday 19 September.

Read the Neighbourhood Plan here – https://sidvalleyneighbourhoodplan.com/

The Neighbourhood Plan will be very important as it will become a key document that will govern the approach to planning across the Sid Valley. It is therefore most necessary for residents to go along on 19 September and cast their vote on it. I, along with the Town Council, am encouraging all voters here in Sidmouth and the Sid Valley to vote YES in support of the Plan.

There is a second reason why it is important to ensure that you and your family are all registered to vote and that is the now much speculated general election that the new Prime Minister is anticipated to call, or be forced into calling as a result of a successful vote of no confidence related to the Brexit terms.

Listening to national politicians and journalists it is becoming more apparent that one way or another during the next three months we will be going to the polls. So, if you aren’t registered to vote then you can’t have your say should an election be called in the near future!

If you, or anyone else in East Devon needs to register to vote it can be done on line – http://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote

John Loudoun


24 July District Council Meeting Report
July 29th 2019

Read my report of last weeek's District Council meeting held on 24 July on my blog -
http://johnloudoun4sidmouthruralhome.wordpress.com

John Loudoun


Business Park Planning Inquiry - questions for EDDC Chief Ex
July 29th 2019

As the District Councillor within whose Ward the proposed Sidford Business Park sits and as a member of the Steering Group of the NO Sidford Business Park Campaign I was concerned at some of the unchallenged evidence that was presented to the recent Planning Inquiry. This evidence was presented by a witness and the QC who were acting on behalf of Tim and Mike Ford, in the name of OG Holdings Retirement Benefits Scheme.

There have been two planning applications submitted in the name of OG Holdings Retirement Benefits Scheme, to build this Business Park. The first of these applications was submitted in 2016 and rejected by East Devon District Council. The second was then submitted in 2018 and was again rejected by the District Council.

Last Friday, 26 July the Sidmouth Herald printed a letter from a member of the Campaign Steering Group which addressed these very same concerns of mine. A copy of the letter as it appears in the Herald is attached and I quote from it below –

“In listening to the evidence at the Inquiry I was taken aback to learn a claim arising from the evidence given by a key witness for the Fords, Joseph Marchant, and which was repeated by their QC and which wasn’t challenged by the Council. In so doing this led to an acceptance by the Council of the claim that was made.

The claim that was made by Mr Marchant was set out at paragraph 6.0.1 in his written evidence “Subsequent to the refusal of the 2016 application, an approach was made to Members (Councillors) including Councillor Hughes and the CEO (Chief Executive) of EDDC, Mark Williams”.

This is continued in paragraph 6.0.2 of Mr Marchant’s written evidence “We were advised by Mark Williams….that in his opinion, the applicant (the Fords) may make more advance in progress towards delivery through appealing (the Council’s decision to refuse the 2016 planning application) rather than resubmission”.

This claim was also clearly set out in paragraphs 13 and 14 of the Fords’ QC’s final closing arguments at the Inquiry “After the 2016 application was refused, there was a meeting with Councillor Hughes and the CEO of the Council”. “The CEO advised that the way to progress was to appeal. That is an extraordinary state of affairs”.

I am sure that I am not the only resident who is astounded that the Chief Executive of the District Council directly advised a developer to appeal a decision of the Council. As the QC for the Fords at the Inquiry put it “That is an extraordinary state of affairs”.”

I was so concerned at this evidence, and given the number of local residents who have contacted me about the issues raised in the letter since the Herald was published on Friday, yesterday I took the extraordinary step of writing directly to the Leader of the Council. In this I asked that an independent investigation be held into the claims made at the Inquiry about the advice that the Chief Executive of the District Council gave to the Ford’s agent and which appears to totally undermine the role of his own officers and elected Members.

I now await to hear what the response to my request will be.
Sidmouth Herald Extract

John Loudoun


Sidford Business Park Planning Inquiry - a report
July 22nd 2019

Last week I attended the Business Park Panning Inquiry as a representative of the NO Sidford Business Park Campaign. I attended the Inquiry for its full three days. I was pleased to be able to give evidence to the Inquiry.

I have produced a report that gives a flavour of what happened at the Inquiry and which can be read on my District Councillor blog at - http://johnloudoun4sidmouthruralhome.wordpress.com

We now have a 6 to 8 week wait until the Inspector gives us the decision.

John Loudoun


24 July East Devon District Council - Full Council meeting
July 21st 2019

The next meeting of Full Council of East Devon District Council is being held on Wednesday 24 July commencing at 6.00 pm at the District Council offices –Blackdown House, Border Road, Heathpark Industrial Estate, Honiton EX14 1EJ.

Members of the public are welcome to attend.

This is the agenda for the meeting and in addition there is a very lengthy reports pack –
https://democracy.eastdevon.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=150&MId=237&Ver=4


John Loudoun


Sidford Business Park Planning Inquiry Day 3
July 18th 2019

Today saw the Inquiry come to a conclusion with much of the time spent by the Council and the appellants representatives giving their closing submissions to the inspector, along with arguments for and against why the appellants should be able to be awarded their full costs for the appeal from the Council.

Before that Councillor Marianne Rixson and I were involved with the other two parties in commenting upon the conditions that would be legally applied should the Inspector decide to support the appellants appeal. This is standard practice and doesn't mean that the Inspector has decided either way as yet. Marianne and I were able to argue for a number of restrictions should the Business Park be given the green light.

We have now made our arguments and we now await the Inspector's final decision which is promised by no later than at some point in September.

Thanks to everyone who came along at any point at the inquiry to show their support. It made a difference to us.

John Loudoun


Sidford Business Park Planning Inquiry Day 2
July 17th 2019

Started with a round table discussion in which as representatives of the NO Sidford Business Park Campaign we participated alongside the appellants representatives and the Council’s.

We discussed flooding, air quality, noise and vibration, heritage assets and EU sites. We participated as equal with the other two parties.

Then a number of us deemed to be “interested parties” gave our evidence and were cross examined by the appellants representative.

Those of us who spoke were myself, Councillor Marianne Rixson (EDDC), Councillor Jeff Turner (Sidmouth Town Councillor), Councillor Stuart Hughes (Devon County Councillor), Keith Hudson and Jackie Powell (both Sidford residents). Everyone did really well and our points were put across.

Then a range of “expert” witnesses gave their evidence and cross examined. Again we were able to get our questions of their evidence asked.

Tomorrow is the summing up and conclusion. Then the Inspector will again take a look at various local places that we all want him to see again.

We have done our best and hope it’s sufficient.

In the photo are the appellants representatives seen whilst 5 videos of traffic jams in Sidford and Sidbury were shown at our request.Traffic jams video

John Loudoun


Sidford Business Park Planning Inquiry is about to start
July 15th 2019

As a member of the NO Sidford Business Park Steering Group I will be attending the Planning Inquiry that opens tomorrow under the direction of a Planning Inspector. As the planning application to build the Business Park has been rejected by the planning authority, East Devon District Council, it will now be up the Inspector to make the final decision.

The Inquiry is scheduled to last up to three days and will hear evidence from the applicants, as well as the District and County Councils. On behalf of the Campaign I will be asking the Inspector to allow me to give evidence in opposition to the application.

The Sidmouth Herald will be blogging live from the Inquiry. Here’s their latest update ahead of the Inquiry opening – https://www.sidmouthherald.co.uk/news/all-you-need-to-know-about-sidford-business-park-application-1-6160900

John Loudoun


District Council Annual Meeting - new administration
May 28th 2019

My first Full Council meeting was its annual meeting on 22 May. It was held in the less than sumptuous splendour of the District Council’s new offices on Heathpark industrial estate on the edge of Honiton. It’s a new building which I don’t expect, as a public office to be paved in gold, but it does feel a bit old fashioned already.

The Council chamber is several storeys high for a reason best known to the architect and its layout doesn’t make for an easy opportunity to see what’s going on. Unless that is you are sitting near the back of the chamber. And that’s where I am. In the back row of the elected Members. The good thing about this is that I can see what is going on around me. Except that is in the cramped rows behind me that the public can sit in.

I photographed how the meeting looked from my view point –
Council Meeting

I also photographed some of the members of the public as they took their seats behind me –
Council Meeting

As I’m sure everyone will by now know the new Leader and Deputy Leader are members of the largest group on the Council, the Independents. They now comprise of 20 Councillors. This is up from 15 on the night of the results of the election. They have increased their numbers by now including 3 Independents, known for a brief while as Cranbrook Voice, due to all three having been elected in that Ward.

The additional two in the Independent group are Ian Thomas, the previous Conservative Leader of the Council who gave up being a Conservative part-way through the election and Geoff Pook who was a Cabinet member in the previous Conservative administration.

Whilst highlighting the political group numbers, I should point out that I sit within the Independent East Devon Alliance group which has 11 Councillors, whilst the Liberal Democrats have 8 Councillors and the Green Party has 2. We all total 60 Councillors, meaning that to have a clear majority you need to be able to call upon 31 Councillors to win a vote, assuming we all are present.

It was interesting to see that the new Leader nominated a senior Conservative Councillor, Stuart Hughes, to be the Council Chairman and he also nominated Val Ranger, an Independent East Devon Alliance Councillor to be its Vice Chairman. Both were elected unopposed.

I find the terminology of Chairman etc to be very old-fashioned and not reflective of modern phraseology. I question how a woman can be, and should be referred to as a Chairman or Vice Chairman. I’m used to the use of the gender-neutral descriptor of Chair. This is the language of a modern inclusive society. I think that I shall be raising the issue of language within the Council at some point.

I have had a number of Councillors over recent years, and these have often been women, although not exclusively, tell me about how under previous Conservative administrations they have been belittled and verbally harassed by usually male Conservative Councillors.

I was pleased that the new Leader of the Council made it clear in his address to the Council that his administration would not tolerate that sort of behaviour going forward. In other words, we are all expected to treat each other, and the Council staff and Officers with respect, even when we fundamentally disagree with each other.

I’m glad the Leader said this, but am even sadder that he felt the need to say it. Another move towards making the Council a modern inclusive organisation.

The main Council Committee that I have been appointed to is its Overview Committee. I await its first meeting!

According to the Council’s Constitution the Overview Committee’s role is –

….to develop new and review existing policy (other than those falling within the remit of the Strategic Planning Committee) and evaluate its implementation. The committee shall also review service delivery options following consultation exercises and consider formative policy proposals.

Full details of the Committee and its terms of reference are set out in detail in Article 7 of this Constitution.

The Committee shall have the following powers:
(a) To assist Council and the Cabinet in the development of the budget and overall policy framework and to make proposals to the Cabinet for new or amended policies
(b) To receive reports (including any report from the Scrutiny Committee) on the effectiveness of policy implementation and to make further recommendations to Council and / or Cabinet as appropriate
(c) to make reports or recommendations to Council and/or any other Council committee or sub-committee or any joint committee or sub-committee on which the local authority is represented with respect to the discharge of any functions of the authority or on matters which affect the authority’s area or the inhabitants of that area
(d) To comment upon and make recommendations to the Cabinet on external reports and consultation papers
(e) Delegated budgetary powers in order to procure specialist information services designed to supplement resources ordinarily available to the Committees.

At present I continue to attend various training sessions to assist me to become an effective Councillor. In the mean time I am already having to deal with various planning applications that residents, and local businesses are pursuing.

I still also am continuing to work hard within the NO Sidford Business Park Campaign as it prepares for the Planning Inquiry in the middle of July. I’m sure that I will say more as time progresses.

John Loudoun