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

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