1 December 2010

Missing minutes - the story to date

It is a whole month since I have posted anything to this blog and some of you may have wondered if I have given up the fight.  Not so.  I have been engaged in voluminous correspondence with East Devon District Council, and also ordinary citizens of the town.  

To load the blog with the documents themselves would generate too many words for any sensible person to read, so I have compiled a summary in the form of a timeline.  Anyone who does want to see the originals can send me an email address and I will forward them.

21 September 2010
EDDC Development Management Committee (DMC) chaired by Paul Diviani discusses the Tesco infill proposal.  After several presesntations from the public, it approves the application, subject to various conditions including those recommended by the Environmental Health Officers (EHOs), namely that the pipeline bringing infill through the town should be insulated and should not operate between 11pm and 7am

6 October
Decision Notice published, requiring pipeline insulation, but making no mention of restricted hours of operation.

29 October
Rather late in the day, I consult the Decision Notice and observe the missing item.  I consult the offficial minutes of the meeting and find this item missing from them also.  The minutes also contain much more information than was mentioned at the meeting and are not therefore a record of the discussion. I write to Paul Diviani asking him to correct the situation.

2 November
Paul Diviani replies, enclosing an email from an EHO, Janet Wallace, which, he says, clarifies the matter.  In this memo JW says the EHOs met with Kate Little (Head of Planning) and Tesco and it was decided that restricting the hours of operation was not necessary, since the pipeline was going to be insulated against noise.  No mention was made about the committee decision.

2 November
I put in a Freedom of Information request to EDDC asking for the note-takers record of the DMC meeting.  I write to PD saying I need to consult.

After some investigation I locate a number of citizens who were present at the DMC meeting and who remember, as I do, that the restricted operating hours recommendation was accepted by the committee.  One of them remembers a relevant item of the discussion: one committee member said 11pm to 7 am was still too disruptive; why not make it 10pm to 8am ? He or she was voted down in favour of the EHO recommendation, but it helped to fix the item in his memory.

11 November
I write to PD dismissing JW's argument, reporting on the citizens' recollections and calling on him to resign for not safeguarding the integrity of his committee's deliberations

15 November
PD replies, denying any falsification of minutes and refusing to resign

18 November
I write to all the officers and members of the DMC present at the meeting in question reporting our disquiet and asking the person who suggested 10pm to 8am to come forward. I end up with a stirring call for them to defend representative democracy - an unspoken reminder of the elections early next year.  To date no replies have been received.

1 December
I write to Kate Symington (EDDC Freedom of Information officer) saying that the statutory period for providing information (20 working days) has expired without anything having been provided and asking for information on how to take the matter further.

Watch this space.

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