East Devon’s ‘top dogs’ beat Mary Portas

According to the chairman of Honiton and District Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

“Who needs Mary Portas when Honiton has got East Devon District Council behind it!” - words of praise heaped on the authority’s political leaders last week.

Colin Wright, chairman of Honiton and District Chamber of Commerce and Industry, made the statement after the council’s leader, Paul Diviani, and deputy leader, Andrew Moulding, together with portfolio holder Graham Godbeer, gave a 3D Powerpoint presentation to a breakfast meeting.

They were at Montgomery’s, in High Street, to talk about the Exeter and East Devon Growth Point, which includes Cranbrook, Skypark and Exeter Science Park, together expected to pump �1.2billion into the local economy.

After a lively question and answer session, during which assurances were given that Birmingham City Council has not bulk bought affordable housing at Cranbrook, Mr Wright said: “We don’t need Mary Portas.

“We’ve got these guys.”

He was referring to Honiton’s decision not to participate in the Portas Pilot competition, which will ultimately see 12 towns and cities win a share of �1million to “re-imagine” themselves.

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Mr Wright added: “I take my hat off to East Devon District Council.

“We’ve got a good council behind us.

“Though we may moan sometimes, these are the top dogs.”

Councillor Godbeer, portfolio holder for economy, told business leaders he would like to be invited back - to talk to them about his moves to attract more business to the district.

“I will do anything that will bring wealth into the district - so long as it’s legal,” he said.

“The membership of a chamber is important in a town.”

He went on to explain that he had put support for tourism back on the agenda at Knowle and how a limited amount of cash is going to be available for regeneration work in Honiton, Axminster and Sidmouth.

“I would like the chance to talk to you again, later on,” he added.

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