Seaton Development Trust leader resigns

James Semple says accusations of “anti Tesco” thinking was holding back the group

THE chairman of Seaton Development Trust has resigned – claiming he had become a “liability”.

James Semple says his name had become synonymous with Tesco “negativity” in the minds of some council officials with whom the group has had to deal.

Announcing his surprise decision to stand down he told members: “I really think that it would be in the best interests of the Trust if it were to be headed by someone other than myself.

“Despite my best endeavours, none of the projects I have worked on has come to anything, and I seem to have become a bogeyman in the minds of officers and elected members of East Devon District Council, and of their partner in crime, Tesco.

“Anything said or done, with my name attached to it, will not be fairly considered by the major power groups in our town and this is an unacceptable handicap to future Trust operations.”

Mr Semple tod The Herald the final straw had come after an exchange with a county council official, who, he claims, effectively accused him of promoting “unthinking opposition to Tesco”.

Most Read

He said: “There is no justice in this, but it might be damaging to the activities of Seaton Development Trust. I have therefore resigned as chairman of the Trust, and the management committee last night appointed Hugh Barlow as chairman.

“The Committee asked me to continue with the pipeline bridge stability issue, but Hugh will be the public face of the Trust.”

Trust colleagues and supporters paid tribute to Mr Semple’s work this week.

Meadow Road resident Claire Wise spoke for many when she said: “He has given willingly of his time and expertise for many years as chairman, and I do hope that for the sake of our town, he continues to be involved in its future. May I also wish the Trust all the best as it begins this new chapter.”