Seaton residents threaten to take council to Standards Board

ANGRY Seaton residents have threatened to take the town council to a government body because of its lack of consultation over Willoughby House.

ANGRY Seaton residents have threatened to take the town council to a government body because of its lack of consultation over Willoughby House.

Over 100 people turned for the public meeting at the town hall, on Tuesday, August 25.

It was agreed they should take the council to the Standards Board, an independent body which enforces the councillors' code of conduct. And a few people called for councillors' resignation.

A petition with 850 signatures, and 360 objection letters, have been presented to East Devon District Council in protest against a proposed move.

Dave Jackson, former mayor and chairman of the Seaton Development Trust, read the news on the proposed move from the Herald's website, while in Italy.

He said: "I'm disgusted that there's been no consultation. Please use your vote to get the right people in."

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Cllr Peter Burrows, who attended as an individual, said: "I have repeatedly asked the town council for information on the meeting [regarding Willoughby House] but have been given nothing.

"As a town councillor I can't go against the decision or bring it into disrepute. But I sincerely hope the rest of you don't give this up."

Only six people said they were in favour of the council's proposals.

John Seward voiced concern that a council meeting about the proposal was held 'behind closed doors.' He said two councillors had been away on holiday at the time and three had left before the proposal was made.

EDDC cllr Margaret Rogers also criticised the 'secretiveness' with which the process was carried out.

She added: "I shall ask that this goes to committee for refusal on grounds that it adversely affects the vitality of the town centre, because it limits the public's access to municipal information."

She added there was a possibility that EDDC would sell off the Town Hall if the town council moved.

Many residents said they feared the town hall would be lost if the council moved its base.

John Barrington-Rowell, a blind man, feared the move would not provide disability access.

He said: "They might as well put Willoughby House on the M5."

Howard Rowe said he would support the council if they were doing what was best for the town.

And Ruta Kreivyte, an architect, argued the council were acting in the people's interest and that money had to be invested into the town for long-term gain.

She said: "If the property is brought, then the council can control it. To make a profit you need to spend money."

But Majorie Smith added that as so many people had been upset by the proposals, the council should talk to them.

Carol Manley said: "I just can't believe a council doesn't want to participate in consultation. It's my daughter's future - and she's going to be the one who pays for the building."

Former town councillor Larry Garner said: "It's impossible to make savings. Where are they going to save money from to pay for this?

"It's an absolute farce. I'm not for buying Willoughby House and never will be. It will not bring profit. It will be a financial burden for the people of this town for 25 years minimum.