Friday, 28 November 2014

Knowle relocation project: and the longer-term demise of district councils... part 12: "Knowle would be an obvious new home for the expanded town council."

This blog reported the SOS statement on the future of the Knowle site and its relationship to the shake-up in local government:
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: and the longer-term demise of district councils... part ten: "EDDC is probably finished and long term decisions concerning the future of the Knowle are best left to the successor authorities."

The front page of this week's View from Sidmouth picks out the proposal that the building could be used to house the town council.

Of course, the District Council's predecessor, the Sidmouth Urban District Council, used the former Knowle hotel as its headquarters:

Here's a little more background:

But the 1960s saw the hotel industry struggling - Knowle was put up for sale and bought by the Sidmouth Urban District Council for use as their offices and the surplus parts adapted for flats and bedsits whilst preserving the parkland as public open space so that no development could take place...

Sidmouth Urban District Council was itself dissolved in 1974 as part of local government reorganisation and the newly formed East Devon District Council needed a headquarters. This led to major reorganisation of the site with the demolition of several old buildings whilst leaving the original hotel building intact and the construction of new office blocks and car parks.

And there's been quite a noise made of late about the paths through the park:

Former Cllr Govier has spoken out about his former 'home':

The last living member of Sidmouth Urban District Council says development must be resisted:

If we are to see a realignment of local government

... then perhaps we should wait a little and see what any future arrangement will require:

SIDMOUTH: The Knowle could be ‘ideal’ future home of town council

26th November 2014

by Anders Larsson anders@tindlenews.co.uk

CAMPAIGNERS say Knowle would make an ideal base for an expanded Sidmouth Town Council should local government reform take place, so should not be sold.

Save Our Sidmouth (SOS) claims that East Devon District Council (EDDC) chief executive Mark Williams has said that one large unitary authority for Devon might again be on the cards.

If that was to be the case, SOS says Sidmouth Town Council would have to take on extra responsibilities and would need to relocate.

In March 2010, the Boundary Committee proposed a single unitary council for the current Devon County Council area – but the plans were shelved when the new government was installed following the General Election that year.

SOS members are fiercely opposed to EDDC’s proposed relocation to Skypark on the outskirts of Exeter, which would see the current Knowle HQ marketed. In a press release, issued on November 20th, SOS said: “It is a pleasant surprise that common sense has broken out at EDDC with the recognition, at last, by the chief executive, of the impending reorganisation of local government.

“At a meeting of Sidmouth Men’s Forum on October 30th, Mr Williams reportedly stated that if and when there is a reorganisation of local government, possibly towards one large unitary authority for Devon – it would be located in the county’s central city.

“Mr Williams is right. In the event of a Devon-wide unitary authority, the HQ will be in Exeter, at County Hall, not at Knowle, or for that matter Skypark, which would be a possible £20 million white elephant.

“A unitary authority will also involve the devolving of considerable powers to a lower tier authority, in this case, Sidmouth Town Council (STC).

“Woolcombe House, the present home of STC, would not be a suitable building to accommodate these additional functions, whereas the Knowle would be an obvious new home for the expanded town council, combined with an exciting opportunity to develop community facilities and a park-and-ride.

“The future of the Knowle should be decided by those who will represent us in the future, rather than by a hapless and dysfunctional district council going through its death throes.

“Mark Williams’ comments are therefore a very welcome recognition of the reality of the situation; EDDC is probably finished and long-term decisions concerning the future of Knowle are best left to the successor authorities.”

An EDDC spokesperson said: “The council needs to consider the future shape of local government.

“In a world of potentially merging local government activity, a smaller headquarters and a good presence around the district offers a better proposition for our customers.

“If a successor organisation or other local government arrangement inherited Knowle from the current district council, it is unlikely that such care would be shown towards the future use of the site as that being shown by EDDC.”

An update on the EDDC relocation project is expected at its next Cabinet meeting

SIDMOUTH: The Knowle could be ‘ideal’ future home of town council.

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