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Council inquiry is branded a whitewash

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: January 23, 2013

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Campaigners brandishing paint pots are to picket a Conservative council inquiry into a controversial business group which they have dubbed a "whitewash".

Opponents of the East Devon Business Forum claim it influenced East Devon District Council policy to secure planning permission to build in protected countryside and branded the group "a lobby for developers".

They claim the task force – Task and Finish Forum (TAFF) – which was set up to consider the relationship between business and the authority cannot get to the bottom of the allegations because it has ruled out any consideration of planning issues.

Councillors in Sidmouth will today run the gauntlet as the TAFF meets for the first time since the ruling.

The council says issues of undue influence are a matter for the monitoring officer or ombudsman.

Save Our Sidmouth, the group organising the protest at the Knowle at 5.40pm, said scrutiny committees are supposed to be "independent watchdogs holding the council executive to account".

"Any bid to prevent this happening raises serious constitutional questions," a spokesman added.

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