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East Devon District Council accused over plan for controversial headquarters move

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: February 28, 2013

Members of the public listen intently at  the  meeting last night on council  plans to move from  The Knowle, Sidmouth. Picture:  Richard Austin

Members of the public listen intently at the meeting last night on council plans to move from The Knowle, Sidmouth. Picture: Richard Austin

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Campaigners against controversial plans to sell a council headquarters have questioned whether the local authority should make the decision on the scheme.

Senior members of East Devon District Council faced a series of questions at a meeting last night over its plans to abandon its Sidmouth offices.

At the meeting, at the Knowle House offices, the council was accused of having “blinkered ambition” in wanting to transfer its central operations base to Honiton and convert the surrounding parkland of its current offices into housing and a care home.

A series of embarrassing blunders led to four separate unveilings of plans for the sale of Sidmouth’s Knowle headquarters – the final one being last month. Campaign group Save Our Sidmouth fears any move would have a devastating impact on the town and has questioned the council’s rationale.

Peter Halse, council chairman, last night described the long-running saga as “quite a difficult situation” and promised an open discussion would take place on the issue.

One member of the West Hill residents’ association accused the council of being “undemocratic” in dealing with a “major change without proper consultation of the residents”.

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