Tough decisions for the residents of Feniton Ward

5 July 2021: Updated in Comments below the post.

Residents of Feniton Ward in Gittisham, Buckerell and Feniton will go to the polls on 8 July to elect their new District Councillor. Names of those standing for election have been made public and it’s a straight race between the main political parties: Labour, Conservatives and LibDems. Sadly no true Independent candidates, despite my best efforts!

These are my first impressions of the three candidates, listed in alphabetical order for fear of favour. All the information below has been found through a Google search, Twitter and Facebook. I will update this post as and when more information is made available up to polling day.

There are some very serious questions to be asked of all three candidates and I’m sure as the candidates knock on the doors of the ward, the residents will be prepared to ask the difficult questions and the candidates will be prepared to answer them.

Linda Baden, Labour. A Google search of this Feniton resident resulted in absolutely nothing, bar a directorship in L A Baden Ltd, which provides educational support services. No-one I’ve spoken to thus far has received a leaflet, so no enlightenment there. To the best of my knowledge, the Labour candidate has never stood for election to any of the ward’s three parish councils, nor attended any of the Parish Council meetings. I hope she is not a ‘paper candidate’, as Feniton Ward deserves so much more! https://whocanivotefor.co.uk/person/83790/linda-baden

Alasdair Bruce, Conservative. First out of the blocks on the day candidates were announced, the Conservative candidate has been seen in the ward and has distributed his leaflet widely. He is the only candidate (to my knowledge) with experience as a District Councillor having held a Cabinet role at Thanet District Council between 2007 and 2015 (https://democracy.thanet.gov.uk/mgUserInfo.aspx?UID=108). He is also chairman of the East Devon Beekeepers Association and writes for the Exmouth Journal (https://www.exmouthjournal.co.uk/news/alasdair-bruce-on-beekeeping-hobby-6917500).

Todd Olive, LibDem. A Google search of the LibDem candidate resulted in far more information. He came second in the Whimple & Rockbeare byelection in May this year (https://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/3722629/eddc-whimple-and-rockbeare.pdf). He is Company Secretary for Osprey Developments Ltd (https://ospreydevelopments.co.uk/about/, scroll down for relevant information). Osprey Developments appears to be a very active local development firm with rebuilding of the former care home, Applemead, in the centre of Whimple (the former Whiteways HQ) as a recent project. He is also director of Build Consultants Ltd (https://buildconsultants.co.uk/about/, scroll down for relevant information where Todd is described as one of the company’s two project managers).

The threat of mass development has been a curse on Feniton ward, and those with long memories will recall how my predecessor, Graham Brown, compromised the role of District Councillor with being tied to developers. It is surely important to keep the two roles at arms’ length to avoid any possibility of a conflict of interest?

But there’s more. Todd Olive has just finished his degree at Warwick University, but on 26 April 2021, he tweeted (@onlytheolive) that he has taken up the offer of studying for a Masters starting in Warwick in September. This is a one-year, full-time ‘taught postgraduate’ course which will require him to be in Warwick for most of the academic year. Serious questions need to be raised with him on the doorstep to make sure that, should he be elected, he can fulfil the role appropriately.

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6 Responses to Tough decisions for the residents of Feniton Ward

  1. burtoncle says:

    Many thanks Susie for this information. So pleased you are still helping to look after Feniton’s Future.. Best wishes for your future..

  2. Peter Debenham says:

    Todd Olive deliberately tried to deceive the residents of Whimple and Rockbeare but they saw through his deception and now he is trying it on in Feniton. He’s off to Warwick University so he won’t be around to support residents or in fact attend any EDDC meetings!

    • burtoncle says:

      He was delivering his prospectus and a questionnaire on Saturday in Feniton and a supporter called later to collect the answers…

      • susiebond says:

        Have received the following email from Todd Olive today and am posting here with his permission, Susie:

        “I hope this finds you safe and well enjoying life in Berkshire. I don’t believe we’ve met, but you will no doubt know me as the Liberal Democrat candidate for this month’s by-election for your vacated seat in Feniton ward here in East Devon.

        I understand well from conversations on the doorstep that you are well-remembered and respected by your former constituents – which is why I felt it important that, in the interests of accuracy and transparency, you had the full story regarding a couple of observations you make from my online presence in a blog post on your site, to which my attention has been drawn in the last few days.

        I should emphasise that I am not writing to dispute any of the facts you note – I am indeed director of a number of property and planning-related companies based here in Whimple, and I have indeed accepted an offer to read an MASc in Global Sustainable Development starting this September. I do, however, feel that your constituents would benefit from an understanding of the context in which these facts sit – so I am reaching out in good faith, and in light of your commitment in said post to update it as and when more information is made available, to provide this.

        Firstly, regarding my role as director of the various companies you cite. Osprey Developments was a brand established several years ago as the flag for an urban brownfield regeneration project in Cambridgeshire targeted at self- and custom-builders, and for the redevelopment of Applemead House here in Whimple – as you note. As both projects are winding up, the brand is intended for disposal – we are not, have never been, and do not intend to operate as speculative developers building the type of development that Feniton, and East Devon more widely, has been afflicted with in the past. To specifically address the Applemead project, our desire in undertaking the development of the site was to make best use a run-down, disused site without riding roughshod over the urban environment of the village that the entire firm called home – and while in our view it has achieved that goal, the project has created little to no commercial gain for the company. The other side of the coin – Build Consultants – is a wide-ranging consultancy practice that works in agency, architecture, planning, and project management nationwide; the firm is not a development company, does not work for a development company, and has no intention of doing so. While I’m sure that this wasn’t your intention, to imply that I have any interest in lobbying for development against the genuine interests of my neighbours or my community is, I think, quite patently misrepresenting the situation – particularly given the comparison with your predecessor, who I would point out was not merely associated with developers, but is widely acknowledged to have facilitated planning permission for personal financial gain. My manifesto for this election, and previously for Whimple & Rockbeare, it abundantly clear that I only support development where it is small in scale, definitively and demonstrably sustainable, and in the best interests of protecting village facilities, or supporting young people and new families; I would also highlight my quite clear commitments regarding communicating with, and more importantly listening to, constituents.

        On the question of my ability to undertake the role given my academic commitments, this is addressed quite straightforwardly – as I have explained quite openly to anyone who has asked, I have committed to moving to the part time version of the same course should I be elected, enabling me to dedicate more than sufficient time to representing the best interests of the ward. Please rest assured that I do not take the prospect of being trusted to represent the ward lightly.

        I am open to answering any clarifying questions that you might have, and indeed to discussing how any of the above might be best communicated – so please do feel free to get in touch. In the meantime, I look forward to hopefully seeing some appropriate amendments to your post very soon.

        With kind regards and best wishes for the future

        Todd Olive
        Liberal Democrat candidate for Feniton ward”

  3. Peter Debenham says:

    Linda Baden shares the same address as Emily Jayne King in Feniton

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