This situation over recent years has seen a real and significant backlash against the East Devon Conservatives as they have barged ahead in their own sweet way on a number of very significant local issues including the Local Plan and the move away from its Headquarters site in Sidmouth. These, and other issues, have led to reactions from residents that one would not have expected from an area of the country such as East Devon.The upshot of residents’ reactions to what can only be described as political arrogance by the majority Conservative group on the District Council has been the creation of a number of organisations locally who have challenged and held the District Council to account. One of those groups who have consistently challenged the District Council and the Conservative majority group has been the East Devon Alliance (EDA).
The EDA was initially formed in April 2013 as a loose coalition of people who were seeking to challenge what the Conservative group was doing on East Devon District Council in the electors’ name. It became apparent that there was an appetite amongst many electors for there to be a more co-ordinated political challenge to the Conservative group than was able to be effectively mounted through the valiant attempts by the Independent Councillors on the District Council a long side the Liberal Democrats.The idea to form a federation or a “Party” of independents who would step forward to fight for seats on the District Council started to take shape and at the beginning of this year EDA was reborn. This time EDA it would re-formed as an umbrella group to support candidates wishing to stand at the District Council election on 7 May.
Now as we head towards the final leg of the local election campaign we have 24, out of the 29 Wards to be contested, being fought by Independent candidates. In total 37 Independent candidates are standing across the District Council. Of these 22 will be described as “Independent East Devon Alliance” on the ballot papers and 15 will be shown as “Independent”.
This broad backlash against the Conservative group on the District Council has also led to 19 Liberal Democrats, 6 Labour Party and 5 Green Party candidates also contesting seats. There are even 9 UKIP candidates! Unfortunately in some Wards we have non Conservative candidates fighting not only the Conservatives but also themselves. It is disappointing that a broader coalition could not have been formed to really exert pressure on the Conservative Party. But Zorro should not be too churlish as the fact that for the first time there are far more non Conservative candidates fighting the elections than there are Conservative candidates.
The Conservative Party must be wondering what on earth is going on in an area of the country where everyone said in the past that if you stood a donkey in a blue rosette in an election it would win! The Conservative Party really has misunderstood how angry local electors are with them. Even twice elected Conservative MP Hugo Swire is facing a formidable challenge from the local Independent candidate Claire Wright in the general election.
Zorro has posted about the awfulness of the East Devon Conservatives’ website and its lack of a presence on social media. Or anywhere across the Constituency to be honest. So, Zorro decided to check out what the EDA had to offer electors by going to its website at –http://www.eastdevonalliance.org.uk/
The first thing that you notice about the EDA website is that is clearly set up to inform. For a start it was easy to find out who is standing in which Ward under the EDA banner –http://www.eastdevonalliance.org.uk/candidates/.
In contrast from the Conservative website you would have no idea that the local election was looming. You would have no idea who their candidates are.
The EDA website gives you links to videos produced so that you can hear firsthand why 14 of their candidates think that they should be elected. This link takes you directly to the 14 video thus far produced by the candidates –https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4u0Y35b6xJGQEgWEyI_W8A.
There is a handy election countdown clock on the website. Zorro was very jealous about this as his blog provider would not effectively support such a clock!
The website provides ample information about key local political issues and what the EDA thinks about them. This information is also provided by locality. It feels as if the EDA know what’s going on, want you to know what’s going on and what they think ought to happen. None of this is available from the Conservatives’ website.
The EDA also make it very easy to become a member, it gives detailed information as to how the EDA came to be formed, who to contact and what the EDA stands for.
Zorro is clearly biased when it comes to local politics. The creation of a broad non Conservative alliance is very much to be welcomed. The District Council Conservative group has brought the challenge to their “one Party State” upon themselves.
The EDA’s website is a welcome addition to the various online sites where someone living in East Devon (or beyond) can find out what’s happening across the District and who is doing what about it.
Zorro wishes God speed to the EDA and its candidates on 7 May. The EDA has captured the mood of the electorate and now is the time to turn that into votes and seats at the local election. A fresh start for East Devon can be achieved and politics in East Devon can stop being the dirty word that the Conservatives have made it.
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