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Stand Up For Seaton (SU4S)

Community Action for Seaton's Regeneration Area, 80% owned by Tesco - a floodplain on a World Heritage site bordered by nature reserves, tidal river, the sea and the unspoilt town. SU4S is a state of mind - no members, no structure, no politics. SU4S has objected to 2 planning applications by Tesco, including one for a massive superstore/dot com distribution centre which led to the recent closure on the site of 400 tourist beds with the loss of 150 jobs,a gym and pool - all used by locals.

Thursday, November 30, 2006


The planning application for the Seaton Regeneration Area will be submitted by Terry Dinham on behalf of Liatris on Mondy 4 December 2006.

We have been told that the full application will be on line at the following web site:


But don't try accessing it until Monday. Even then you have to apply for a password. I bet we don't get one!

Please start gearing up to go and look at these plans either at The Knowle or at Seaton Town Council when they become available there. We have been told (unofficially) that the normal period of 28 days to object will be extended. However, we have not seen this in writing and cannot verify the information.

There will be an information and advice day in Seaton Town Hall VERY SOON - we will advertise it in View from Seaton. Please keep an eye out for it. We will use this web log as a forum for discussion and also as a means of advice and information. Please check it often after Monday.

Best of luck everyone - we have to give this our best shot to get what we want, not what EDDC thinks we should have and not the highest profit margin for the developer.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Karime Hassan's "vision" for Seaton

First, thanks to the gentleman from Musbury for his £20 contribution to our fighting fund. This reminds us that it isn't just Seaton that is affected by this, but the whole of the surrounding area.

Now - Mr Karime Hassan of EDDC has a full page in this week's Midweek Herald (perhaps he got jealous of my full page spread in View from Seaton a few weeks ago!). He's Corporate Director - Environment.

First the good news: he's for "quality in design, landscaping and conservation" including the World Heritage Coast. He promises that his number one priority is to protect them "where there is a way" (now that phrase is just a wee bit too vague for me but others might be reassured). His aim is to bring "jobs and housing" closer together. Good news - with 600 houses to come we probably need about 500 -800 or more jobs (full time and part time) in or near Seaton. He says that they are putting "a lot of resources" into Seaton to move forward with the Local Plan (that's the one that gives priority to keeping the holiday village open amongst other things). He says there will be full consultation when a planning application goes in for the Regeneration Area. He sees the marshes and the cycle route as big tourist attractors.

Now the bad news: we Setonians have been very naughty - we've been spending our money in Exeter and other places, buying things like clothes and shoes there. He thinks we should be spending that money in Seaton and, he says, if we don't spend it in Seaton, we will have more empty shops -so it's all our fault. But, not to worry we are going to have a BIG BIG supermarket and a few more shops and we must spend our money in those instead of in Exeter. We must buy our shoes and clothes locally - like they do in Sidmouth presumably ....

Well, personally I buy my shoes at Marks and Spencer as it is the only shop that does my size, same with clothes as I'm a difficult size which only M and S seems to do, so presumably we will be getting one of those. And perhaps a Top Shop for the teenagers, or maybe a department store? Or a Carphone Warehouse perhaps? A Debenhams - I can see it now. I will never want to go to Exeter again!

And I still ask - where will the new tourists stay when they visit the (still only a concept) marshes and the very small Visitors Centre (look on the developer's plan - its footprint is less than one-tenth of the size of the supermarket and DIY store which will dwarf it next door). His answer "in the surrounding area" - ah, I see.

And who decides the planning application when it goes in: the EDDC Development Control Committee. How many Seaton members does it have? None. Are you allowed to speak to it? No. You can speak to the Planning Inspection Committee - if it decides a site visit is necessary - but you get a maximum of three minutes and must not repeat anything anyone has said before you - even though you don't know what they are going to say! Who is on this Planning Inspection committee: half the people on the Development Control Committee!

However, if the developer's plan is vastly different from the Local Plan it can be designated a "departure application" and that means that it has to go to the Government Office of the South West for decision. Who decides whether or not it is a departure application? You guessed it - EDDC. Isn't local government wonderful.

Still, look on the bright side -we'll all have the Town Hall to use as a community resource for all these people, so that's OK. Provided you have a function for more than 100 (ground floor) or less than 40 (upper floor with no access for people with disabilities and no toilets for people with disabilities). And you can always walk on the marshes (oh, hang on - I can do that already) or nip into the Visitors Centre to see what's changed from last week.

So, the good news is - lots of low paid, part time jobs for shop assistants and cleaners in Seaton, lovely shops to buy your shoes and clothes and no need to visit Exeter. Now that's what I call quality of life.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Thanks to a generous donor

Our thanks to the donor who has given us £100 towards the newspaper advertisement. This brings our total to £175 - only £325 to go!

Who is misinforming whom?

In today's View from Seaton, the agent for the developer says: "Unfortunately, there has been a lot of misinformation circulating in the public domain which has been factually incorrect. We hope, now, that Seaton residents will form their opinions of the scheme based on what we are actually proposing."

You bet your life we will, Mr Dinham.

And, if you are reading this (which I know you do) perhaps you would like to put your own comment here about exactly what this "misinformation" is because I sure don't know but would love to be put right by you.

We are basing our information on the East Devon Local Plan, the Development Brief and your illustrative master plan. What are you basing your information on? I promise to publish your reply in full.

Certainly not public feedback from people in Seaton. Anyone here been asked their opinion by Liatris recently - or at all?

Correction: a week AFTER the developer's exhibition I was phoned by a market research company to ask where I did my DIY shopping ... Now, I wonder why they did that?

For those of you who might wish to correspond with Mr Dinham may I repeat his contact details:

Terry Dinham
Signet Planning
12B Hornbeam Park Oval

Community centres above supermarkets

Policy SH5 (Use of Upper Floors in Shopping Developments) states (upper case my addition):

"The District Council will permit the use of upper floors of premises in Town Centre Shopping Areas for residential, COMMUNITY or commercial purposes subject to:

In the case of commercial or COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT, no loss of self-contained or purpose build residential accommodation with all basic amenities.

The preservation of any existing separate access to floors above ground level and provision for storage of refuse."

So, you can build community centres above supermarkets. And our supermarket will be bigger than the Tesco at Honiton. AND we are losing community facilities on the site. Can you see where I am going with this!

Just exactly what Section 106 money is the supermarket providing to EDDC? And where is this money going? How expensive is it for a super, super, super RICH supermarket to add another floor (and a lift for access by people with disabilities) to an upper floor of this VAST supermarket? How many SECONDS of its profits would it take (including an agreement to keep the lift serviced, of course and a contribution to its setting up and running costs for the first ten years).

Anyone think the same? Can you imagine the amount of community space we could have ABOVE an enormous supermarket? If we have to have it (although it hasn't yet been decided if we do) then why not make it work for us.

We know what EDDC will say - we are getting the mega-marsh and the Visitors Centre and we should be grateful for our day trippers. But they are supposed to be commercially viable enterprises (if they are not they should not be built) to attract tourists. Anyway, today's supermarkets are so cash rich they could fund all three without batting an eyelid!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Donations so far

So far we have received £75 towards the advertisment in View from Seaton (target £400)
Nothing for the hire of the hall (£100) (see below). We know what it is - no-one wants to write out a cheque payable to EDDC!!!

Sponsors needed - dig in your pockets Seaton!

The planning application is expected any time. When it is put in we will get 28 days (excluding public holidays) to put in our first objections. At some point during that time we would like to hire the Town Hall for an entire day (10 am to 10 pm) to help and advise people who want to put in objections. The cost of this will be about £100. We also want to put a full page advertisement in View from Seaton during that time - cost £400 - total cost £500.

Would anyone/organisation/business be prepared to sponsor either of these events - even the odd pound or two would help? You can get publicity for it or remain anonymous if you prefer. If so, contact me at


If you did sponsor either of these expenses we would ask you to make your cheque out direct to EDDC for the hire of the Town Hall or Pemedia Ltd (the newspaper company) for the newspaper advertisement. We do NOT intend to handle any money ourselves at this stage.

Our next "event"

Our next "event" is being planned for early 2007 - by which time the planning application may well have gone in. We can't say what it is yet (we can't tell EDDC and the developers everything!) but we hope that as many people as possible will turn up for it - we have been promised television coverage. There will be more information nearer the time.

The Visitors Centre - can anyone else see problems here?

EDDC proposes to sell its land to the developer when it gets planning permission. I have been asking "What about the Visitor's Centre" and the answer usually comes back "That will be vested in a charitable trust - trust us". However, I can't see this in black and white anywhere. Has anyone else found any reference to this?

Also, think on. Say the Visitor's Centre is vested in a charitable trust and say (we hope) it has the freehold of its building (for, if it doesn't, it's landlord will be whoever next buys the land from the developer which might be, say, the supermarket). Let's imagine that the entrance to that building is on the "Town Square" or on the side of the building facing the Underfleet. Who owns those bits of land? What happens if that owner wants to build or change that land? The supermarket could put up a "newspaper and coffee kiosk" with outdoor seating, and obscure the entrance to the visitors centre. Or the owner of the land to the side on the Underfleet could decide to plant large bushes (like those that now obscture the Tramway Terminus). And say we wanted to have an outdoor concert or other town event in this new prestigous sqaure - who would we have to ask for permission?

What if the Visitors Centre shares facilities with the Tramway (as has been suggested) or is run by the Tramway (as has also been suggested). Say they are short of staff one day - where should you put your remaining staff and why?

Not that simple, is it.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

What does Stand Up For Seaton stand for?

For those of you who want to know what Stand Up For Seaton stands for:

1. Regeneration not degeneration; a return to the original development brief

2. Community facilities for the whole town within the regeneration area

3. Seaton residents to derive the majority of the direct benefits from Section 106 payments

4. Real public consultation on all stages of the regeneration process

5. A “megamarsh” funded by external sources and not from Section 106 income from the regeneration area

6. The maximum possible amount of affordable housing in the regeneration area

7. The continuation of long-stay tourism on the regeneration site

8. An iconic Visitors Centre

9. A sustainable solution to flood water management in and around the regeneration area

10. A cutting-edge environmental approach to regeneration

Some facts on caravan and chalet park tourism

The Government recently produced a document "Good Practice Guide on Tourism"

In that document it says:

Caravan and chalet parks account for 22% of all holiday bed nights with an income of £3.23 billion (yes, billion, not million) and are the biggest providers of rural tourism bed spaces.

Local publicans alone have estimated that, once the holiday village goes, they will lose in excess of £750,000 (I can provide the source for this figure if required) - imagine the total loss. How on earth can we expect this to be replaced by the spending of day/half day trippers, many of whom will come in on coaches, visit something and then leave because we have no accommodation?

When the holiday village goes, Seaton loses 90% of its overnight beds and the area loses more than 50% of its overnight beds.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Sandra on TV tomorrow evening not tonight

The story about the regeneration area, with my interview, isn't going out tonight, it is going out tomorrow night23 November ITV channel 3, Westcountry News - the local bit - between 6 pm and 6.30 pm.

Mark Williams, Chief Executive, EDDC will also appear. It will be a very short item - a couple of minutes at most.

Where we stand on the mega marsh - yet again!

It seems that a number of agencies are trying to give the impression that our campaign group is anti-mega marsh. This is not surprising - that's their job. So, although I have already made one posting on this,I will make yet another.

We are NOT against the mega-marsh in principle; should the public in Seaton ever be consulted about it we would be likely to support it; HOWEVER:

We DO believe that given the energy, enthusiasm and committment of the EDDC people working on this concept, it will almost certainly get all its funding (and possibly more) from outside sources - it does not need Section 106 money.

We will NOT get a multi-use community building on the regeneration site unless we have Section 106 money - there is no other source of funds. If such a building is not placed on the regeneration area it will probably NEVER be built in Seaton - there will be no land available.

We do NOT want to be a town surrounded by tourist attractions with nowhere for tourists to stay.

We do NOT want to be a town whose primary purpose is "shopping as a leisure activity".

We WANT quality of life for the current and future residents of Seaton within the town and not just on the marshes.

The marshes have always been in Seaton and (global warming permitting) always will be - we are losing nothing even if they stay as they are. However, once the holiday village goes we have lost community facilities that may NEVER be replaced.

So, once again - no, we are NOT against the Marshes project!!! It is just unfortunate that someone at EDDC thought it would be a good idea to present it as an either/or situation when we think it is possible to get both.

The same agencies are saying that there is "massive support" for a mega marsh. Well, OK about 150 people turned up to hear a presentation about it (and other things such as a youth project and an arts project). We got 300+ to our first protest meeting with almost no publicity, Seaton Development Trust got 500 - 600 at its meeting and last week (at 48 hours notice) we managed to get 150 (not the 120 EDDC says - we did a head count) to the Executive Board meeting on a wet and windy night.

Does this mean we can claim MASSIVE, MASSIVE, MASSIVE support! I hope so!

The EDDC Committee which will decide our fate has no Seaton member

Our next major hurdle will be when the planning application goes in and we have 28 days to send in our objections - this will no doubt be timed to include the Christmas period, where, although Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Years Day will not count towards the 28 days the rest of the holiday will. This is a common tactic amongst developers - to put an application in just before a public holiday. More about exactly how to object nearer the time.

The Planning Application will go before the EDDC Development Control Committee WHICH HAS NO SEATON REPRESENTATIVE ON IT - JUST LIKE THE EXECUTIVE BOARD. For information, these are the current members of the committee, along with the places the represent and their email addresses.

Cllr Mrs M J Boote (Chairman) (Dunkeswell) mboote@members.eastdevon.gov.uk
Cllr A W J Reed (Vice Chairman) (Sidmouth Rural) areedmboote@members.eastdevon.gov.uk
Cllr Miss V Ash (Honiton St Pauls) vash vash@members.eastdevon.gov.uk
Cllr D G Button (Broadclyst) dbutton@members.eastdevon.gov.uk
Cllr G P Chamberlain (Exmouth) gchamberlain@members.eastdevon.gov.uk
Cllr A E J Dinnis (Whimple) adinnis@members.eastdevon.gov.uk
Cllr Lt Col A J M Drake (Newbridges ? Axminster) adrake@members.eastdevon.gov.uk
Cllr R G Franklin (Budleigh) rfranklin@members.eastdevon.gov.uk
Cllr K W George Trinity (?Exmouth) kgeorge@members.eastdevon.gov.uk
Cllr D R A Key (Otterhead) dkey@members.eastdevon.gov.uk
Cllr Mrs A E Liverton (Raleigh ? Exmouth) aliverton@members.eastdevon.gov.uk
Cllr Ms S M Merritt (Newton Poppleford) smerritt@members.eastdevon.gov.uk
Cllr R Mudge (Exmouth) rmudge@members.eastdevon.gov.uk
Cllr Mrs H E Parr (Coly Valley) hparr@members.eastdevon.gov.uk
Cllr C H Wale (Sidford) cwale@members.eastdevon.gov.uk
Cllr S C Wragg (Exmouth) swragg@members.eastdevon.gov.uk

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Stand Up 4 Seaton being interviewed for TV - Wednesday 22 November

Sandra Semple, one of the co-founders of the Stand Up 4 Seaton campaign group, will be interviewed for ITV's Westcountry News tomorrow (22 November 2006). The interview is being recorded at 2.30 p.m. so will presumably go out tomorrow evening. If not, I will post here when it is expected to go out.

Thank you, all our supporters, who have ensured that we have become a force to be reckoned with!

Flooding on the marshes - an Old Seatonian's recollection

I have received the following letter from a n elderly correspondent who has lived in Seaton all his life and who does not have a computer but who wishes his views to be more widely known.

It is good to know from this letter that not all newcomers are seen as “do gooders who don’t know what is best for Seaton” (a direct quotation from Mr Bob Buskin to the Midweek Herald two weeks ago). For those who do not know Mr Buskin, he is a local councillor and former chair of the Town Council who is also the local representative of Liatris Holdings Ltd (or whatever the main developer is currently called since they have had at least three changes of names since they bought the site).

The original of this letter is available to view as is the name and address of the correspondent. Some parts of the letter make specific allegations against certain groups so I have had to edit out those portions of the letter as I cannot verify these allegations.

It is interesting that this gentleman has seen the effect of severe flooding on the marshes at least 5 times in his lifetime. We had been considering the effect of raising the flood plain on areas such as Harbour Road, but, of course, with a “mega-marsh” project we should be also considering this area too. Perhaps it will be found that making the “mega marsh” safe for visitors will also not be viable - or might get washed away – what then? The rest of the land will then have been built on so we could have a situation where we have neither mega-marsh nor community facilities.

Dear Sandra

As a boy in Seaton before the war, and remembering a much more vibrant town half the size as today, I feel very strongly that you deserve a medal for all your work and effort, time and organisation on Seaton’s and our behalf and for us; [you] know what you are talking about.

As you have found out [there follows a bit that might be considered libellous so I have edited it out here] some groups do not give a damn about Seaton. I could give you a few examples [editing here] ….., e.g. why Pecorama went to Beer instead of being in Seaton.

Now we come to the so-called Marshes regeneration. What rubbish! How many of our rulers have seen the lower end of Seaton really flooded, I wonder. I have seen it at least five times. Who is going to be responsible when they can’t even find the keys to the sea gates [and they]turned up 25 miles away, too late – EDDC again. One only has to push a stick down about a foot and be in water on the marshes. …. Perhaps they should consider this when the [whole area] is developed.

No wonder the meeting on 15th November was at Sidmouth. Even because of your efforts they did not come to Seaton.

Yours very sincerely

Letter from Hugo Swire MP for the Seaton area

Please also look at the new entry below this about the meeting in Sidmouth last Wednesday (17th).

I have been asked by Hugo Swire, MP to put a copy of this letter from him to me on my blog. Here is the letter in full:

Seaton Regeneration

Further to my letter of the 8th November to you in response to yours of the 5th November, I have now had a meeting with Karime Hassan to discuss the latest proposals for Seaton. Clearly any regeneration of this nature is going to attract controversy. My underlining point is that any re-development should enhance Seaton for both visitors and the local residents alike. I shall of course watch developments closely but I do think that Seaton has a once in a lifetime opportunity and I hope that local residents will be supportive of the long-term interests of the town.

Do feel free to put my views on your blog website as they would be a more accurate statement of my current position than is currently there.

The reason I no longer have surgeries in Seaton is because very vew constituents ever came to Seaton and it ended up with people from the constituency driving a long way to get to Seaton. Sidmouth is a good location as it is reasonably central.

Yours sincerley
Hugo Swire.

COMMENT: So, residents of Seaton, with major problems on your doorstep, it's too far for the people in the constituency office to travel to see you (the constituency office is in Woodbury Salterton!). I asked in my letter to him for a one hour meeting here in Seaton at which max 10-15 of us could put our case to save him the difficulty of seeing 10-15 of us separately. It would seem it's too far to drive and there has been no offer to meet us in "central" Sidmouth.

Perhaps the constituency office people could stay in Seaton in overnight accommodation if ever they come - should there be anywhere for them to stay!

I tried to get to see him at his surgery with just 2or 3 of us as the surgery only offers short consultations . However, it appear that he is having only one surgery in December and that will be at The Knowle and is fully booked. I have gone on the waiting list but it does not look hopeful.

So, we probably won't get to see him until January or February 2007 by which time the planning application will probably have been in for some weeks.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Result - meeting with Hugo Swire MP and "possibly Karime Hassan, Corporate Director, Environment, EDDC

Hugo Swire has managed to find space in his busy schedule to meet four of us in early December at The Knowle with the "possibility" (only that) that Karime Hassan, Corporate Director, Environment for at least an hour.

Shame it wasn't Seaton, but beggars (literally) can't be choosers. Thanks to everyone who made this possible - you know who you are!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Honiton Community Centre - EDDC and Section 106 contributions

Below is an extract from the document that sets out the funding details for the new Honiton Community Centre (I can give anyone the reference if they need it):

The estimated capital cost of the project is £2,814,125 as set out at annex 2 + 3. Sources of finance have been identified totalling £1,358,098 as a result of an offer of grant from East Devon District Council and an agreed sum of funding from a section 106 agreement on a housing development

Remember - EDDC has told us it doesn't have enough money for us to have a community centre .......... and the Section 106 contribution is for a development of far fewer houses than planned in Seaton.

Our new MP to leave before she arrives

With the new boundary changes for constituencies, we were about to lose Hugo Swire (see his letter to me below) and were to have had Angela Browning, currently MP for Tiverton and Honiton. Tonight she announced that she will be retiring at the next election.

Very wise, Angela - to whom I had been sending local correspondence so she would be up to speed with matters when she took over. I hope I didn't influence your decision not to take on the rest of East Devon!

Well, on the bright side perhaps Hugo Swire will put himself up for election for the new constituency. Though he might not be visiting Honiton or Tavistock - they are a really long drive from Woodbury Salterton (also see below), at least as far as Seaton.

OK everyone - let's keep up the fight and we need specific help!

OK Wednesday evening over, back to the barricades!

Next step is to be as sorted as possible for when the planning application goes in. No doubt, whatever date it goes in , the developer's plan will be to include the Christmas period in the 28 day consultation period, so we have to get ourselves organised quickly.

What we need at the moment are people who have particular expertise in the following areas (even a little expertise will help). We know there are lots of people in Seaton who come from interesting and varied backgrounds and we need to see how many of them will rally to us in our time of need.

Experts needed:

Law - obviously! Where is the newly retired solicitor with time on his or her hands!
Ecology and biodiversity
Geology and contamination
Water resources and flood risk
Landscape and visual impact
Transport impact
Air quality
Cultural heritage
Energy and resource use
Waste management

We already have some volunteers in most of these areas but we need MORE. When the planning application goes in there will have to be separate reports on the above - some of them very long reports - and we need people to go through these reports with a fine tooth comb.

Reply if you have any such skills to: axevalleyrocks@yahoo.co.uk
(axevalleyrocks all one word).

We have already recruited several people who can cover some of these areas but we need more. If you really value Seaton and you have (any) expertise you can share, get in touch
as quickly as possible

Thursday, November 16, 2006


Well, that’s it then – SELL OUT confirmed with some major and minor concessions – which, believe me, would not have happened had we not made such a fuss! More than a hundred Seatonians packed the EDDC Council Chamber (thank you ALL for turning up on such a wet and windy night) to hear the Executive Board agree to sell the land to the developer should they get planning permission (anyone want to hazard a guess about whether that will happen?). So, roll on enormous supermarket (six times bigger than the proposed visitors centre) and roll on 500 – 600 new homes and demolition of the holiday village.

The plan now is to cast us as all as Baddies, holding up the development (note I use this word, not the word regeneration) of our town because we don’t want a wonderful Wetlands Centre. BAD BAD Seatonians for doing such an evil thing.

THIS IS NOT TRUE. What is happening is that EDDC are deliberately muddying the water.

We probably would like a Wetlands Centre but, as there has been no public consultation on this project, we will never know. But, should there ever be one, we feel that money for this can come from MANY different sources such as Wetlands Trust and RSPB. We do NOT think it needs developer money to ensure its success.

WHAT WE DO NOT WANT IS A WETLANDS CENTRE INSTEAD OF FACILITIES FOR THE RESIDENTS OF THE TOWN AND WE DO NOT THINK THIS HAS TO BE THE CASE. We think it will be relatively easy to get funding for a Wetlands Centre, but it will be impossible to get funding for what we want for the residents of the town without Section 106 money from the developer. Once this land is built on there will be no chance at all of our ever getting community facilities in the town.

Kate Little has said in a letter to me (more later) that she thinks that the Town Hall and its rooms are sufficient for us – all 8,500+ of us when the new homes are occupied and 11,000+ if you take in the surrounding area. One large room unsuitable for many functions and one room so small that it can hold no more than ten people. (Let’s not count the Council Chamber – the plan is for that room to be sold off as a commercial office for rent!).

So, Seaton, that’s all you deserve and that’s all you are going to get. – day trippers, shopping, car parking on a massive scale and homes mostly so expensive that only older people or second homers will be able to afford them. Just as well, as the only new employer will be the supermarket (and I think we all know which supermarket that will be).

EDDC sees the future for Seaton as a place for day trippers and people who see shopping as leisure (yes, I have that in writing from EDDC – shopping is a leisure activity). Try telling that to the pensioners and the mothers with a toddler and a pram!).

It is now even more important that you STAND UP FOR SEATON. We will continue to work on objection to the plans when they go in. We have lots going on in that area but as a lot of people from East Devon District Council now read this blog - and people even try to post my private mail to the blog before I've read it (see below) – perhaps we won’t say too much about that for the time being!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Executive Board meeting on Wednesday - PLEASE attend

Please come with us to lobby the East Devon District Council Executive Board meeting on Wednesday 15 November 2006 (5 p.m. for 5.30) when the plans to sell EDDC's land on the Seaton Regeneration Area to the main developer are discussed (see important item below). There is no member for Seaton on this board - we must make our voices heard.

If you want to write to the Executive Board of East Devon District Council about the proposed sale of EDDC land to the main developer of the Seaton Regeneration area before Wednesday, their email addresses are:


STOP PRESS: Sandra Semple (standup4seaton)interviewed by BBC Radio Devon on Monday 13 November 2006. See link for this on the right.

This post is now sticky until the 15th.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

We are NOT against a "mega marsh" in principle

Can I correct what is becoming a devisive misconception. We are NOT against a mega-marsh in principle. What we are against is East Devon holding a gun to our heads and blackmailing us by saying we can't have a mega marsh unless we are prepared to forego community, tourism, leisure and youth facilities in the town.

And NO we can't put these facilities in the Visitor's Centre - it isn't TARDIS.

What we are saying is examine other sources of funding for the marshes project - Wetlands Trusts, RSPB, etc. There is no reason why we should not have all these things with proper financial management.

A mega marsh alone will NOT regenerate the town if there is nowhere for the tourists to stay and nothing else for them to do here except shop in a supermarket. As the agenda background papers say - Seaton will become a "day trip" town and people will stay "in other parts of the area".

Beware of divide and rule ..... .

Please don't let the letter below distract you

I had hoped to leave new developments in this saga until after tomorrow evening, when EDDC meets to discuss the sale of land to the developer. There were two reasons for this: (a) my lack of time to do anything else and (b) so as to keep the information about the meeting at the head of this blog.

As you will see below, someone who had access to the digital version of Kate Little's (PRIVATE) letter to me attempted to post it anonymously on my blog 15 MINUTES BEFORE I READ THE LETTER MYSELF! (I am making a formal complaint to EDDC about this).


As soon as I have time, I will reply to Kate Little's letter, but not for a few days, I also have a lot to do.

In the meantime, read the blog posting about the protest meeting and let me have your choice words about how you would like me to reply to the letter below.

Mole trying to manipulate this blog!

An anonymous poster called "Diplomat" has attempted to put on this site the reply from Kate Little to my letter of 2 October 2006. Just one problem: I myself had not seen the letter - I have only just picked it up from my letterbox at 12.50 on Tuesday 14 November 2006 and the posting was done at 12.35 pm - 15 minutes before I picked up the letter myself!!!

To Diplomat I would say: sorry, this is a moderated blog which cannot be manipulated and I intend to report this matter to the relevant authorities.

Just who has access to a digital version of my personal correspondence with East Devon and is trying to manipulate this site? I would imagine only someone in East Devon District Council who has access to Kate Little's files, or to whom she copied my letter digitally.

Fortunately, Diplomat has done me a favour as he or she sent the digital copy (which can only be on EDDC's private intranet) so I don't have to type it out word for word.

However, here hot off the presses is Kate Little's reply to me
Dear Ms Semple

Seaton Town Design and Seaton Regeneration Area Meeting – 27th September 06

Thank you for your letter of 2nd October 2006 which we received and acknowledged on 3rd October. I am sorry to take so long to reply to you and I note that you wanted a reply by the end of the month but unfortunately due to the workload in the Department it is simply not possible to always get to letters as quickly as I would like.

I would like to respond to some of the points that you have raised within your letter because it seems to me that there is a misinterpretation of what I have been saying and it is one that seems to have got into the wider public domain and therefore it needs rectifying.

First it is not the case to simply say baldly that EDDC supports the developer in his desire to make as much money from the site as possible. Under planning legislation a landowner is at liberty to make the best of the land that he/she has available and this includes, where appropriate, obtaining planning permission for particular uses suitable for that site. If that increases the value of that land, which it inevitably does, it is the landowner that takes the benefit. The purpose of Section 106 Agreements, which are the legal agreements supporting planning applications, is to secure on behalf of the Community sufficient funds to negate any adverse impact that flows from any development secured through planning permission. There has to be a balance between understanding what it is a developer has to achieve to secure the community benefit and simply trying to outstrip the capacity or viability of a site to deliver the community benefits. It is this balancing exercise that the Planning Authority will undertake in the negotiations. To take an unrealistic stand and attempt to secure benefits that (a) aren’t a direct result of the development taking place and are simply being sought to secure existing shortfalls is not a reasonable use of the Section 106 Agreement and (b) to attempt to over compensate and seek any community benefit that occurs to one is similarly unlikely to gain support should the matter be tested at appeal. A practical understanding of development costs associated with developing sites is an important prerequisite to understanding what a site can deliver in terms of benefit and in this case the site has some extraordinary constructions costs relating to the need to raise the levels across the piece in order to overcome the flood risk issues associated with it at its current level and taking into account the need to accommodate climate change requirements. That cost involved in creating that increased level across the site impacts on the availability of profit margin from which the Council can draw down the community benefit. Therefore to describe it has you have is far too simplistic an interpretation and should be caveated by the points I have made above.

In looking at how to prioritise the community benefits, first and foremost, in line with Council’s number one priority, is as you rightly say, the delivery of affordable housing. The need within this District to secure housing for rent and for home buy which is a form of shared equity ownership is very important to the District Council Members and the local authority has made it its key priority in order to try on behalf of the residents of East Devon to overcome this iniquity. Secondly we are looking to achieve the requirements set out in the Supplementary Planning Guidance adopted by this Council for this site and that includes the provision of a Visitors Centre, the regeneration of the retail centre of the town, the economic viability of the town and the general activeness and sustainability of Seaton. The marshes project has come into the picture at a later date but it clearly achieves some of the requirements that the Supplementary Planning Guidance set out in that it has environmental, cultural and social benefits associated with it which will all contribute to the overall aims.

You say that there is no plan for EDDC to either insist on or encourage tourism operators onto the site. At this stage I have had no approaches by a tourist operator and I would be interested to know what form of tourism you believe might find it attractive to come to Seaton and secure a successful business. The tourism objective that we have we believe is being dealt with by the proposals for the World Heritage Visitor Centre and by the Marshes project. If we were approached by say a hotel operator who felt that they could build a reasonable business on this site then we would be more than willing to discuss it and to put them in contact with the landowners/developers.

You go on to say that it’s no part of EDDC’s plans to insist on community or community leisure facilities on the site. In terms of the community provision the public hall facility for Seaton exists in the Town Hall and it is only of a quite late date that the leisure facility within the holiday camp has been used for that purpose. The town will retain the Town Hall and its community rooms which are available for meetings etc and I am not sure that I could argue that there is a loss of a public facility in that the community have been able to rent some rooms within a private leisure facility. The Council cannot prevent the closure of the leisure camp which will effectively mean those rooms could be lost to the community. Again one has to balance what can be achieved and put them into priority order.

This late suggestion for a community centre doesn’t seem to be based on any project that I am aware of that has been drawn up, a business plan prepared for or costings undertaken. I can usually draw down money towards community facilities if there are reasonable plans in position to which other parties have committed funds and it is in a build programme. This appears to be simply a wish at this stage and there is no other information that I can rely on to undertake the negotiations.

You say that you are concerned about the lack of tourist, leisure and community facilities in the regeneration but as I have explained the provision of the Heritage Visitor centre, the Marshes development, the Wessex Cycleway Terminus, and indeed an improved Tram facility can be viewed as important tourism and leisure facilities that are being increased, upgraded or newly provided within the regeneration area and the Council will have to take into account in determining any planning application. Further there is the provision of a substantial amount of retail floor space and if one ignores the supermarket which will have a beneficial effect upon the town centre in that it will help prevent the majority of the town residents who presently choose to leave Seaton to shop, then there is the second unit which may have some sort of attracting power in its own right. Shopping is now a leisure activity itself and this could be counted against the facilities that the regeneration package will secure. I am not entirely sure what exactly you want to achieve but whatever it is it has to be commercially viable for any private operator to even consider looking at a business plan for a project. The capital costs and the revenue implications of running such businesses have to be looked at seriously before any project can come forward and it isn’t simply a matter of providing facilities for the benefit of the community without securing the relevant support and these days, this has to be done via the private market as the Council is in no position to put money in to it itself. If you wish to mobilise the community to assist in developing a project and securing funding from other sources I am sure that the Council will be willing to assist.

Therefore I feel that your letter does not accurately reflect my position as a result of the meeting and I have attempted to rectify that by this letter. I have also copied it to Heather Sanham of the Town Council, although I note that you did not send your original letter to her.

Yours sincerely
Kate Little
Head of Planning & Countryside Services

Thursday, November 09, 2006


Meeting of EDDC Executive Board 15 November 2006 when Seaton will be sold down the river



The Executive Board of EDDC will discuss whether the Council should enter into a formal relationship with the developer and his plans for the Seaton Regeneration Area. You will see in this report (page 9 - Loss of Bed space capacity) the following 2 sentences (my capitals but otherwise a direct quote):

"The Gateway Visitor Centre and the expansion of Seaton Marshes is an attempt to put in place a tourism infrastructure that will boost visitors to the area and increase spending, making the area more sustainable in the long run. IT MAY BE THAT BEDSPACE CAPACITY WILL COME FROM BEYOND THE IMMEDIATE AREA OF SEATON, indeed it is hoped that the Gateway Centres will have a positive impact on the vistor economy of the whole of East Devon.

It is confirmed in this document that there will be no replacement for the Youth Club, no community building, no tourism land on the site. What is being offered iinstead s a Town Centre Manager (no funding found yet but East Devon would provide 50% of the salary) and £70,000 towards a study of a "Market Destination Strategy for Seaton and the Jurassic Coast". (Note, not for Seaton - for Seaton AND the Jurassic Coast).

And that's it folks - apart from EDDC pocketing the money for some land on the marshes that the developers currently own, and the developers making a contribution towards a Visitors Centre and moving the Tramway, that's it.



Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Kate Little finally replies to my letter - well, sort of ...

Kate Little has finally replied to my letter of 2 October 2006 (see below) -well, sort of. You will recall that I reminded her twice that I would put my letter in the public domain if I had not received a reply within one month. It is now five weeks. Below is the reply:

I have dictacted a reply to your letter just yesterday and you should receive it soon. I am afraid that with my workload I was not able to get to it sooner despite your deadline. I have attempted to rectify what I see as any misconceptions in your letter. I suggest therefore that you do not put your letter into the public domain just yet as it may lead people to misunderstand the Council' s position on the Seaton Regeneration and that would be unhelpful.

Kate Little
Head of Planning & Countryside Services

I have told her that unfortunately this letter came too late to stop my letter being published in the public domain and that she will also need to use the public domain to correct my "misconceptions" - a much better place for misconceptions to be corrected than in personal emails.

Where is Hugo Swire when you need him?

I have written to Hugo Swire and I suggest that others also write (see below for details). I have also contacted his office to find out why he has not been having surgeries in Seaton recently (he has them, surprise, surprise in Sidmouth and Exmouth). I have suggested that he starts them up again in Seaton pronto. I am also hoping to arrange a meeting with him and others to discuss our concerns. After all, he is Shadow Culture, Media and Sport Secretary and Chair of the Committee for the Cranbrook New Town near Exeter Airport so he has a personal interest in these things. Or does he (his seat disappears when the boundary changes take effect).

Seaton will be having precious little culture or sport from our developers, though I suspect that there will be MUCH media coverage!

The ball is in now in Hugo Swire's court ...

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Reply to comments by Chris - can't we have it all?

"Chris" has asked the following question in his/her comment on the Town Hall meeting of 1 November 2006:

""Could we not have both in the regenration area ie. some housing (preferrably affordable to the locals) and some a tourist/community hub? Could it not be made a condition of the housing development, that the developers provide the tourist/community facilities - or perhaps a partnership between the developers and someone else? What do people think?"

Well, that is EXACTLY what the Development Brief (prepared by EDDC) for this area says should happen and what we all expected to happen. Follow the link on the right to "Development Brief" and have a look at page 22. On this page is a coloured schematic diagram which shows the area being used for shops, mixed use units, tourism, leisure and community AND homes - everything you want. This is what the developers are supposed to build.

Then go to the East Devon Local Plan (also linked on the right). Click on the link for Chapter 13 and then go to page 25-29 (which is real pages 215-219 in the current published plan). Here it has a lot of fine words about the Regeneration area - how important tourism is, how it must have community and leisure facilities, how we must ensure that the holiday camp is kept as a tourist area, etc.

So what went wrong? Well, look at the last page of the Regeneration Brief and there you will see a paragraph that says (I paraphrase): "However, if this all looks too expensive, we will just do whatever we want and this Development Brief won't be worth the paper its's written on". Honestly, that is what it means.

So, the developer tells us it is too expensive to do what the Development Brief says because it is going to cost so much to raise the land and move the tramway (to ensure that the supermarket and DIY store go on his land) that there isn't enough money for anything else. And East Devon District Council officers seem to agree with this. Bearing in mind, the developer knew when he put his plans in that the area had to be raised - it wasn't news to him or to East Devon.

Now what do people think?

Sunday, November 05, 2006

How many tourist beds does the Seaton area have?

According to a reliable professional source:

The Holiday Camp has 550 beds (though it uses only about 480 of these).
Seaton, and Axmouth has approximately 180 beds
The rest of the area (Beer, Colyton, Colyford and Branscombe) has approximately 200 beds

SO - the WHOLE area (Seaton, Axmouth, Beer, Colyton, Colyford and Branscombe) has fewer beds than the holiday camp. When the holiday camp closes we will lose some 50-60% of our total tourist beds - overnight.

What will that do to the local economy? Many people say, "Well, nothing, as they stay at the holiday camp half board and don't spend any money with us".

So what do they do for morning coffee, what do they do for lunch, what do they do if they want a change from the holiday camp bar. Where do they buy their souvenirs, where do they buy that bottle of shampoo they forgot, or the snacks they eat during the day if they are peckish? Where do they buy their postcards and sweets, their cigarettes and their sun tan oils?

How to object to a Planning Application

There will be more on this later on but for those who want to get ahead of the game see


More news when an application goes in - some time VERY soon.

Write to our local MP or see him at his surgery (if you can)

Hugo Swire, our local MP, has been given the job of chairing the committee which will plan the new town of Cranbrook by Exeter Airport. This is an important job - making sure that everything goes into this new town that it needs and getting it right. Where do you think he could cut his planning teeth on this?

It is time that Hugo Swire knew what the people think about the plans to develop the Seaton Regeneration Area. so:

1. Write to him at: Hugo Swire MP, House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA or

2. Attend one of his local surgeries. Just one problem with this - local surgeries last month were in Exmouth (1 surgery) and at The Knowle (2 surgeries) and there is no timetable for where his surgeries will be in November and December 2006 on the web site.

If you want to attend one of his surgeries you need to leave a message on an answering machine with your own name and telephone number for a call back. The number of the answering machine is: 01395 233503 or there is also a fax number (no email available) on: 01395 233903

Friday, November 03, 2006

Jurassic Coast doing well ...BUT

In a survey by National Geographic magazine, the Jurassic Coast was voted 70th best preserved site out of 830. That's good isn't it? Well, not quite. Here is the text of the summary of their report on our Jurassic Coast:

United Kingdom: Jurassic Coast of Dorset and East Devon
Score: 70/830

"Well managed, although the popularity of the coastal walks leads to severe erosion of the cliffs and 'people pollution.' At busy times there are convoys of walkers. The information is good when you can find it. Unusually effective visitor centers."

"Creatively responding to the challenge of blending WHS designation (owing to outstanding geology) with a traditional seaside tourist destination, through encouraging sustainable access and exploration, for instance through themed walks and events."

"The new visitor centers at Charmouth and Lulworth are good, although there could be more emphasis on environmental protection. Surrounding towns and villages clearly benefit from the level of visitors, but there is a great deal of congestion in summer, as in Lyme Regis. Some of the tourism development seems inappropriate (e.g., cliff-top caravan parks)."

"WHS is still at a relatively early stage of management and has a complex set of stakeholders and historical tourism issues. Under the circumstances, the steering committee is doing an excellent job and gradually improving the area's image and sense of unity."

So, we have to be aware of "inappropriate tourist development". Does a World Heritage Coast Visitors Centre and Mega-Marsh with NO tourist accommodation at all come into this category? Well, yes it does if you have to drive 20 or 30 miles before or after you have visited it to get to your hotel and everything around you in Seaton is just shops and housing estates.

What sort of "sustainable access" do you have if you have to walk through a supermarket car park to get to the Visitors Centre or the Marshes? And, if there should be more emphasis on environmental protection - who is going to protect the area AROUND the Marshes?

We have seen NOTHING AT ALL on sustainability in the developer's plans. Does East Devon District Council care about this? We shall see .....

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Tesco agrees to build smaller store in Torrington

From the BBC Devon Online website today:

Supermarket giant Tesco has revealed scaled-down plans for a new store in a north Devon town.

The company put forward plans for a 30,000sq ft store in Torrington on the site of a football ground, swimming pool and children's play area. Some locals protested, saying it would cost the community vital facilities. The company is now proposing a store 40% smaller. The pool and play area would remain, and Tesco is offering to create another playing field.

Opponents of Tesco's original plans at Vicarage Field protested in July, saying they would destroy local facilities and cost more jobs than they would create.

The revised plans for the new store are for the same site, but retaining the play park and swimming pool. Tesco is also offering to move the playing fields to another site, as well as provide a new clubhouse and a 200-seater stand. Protesters are still concerned about the effects a new store could have on local businesses.

Torridge District Council said it would adhere to its usual impartiality and standard procedures used for all planning applications before making any decision.

Report on Town Hall meeting 1 November 2006

Well, the Town Hall meeting was quite interesting. I would say that around 120 people turned up to hear the presentations there (including mine - I made a short report on the History Group of the Gateway Town group, which I left recently to plough my own furrow).

Fraser Rush and James Chubb made a very enthusiastic presentation about East Devon's plans for Seaton Marshes. At the moment, East Devon owns about 50 acres spread between Seaton and Colyton but it hopes to develop the entire site from the mouth of the Axe to the A3052 - some 250 acres. All looks lovely. They made a lot of the increase in visitors - another 30,000 per year, they projected. And they said that a lot of these visitors would be "extended stay". Ah, there's the problem ...

If we have only around 150 tourist beds in the town (and that is probably an overestimate on my part) then, as compared to more than 600 at the moment - where will these tourists stay? You guessed it - Sidmouth and Lyme Regis. A 20 mile round trip or a 12 mile round trip - and who gets the benefit ... right!

And what about "green transport" - if few of these visitors can stay they will just add to the traffic on our roads, pay their entrance fee to the marshes, have a good look round, maybe take a trip on the tram and after that, what? Off they go. Of course, they could shop in all the new shops or perhaps take a walk around our new housing estate. Shops like they have at home, houses like they have at home.

Meanwhile, there we are - no tourist beds, no community centre and a spanking new mega-marsh.

I'd quite like a new mega-marsh. But I'd also like a community centre and tourist accommodation. Are we getting one and not the others?

Do you want a Tesco/supermarket?

If you want to know how you an influence the introduction of a major supermarket in your area, the following web address (URL) will be very useful - not to mention the rest of the site: http://www.tescopoly.org/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=478

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Important Meeting in Town Hall tonight (Wed 1 November)

Sorry, with so much going on at the moment I forgot to say that there is an important meeting in the Town Hall tonight at 7 pm. Topics to be covered will be: the Visitors Centre, Youth Facilities and the plans for development of Seaton Marshes. The topic scheduled to take most of the time is the Marshes project.

Please be there - this has an impact on the Regeneration Area. Whilst we all want to see a thriving marsh, sensitively accessible to as many people as possible, we have to be sure that it is not at the expense of any other facilities and we need to know what the impact will be on the town and the regeneration area, how visiting tourists will be accommodated and brought in and out, who will run it, who will finance it and how. And where will the profits go - if there are any!!!


It gets better and better! Not only do we have the help and advice of Planning Aid on planning matters in general, today we have learned that we have been offered assistance by the Environmental Law Foundation specifically in the area of the environmental law.

See www.elflaw.org
for full details, some of which are given below:

The UK-wide Advice and Referral Service provides support and assistance in all matters relating to the law and the environment, using ELF's network of expert environmental solicitors, barristers, scientists and consultants, who help people resolve their environmental and community problems.

A&R provides initial advice and assistance over the telephone to communities and individuals experiencing an environmental problem. This can include practical advice on setting up a local group, with the caseworker assisting in identifying further steps that might be taken to develop a solution to the problem presented.

Should legal or technical assistance be required, the case is referred to a solicitor, barrister or technical expert for further advice. The initial consultation is free and any further assistance is provided free, at cost or at an agreed reduced rate.

Letter to Kate Little, Head of Planning, East Devon District Council

In late September 2006 I had a meeting with Kate Little, Head of Planning at East Devon District Council, as part of the Town Design Group. After that meeting I wrote her a letter on 2 October 2006 setting out what I believe to be the main points discussed there. I said in the letter that if I had not had a reply from her by the end of October 2006 I would assume that these points were agreed. On 25 October 2006 I sent her a letter reminding her that I had not had a reply from her and that I intended to make the letter public on 1 November 2006. Yesterday I sent her an email reminding her again that I had not had a reply and the letter would go into the public domain today. Below I give the full text of this letter which I have also sent to View from Seaton:

To: Ms Kate Little

2 October 2006

Dear Ms Little:

Our meeting on Wednesday 27 September 2006

Seaton Town Design and the Seaton Regeneration Area

Further to our meeting last week, I thought it best to confirm with you what my understanding is of the salient points about the regeneration area which we discussed at the meeting.

  1. It is EDDC’s view that the developer should be supported in his desire to make as much money from the site as possible. The bigger the developer’s profit, the larger the slice that EDDC will get for Section 106 projects.
  2. When/if Section 106 money is available, EDDC’s priorities are: first – affordable housing; second and third: the marshes project and the visitors centre.
  3. There is no plan on the part of EDDC to either insist on or encourage tourism operators on to the site. If a tourism operator wants to build on the site it is their responsibility to contact the developers and put in a planning application.
  4. There is no plan on the part of EDDC to insist on community or community leisure facilities on the site. You suggested that if the community wants a facility on the site it should find the money to purchase a plot of land and money to build and run a community centre.

I pointed out that currently people in Seaton use the holiday camp as a community facility. I also pointed out that the holiday camp employs 147 people and runs at an average 80% occupancy on 450 beds. Current local users of the holiday camp facility include:

Gym members – many of whom use it for medical needs

Pool members – aquarobics, swimming lessons, hydrotherapy for people who have had it advised by their GPs or physiotherapists but not prescribed

Meeting facilities: Baptist Church (in 2007 3 more churches will use the site),

Film Club events,

Local disability charities because the site is wheelchair accessible unlike parts of the Town Hall

Fire fighters who use it as a training ground

In addition many current users of the former Youth Club (which is closed as a youth centre but is used by other groups until 22 December 2006) are in negotiation to use holiday camp facilities. These include ballroom dancing and short mat bowls club.

I also noted that the holiday camp is used as a regional and national conference centre – Lions, Rotary etc and hosts the Grizzly Run. You were unaware of what the Grizzly Run is – this was recently voted the third most popular road race (after the London Marathon and Great North Run) by a national running magazine. It is a marathon length endurance run which attracts a full complement of 2,200 runners (it cannot take any more for health and safety reasons) for which the holiday camp is the administrative and hotel centre. See http://www.seatonbay.com/grizzly/grizzly2006.htm for details of this year’s run).

You will perhaps then understand why a meeting held recently about the future of the holiday camp facilities, which received very little publicity, attracted more than 300 people from Seaton, Axmouth, Beer, Musbury, Colyford, Colyton and Axminster.

You stated that a gym to replace the one at the holiday camp would be expected to be the responsibility of a private operator. (This, unfortunately, would mean that it would not be a socially inclusive facility since many people on low incomes or benefits could not afford the £200 plus subscription.)

I am particularly concerned at the lack of tourist, leisure and community facilities in the regeneration area. Since it seems that EDDC does not see its role as attracting tourist operators to the site and since it is unlikely that the developers will feel inclined to do it, it is up to the community to publicise the site to potential tourist operators. Also since EDDC also seems to feel it has no role in the provision of community facilities, the sooner we mobilise the community for these tasks the better. Therefore it is essential that the community has the correct information about this – as there have been a lot of misunderstandings so far.

If the above does not represent your views from the meeting, I should be most grateful if you would let me know what you believe is the correct record of our meeting. If I have not heard from you by the end of this month, I will assume that what I have written above is a true reflection of it.

Yours sincerely,
Sandra Semple