Seaton Hospital loan bid rejection ‘the final straw’ – as another councillor quits EDDC’s ruling Independent Group

Another member has quit East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) ruling Independent Group – citing a decision to reject a £2.1million loan bid to save Seaton Hospital as ‘the final straw’. 

Joe Whibley will continue to represent the Exmouth Town ward on the authority, but says he felt the need to ‘distance himself’ from the party running it.

He is the second councillor to leave the group in recent months.

Exmouth Halsdon ward representative Cllr Paul Millar jumped ship in September.

It means the Independent Group is no longer the largest group on the council. It has 18 elected representatives, while the Conservatives have 19.

EDDC’s cabinet earlier this month voted not to loan Seaton Area Health Matters £2.1million to progress its plans for a community health hub at the town’s hospital.

Members said the Devon County Council (DCC), as the authority with the expertise and the responsibilities for health, should instead be approached.

Councillor Whibley said: “’It is with a heavy heart that I announce my decision to distance myself from the ruling Independent Group at East Devon District Council.

“I shall henceforth operate as a non-affiliated Independent member.

“When elected I stood on a platform of change – an alternative to the status-quo.

“I have seen little evidence that this desire is shared by the Independent Group and, to be true to myself and those who put their trust in me, have decided that I can no longer associate myself with them.

“The decision to effectively vote against saving Seaton Hospital was the final straw, though by no means my sole reason for leaving.

“I wish all of the Independent Group the very best and I hope they prove me wrong – the electorate voted for imaginative thinking and a council that would look out for everyone, whatever their situation.

“It’s not for me to comment on the status of the Independent Group from this point forward.”

EDDC and Independent Group leader Councillor Ben Ingham said that he was disappointed by Cllr Whibley’s decision to stand down and that it was unnecessary.

He added that, if DCC does not chose to provide the funding for the Seaton Hospital bid, it will be considered again by EDDC.

The political balance of EDDC is now: Conservatives (19), Independent Group (18), East Devon Alliance (11), Liberal Democrats (8), Green Party (2), non-aligned independents (2).

Community group’s bid to borrow £2.1m to save Seaton Hospital is REJECTED by district council

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