John Tucker, Leader of South Hams District Council – “your welcome to our liabilities!”

In a revealing article on the front page of the Dartmouth Chronicle, Cllr John Tucker, leader of South Hams District Council, made no secret of his doubts about the proposed “Asset” transfer to Dartmouth Town Council. To read the full article click on the Chronicle headline below.

Dartmouth Chronicle headlines

Reading between the lines he clearly views this proposal as somewhat foolhardy. He criticises the fact that only two Dartmouth Councillors came up with the financial projections that resulted in the decision, and highlights the fact that no other Councillors had been involved in preparing that financial projection. The evidence of this was clear at the recent Council meeting where many Councillors challenged the financial justification for the “Asset transfer”.

What is also clear is that South Hams will not step in to rescue DTC if the liability transfer goes ahead and proves to be unsustainable. We will be stuck with the costs long term.

Our views on this are very clear. Why would any organisation agree to take on liabilities from another organisation which, in the short and long term will cost the residents additional council tax? What makes Dartmouth Town Councillors think they can manage the upkeep of these liabilities better than South Hams District can. South Hams have the staff resources, the capital equipment and the administrative skills to manage the upkeep of these areas. Dartmouth Town Council does not.

The Town Council has not been transparent in the information they have made public. There is no public record that I can find of the detailed financial projections behind this decision. And the attitude of the Council to how these assets can be used was brought home tragically during the recent debate over the future of the Woofstock festival. Coronation Park is common land meant for the beneficial use of the residents of Dartmouth. Woofstock was a brilliant example of the benefits that can accrue but was opposed by the Town Council for unknown reasons. It would be interesting to know what those reasons were but I suspect it was the personal views of Councillors rather than the interests of the 94% of residents who supported Woofstock in the Chronicle survey.

Once again we believe Cllr Steve Smith accurately represents the views of his electorate with the following comment made to this website in January this year:

“I repeat my previous comments as printed in the Dartmouth Chronicle a couple of weeks back…”Proposed Asset Transfer of loss making services to Dartmouth Town Council…Don’t touch it with a barge pole…still standby that, had the package included the asset transfers of the money making services, Lower Ferry and Mayors Avenue Car Park, then that would go someway to offset the losses incurred on loss making services…regretfully this is not on the table so my barge pole theory still stands, even though the against vote lost, we have got to accept that..its democracy, cant win them all, however I am still staying on as Cllr to fight corners…my philosophy has and always been “Its better to pee out of the tent than pee in it.”

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