Archive | March, 2013

More overdevelopment…..this time in Ottery St Mary

31 Mar
Another link sent to SIN…Keep them coming!

Flood insurance…Still no deal on the table

31 Mar

Proposed developments in high-risk flood areas in the South West, such as Feniton and Sidford Fields, pose serious financial problems for neighbouring properties…and for occupiers of the new buildings.

A Sidford SOS supporter who is well aware of this, sent this link:  http://www.thisisexeter.co.uk/Thousands-families-Devon-Cornwall-face-flooding/story-18562919-detail/story.html

Freedom of Information request

30 Mar

Thank you to the East Devon Alliance member who sent in these thoughts, after reading the 28 March SIN post , Planning Advice.

In the light of the following comment in Martin Goodall’s blog “Is the planning system corrupt”:

http://planninglawblog.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/is-planning-system-corrupt.html

There certainly needs to be some tightening up of the system so far as the conduct of councillors and local government officers is concerned. It is easier to deal with the case of local government officers than that of councillors. Officers’ terms of employment should already preclude any ‘moonlighting’, and if they do not do so, the nationally settled standard terms of employment should be amended to ensure that officers cannot engage in any other paid work, or act in any other capacity, whether paid or unpaid, which could involve them in doing anything that might give rise to a conflict of interest. Breach of such a condition of employment should be regarded as gross misconduct leading to summary dismissal.

The recent FOI submitted by Mike Paddison would seem timely.

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/planning_potential_conflicts_of interest

Planning planted firmly on the Business TAFF agenda

29 Mar

Some highlights from yesterday evening’s  Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting at Knowle, to illustrate the mood in the Council Chamber:

  • Graham Troman, Chair of the TAFF on the East Devon Business Forum, complained about a “total lack of cooperation” from the officer responsible (Nigel Harrison) and from leading members of the EDBF.
  • There was continued strong opposition from the Chief Executive (Mark Williams) to the TAFF’s looking at planning. In reply to a question from Damien Mills he admitted he had taken no independent legal advice before telling the Task and Finish Forum they could not consider planning.
  • Robert Crick called for the Chief Executive to stand down from the O&S Committee, as it was impossible for him to give independent advice given that his own role might be examined by the TAFF.
  • In answer to a question from Barry Sangster, Mr Williams revealed that several officers who had left the Council had been the subject of “compromise agreements” (a.k.a. “gagging orders” . SIN: Why would that be?)
  • There were repeated calls from some councillors (including Bowden and Howard) for the work of the TAFF to be suspended until the police inquiry had finished. (SIN : There seemed little realisation that the police inquiry may not have actually started yet, and might take years!)
  • Cllr Bowden referred to a “murky past” concerning planning and the EDBF. Cllr Eileen Wragg mentioned “public concerns for years” over the EDBF. Cllr Derek Button said he had resigned from the Development Management Committee because of concerns over “procedures”.
  • Mike Allen, responding to a question from Richard Thurlow, seemed surprised that Cllr Claire Wright had been one of the many concerned people Anna Minton had approached while researching her report on Planning and conflicts of evidence in East Devon . See item headed ‘Local Mafia’, p. 17  at this link  Scaring The Living Daylights.final

Planning advice

28 Mar

SIN readers may be interested in comments at this link:  http://planninglawblog.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/is-planning-system-corrupt.html

Chief Executive’s advice to TAFF is overturned

28 Mar

Despite Mark Williams’  intervention at the Task and Finish Forum which was set up to scrutinise the East Devon Business Forum, it has now been agreed that Planning matters ARE within the TAFF’s remit.

After tonight’s vote of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, TAFF Chairman, Graham Troman, can now ensure it gets on with the job it was designed to do. In the light of the Brown affair, this is clearly more important than ever.

More at http://www.saveoursidmouth.com

 

 

 

‘The local mafia’: Conflicts of interest in East Devon

27 Mar

That’s the headline in an article published nationally today. See page 17 at this link:     Scaring The Living Daylights.final

More at http://www.saveoursidmouth.com today.

 

“Indolence and incompetence” at EDDC

27 Mar

 

So says  Exeter MP Ben Bradshaw, in an article from the Exeter Daily, 26 March. Here’s an extract :

‘The recent resignation of a leading Conservative councillor in East Devon after he was filmed promising planning consent in return for cash has helped to highlight the huge threat facing Exeter from a combination of the Government’s new planning policies and the incompetence of the local authorities that surround us.

Exeter already faces significant new housing on the edge of the city in East Devon and Teignbridge council areas. Under the Government’s new policies local councils are supposed to have a development plan in place by the end of this month spelling out where they propose to site new housing. If they don’t, they will have no power to stop planning consent. Unlike Exeter, neither East Devon or Teignbridge have their plans in place. That means that through no fault of our own Exeter could face a planning free-for-all on our borders with huge and inappropriate housing developments because of the indolence and incompetence of the surrounding councils. This would be an outrage and something I and the city council will fight tooth and nail.’

“Danger Signs on Dirty Beaches” in East Devon, too.

26 Mar

danger no swimming

The following comments, not surprisingly, are  from a resident of lovely Budleigh Salterton:

‘For some years the Sunday Times has been running a campaign to improve the quality of our bathing beaches.  Their latest article (published 24 March 2013) is potentially devastating to us in East Devon. The last paragraph reads:

“Most beaches in the southwest are expected to be classified as excellent or good under the new system. Those expected to fail unless quality improves are Budleigh Salterton in Devon, Seaton in Cornwall (SIN note: not the Devon Seaton!) , and East Looe in Cornwall.”

Planners really need to consider: the consequences of continuing to allow developments to combine storm water and raw sewage in the same system; the need to maximise the use of porous hard standing and paved areas; and how to manage any future intensification of livestock farming in our sensitive river catchment areas. We have to start by stopping making it worse!’

Here’s the full Sunday Times’ article, sent in to SIN, for your information:

‘SOME of Britain’s most popular beaches are to be forced to put up official new EU signs advising families against swimming in the water because it is so dirty.
A government analysis reveals 52 beaches —including resorts at Blackpool, Hastings, and Combe Martin in Devon —are projected to fail stricter bathing water standards to be introduced in 2015.
The EU has issued warning signs that councils will be required to display at beaches which fail the tests from 2016.
Ministers are keen to reduce the number of sub-standard beaches, but the wet summers of the past two years have hampered efforts to improve water cleanliness.
Richard Benyon, a junior environment minister, warned last year that bathing water quality results in 2012 were the worst for a decade, despite billions of pounds invested by water companies to stop raw sewage blighting resorts.
The Good Beach Guide, published by the Marine Conservation Society this week, is expected to show a significant fall in the number of beaches with excellent water quality in 2012 compared to 2011.
The government analysis of the beaches projected to fail the 2015 criteria reveal those in the northwest have some of the worst water quality. All three of Blackpool’s beaches will be required to put up signs advising against bathing unless standards improve.
Most beaches in the southwest are expected to be classified as excellent or good under the new system. Those expected to fail unless quality improves are Budleigh Salterton in Devon, Seaton in Cornwall, and East Looe in Cornwall.’

Councils listening to the people? Well,not in Exmouth……

26 Mar

Remember EDDC Leader Paul Diviani’s New Year Resolution? (see SIN post ‘Turning over a new leaf” , 14 Jan) He said,  “…There have been some mistakes along the way and we need to get better at informing our residents and listening to them in 2013…”

In contrast,  here’s today’s news from Exmouth (Note the curious voting pattern) :

Dear Friends,
It is with sadness that I have to report that the Exmouth Town Council last night voted to approve the Premier Inn Plans, despite numerous material objections being made by the public and by Lib Dem Councillors.
Speakers included:- Jackie Haywood (Object), Jilly Green, (Object), Geoff Morris (Object), John Hunt (Object), Goff Harris, (Object),
Andrew Newby, (Object), Nicky King, (Object), Richard Benford, (Object)
Ian MacQueen, Chair of Exmouth Chamber of Trade & Commerce, (Approve)
 
3 envelopes containing further written objections were also handed in to the council.
 
The vote went as follows – in alphabetical order
 
Maddy Chapman (Con) Approve
Tim Dumper (Lib D) Refuse
Lyn Elson (Con) Approve
Steve Gazzard (Lib D) Refuse
Ali Greenhalgh (Con) Approve
Sandra MacQueen (Con) Approve
Malcolm Mitchell (Lib D) Refuse
Cherry Nicholas (Con) Approve
John Taylor (Lib D) Refuse
Richard Turner (Con) Approve
 
The vote was recorded and carried 7 – 4 in favour of approving the plans.
 
Mayor John Humphries said he believed “The Premier Inn would raise Exmouth’s profile nationally” and that the development was “A bold step forward in the right direction”. Deputy Mayor Bill Nash argued it was “time to move forward” and for the need for more hotel accommodation. He claimed Premier had assured them they were happy for the public and beach users to use their toilets.
 
Cllr Eileen Wragg outlined her objections arguing, “Exmouth deserves better on the seafront” and “that the beauty of Exmouth lies in it’s unspoiled seafront.” She also expressed concerns that contrary to the assurances that were given during the Premier Inn consultation, that Whitbreads were seeking to bring families in for weekly holidays, their expected customer base would in fact be businessmen/women, whom they hoped might come back for a holiday with their families.
 
Cllr Steve Gazzard argued it was “A pity that we are where we are” and outlined his objections on all of the grounds listed below and a few more besides.
 
Colin Poole the Town Clerk confirmed there have been 32 public representations made so far, of which there are 31 objections and 1 approval.
 
19 concerned at the loss of community amenities, including public toilets. 18 concerned about car parking. 12 concerned at how far forward the building will be. 11 concerned at the height and size of the building, it’s proximity to the road, the styling and the impact on views from the Beacon. 11 concerned at the potential loss of revenues for smaller B&B’s and hotels. (Premier Inn are going to charge £55 a night for a double room). 10 concerned it will cause more traffic. 4 concerned Whitbreads has exaggerated the number of local jobs it will create. 4 concerned at the potential for noise disturbance. 3 concerned at the loss of trees. 3 concerned with sewerage capacity. 2 concerned at the overshadowing and loss of light for the Bath House. 1 concerned at sale of public land. 1 concerned about increased flood risk. 1 concerned the Right Of Way will not be maintained.
 
Whilst the adverse economic impact on smaller businesses was not allowed to be submitted as an objection to the Premier Inn Plans, all of the councillors who approved the plans argued it would bring economic benefits to the town. Other Public Objections that were not allowed included those which argued the sale was invalid because the EDDC had no public mandate to sell the Elizabeth Hall or the Public Land. That the EDDC was under investigation by the Local Government Ombudsman for breaching its own constitutional rules during the tender processes for the sale of the hall. The potential commercial conflict of interest between Premier Inn and Jones Lang LaSalle. The fact that the EDDC is being monitored by the Information Commissioners Office for breaking the Law with regard to requests for information related to the sale of the hall and the seafront covenants. The lack of public trust in the EDDC’s planning department, given the police investigation into allegations that ex Conservative Cllr Graham Brown was selling planning permission for a price.
 
The plans were approved and will be returned to the EDDC without any recommended changes or amendments.
 
On the plus side, higher authorities are now beginning to take notice of the EDDC’s behaviour, precisely because they are having to break their own rules in order to rid themselves of our neglected little hall.
 
We may have lost this battle but…
 
Warmest regards,
 
Nicky King – FoEH Supporters Co-ordinator.