Archive | June, 2013

Leader criticises press for revealing scandals and cover-ups, calls for his sacking

25 Jun
Boss attacks the media for reporting on scandals but admits “culture of denial

Sorry, hope it didn’t worry anyone.

Drainage for new flats at Sanditon, Sidmouth

24 Jun

A Sidmouth correspondent has asked SIN to pass on this information:

New flats at Sanditon, Station Road

This is a warning about Sanditon, Station Road – ZeroC is the developer and KDJ Slade is the building contractor

As work on the replacement for the old Fortfield Hotel draws to a finish, there is one last battle which all the surrounding neighbours have been fighting for many many months: this is about the drainage strategy for sewage and surface water from the new flats and surrounding site.

ZeroC gained planning permission for a perfectly acceptable solution to their drainage strategy. Planners, South West Water, Building Inspectors and neighbours were happy with it. 

Then, in July last year Slade and ZeroC submitted a Planning request for a different, cheaper approach. This new approach poses a very real threat to the Sidmouth Cricket, Tennis and Croquet Club and to the Grade II* Listed buildings of Fortfield Terrace. The new proposals were not accepted by East Devon Planners. Many of the residents’ organisations and Clubs that are concerned about this have been trying to negotiate an acceptable compromise ever since the cheaper proposal was submitted to EDDC.

Now, only 3 months before the flats are occupied, Slade have begun constructing their drains following the rejected proposal.

It appears that the developers are trying to face EDDC with a “fait accompli” and force them to approve it.

What this means for the purchasers of the new flats is that if this unacceptable solution to drainage from Sanditon actually causes damage to the Club house, the croquet lawn or Fortfield Terrace, then there will be ongoing neighbour legal claims against the new owners. These claims would be funded by the lawyers of Buildings Insurance firms, not by residents. But the damages may well have to be paid for by the owners of the new flats.

So this is a warning to prospective purchasers of the Sanditon flats:

Make sure you get a proper Building Control Completion Certificate from EDDC before completing your purchase. I think that is probably the only way you will be able to duck responsibility for any damage caused by the Sanditon drainage. EDDC would then have to pay up because of allowing an unsatisfactory drainage solution to be installed against their professional recommendation.

KDJ Slade are registered as a “Considerate Contractor” – they aren’t being so in this situation

Can anyone explain this to me?

24 Jun

Councillor Salter of Newton Poppleford Parish Council was reported by an anonymous person for having a pecuniary interest in a planning application because he lives in a house on land adjacent to it – as do several other people in Newton Poppleford.  I can see why this should be a personal interest but not a pecuniary one.

Councillor Paul Diviani lives in a house in the middle of the Blackdown Hills (see here) and registers as one of his interests HERE that he is Chairman of Blackdown Hills AONB where it also says that he serves on the EDDC Blackdown Hills (AONB) Joint Advisory Committee.

He is quoted in the Midweek Herald HERE as saying that ” …national parks, compared to AONBs, attracted almost four times the financial support from central government.”

So, does he or does he not have a pecuniary interest when this is discussed, as it was in a recent cabinet meeting which he chaired?  If he does not and he can take part in discussions about planning applications or planning procedures in that area with no interest or only a personal interest, what makes his situation different to that of Councillor Salter?

The same Sidmouth Herald article gives the impression that plans for a Jurassic National Park have been rejected by EDDC but this does not appear to be the case.  The matter was referred to EDDC’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee and may yet be rejected since this is an advisory committee to the Cabinet only.

Newton Poppleford up-in-arms … another lively meeting ahead!

22 Jun

At 8pm on Monday  24 June, Newton Poppleford Village Hall will again be bursting at the seams for the next Parish Council Meeting.

This link explains why: Newton Poppleford Residents Association Leaflet v3

Nick Boles says “Build on boring fields”

22 Jun

This story from the Daily Telegraph.

“In controversial comments, Nick Boles said people must be “realistic” about the need for more housing, which will mean building on “environmentally uninteresting” green spaces.”

Now that’s what happens when you put a man with an environmentally uninteresting brain in charge of planning.

EDDC’s Audit and Governance agenda and papers: risk, it’s no big deal

21 Jun

Audit: an official examination and verification of accounts and records, especially of financial account

Governance: exercise ofd authority; control

The agenda for this month’s Audit and Governance Committee meeting (27 June 2013, Knowe, 2.30 pm)

concerns itself with risk.  Helpfully, there is a chart with the colours on them and risks scored 0 – 16, with 16 being the highest risk to be encountered at EDDC.   Risks are scored as high (red, 12+) medium (amber 6+) or low (gree 1+n).

On page 42 of the papers it states:

There are two risks which are currently scored as high risk: Failure to manage the Council’s reputation through engagement with the press – Impact: Serious Likelihood: Very Likely

Perceived reputation of the service by local community causes preventable demand through complaints – Impact: Major Likelihood: Very likely

This risk has been re-scored in light of the recent events in relation to former CllrGraham Brown which will have implications for our reputation in the future. Hisactions however are considered to be a one off with a limited risk of a repeat.

Well, that’s a relief!

Moving on:

Each department is given a “Pure” status for risk (again 1-16) and then risk within a department is analysed.  Interestingly, even departments with a high “pure” risk mainly showa consistently green low risk status, presumably showing that no matter how risky the situation, it is under control.  For example, failure of a major contractor is shown as high risk (12) but the analysis shows a green risk as it assumes the tender selection process is low risk!  Financial planning is also shown as “Red 12” but contains only green analyses because it is deemed to be working well.  Who makes the decision about whether something is working well or not?  The head of that department ….. .  And so it goes on – departments have a high risk figure but a low risk analysis.  So, we should be pleased about that, although it must be said that risk analysis scenarios were created in 2009 and an awful lot has changed since then so it might just be time for some new headings!

Some highlights:

The first amber comes on page 51 of the agenda: the risk that the “transformation team” might not be effective.  This is the team that concerns itself with “Systems Thinking” (look that up on the web!).

Failure of councillors to keep to their code of conduct is shown as medium risk amber (9).  More about that later.

Page 53 tells us that the risk of change to the economic climate is high (16) but all is well because the Leader and the CEO have a regular dialogue and the “Service Delivery and Performance Committee” (sorry, what – never heard of it – where are their agendas and minutes? the only mention I can find of them in EDDC website is in 2009) scrutinises everything, they look for opportunities to share with other authorities (remember South Somerset?) and “Systems Thinking” means they are always on the ball.  Perhaps the “Service Delivery and Performance Committee” is meant to be the Overview and Scrutiny Committee (only a guess) in which case one big risk is that EDDC doesn’t keep up with itself!

And so it goes on – red risks, green outcomes.  5 year land supply is shown as Risk 12 (when surely it should be risk 100+?) with some very interesting comments (page 55).

Page 57 reiterates that officers and councillors still want to move from the Knowle and will do everything they can to facilitate it.

Page 77 confirms that the move to share IT services with Teignmouth and Plymouth is moving ahead but this is considered only a medium risk.

Page 80 says that failure to support ethical governance and standards at town and parish councils is medium risk and that one of the safeguards is that publicity and resource material is available from Standards for England – which was abolished in March 2012.

Failure to manage (stet) the council’s reputation(page 84) is deemed a 12 (again, surely a 100+) where it says that “resources are insufficient” (!) and an “additional resource” is needed.  Ah, your money and mine there.

Failure to ensure community engagement is a 16 (page 84) (no surprise there) but worry not – they have a policy and a toolkit to deal with this!

Failure to adopt the Local Plan by the end of 2014 is fortunately for us amber, though the comment does say “this could result in development in an unplanned fashion”.  But don’t worry, that isn’t high risk.  Er …..

There is more but I have to go and lie down in a darkened room now.

 

 

Don’t do as I do, do as I say …..

20 Jun

Honiton Town Council recently discussed East Devon’s Local Plan according to this week’s Midweek Herald (page 19,  “Plan must be viable”).  There were objections to the amount of employment land,  the reduced amount of affordable housing, town council preferred sites not being shown on the Local Plan, objections to the allocation of land at Ottery Moor Lane for housing use only and the allocation west of Hayne Lane employment site being not supported by evidence or viability.

EDDC and Honiton Town Councillor Mike Allen is quoted as saying: “If we don’t put in a viable proposal to the planning inspector, it will be thrown out.  It continues “He raised concerns over the town council’s figures for affordable housing saying he felt that it needed to be more specific about the areas it felt were suitrable, or not, for development” and added that “the result is that we are getting new applications coming forward to build on AONB areas”, drawing attention to the plan for 180 homes on land at Heathfield in the AONB [see post below] which he said was the last thing the town council wanted.

Chairman of EDDC’s Local Plan Task and Finish Group which took evidence for and signed off on the current Local Plan:  Councillor Mike Allen.

Honiton takes its turn in the fight against developers!

19 Jun
Letters have been going through the doors of residents in the Old Elm Road area of Honiton from Gleeson Developments Ltd to build 180 homes on a greenfield site nearby. These outline proposals are already worrying some residents who alongside Honiton Town Council fought last year to have these areas of outstanding natural beauty taken out of the draft local plan. They were successful but developers are attempting to build outside the built up boundary in Honiton anyway. Read more here http://www.westernmorningnews.co.uk/Relaxed-planning-rules-tragedy-country/story-19316550-detail/story.html

SIN prepares to pass on the baton

18 Jun

As SIN’s big brother, the East Devon Alliance, prepares to take over, SIN will be slowing down. Many thanks to all contributors and followers (hits now approaching 70,000.. much to our surprise!).

Here’s a nostalgic repeat of our the very first post, 0n 27 Sep 2012.  We leave it to you to decide if circumstances have changed…. ..

Good morning Sid Valley, welcome! Join us tonight at the Knowle!

27 Sep

Welcome to the “Sidmouth Independent News“!

This bl0g has been put together by people who are concerned about what is happening in the beautiful Sid Valley (not just Sidmouth) and who want to inform, energise and stimulate discussion about how we find ourselves in our current emergency situation and what WE can do to get out of it – with what WE want and not what people from far outside the area or those only with pound signs in their eyes want.

We will get going with your news, information and opinion over the coming weeks and months and hope to receive many contributions from local people throughout the Sid Valley but, for now, our most important post for today.

Meeting of the East Devon District Council Overview and Scrutiny Committee

at 6.30 p.m. this evening (Thursday 27 September 2012)

at the Knowle

to discuss EDDC’s relationship with the East Devon Business Forum.  This affects us because it seems that EDBF have had massive influence on getting the Sidford site accepted at the last minute for the Local Plan.  The Local Plan is a document that will influence planning in East Devon until 2026 – if we don’t get it right it could blight our area till then and beyond.

For those of you who don’t know what this EDDC committee does, it says on the EDDC website:

“It allows citizens to have a greater say in Council matters by holding public enquiries into matters of local concern. These lead to reports and recomendations which advise the Cabinet and Council as a whole on its policies, budget and service delivery.  It also monitors the decisions of the Cabinet.  It can call-in a decision which has been made by Cabinet or one of its members but not yet implemented.  It enables them to consider whether the decision is appropriate.  It may recommend that the Cabinet reconsider the decision.  It may also be consulted by the Cabinet or Council on forthcoming decisions and the development of policy.”

Now, this is not quite as good as it sounds but it is the ONLY place where those citizens and councillors who disagree with the powerful EDDC Cabinet, can have their say within EDDC’s hallowed walls!  It doesn’t mean, for example that the Cabinet WILL do as the Committee suggests – the Cabinet can still take no notice.  BUT controversial decisions are aired in public (and not, as sometimes seems to happen, behind closed doors at EDDC – but we will leave that for another post).

Tonight’s meeting promises to be a real humdinger and VERY important for us in the Sid Valley. Rather than overwhelm you with the detail about WHY it is important perhaps the best thing is for me to refer you to an excellent blog elsewhere on the subject here:

I know that a lot of SOS people have asked to speak tonight and SIN (Sidmouth Independent News) will definitely be in the audience to report on it tomorrow.  But we need bums on seats, people of the Sid Valley, so PLEASE get down there this evening and show them that THE SID VALLEY MEANS BUSINESS – AND NOT JUST EDBF BUSINESS !

I gather the meeting is already causing collywobbles in more than one district councillor’s tummy and that even national media may be involved!

Hope to see you there!

” a one-off”

18 Jun

A SIN correspondent refers readers to a sentence on p. 42 at the link below,  and then comments:

“His actions however are considered to be a one-off with a limited risk of a repeat.”  Considered by whom, and on what basis?

http://eastdevon.gov.uk/combined_a_g_agenda_270613.pdf