Archive | September, 2013

Exmouth-Lympstone green wedge: developer has yet another go at it.

23 Sep

Details HERE.

Pretty soon East Devon will be one single conurbation from the M5 to the Dorset and Somerset borders sweeping up everything in their way, AONBs, etc.  if developers continue their onslaught.

What next?  Land reclamation on our World Heritage Jurassic coastline maybe?

How to close a budget hole: paper over the cracks

23 Sep

Again, from the blog of Councillor Claire Wright

“Following the approval of the 2013-14 budget, the Council now face a cumulative budget gap of £3.973 million over the next five year period, with a budget gap of £1,878,000 for 2014-15.

“These gaps are before consideration of New Homes Bonus to fund the shortfall. Whilst this is a significant income stream to the Council, it is aware of the risks of over-reliance on this reward grant following recent Government announcements and has proposed that the amount to be used to fund the general fund budget should be limited so that reserves equivalent to two years of New Homes Bonus allocations are built up. These proposals were endorsed by Cabinet, requiring £1.54 million of savings to be identified to close the budget gap for 2014-15 to 2016-17.

“£1,785,000 of savings and income generation schemes have been identified by staff and a Member Budget Working Party has been set up to consider these budget saving proposals in order to close the £1.54 million gap. These schemes include £642,000 in respect of a 4% savings target for each portfolio.

In addition, page 62 states:  “Following a reduction in Government grant funding of the Council had to identify a strategy to close the 2013-14 budget gap of £1.256 million.”

Whilst the Council has made good progress in identifying options to close the budget gap in the medium term, there remain uncertainties and risks, and the Council is aware that significant change is required over the long term and are looking at options for relocating from the current headquarters due to the high running and maintenance costs and the scope for efficiencies.”

So, there you have it:  the implication seems to be that it is only having to work at the Knowle that is causing this budget black hole.

NOT because the Government is reducing grants to local authorities.

NOT because EDDC is increasing its staff numbers where other councils are greatly reducing theirs.  For example, South Hams and West Devon councils are talking of reducing staff numbers by around 100.

NOT because the budget for 2014/15 will probably have to inlude debt repayments on the $4 million plus loan that EDDC will have to take out to build new headquarters. 

It’s all the fault of that pesky Knowle.  If only they had nice, shiny new offices and a near £5 million loan, the budget hole would close over and we could all be happy.

Yeah, right!

External auditors to look into conflict of interest claims relating to disgraced ex-councillor Graham Brown and the role of the Economic Development Officer

23 Sep

From the blog of Councillor Claire Wright:

 

EDDC’s external auditors are to look into concerns over conflicts of interest relating to former disgraced Cllr Graham Brown and the role of the economic development officer, it has emerged.

Page 20 of this Thursday’s audit and governance papers states:  “The Audit & Governance Committee were concerned relating to the perceived or actual conflict of roles of Ex-Councillor G Brown and accordingly amended the 2013/14 Audit Plan to include an audit by SWAP (south west audit partnership) to consider the Governance arrangement implications and to suggest any necessary improvements.

“A similar point was raised within the Assurance Statements and a perceived/actual conflict between Planning and Economic Development Roles.”

The report goes on to say: “This Audit is to take place in the first half of 2013/14 with findings to be presented back to the Audit & Governance Committee.”

The audit and governance meeting takes place on Thursday (26 September) at 2.30pm, at Knowle, Sidmouth. Here’s the agenda – http://www.eastdevon.gov.uk/combined_a_g_agenda_260913.pdf

East Devon Alliance Ceilidh – 26 October at Sidford Social Hall

21 Sep

Come and support East Devon Alliance at their Ceilidh on 26 October at 7.30 pm till late in Sidford Social Hall, Byes Lane, Sidford.  Tickets £5.00 from The Rising Sun and Sid Valley Alterations or on the door.  More info at:

http://www.mischiefandmayhem.co.uk
http://www.eastdevonalliance.org.uk

Update on DMC meeting where Newton Poppleford was discussed

19 Sep

Apparently, the meeting WAS recorded by EDDC but the audio file has not yet appeared on their website.

Below is an account of the meeting from an observer:

I attended the DMC meeting but missed the panel discussion and decision. Did anyone notice how the individual panel members voted, – did anyone vote against? Sitting through the public comments I was very impressed with [Newton Poppleford objectors] contributions. Listening to the pro development lobby however it seemed as if I was attending an planning application for a health centre, – not 40 houses on AONB .
I think this was a distraction and I am not sure the 106 bribe can be secured for a dedicated purpose such as a private GP practice. Such planning gains are usually for civic infrastructure or recreational purposes not businesses. The funds as we have seen with the Fortfield Hotel in Sidmouth, would also normally go into the EDDC coffers for the benefit of the whole district (for eg a new HQ!) not for the affected area! …
…Observe carefully as all their promises begin to evaporate.

What do you do when you don’t get the result you want? Ask Talaton Parish Council!

19 Sep

On Monday night Talaton Parish Council faced an awkward situation when the questionnaire they had hastily sent round to residents failed to deliver the response they had expected! Two planning applications had been received to build 10 or 25 houses on a greenfield site outside the village built up boundary. Sweeteners of village hall parking had been suggested for both plans previously, but were then withdrawn for the 10. As the previous survey of village opinion did not support either of the current applications EDDC allowed an extension of the planning deadline for comment whilst a new survey was run.

The Parish Chair had already clearly posted his own views on the planning website objecting to 10 and supporting 25 and the PC appears to have phrased the brief questionnaire to encourage a yes vote by saying only the 25 would offer amenities, something not actually guaranteed by the developer.

When the votes came in a majority had voted no to both! The councillors then lost their taste for democracy deciding that actually they knew best, voting in support of both applications. So much for representing the views of the people.

Fraud and priorities

18 Sep

Interesting television programme this morning – Claimed and Shamed – about a vet who was claiming money for operations he had not done on animals.  The total amount involved was £10,000.  The Metropolitan Police spent many hours tracking down the various claims and eventually prosecuted the vet for fraud and the vet received a suspended sentance.

It seems that priorities vary from police force to police force.

Premier Inn and a new EDDC HQ – a perfect fit?

18 Sep

Today’s Midweek Herald has a story that Premier Inn is interested in the Turks Head Lodge site in Honiton, which would be directly opposite a proposed new EDDC HQ.

How fortunate:  when those interminably long council meetings end they will be able to go straight over the road for a good night’s sleep!

 

King Alfred Way

18 Sep

Below is a precis of one resident’s view of the meeting yesterday.  Of course, if the DMC had been recorded, we could have put the recording up and everyone could have heard the debate for themselves here.

CDE application approved.

The Parish Council sent no representative, even though the Parish Council turned both versions of the Application down.

Two parish Councillors spoke in favour –  Mrs Tillotson and Chris Cole.  Ex Parish Council Chair, Mr Swann, who had been involved in the early days of discussion with CDE, also spoke in favou .  Mr Atkins Newton Poppleford Clerk and DMC member did not take part.

Barry Easter spoke in favour.  Mr Potter, ward Councillor, who would be surrounded by new housing should Badger Close be approved, also spoke in favour.

Those speaking for the proposal mostly talked about the surgery. They also spoke about CDE saying they would contribute to upgrading the footpath between King Alfred Way and the school, saying this would avoid pedestrians walking though the pinch point at the Southern Cross. However, Farthings Lane is the route already taken to avoid the pinchpoint and the pavement is adequate from King Alfred Way to the school. (The County Council have already pledged to improve Farthings Lane, regardless of the CDE proposal).

 Those speaking against the application spoke of the problems on the A3052 which would be caused by the additional traffic should the 4 consulting room surgery be implemented. Of the Budleigh surgery which many NPs use which still has capacity, and  the Stowford Surgery, (near Waitrose), which the Sidmouth GPs have signed up to, which will also be available NPs.

They also spoke about the access to the development crossing the safe route to the school from the other side of the village. The poor access, though a quiet cul-de-sac, with cars parked on either side and consequent problems with noise, pollution and congestion, both on the High Street and KAW (King Alfred Way). They raised the problem with flooding that the residents below the proposed development have already experienced, the danger to children on KAW and the emergency access route to the new development via the Public Right of Way next to the Toll House and roundabout. A KAW resident mentioned that last month his daughter had been hit by a car when crossing the A3052 to get a bus.

Another objector spoke of the preference in the village for several smaller developments over one large one. Also the policies negating building large developments  in an AONB (Note the AONB were invited to comment on the application, but declined to do so, possibly because  a its Chairman works for Clinton Devon.  The NPPF preference not to build on high grade agricultural land was also mentioned. (The question of its grade came up with CDE now claiming that , since they a year of 2 ago stopped the farmer from growing crops there, as he had for 25 years previously, because of it now having poor access to large vehicles (?), it had gone down from grade 2 to grade 3).

Cllr Ingham told the 2 Parish Council members present that they should have a Neighbourhood Plan in place. (This would have given the Village control over phased development over a period of time). But he said although it is unfair, (with out a neighbourhood plan), it is first past the post.

So, will development in Newton Poppleford stop there, now its fulfillment of housing for the next 13 years is complete?

Time will tell!

And more and more and more and more to come

17 Sep

King alfred Way approved unanimously.

Just the tip of the iceberg.