Archive | October, 2013

Vandalism of the countryside

28 Oct


Thought- provoking article by Andrew Motion, CPRE at this link

Knowle relocation again to be discussed behind closed doors

27 Oct a ‘confidential briefing for councillors’, 4pm this Wednesday, 30 October.  Public and press not invited, but many would no doubt like to listen at the keyhole.

Conservative Party Chairman calls for accountability and transparency

27 Oct

This is Conservative Party Chairman Grant Shapps talking about the BBC.

“They have ended up working in this culture which is buried in the last century, which is ‘we are the BBC, we do what we like, we don’t have to be too accountable’.

“But they are raising £3.6bn through the licence fee, which is a tax, and, quite rightly, the public wants to have sight of how the money is spent. Things like the pay-offs have really caused concern, as have, obviously, things like Savile and Hall and the culture that goes around that. I think it is one of too much secrecy,” he said.

Now transpose that to our local situation:

“They have ended up working in this culture which is buried in the last century, which is ‘we are East Devon District Council, we do what we like, we don’t have to be too accountable’,” he told [any local newspaper] .

“But they are raising [hundreds of thousands of pounds from the taxpayer] and, quite rightly, the public wants to have sight of how the money is spent. Things like the [various scandals including exCouncillor Brown] have really caused concern, as have, obviously, things like [the East Devon business Forum] and the culture that goes around that. I think it is one of too much secrecy.”

So, is EDDC going to obey the Party Chairman!

Councillor amnesia (3)

25 Oct


Collective amnesia (2)

25 Oct


Presentation to “stakeholders” July 2013 pages 9 and 10

Click to access stakeholderpresentation19july2013.pdf

Really, councillors,buck up!

EDDC Conservative councillors have collective amnesia about £4.8m loan

25 Oct



I raised the issue under the forward plan once again at last night’s overview and scrutiny meeting and asked that the office move be brought forward for scrutiny next month instead. I highlighted the question of Barry Sangster at Wednesday night’s full council meeting re the £4.8m loan, and said it was a scheme of significant financial risk that needed urgent examination.

But several conservative councillors said that there was no truth in the statement relating to an £4.8m loan.


Now that IS strange as what follows is taken verbatim from EDDC Cabinet Papers:


Agenda of Cabinet Meeting of 4 September 2013

page 11

Minutes of Cabinet Meeting of 17 July 2013

EDDC Office Relocation Key Decisions

The option to move would use capital receipts from the sale of the Knowle and, if required, prudential borrowing up to a maximum of £4.8M (the calculated savings on running costs over the 20 years following the move).


Click to access combined_cabinet_agenda_040913_-_public_version.pdf

King Alfred Way latest news or not the latest news?

25 Oct

We received the comment below from someone who purported to pass on news which appeared to be from a local resident, however we had no other corroboration of this and thought it may be incorrect.  On checking with other local correspondents we find that there is no evidence to corroborate the comment, which was published in good faith  How odd.

“A digger has been cutting test trenches in the fields behind KAW. They not only have scarred the landscape but caused more flood water to drain into at least six houses in the road. Brown water is pouring down the hill and gardens are now covered in messy silt. When will the torture end?”

SIN note : Please remember to document all problems in writing, by photograph and/or video where possible.

Public filming, recording, blogging and tweetings of council meetings to be THE LAW not just guidance

25 Oct


This includes ALL council committees and town and parish council meetings.  The journalism link at the end of this pist is (naturally) more informative than the Department of communities and Lical Government post referred to here:

Some interesting clauses from the bill:

  1. The Bill will protect the rights of taxpayers to inspect a local body’s accounts and raise objections if they think there are matters on which the auditor should report, ensuring that local people can continue to use this mechanism to hold their local bodies to account.
    1. In addition, the Bill extends the power of local taxpayers to veto excessive council tax increases, by taking account of any change in levies paid out to external bodies. The Bill makes an amendment to existing council tax referendums legislation which has already proved successful in increasing the transparency and accountability of public bodies for their tax-raising and spending decisions.See also:

Planning Minister tells farmers to “pick fights with local councils

24 Oct

From today’s Daily Telegraph:

The National Farmers’ Union should “fight some test cases” to set a precedent and force councils to change their behaviour when they frustrate developments, Nick Boles said.

The minister was responding to concerns from the National Farmers’ Union that councils asking landowners to fill in “unnecessary” paperwork when they want to erect new buildings, making development slower and more expensive.

Mr Boles said his department could not intervene in decisions made by locally elected councils, but urged the NFU to challenge the decisions with the Planning Inspectorate to “set a precedent”.

“The process of going to an appeal and losing an appeal is an expensive one for local authorities,” he said. “What I would do, and the NFU is in a very good position to do it, is to fight some test cases on things where you think there is egregious unreasonable behaviour where you want to establish a new set of precedents.

“If you do that a few times then the authorities pick up on what decisions are being made and adjust their behaviour accordingly.”

David Collier, the NFU’s rural affairs advisor, said “over-cautious” councils were asking farmers who apply for permission to build new houses or outbuildings to complete unnecessary business plans, flood assessments, or archaeological surveys despite no evidence of any archaeological remains being in place.

The intervention comes as the Department for Communities and Local Government proposes relaxing planning rules to allow farmers to turn unused outbuildings into homes without seeking planning permission.

Landowners will have the right to build up to three new houses and demolish existing buildings without seeking approval, under plans to provide more homes in rural areas.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England warns the plans will result in “suburbanised farmsteads” and will blight areas such as the Yorkshire Dales, which has a large number of field barns.

“These proposals will mean housing popping up in unsuitable locations in the remote countryside. And it’s not just the housing but the garages, sheds, lighting and fences that will come with them that will destroy the character of rural areas,” said Paul Miner, the CPRE’s senior campaigner.

Mr Boles was speaking at an event to mark the first anniversary of the introduction of the National Planning Policy Framework, which has created a presumption in favour of development and orders councils to draw up plans to guarantee a supply of land for building.

Mr Boles said the new rules had been “painful” for local authorities because it had forced them to hold “battles” over contentious sites earlier than they might have had done before.


Fortunately, via the East Devon Business Forum (made up mostly of  local landowners, developers and farmers) our council has always seen eye to eye with them, even financing their group and giving them an officer to run things for them!  No need to fight OUR council!

Planning Minister says “elderly are to blame for housing crisis”

24 Oct

Story here

East Devon has one of the highest elderly populations in the country.

Many of our parish, town, district and county councillors are elderly.  So, are our elderly councillors even more to blame!

An extract from the article:

“Sir Tony Baldry, MP for Banbury, said a development had been allowed on greenbelt land in his constituency after Mr Boles approved an appeal by developers, against the wishes of the local council.

“What the Secretary of State has allowed is a first-come, first served policy, with planning permission given to whichever developers happen to get their applications in first. This is planning anarchy,” he said.

Martin Horwood, the Liberal Democrat MP for Cheltenham, said his town had been hit by unfairly high housing targets because of “insatiable” demand from housebuyers who want to send their children to good local schools.

But Mr Boles insisted his housing targets are too low for Britain’s growing population, and councils must be forced by Whitehall to prepare for newcomers.”