Archive | December, 2013

Jurassic Coast Management Plan Review…..have your say!

22 Dec

Deadline for  comment is now 6th January 2014. You can check the plan for your area at this link to the Friends of the Jurassic Coast latest newsletter:

http://jurassiccoast.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1188&catid=293&Itemid=365&utm_source=newsletter_19&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=friends-of-the-jurassic-coast-e-newsletter-17-december

Two Devon councils try managing without a Chief Executive

22 Dec

Story here.

It makes you wonder what arrangements are being made for when the agreement to share our Chief Executive with South Somerset comes to an end in 2015.   Though it seems EDDC has already made a financial arrangement for a 100% post as this comment from the Audit and Governance Committee meeting of 27 June 2013 states:

Members discussed EDDC’s shared services and shared Chief Executive with South Somerset District Council. The Head of Finance outlined the financial implications of the Chief Executive returning to EDDC fulltime . This had been factored into future spending predictions as a prudent measure.

If we have been managing with o.5 of a Chief Executive this long do we really need a full-time one, bearing in mind also the savings that have been made on his salary to the tune of about £70,000 a year – around £350,000 over the five year period.  A not inconsiderable sum that could pay for a lot of services in the district.  Or according to the story above, do we need one at all?

Still, should he return full time he should be back in full-time post just in time to enjoy a luxury new office!

Jurassic Coast World Heritage-disappearing Site ..further erosion at Budleigh

21 Dec

This press release was issued yesterday,  after the announcement of the Judicial Review decision:

High Court Budleigh Salterton Longboat court case fails

 

CO/9096/2012 The Queen on the application of David Daniel v East Devon District Council

 

The Budleigh Longboat Association and its many friends are surprised and disappointed that in a written judgement issued today, Judge Birtles, did not find sufficient merit in its claim to quash the Longboat planning consent of 2012. Judges do have considerable discretion and the case has to be exceptionally strong to succeed. Although all who supported the appeal are disappointed, the decision is accepted.

The challenge was made because this was a controversial planning decision to build a two-storey contemporary café on an important site on the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site. Importantly, it was the first planning application in what is supposed to be one of the most highly protected sites of outstanding natural beauty in England. The plan, which also involved the demolition of the last known example of an Admiralty Longboat House, attracted widespread local opposition. In a poll conducted by the Town Council, three out of four voted to keep the historic building and even more were opposed to a two-storey development. No less than 36 per cent of residents voted, compared to 33 per cent in local elections.

This development was also opposed by the World Heritage Coast Management Team and Natural England who raised further objections relating to the vulnerability of such a large structure on the beach to storm surges.

We believe it was important and responsible to make this challenge as two other similar applications had been rejected by the planning committee, one a few months before and another quite recently. We felt that members of the planning committee had been misled by the Planning Officers’ report.

When considering planning matters, the East Devon District Council (EDDC) is supposed to act, and to be seen to act, in a quasi-judicial and fair way. By pursuing this action we have made the point that the EDDC faces the real risk of legal challenge from objectors whenever they attempt to push procedural boundaries to support their recommendation. There are already signs that, as a result, EDDC is now paying more attention to the correctness of their procedure.  For example, they are bringing important consultee comments, from groups such as Natural England, to the committee however late in the process they arrive, rather than ignoring them; and they are making full audio recordings of proceedings so that there can be no doubt about what was said.

So far the Longboat applicant has refused to work with the community to find a solution which is sympathetic to the history of the existing building and natural beauty of this World Heritage Site. We recognise that to remain economic the Longboat House needs refurbishment and remodelling. It is still not too late to find a solution that enhances rather than dominates the heritage landscape; most importantly, the solution should be one which commands local support without which local businesses cannot flourish.  

 

The legal challenge was issued in the name of David Daniel and he would like to thank all those in the Budleigh Longboat Association who have supported him over the past six years. All concerned greatly appreciate the specialist professional support received in recent months from the newly- formed East Devon Alliance and from local councillors.

 

David Daniel

More comment and background to this important test case, defining how far a WHS site is protected from commercialism, was posted on SIN yesterday . Click here for link   https://sidmouthindependentnews.wordpress.com/2013/12/20/r-i-p-longboat-cafe/

When is a “giveaway” not a give away?

21 Dec

When newspapers refer to the consultation about how to use “Section 106” money for sports facilities in Sidmouth.  EDDC is NOT giving away £250,000.  This money has been paid to Sidmouth, via EDDC, to compensate them for the concreting over of large parts of Sidmouth by developers.  It is money Sidmouth deserves but it is not a give away by anyone.  You don’t think developers would give money away.

Oh, and the money has been sitting in EDDC’s bank account for a long time before it gets spent, earning interest that they don’t distribute and if they don’t use it within a given time the developet can ask for it back – and this does happen.   There is no such thing as a free lunch!

So cheaper parking doesn’t pay … the evidence that, actually, it does

20 Dec

http://www.exmouthjournal.co.uk/news/council_s_2_all_day_parking_scheme_to_run_till_christmas_1_3131191

Court of Appeal upholds council’s action to stop inappropriate development at a retail park

20 Dec

Sometimes, councils do have our interests at heart.  This would be a useful precedent should (heaven forfend) Sidford Fields ever be developed:

http://www.localgovernmentlawyer.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=16692%3Acouncil-sees-off-developer-at-court-of-appeal-over-retail-park-restrictions&catid=63&Itemid=31

Funding for shared amenity building projects

20 Dec

Drill Hall perhaps?

A £14 million grant scheme could help local groups to fast their track building plans for shared amenities ranging from community centres to village shops.  The Community Led Project Support fund aims to open up possibilities for communities to push ahead with their building projects.  As part of the scheme, an organisation called Locality is operating a free advice line to enable many groups to come forward and discuss their options.

The grant pot, which is managed by the Homes and Communities Agency can be used to cover the cost of getting ideas for community building development off the drawing board and up to the planning application stage – including covering the cost of paying for detailed site plans and professional fees.  Locality development officer Lyn Kesterton said, “The eligibility criteria has been widened to include projects of all types moving towards planning permission.

“This makes it really attractive to all sorts of organisations working to improve their communities through local building projects, whether they are community halls, houses, shops, pubs or other community facilities.”
Read more: http://www.westernmorningnews.co.uk/14m-fund-aims-fast-track-local-community-build/story-20348870-detail/story.html#ixzz2o1eVv8DO

R.I.P. Longboathouse

20 Dec

http://www.exeterexpressandecho.co.uk/High-Court-judge-gives-ahead-demolition-Britain-s/story-20348941-detail/story.html

More background information and a statement here:

http://www.claire-wright.org/index.php/post/judge_allows_controversial_longboat_cafe_at_budleigh/

85% of councils think sanctions for misbehaving councillors are now too weak

20 Dec

One in four local authorities surveyed reported that councillors’ behaviour had worsened since the new standards regime came into effect, against just 4% claiming that it had led to improved behaviour. The vast majority of survey respondents (85%) believed that the member sanctions introduced by the Localism Act were ‘too weak’.

Source:

Secrets …

20 Dec

Secret meetings are important to the people of Sidmouth, as they take place with alarming regularity at the Knowle, not only for relocation meetings but also meetings such as Asset Management – our assets.  In any given week  there are often as many closed meetings listed as open meetings.

Sidmothians may have followed the saga of Ottery Town Council HERE which had an undocumented meeting with developers (at the request of the developers) regarding development in West Hill.  They did not inform the district councillor for West Hill (who is also the county councillor).    When an Ottery councillor (Councillor Giles) informed the district councillor (Councillor Wright) he was called to a “kangaroo court” of councillors for breaking confidentiality and found guilty.  In an almost fantastical twist, the same councillors who had found him guilty voted AGAINST the sanction for his guilt!  Such is local politics.

However, this has implications for all town and parish councils, as well as the district council, indeed nations are currently debating how much information must be concealed from their citizens.  Why should developers be allowed to meet town or parish councillors in secret?  Councillors say that the developers are simply “information gathering” but why should town councils be used for such purposes when there is public consultation?   Often, as we have seen particularly in Feniton, the general public has a completely different take on developments to their councillors.

After a public outcry, Ottery Town Councillors changed their minds and released “notes” of the meeting.  However, this (if you are going to be as nit-picking as the council was regarding Councillor Giles) is unconstitutional, as a council cannot reconsider a decision made by full council until at least six months has elapsed.

The notes even show that the council asked Persimmons’ permission to publish them!  Can you imagine it!

The man who can keep a secret may be wise but he is not half as wise as the man with no secrets to keep (E. W. Howe)