Archive | February, 2014

EDDC stoops to new low

27 Feb

Democracy plummeted at East Devon District Council last night,  at a full council meeting crowded with the public. The main business was to consider the budget, including expenses incurred by Cabinet’s decision to relocate the District’s HQ to Skypark ( a vast new  business site outside Exeter).

In public questions, a  series of local residents questioned the incomprehensible choice of a site on the edge of the District, with serious problems of accessibility for most residents, and the rocketing cost of the project in a time of desperate austerity.

None of their questions was answered. As usual it was left to a few Independents and Lib Dems to represent the public interest.

Cllr Claire Wright reminded the councillors that the watchdog Scrutiny Committee on January 30 had recommended that the project  be put on hold pending an independent survey of the existing council offices. She proposed a motion that the council should accept this.

This provoked a clearly co-ordinated outbreak of personal abuse on Cllr Wright from the Tories led by Deputy Leader Andrew Moulding. Incredibly, Scrutiny Committee member Mike Allen who had previously described the leadership’s “lemming” style of financial management, now changed his tune. Obsequiously, he towed the party line, with his own disrespectful jibes towards Claire.

Council Leader  Diviani added his usual economies with the truth, claiming that Skypark was a vibrant new business pole, only recently marketed.

The wonders of modern technology enabled his rosy claim  to be scotched almost immediately with an ipad email showing that the agents had been marketing it since 2010, with only two takers  so far, an EON Energy Centre (2012) and an Ambulance Operations Centre (2014).

The vote on the motion surprised no one. Nor did the fact that a named recorded vote was refused.

The Minority Independents and Lib Dems for, and serried ranks of Tory Majority sheep against –with the honourable exception of Sidmouth Cllr Graham Troman.

With that challenge out of the way and, before most people realised, Cabinet minutes were nodded through which means that land at Skypark can be bought and the the Knowle can be marketed –all without serious debate.

More comment at http://saveoursidmouth.com/2014/02/27/knowle-sale-and-skypark-spend-voted-through-under-veil-of-cabinet-minutes/

Advertisements

RIP Knowle, RIP Sidmouth, RIP Democracy in East Devon

26 Feb

Agreed by the most duplicitous method imaginable.  And shafted by our own councillors.

More tomorrow.

Local Government Association says councils must build more houses

26 Feb

Responding to the release of the latest house building statistics today, Cllr Mike Jones, Chairman of the LGA’s Environment and Housing Board, said:

“Today’s figures show recovery in the house building market over the last 12 months, reflecting increased confidence. The Government has said that we need to build 232,000 homes per year to keep up with household growth and is of the view that the planning system is to blame for not delivering the number of houses we need.

“There are half a million homes with planning permission in the system. Our research shows that regardless of changes to the planning system, the private sector only builds a long run average of 130,000 homes a year. We will only achieve the consistent level of house building the government aspires to if councils are allowed to build significantly more.

“We are urging the Chancellor to completely lift the centrally controlled housing borrowing cap in next month’s Budget and allow councils to invest under normal, responsible borrowing guidelines. This would enable councils to quickly scale up their investment in new homes.”

– See more at: http://www.local.gov.uk/web/guest/media-releases/-/journal_content/56/10180/5948005/NEWS#sthash.xMPZHyHC.dpuf

“Planning Impossible” – on TV this evening

26 Feb

Best put it on record, as you will be at the EDDC meeting which decides what happens about Knowle/Skypark, won’t you!

BBC2 7 pm

Advertised as:

“Residents protest against a housing development on a greenfield site in Cheshire and an architect tries to get approval to extend a Turkish restaurant in Hertfordshire.  Continues tomorrow”

Episode 1 is still on iPlayer HERE 

and contains some bits that are of direct relevance in our area

Duration: 1 hour

In this episode of Permission Impossible: Britain’s Planners, one of Britain’s biggest house builders is proposing to build 1,500 homes near Ellesmere Port in Cheshire. While many local objectors are concerned about losing the green fields, one couple stand not just to lose their business but the home they’ve lived in for 22 years.

In Denbigh, North Wales head of planning, Graham Boase is on a mission to save a Grade II listed building. Denbigh Hospital was built in 1848 to care for mentally ill patients. Now the building is in the hands of private developers who have let it fall into disrepair. The planners want to issue a compulsory purchase order forcing the owners to sell them the building, but they need the full backing of the planning committee. Will permission be granted to save this historic building?

In the sleepy hamlet of Butterow in the Cotswolds, a landowner has applied for planning permission for a builders’ yard at the end of a residential lane. For local residents and objectors, the prospect of having their quiet country idyll interrupted by heavy goods vehicles hasn’t gone down well. And in Frodsham, Cheshire, a property developer has plans to build two new and contemporary design homes. But will the objectors stop the scheme from going ahead?

Chief Executives, councillors and democracy – Welsh style

26 Feb

Anyone who has been following the fiasco that is Welsh Local Government politics (and even those who have not but are unhappy about  officer/executive board/leader relationships should take a look at the Welsh language version of our own Inside Out (relax, with subtitles) which will be available for a few more days.  Illegal payments, private meetings in the Chief Executive’s office about his salary and possible ways to avoid tax on it, government auditors, officers in charge …. it has it all!

You want to know what is wrong with local politics?  View this:

http://www.s4c.co.uk/clic/e_level2.shtml?series_id=518068192

Choose the English language site then click on subtitles (one of the buttons on the right hand side, the button on the far left of the right hand side if that doesn’t sound too confusing!) for subtitles.

A named vote for the move to Skypark? Probably not, so …..

26 Feb

Remember the last “named vote” fiasco when it was voted down by the majority party?

Just in case this happens tonight, suggest everyone has a “councillor buddy” to keep an eye on and see how they vote.

EDDC Skypark move “not set in stone”, says councillor

26 Feb

Voting at tonight’s Full Council (6.30pm , Knowle) will reveal more.  See  http://eastdevonalliance.org/2014/02/26/eddc-move-to-skypark-deal-could-be-sealed-today/