Archive | March, 2014

DCC youth cuts: should the decision to close youth centres be revisited now DCC Councillor in charge has taken a job with the property company which disposes of DCC buildings?

21 Mar

http://www.exeterexpressandecho.co.uk/Councillor-centre-major-cuts-programme-youth/story-20838608-detail/story.html

The post he is taking up is Managing Director of the company.  Wonder how long he was in the frame for the job before being offered it?

The myth that planning applications MUST be decided in 13 weeks

21 Mar

Evidence cited below makes one wonder just why the developments for more than 800 houses in eastern Devon which are neither in the old local plan nor the new one have merited a “special” Development Control Meeting on 25 March when the Planning Inspector’s report that could strike them out is due by 31 March 2014.

As a correspondent has pointed out below, it is contested that the so-called 13 week deadline actually expires then but here is evidence that the 13 week deadline is an aspiration and not a requirement.  Anyone notice a nasty smell?

Firstly, from East Devon’s own website:

http://www.eastdevon.gov.uk/planning-development_control_faqs

 7. How long should it take to process my planning application?

The normal period for determining a planning application, by statue, is eight weeks. However, more time may be neededif the proposal is of major importance, controversial, or if amendments are needed following the various consultations.

Then from the website of Mid Devon Council:

http://www.middevon.gov.uk/CHttpHandler.ashx?id=15802&p=0

As a Local Planning Authority the Council is expected to determine at least:
60% of major applications within 13 weeks;
65% of minor applications within 8 weeks, and;
80% of other applications within 8 weeks.
The Mid Devon District Council planning department monitors all application decisions delayed beyond 13 weeks. This information made available
for public inspection once a quarter providesa summary of reasons for delay.
And finally, the  most recent national position:

In the year ending March 2012, district level planning authorities:

decided 57 per cent of major applications in 13 weeks, 71 per cent of minors and 82 per cent of others in 8 weeks. This compares to 66 per cent for majors, 75 per cent for minors and 86 per cent for others in the year ending March 2011;

It isn’t just the people of East Devon who are not consulted

20 Mar

even other countries are complaining about lack of consultation from our country over nuclear energy plans:

http://www.westernmorningnews.co.uk/says-UK-Government-acting-suspicious-plans-new/story-20832940-detail/story.html

Skypark and the Community Infrastructure Levy

20 Mar

Section 106 payments from developers are linked closely to the area where the development takes place – Community Infrastructure Levy has no such requirement, it can be spent anywhere in the district.

So, what is to stop EDDC creaming off all the developer contributions all around the district and spending them on improving Skypark?

Confirmation that bus links to Skypark will be to and from Exeter

20 Mar

http://www.exeterexpressandecho.co.uk/Lack-East-Devon-HQ-bus-service-8216-ludicrous/story-20829901-detail/story.html

How to avoid blame and criticism – oh, and EDDC’s view is that they don’t have to take any notice of the Local Government Ombudsman if they don’t like what she says

20 Mar

Cabinet Minutes of 5 March 2014

Page 7

Click to access cabinet_mins_050314.pdf

 The Chief Executive presented this report which outlined the actions taken and learning points arising from a recent finding of fault by the Local Government Ombudsman.   Although the Ombudsman’s recommendations were not legally binding, the Council always took them into account as a way of improving its services and procedures.  The Ombudsman’s final decision notice was appended to the report.

Was the report anywhere to be found with the papers – no.  Does anyone have any idea what EDDC did wrong and what they had to do to put it right – no.

Does anyone think that we are having wool pulled over our eyes yet again – yes.

Defer or inspect? What happens if an application is close to its time limit?

19 Mar

Surely if the DMC has any worries about “Old Farm 2” then it can defer a decision and/or request a site visit?

It would be totally perverse if they could not do this as it would mean that any application heard close to the 13 week limit could not have a site visit or deferral because of that time limit.

That would be a travesty of justice.

 

 

Omission sites in the Local Plan and the “Old Park Farm 2” planning application: some worrying facts

19 Mar

These are sites that developers feel should be included in a Local Plan but which are not – the Planning Inspector hears evidence about the sites and then decided whether to include them in the local plan.  EDDC’s list of omission sites and their rationale for each of them is in the evidence they presented to the Inspector earlier this month

Click to access ws19writtenstatement19omissionsitesbuabandgreenwedgefinal.pdf

This matters because one of the omission sites – the “Old Park Farm 2” site – is now the subject of a “special” meeting of the Development Management Committee on 25 March 2014.  This is a site owned by the Stuart family – former enthusiastic members of the East Devon Business Forum.

The Planning Inspector said at the hearing that, if Local Plan numbers are OK, the omission sites will not be discussed in his report at all and he has confirmed that his report will be with EDDC by 31 March 2014.

So, why has a “special” meeting been arranged for this particular planning application (on a site owned by a former EDBF member) when it may well be that by 31 March it could be discounted from the local plan?

It appears that the reason given is that, as a rule, planning applications should be decided within 13 weeks and so this application must be heard before the inspector reports.  However, a correspondent on the website of Independent Councillor Claire Wright has pointed out that the clock only starts ticking on the 13 weeks when all documents have been received, as reported by Damien Mills below:

A district council spokesperson justifies considering these applications ahead of the Planning Inspector’s verdict on the local plan on the basis that, ‘… otherwise they would not be considered within the Government’s specified 13-week period which would put the council at risk of an appeal.’

Like Phil Wakely, I think this is a red herring as the Town and Country Planning [Development Management Procedure] [England] Order 2010 clearly states that the 13-week period begins the day after the application and any supporting documents are received:

‘A valid application shall be taken to have been received when the application, and such of the documents, particulars or evidence referred to above as are required to be included in, or to accompany, the application have been lodged with the appropriate authority mentioned in article 10(1) and the fee required to be paid has been paid.’

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2010/2184/article/29/made

While it is not clear from East Devon’s planning portal when, exactly, the revised application was submitted, it is apparent that the supporting documents were not lodged with the council until Monday, January 6 – see, for instance, documents 1313229 [on Page 2] and 1313227 and 1313228 on Page 3:

http://planningapps.eastdevon.gov.uk/Planning/lg/GFPlanningDocuments.page

On this basis, the Development Management Committee has until April 4 to reach a decision so, why is it we are being encouraged to believe otherwise?!

So, we seem to have special treatment for a planning application which might, within days of its hearing, be declared as not being needed.

“Communication” in politics: spin v. information

18 Mar

Below are two versions of the same event – a meeting for people who were interested in standing as councillors and who wanted to know about how local and national politics work:  see which one you think gives you the best report of how the evening went:

First: the press release from East Devon District Council:

 REACHING OUT TO VOTERS OF ALL AGES

 EDDC held a successful evening event aimed at encouraging more people to engage in local democracy, overseen by Council Chairman Graham Godbeer.  Guest speakers included Elizabeth Price from the Houses of Parliament Outreach Service, whose task is to spread awareness of the work, processes and relevance of Parliament.  Elizabeth was followed by Julian Bassham from the Cabinet Office, who outlined imminent changes to the electoral register that will affect all people of voting age.  He explained what the changes are, what they will mean to us and when they are going to happen.

Younger

Younger voters were represented by George Downs from the Youth Parliament and by Alfie Weaver. They spoke about the importance of having a say in local politics and their perception of electoral representation and voting.  The final speaker was Councillor Andrew Moulding, Deputy Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Strategic Development and Partnership.  Andrew described what being a district councillor means to him and why people should consider standing at the next election in May 2015.

After a short question and answer session, the 150-minute event ended a little later than the scheduled finish time of 9pm.

Source, Press release from East Devon District Council: http://www.eastdevon.gov.uk/communications_and_consultation.htm?newsid=1053

And now the same event described by Independent Councillor Claire Wright who was also at the meeting:

SPARKS FLY AT EDDC ELECTION EVENT THIS EVENING

 There were a few heated exchanges at tonight’s elections event,which was put on at EDDC.  With around 80 or so people were present, the event kicked off with a presentation on parliament and how decisions are made and laws passed. It was really interesting and very well articulated, by a locally based civil servant, who was obviously passionate about her job.

Next up, after a very pleasant sociable coffee and cake break, was a presentation by someone from the cabinet office, about how registration is changing for elections. The jist was that people will soon need to register individually, rather than someone being allowed to register on their behalf.

Then, youth campaigners, 17 year old Alfie Weaver and 16 year old George Downs presented on their work for the youth service. George explained about his role in the youth parliament.  And Alfie told the group what work he had been doing within schools and the community, helping young people.  He explained that much work was currently ongoing to challenge the youth review.

After this excellent presentation, deputy leader, Cllr Andrew Moulding, said a few words on campaigning for election and being a councillor, (including words of advice from former EDDC leader, Ted Pinney, accounts of dog bites and leaflets being thrown in bins).   Unfortunately, the talk went down badly with some attendees, who were hoping to hear more about the work of a councillor and less about the hazards of putting your hand through a letterbox, with a silent but aggressive dog on the other side.

During questions, West Hill resident, Philip Algar, raised his hand.  He asked why the council was lacking in democracy and why the ruling conservative group tended to vote en bloc at full council meetings.  The question received a smattering of applause and started an outbreak of muttering.

Cllr Moulding replied that if the tory whip (Cllr Phil Twiss) had been present, he would have confirmed that no whipping of conservative councillors ever takes place.  This remark received a few derisive murmurs and prompted Alfie Weaver to raise his hand.

Alfie asked why, when he had brought his fellow youth campaigners to address the county councillors on budget day (20 February), had Cllr Moulding been part of the bloc conservative vote against allowing them to speak.  Cllr Moulding first replied that the young campaigners hadn’t registered in time. Alfie put him straight. They had, but had been told they couldn’t speak.

Cllr Moulding said he didn’t know about that but went on to say that if the council (Devon County Council) had allowed the youth campaigners to speak, they would have had to allow the badger campaigners to speak and maybe other members of the public.

I hadn’t intended to say anything this evening but this comment was so ridiculous that I put up my hand to respond. Out of a six hour meeting, this would have meant SIX MINUTES of time spent listening to the public!

Other hands also went up.  However, the chairman, Cllr Graham Godbeer, perhaps sensing that a can of worms had just been opened, hurriedly closed the meeting.

Source: blog of Independent Councillor Claire Wright

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

AND FOR A THIRD VIEW SEE THE EAST DEVON ALLIANCE REPORT OF THE SAME MEETING

http://eastdevonalliance.org/2014/03/14/why-stand-for-election-ask-the-younger-generation/

 

No, Prime Minister? Planning in his own back yard!

18 Mar

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/greenpolitics/planning/10698227/Bampton-infamy-in-the-Prime-Ministers-back-yard.html