The NEW owl has arrived …


2 February 2020





East Devon could NEVER remain Owl-less …

As one departed another has taken its place …

The new Owl has arrived!

Talons sharpened, eyes trained …

A new light now shining into the darkest corners of East Devon

Contact us at

In the link below EDDC announces the launch on Monday 30 March 2020 of the East Devon District Council Coronavirus Community Support Hub and explains what  it will seek to do.

It also brings you up to date with a comprehensive range of local services appropriate to the Coronavirus  emergency.

It is too long to post but is a useful reference.

Boris on the brink 

One former aide to Johnson described his current mentality as “scorched earth policy” in which “you’re retreating and you burn everything to the ground as you go.” Lucky us!

Esther Webber

BORIS ON THE BRINK: Boris Johnson faces the music today with not one but two high-profile public appearances in the wake of a shattering day for his premiership which saw his health secretary and his chancellor quit the Cabinet in quick succession. Tuesday unfolded with dizzying speed, beginning with former Foreign Office chief Simon McDonald accusing the PM of lying about what he knew of accusations against Chris Pincher and ending with 10 fewer people prepared to stick up for the government, as ministers, parliamentary aides and trade envoys rapidly abandoned ship. 

Watch this space: Johnson is digging in like never before, but there’s no escaping that he is materially weakened to the point where it’s hard to find (m)any of his own MPs who believe he can or should lead them into the next election. Playbook’s Eleni Courea has heard that more backbenchers from the 2019 intake are planning to put out letters today saying they’ve had enough. We hope you’re keen on popcorn, because there will be extra helpings today.

Popcorn starter: This morning it’s none other than the U.K.’s brand new chancellor, Nadhim Zahawi, on the broadcast round. There were reports of wrangling over the keys to No. 11 last night, with Downing Street deputy chief of staff David Canzini apparently making the case for Liz Truss, and Steve Barclay in the frame at one point, per the Telegraph’s Ben Riley-Smith. But Zahawi — former refugee, pollster, wheeler dealer and until yesterday, education secretary — won out. For a primer on the PM’s new righthand man it’s well worth revisiting this profile of him in his breakthrough role as vaccines minister, by POLITICO’s own Emilio Casalicchio. There’s already some extremely choice briefing about how Zahawi will differ from Sunak, more of which in a minute.

Popcorn main course: PMQs is at midday, so anyone hoping to steal the limelight and cross the floor before that had better get their skates on. Johnson must summon up a whole new reserve of energy to deliver something resembling a fightback, with all eyes on the benches behind him. Jonathan Gullis — whose loyalty, in Timothy Stanley’s memorable phrase, previously bordered on hooliganism — quit as Northern Ireland PPS yesterday. No announcement on who’s being shuffled into the role of head PMQs cheerleader has yet been made. 

**A message from Lloyds Banking Group: As part of our focus on helping Britain prosper, we’re helping businesses take their first steps to becoming greener. From helping them with electric vehicles, to providing Net Zero practical guides and tools to calculate potential energy savings at business premises, we’re supporting businesses on their journey to Net Zero. Find out more.**

Popcorn pudding: Johnson will appear in front of the Liaison Committee at 3 p.m. for a grilling by select committee chairs, with some unlikely to show mercy. Contributions from well-known Johnson antagonists William Wragg and Caroline Nokes should be particularly spicy on the subject of the thought processes leading to Chris Pincher’s appointment as deputy chief whip despite numerous concerns raised over his conduct. Reminder: Johnson apologized for the appointment yesterday, but it was hard to make out with the sound of so many things crashing down around him. One Tory MP on the liaison committee was succinct in their preview to Playbook: “He is toast.”

PM’s message: A senior government official conceded to Playbook it had been a “tough day” (understatement of the year, anyone?) but pledged the PM would go on “delivering on what the people put us here to do.” Asked if Johnson was daunted, the same official said “he has a mandate from 14 million people to deliver an ambitious agenda, transforming the country, driving economic growth, reforming key services and showing leadership in tough times.” They insisted “he’s got two years to go” and “what he needs is a team of people around him who are committed” and “not having endless self-destructive fights among themselves.” 

TLDR: The Times’ Steven Swinford has an anecdote which sums all that up nicely: “Boris Johnson was asked by an ally tonight if he was considering quitting. He responded: ‘Fuck that.’”

More on that: One former aide to Johnson described his current mentality as “scorched earth policy” in which “you’re retreating and you burn everything to the ground as you go.” Lucky us.

Housebuilders and community “sponsorship”

Baker Estates sponsoring defibrillators in Gittisham and elsewhere in East Devon:

also sponsoring Dartmouth Regatta:

and now Barratt Homes spinsoring rugby kit in Teignmouth:

Watch your (open) spaces … !

Rishi Sunak’s and Sajid Javid’s resignation letters in full

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, and the Secretary of State for Health, Sajid Javid, have resigned from Boris Johnson’s government. Here are their letters of resignation.

[Owl’s emphases]

BBC News

Sajid Javid’s resignation letter

It was a privilege to have been asked to come back into Government to serve as Secretary of State for Health and Social Care at such a critical time for our country. I have given every ounce of energy to this task, and am incredibly proud of what we have achieved.

The UK has led the world in learning to live with Covid. Thanks to the amazing rollout of our booster programme, investment in treatments, and innovations in the way we deliver healthcare, the British people have enjoyed months more freedom than other comparable countries.

We have also made important strides in the recovery and reform of the NHS and adult social care. The longest waiters are down by 70% and, as you know, I have been working hard on wider modernisation of the NHS. I have also developed radical new approaches to dementia, cancer and mental health, and prepared the Health Disparities White Paper which will set out plans to level up health outcomes for communities that have been left behind for too long.

Given the unprecedented scale of the challenges in health and social care, it has been my instinct to continue focusing on this important work. So it is with enormous regret that I must tell you that I can no longer, in good conscience, continue serving in this Government, I am instinctively a team player but the British people also rightly expect integrity from their Government.

The tone you set as leader, and the values you represent, reflect on your colleagues, your party, and ultimately the country. Conservatives at their best are seen as hard-headed decision-makers, guided by strong values. We may not always have been popular, but we have been competent in acting in the national interest. Sadly, in the current circumstances, the public are concluding that we are neither. The vote of confidence last month showed that a large number of our colleagues agree. It was a moment for humility, grip and new direction. I regret to say, however, that it is clear to me that this situation will not change under your leadership – and you have therefore lost my confidence too.

It is three years since you entered Downing Street. You will forever be credited with seeing off the threat of Corbynism, and breaking the deadlock on Brexit. You have shone a very welcome light on the regional disparities on our country, an agenda that will continue to define our politics. These are commendable legacies in unprecedented times. But the country needs a strong and principled Conservative Party, and the Party is bigger than any one individual. I served you loyally and as a friend, but we all serve the country first. When made to choose between those loyalties there can only be one answer.

Finally, I would like to put on record my thanks to ministerial and departmental colleagues, my admiration for NHS and social care staff, and my love for my family who have been immensely patient in these challenging times.

Short presentational grey line

Rishi Sunak’s resignation letter

It is with deep sadness that I am writing to you to resign from the Government.

It has been an enormous privilege to serve our country as Chancellor of the Exchequer and I will always be proud of how during the pandemic we protected people’s jobs and businesses through actions such as furlough.

To leave ministerial office is a serious matter at any time. For me to step down as Chancellor while the world is suffering the economic consequences of the pandemic, the war in Ukraine and other serious challenges is a decision that I have not taken lightly.

However, the public rightly expect government to be conducted properly, competently and seriously. I recognise this may be my last ministerial job, but I believe these standards are worth fighting for and that is why I am resigning.

I have been loyal to you. I backed you to become Leader of our Party and encouraged others to do so. I have served as your Chancellor with gratitude that you entrusted me with stewardship of the nation’s economy and finances. Above all, I have respected the powerful mandate given to you by the British people in 2019 and how under your leadership we broke the Brexit deadlock.

That is why I have always tried to compromise in order to deliver the things you want to achieve. On those occasions where I disagreed with you privately, I have supported you publicly. That is the nature of the collective government upon which our system relies and it is particularly important that the Prime Minister and Chancellor remain united in hard times such as those we are experiencing today.

Our country is facing immense challenges. We both want a low-tax, high-growth economy, and world class public services, but this can only be responsibly delivered if we are prepared to work hard, make sacrifices and take difficult decisions.

I firmly believe the public are ready to hear that truth. Our people know that if something is too good to be true then it’s not true. They need to know that whilst there is a path to a better future, it is not an easy one. In preparation for our proposed joint speech on the economy next week, it has become clear to me that our approaches are fundamentally too different.

I am sad to be leaving Government but I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that we cannot continue like this.

Short presentational grey line

Boris Johnson’s response to Sajid Javid

Thank you for your letter this evening tendering your resignation. I was very sorry to receive it.

You have served this Government, and the people of the United Kingdom, with distinction. Most recently, you have led the Department of Health and Social Care as we learn to live with Covid, forging ahead with plans to beat the Covid backlogs, recruit 50,000 nurses, build 40 new hospitals, and reform social care. These are the issues that matter to the people of this country, and the Government will continue to deliver on them.

You have held significant positions in Government for the past decade, and have served myself and former Prime Ministers admirably. You have used your personal experience to bring about change in government, from fixing the injustices of Windrush to setting out recently a plan to address suicide.

You will be greatly missed, and I look forward to your contributions from the backbenches.

Short presentational grey line

Boris Johnson’s response to Rishi Sunak

I was sorry to receive your letter resigning from the Government.

You have provided outstanding service to the country through the most challenging period for our economy in peacetime history.

In March 2020, weeks after your appointment as Chancellor, we introduced a national lockdown to protect people from the pandemic. You acted to safeguard the economy with the pace, creativity and commitment which has been the hallmark of your tenure.

The furlough scheme – conceived and implemented in a matter of weeks – supported 11.7 million jobs from 1.3 million employers. Through business loans and grants, you helped thousands of businesses to avoid insolvency. Emergency funding worth more than £140 billion, enabled the NHS and other critical public services to meet the enormous challenges we faced.

These efforts primed the economy for a rapid recovery once the immediate dangers of the pandemic receded. At the Spending Review last year, you put us on track to deliver our promises to the British people, including 20,000 police officers and 40 new hospitals. We also set a clear plan to rebuild our economy and public services, including an historic funding settlement for the NHS and delivering six million tutoring courses to help pupils catch up lost learning.

Through all of this, you have not shied from the tough decisions needed to repair our public finances whilst protecting public services and boosting economic growth. This has enabled us to provide support to households worth £37 billion, as we have faced global inflation pressures arising from Putin’s brutal invasion of Ukraine.

And we have begun to deliver tax cuts to families – including this week, a cut to National Insurance saving the average worker £330 a year.

I have enormously valued your advice and deep commitment to public service and will miss working with you in government.

‘Johnson on the brink’: what the papers said about Boris Johnson’s cabinet resignations

After limping along in the wake of the Partygate investigation, multiple sex scandals and successive policy failures, Boris Johnson is approaching the endgame of his time in Downing Street, according to the papers.

Don’t hold your breath – Owl

Graham Russell 

“On the brink”, “hanging by a thread” and “Last chance saloon” are just some of the metaphors employed by the headline writers to describe the prime minister’s predicament on Wednesday morning after he was deserted by two of his most senior cabinet ministers.

“Finally” says the banner headline in the Mirror, adding that “after years of backing toxic PM, Sunak & Javid wield knife”.

The Sun has the headline “Last chance saloon” and also paints a bloody, Shakespearean scene by adding that “Boris knifed in day from hell”.

“Can even Boris the Greased Piglet wriggle out of this?”, asks the Mail, adding that their “excoriating” resignation letters damn the prime minister’s lack of “integrity” and “grip”.

The Telegraph clears its front page to cover the crisis in one huge story. Its headline is: “Johnson hanging by a thread as Sunak and Javid walk out” and publishes prominently scathing quotes from their resignation letters. It describes the PM as “scrambling” to shore up his cabinet.

The Times says “Johnson on the brink’” and highlights Rishi Sunak’s words in his resignation letter saying “I’ve been loyal… but we cannot continue like this”.

The Guardian front page says “PM on the brink as Javid and Sunak quit” on what it calls a day of “dramatic walkouts”.

The Financial Times goes with a similar line and what, for the pink ‘un, is the unusual treatment of spreading the story right across the front of the paper. “Johnson on brink as ministers quit”, it says.

“Going! Going! Gone?” says the Metro, and it has the clever line that the prime minister has been caught in a “Pincher movement”.

“The whole rotten lot need to go” says the Record, while the Herald has “Johnson on the brink”.

It’s left to the ever-loyal Express to put a positive spin on the crisis, which it tries to paint as an opportunity for a “liberated” Johnson to lay out his “true blue Tory agenda”, perhaps hinting at past tensions with the former chancellor Sunak. It claims a coup has already failed. The headline: “Boris fights on! Declaring … I’m now free to cut taxes”.

Breaking: This morning I have written to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards….

…because No 10 keep changing their story and are still not telling the truth.

“I am conscious of the duty owed to the target of an investigation but I act out of the duty towards the victims. Mr Pincher deceived me and others in 2019. He cannot be allowed to use the confidentiality of the process three years ago to pursue his predatory behaviour in other contexts.” MacDonald of Salford

See tweet here

Planning applications validated by EDDC for week beginning 20 June

Stagecoach axes Exeter’s new night bus service

After being declared ‘not fit for purpose’, Exeter’s failing bus service has announced major timetable changes which include a reduction in some services, new routes and the loss of a newly the city’s recently launched night bus. Stagecoach says its new bus work is being implemented at the end of the month due to changes in peoples’ travel patterns following the Covid-19 pandemic.

Anita Merritt 

The bus service fire has come under vast criticism from dissatisfied passengers since the pandemic. Cancellations and reduced timetables have been blamed on a lack of drivers and a drop in passengers compared to pre-pandemic levels.

Exeter’s highways committee recently describing the city’s bus service as ‘not fit for purpose’. Devon County Council heard in April that it would only receive £14 million towards bus improvements as part of the government’s ‘bus back better’ programme – less than half the amount it originally bid for.

Today, July 4, Stagecoach has unveiled plans for what it calls a ‘more sustainable bus network’ to attract greater passenger numbers over the long term. The changes in Exeter, developed in consultation with Devon County Council, will be effective from July 31 and include the following:

  • Exeter Park & Ride services timing changes
  • Redesigned connections from the city centre to Exminster and Pinhoe / Science Park, affecting routes B/2B, L and K
  • Enhancement to services between Exeter and Cranbrook, with a redesigned service for journeys onto Honiton and Axminster, affecting routes 4/4A/4B. Changes will also take place beyond Seaton on and route 9A
  • Simplified services between Tiverton / Cullompton and Exeter, affecting routes 1/1A/1C
  • Exeter Night Buses will be withdrawn until the autumn with Devon County Council looking at the feasibility of an alternative solution
  • Some minor changes to the location of stand departures at Exeter Bus Station
  • A frequency change to Route 56 connecting the city centre to Exeter Airport

Stagecoach South West managing director Mike Watson said: “We have designed a new core package of services to provide a sustainable bus network now, so that we can grow services over the long term. In addition to this, with the current nationwide shortage of bus drivers, we need to concentrate our resource on the services where demand is greatest to ensure that vital journeys and connections are maintained and to provide a network that best meets the changing needs of the communities we serve.

“Buses remain fundamental to daily life in Britain. Looking ahead, they are also critical to helping achieve a green economic recovery, tackling climate change, ensuring cleaner air, and supporting connected communities.

“We will be working together with national and local government to attract more people out of their cars and onto more sustainable public transport. The more people who switch to bus, the stronger our networks will be. It can generate vital investment for more electric vehicles, helps keep fares low and ultimately will help us to expand the bus network to meet new demand.”

The changes in full can be found here

Boris Johnson was made aware of formal Chris Pincher complaint

Surprise, surprise, the story changes – Owl

Boris Johnson was made aware of a formal complaint about Chris Pincher’s “inappropriate behaviour” while Mr Pincher was a Foreign Office minister from 2019-20.

By Ione Wells

The complaint led to a disciplinary process which confirmed his misconduct.

BBC News understands the PM and the foreign secretary at the time – Dominic Raab – were told about the complaint.

The claim raises fresh questions about what the PM knew before making Mr Pincher deputy chief whip in February.

For days ministers have insisted Mr Johnson was not aware of specific allegations against Mr Pincher when he was appointed deputy chief whip – whose job it is to uphold discipline among fellow Tory MPs.

Mr Pincher, the MP for Tamworth, was suspended as a Conservative Party MP last week over allegations he groped two men at a private members’ club in London. He says he is seeking professional medical support and has no intention of resigning as an MP.

In the latest statement addressing what Mr Johnson knew, Downing Street said the prime minister was aware of media reports and some allegations about Mr Pincher’s misconduct that were “either resolved or did not progress to a formal complaint”.

He added: “It was in one way concluded in some form. These issues tend to be anonymous.”

Mr Pincher apologised after the disciplinary process concluded, BBC News has been told, but the MP has not responded to our request for comment.

The message from No 10 has developed since last Thursday when Mr Pincher first resigned. Since then, Mr Pincher has faced a number of historical claims, which he denies.

On Sunday and Monday morning, ministers continued to stress that Boris Johnson was not aware of specific allegations when he gave Mr Pincher his most recent government job.

But later on Monday, Downing Street conceded the prime minister was previously aware of “reports and speculation”, but nothing firmer than that.

The BBC has been told a formal complaint was made against Mr Pincher while he was serving as a Foreign Office minister from July 2019 to February 2020.

An official complaint was raised about Mr Pincher for “inappropriate behaviour” and it triggered a process, overseen by the Cabinet Office, which resulted in a report that confirmed misconduct.

Both the prime minister and Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary at the time, were made aware of the disciplinary process, the BBC has been told.

Mr Raab’s team have been approached for comment, and the Foreign Office said: “We have robust measures in place to respond to any allegations of inappropriate behaviour. It’s our long-standing policy not to comment on individual cases.”

On Monday evening, No 10 reiterated that the prime minister was not aware of any “specific allegations” being looked at, and that in the “absence of a formal complaint it would not be appropriate to stop the appointment”.

Mr Johnson’s allies have defended his handling of the situation, with Cabinet minister Jacob Rees-Mogg telling BBC Newsnight: “There’s always a lot of gossip going on in politics, there’s gossip about all sorts of politicians, an awful lot of which is untrue.

“You can’t hire and fire on the basis of rumour… There are rumours about so many people in politics in all parties.”

But opposition MPs have been critical, with Labour’s Daisy Cooper saying: “I think what we’ve seen time and time again with Boris Johnson is that he’s just prepared to carpet over things and try and hope they go away until they become a real problem.”

The prime minister’s official spokesman has previously said that before Mr Pincher was appointed a deputy chief whip, advice was sought from the government’s propriety and ethics team, part of the Cabinet Office, who did not advise against the move.

The spokesman declined to comment on a claim by the PM’s former chief aide Dominic Cummings that Mr Johnson had referred to the MP as “Pincher by name, pincher by nature”.

“I’m simply not going to comment on content of what was or wasn’t said in private conversations,” the spokesman said.

Pornography Watching MP Neil Parish on Why He Did it…..

Ten minutes of excruciating interviews reveal more than we really need to know.

‘She knows I’m no angel, she chases me around the kitchen with scissors saying ‘snipper snap’ knowing full well what part of my anatomy she is after. She knows what I’m like’.

As a local wag whispered into Owl’s ear “Tiz a gurt shame er didden ketch un”.

Neil also clearly harbours ambition to return to public life.