The owl returns …..


Shining a light into the darkest corners of East Devon

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“Protest like your basic rights depend on it – because power is taken, never given”

Jamia Wilson

Obama Farewell Speech:

“” Democracy needs you, he told an estimated audience of 18,000. “Not just when there’s an election, not just when your own narrow interest is at stake, but over the full span of a lifetime. If you’re tired of arguing with strangers on the internet, try to talk with one in real life.

“If something needs fixing, lace up your shoes and do some organising. If you’re disappointed by your elected officials, grab a clipboard, get some signatures, and run for office yourself. Show up. Dive in. Persevere. Sometimes you’ll win. Sometimes you’ll lose …”

That 26% payrise for LEP chief: neither Devon nor Somerset County Councils could stop it

So, here we are: Somerset County Council theoretically holds the purse strings – except it obviously doesn’t! There is no scrutiny or transparency, no way of stopping this juggernaut that we have never been consulted about.

AND we have no way of knowing how Diviani voted – the LEP doesn’t release such information.

“Chris Garcia, chief executive of the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), could see his pay jump nearly 27% from £90,729 to £115,000. [This was agreed today with the two councils objecting].

“Somerset council leader John Osman said: “The pay of £90,000 is already too much so I believe it should be at least 10% less than that.”

The LEP has declined to comment.

The LEP covers the Somerset, Devon, Torbay and Plymouth council areas.

‘Cannot afford 25%’

The pay rise is being proposed by board members who are councillors, lawyers, and business leaders.

“I’m sorry to say that in the public sector we are not about giving 25% pay rises – even if you are very good at your job, we cannot afford 25%,” added Mr Osman.

LEPs are partnerships between businesses and local authorities, which were set up in 2011 by the coalition government.

Their aim is to grow the local economy and support businesses in the region.
“The budget of the LEP itself, operationally, is £1.6m. It has four full-time members of staff and a few others who work part-time.

“If you’re comparing it to how I come up with my council salaries and how the NHS has to come up with their salaries, you will find that this position is overpaid for such a small budget and such small numbers of staff,” said Mr Osman.

Both Somerset County Council and Devon County Council representatives are expected to vote against the proposals at the meeting being held later.”

“Council fails to block 26 per cent pay rise for Devon and Somerset enterprise partnership boss”

“The controversial proposal was approved by the LEP board at a meeting in Tiverton on Tuesday, January 17.

Devon County Council had signalled that its representative on the board, Councillor Andrew Leadbetter, would vote against the proposed pay award in light of “the tight financial times in which we live”. …

… East Devon District Council leader Councillor Paul Diviani sits on the LEP board. The council has yet to confirm how he voted on the pay proposal. Before the meeting, a council spokeswoman said: “Councillor Paul Diviani is a member of the board and he will participate in the debate and will vote as he sees fit.”


“… “We agreed to set up a joint committee and continue working together to see how best we can look at the issues facing Devon and Somerset,” he said.

Nothing is moving forward at the moment but I’d like to think we are still on track; it’s more a case of keeping our foot in the door.”

So what is Mr Garcia being paid 26% extra FOR?

British government not tackling corruption

“The British government is failing to live up to promises to tackle corruption, according to the chair of the international development committee, Stephen Twigg.

On Monday the government rejected recommendations made by the international development committee (IDC) in the wake of a major anti-corruption summit hosted in London last year by the former prime minister David Cameron. These included the introduction of country-by-country reporting of multinationals’ profits and payments.

The government also disagreed with other recommendations made by the IDC in its October 2016 report, Tackling corruption overseas, such as reconsidering the role of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) as the principle international forum for discussions and decisions on tax.

In its response to the report, the government rejected the assertion that it was failing to persuade UK overseas territories that they should create public registers to end tax secrecy. It insisted that almost all relevant overseas territories and crown dependencies have given their support to an initiative launched by the UK for the development of a new global standard on automatic exchange of beneficial ownership information between countries.

Twigg said that the UK Department for International Development (DfID) was working hard to respond to the challenges corruption presents in some of the most disadvantaged communities in the world, in places such as South Sudan, Yemen and Afghanistan.

“Unfortunately, the wider government seems to be falling short of the promises it made at the anti-corruption summit last May,” he said.

“Progress on the overseas territories has stalled, with the government showing it has no intention to lobby further for public registers of beneficial ownership.

“It is also disappointing that the government will not be making public the information it holds on how much profit UK-headquartered multinationals are making overseas and what payments they are making to national governments. Without this, citizens of developing countries will continue to be left in the dark about the extent to which corporations are able to make vast profits without paying the appropriate levels of tax. … ”

Another guard not being guarded?

PCC Alison Hernandez has said she has not been national media trained.

But does PCC Hernandez need national media training to complete a general election expenses return correctly – or to consider whether appearing at an event with the officer who is the designated Devon & Cornwall police point of contact for the investigation into her alleged election expenses offence may not be the best of ideas?

Independent councillors take the lead in opposing NHS cuts

EDA Leader & District Councillor Cathy Gardner is due to take part in a live panel discussion this Thursday (19 Jan) on BBC Radio Devon, 1-2pm.

Also on the panel:

Dr Sarah Wollaston MP
Dr Tim Burke – Chair of NEW Devon CCG
and two clinicians (poss another GP? And a surgeon (retired?)

County Councillor Claire Wright (Independent) may also be on Spotlight the same evening.

No other councillors from East Devon seem to be concerned enough about the crisis to do anything meaningful.

Who guards the guards who guard the guarded guards?

From Save Our Hospital Services Facebook page:

Question: The Case for Change document on which both the so-called ‘Success Regime’ and the STP are based was produced by a private-owned health service consultancy, Carnall Farrar which received £335,000 in consultancy fees

Is this the same company of which Dame Ruth Carnall is a founding partner and who is now the ‘independent Chair of the so-called ‘Success Regime’?”