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.

Planning applications validated by EDDC for week beginning 15 May

2% tax on UK rich list families ‘could raise £22bn a year’

Similar wealth taxes in Norway, Spain and Switzerland had helped to reduce inequality and eased the cost of living crisis for some of the poorest people in those countries. 

Won’t happen because guess who is on the list? – Owl

Rupert Neate

A modest wealth tax on the richest 350 families in the UK could raise more than £20bn a year – enough to fund the construction of 145,000 new affordable homes a year – according to research by fairer taxation campaigners.

A 2% tax on assets above £10m held by all members of the Sunday Times rich list could raise as much as £22bn, according to analysis by Tax Justice UK, the Economic Change Unit and the New Economics Foundation (NEF).

The campaigners said similar wealth taxes in Norway, Spain and Switzerland had helped to reduce inequality and eased the cost of living crisis for some of the poorest people in those countries. They called on the government to carry out urgent reform of the “fundamental unfairness in the tax system which means that income from work is taxed more than income from investments, rent and inheritances”.

Lukasz Krebel, economist at NEF thinktank, said: “This year’s rich list shows that at a time when so many of us are struggling with the cost of living, the very wealthiest in society continue to thrive.

“Yet this elite group aren’t taxed as much as those of us who earn our living, leaving us with less money to invest in hospitals, schools and parks. We can share the wealth that we all create by increasing taxes on the very rich. By doing this, we can repair our public services, power our future with locally made energy from the wind and sun, and create jobs and thriving neighbourhoods for all of our families.”

The richest 250 families in the UK are sitting on combined wealth of £748bn, according to the annual Sunday Times rich list published last week, an increase from £704bn the previous year.

Those on the rich list include the prime minister Rishi Sunak and wife Akshata Murty at number 275 out of 350, with £529m, and the 32-year-old Duke of Westminster, with £9.9bn, at number 11.

The campaigners pointed out that less than a quarter of the 100 wealthiest people on the Sunday Times rich list appear in the same publication’s annual tax list celebrating those who pay the most tax.

“Because assets are generally taxed at a lower rate than income, many of the wealthiest people in the UK are likely to be paying a relatively low tax rate,” the campaigners said. “However, it should be noted that some on the list with ‘non-domicile’ status or who are fully based offshore for tax purposes may not be paying UK tax on all earnings.”

Robert Palmer, executive director of Tax Justice UK, said: “The growing wealth of those on the rich list highlights the inequality in our tax system, where those who are already wealthy from investments, rent and inheritances are taxed relatively lightly compared to those who get their income from work. It can’t be right that many working people are paying a higher effective tax rate than some of the very wealthiest in our society, especially when we are seeing falling living standards and increasing bills for the majority.

“The government must urgently bring forward reforms to fix our broken tax system, bringing in higher taxes on wealth, so that those who earn the most, and own the most, pay their proper share.”

The number of UK billionaires has increased sharply since the pandemic, from 147 in 2020 to 171 this year, with billionaires now holding about £4bn on average each. There were 15 UK billionaires when the Sunday Times first published its rich list in 1990.

In 2021, the independent Wealth Tax Commission recommended that the government introduced a one-off 1% wealth tax on households with more than £1m, which they said would generate £260bn, more than enough to cover a year’s funding of the NHS and social care spending.

A Treasury spokesperson said: “The UK’s taxes on wealth are on par with other G7 countries and our progressive system means that the top 5% of income tax payers pay half of all income tax, with millions lifted out of paying it altogether.

“We have already built more than half a million affordable homes since 2010 and our £11.5bn affordable homes programme will deliver thousands more right across the country.”

The economy is very sick, thanks to Tory policies and the hangover from Liz Truss 

Rishi Sunak has been warned the UK economy could be in recession next year as stubbornly high inflation pushes interest rates to more than 5% before the next general election.

This editorial spells out just how bad things are, (more detail here). – Owl

The Observer view on Britain’s economy: it is very sick, but there are remedies

 Observer editorial 

It has been a week of bad economic news. The latest data from the Office for National Statistics confirmed that inflation has fallen in the UK, but to 8.7%, slightly higher than had been predicted. This triggered a strong reaction in the bond markets, pushing up the cost of government borrowing to almost the same as it was in the wake of Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini-budget that tanked the markets last September.

It is a sobering reminder of the lasting legacy of Liz Truss’s brief premiership. In just 49 days, she and her chancellor undermined long-term investor confidence to the extent that the UK government, once able to borrow at interest rates of almost zero, now faces some of the highest borrowing costs of developed nations, with these costs liable to rise even further as a result of only moderately bad economic news. It means that for the first time in decades, the UK is subject to the same sorts of external market pressures on its investment, tax and spending decisions as much less affluent economies.

The British economy has been subject to the same shocks as others around the world such as the pandemic and the impact of the Ukraine war on energy and food prices. But the UK has fared far worse than its competitors as a result of long-term structural weaknesses and terrible political choices.

The UK was too reliant on financial services to drive its buoyant growth in the 2000s, creating significant regional inequality between London and the south-east, and the rest of the country. This growth masked low productivity in other sectors and an economy too dependent on consumer spending, fuelled by personal debt secured against a housing price bubble, with not enough business investment and spending on skills. These weaknesses were exposed by the world financial crisis of 2008, but instead of trying to redress these imbalances the Conservatives have made the UK’s structural issues even worse.

This is the product of their austerity policies – deep cuts to the welfare safety net, public services and national infrastructure that have not only caused immense hardship in the here and now, but have damaged the long-term productive capacity of the economy. This is evident, for example, in the skills shortages, and in the fact that the pandemic appears to have had a much bigger impact on labour participation rates as a result of people leaving employment due to long-term sickness than in other countries. The UK’s participation rate in the workforce is below where it was before the pandemic, adding to inflationary pressures.

Austerity has been made worse by the hard Brexit pursued by Boris Johnson and other Tory Eurosceptics. By sharply increasing barriers to trade, Brexit has made it more difficult for British companies to grow through exporting and has had a significant depressive effect on growth. It, too, has added to inflation, one study by the London School of Economics suggests that as a direct result of Brexit, British households have collectively spent £7bn more on their food bills than they would have otherwise done since December 2019. All this means that Britain is suffering from the second worst productivity growth in the G7. The impact of these appalling economic decisions will not dissipate when the Conservatives leave office. They will continue to affect the British economy in the long term and will take a new government years to address.

Should Labour win the next election, its shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves will face an unenviable economic inheritance. Unlike in 1997, when the economy and tax receipts were booming, Labour’s overriding focus will have to be how to restore the economy to a healthier growth trajectory in order to fund the expansion of public services and the welfare state the country so desperately needs. That will be a huge task, requiring an ambitious industrial and skills policy. Reeves set out the emerging detail of her approach in a speech in Washington last week. She was reassuringly sober about the scale of the challenge. Labour would pursue an active industrial policy, centred on a £28bn-a-year capital investment programme in greening the economy, and expanding affordable childcare and skills provision to get more people into work.

Improving the productive capacity of the economy from the laggard starting point left by a combination of austerity, Brexit and Truss’s abandoned tax cuts will not be easy. Much will depend on the detail of policy: on exactly how capital investment and extra money for skills will be spent; it is easier to spend money badly than well, and its impact on growth will be a matter of robust policy design. But Reeves is showing how much more she has to offer than the slash-and-burn approach of Truss and Kwarteng, or the acceptance of painfully high interest rates in the absence of any other plan we have seen from Rishi Sunak and Jeremy Hunt.

Britain urgently needs a period of economic renewal, and only a Labour government can deliver that.

Council leader under fire over scrutiny leads

Torbay council “appear to want to mark their own homework’”

[Torbay council political composition: Conservatives 19, LibDemes 15, Independents 2.]

Torbay Council’s new Conservative administration has come under fire from its opponents for turning the council into a “one-party state” by appointing its own members to key positions.

Guy Henderson, local democracy reporter

But the Conservatives insist they are committed to engaging with the whole council and have chosen the right people for the job.

At an adjourned meeting of the full council on Friday the majority Tory party put forward its proposals for ‘scrutiny leads’ to oversee council policy in a number of key areas. Apart from one experienced Liberal Democrat councillor responsible for children’s services, the party chose four newly-elected Conservative councillors for the other key jobs.

Cllr Cordelia Law (Lib Dem, Tormohun) has the portfolio for children’s services. She said she was “extremely disappointed and saddened” at her colleague’s rejection, and said the appointments went against prime minister Rishi Sunak’s advice. She added: “They appear to want to mark their own homework using inexperienced teachers.

“This administration has not only chosen to put forward all new and inexperienced councillors, but also take the majority of lead positions on the council and give them to those new and inexperienced councillors.”

Cllr Swithin Long (Lib Dem, Barton with Watcombe) said it was traditional for the key roles to be shared more equally among parties and, he added: “Torbay Council is not a one-party state, and an impartial view would determine that these seats are shared out more equally.”

And former council leader Cllr Steve Darling (Lib Dem, Barton with Watcombe) went on: “Having the confidence that you can be held up to scrutiny results in better outcomes for your community. Choosing to exclude other members from that is not a good look.”

But council leader David Thomas (Con, Preston) insisted: “We are looking to work constructively and engaging across the whole council.”

Ben Jennings on a fall in Great Britain’s energy price cap 

Your cartoons cleverly evoke the broken,stricken nation we’ve become, for all but the rich. 

…. The tories have created a country where 4 people have the same wealth as 70% of the rest of us…

…where state education and the NHS, once exemplary and heralded as world-beating, have been starved to the point of destruction…

…where we can’t trade with the countries closest to us…

…where our rivers and beaches, which were becoming cleaner under EU regulations and which the leave campaign promised would become yet cleaner following Brexit, are now amongst the filthiest in Europe…

…where 5 million children live in poverty…

…where young people have done what we asked of them and earned top honours degrees only to find they are saddled with enormous debts and can’t afford a home…

…Where the Tories brown-tongued the Russian oligarchs enabling them to buy up extraordinary amounts of British property, launder their ill-gotten gains and accumulate yet more vast wealth which is still funding Putin’s evil war…

…where addictions are rife and where up to two suicides a day are caused by gambling…

…Where the person who threw £30 billion of the nation’s money down the drain is invited to the King’s coronation…

…where, since 2019, 8 Tory MPs have been found guilty of serious sexual misconduct and where many others have been accused or are facing investigation…

…where the most incompetent Home Secretary the country’s ever seen, previously sacked for breaking the Ministerial Code, but who is reappointed by a Prime Minister who then allows her to say asylum seekers are ‘invaders’. He then indulges her yet further to hold separatist meetings where it’s her criticising him, following which she appears to have broken the ministerial code again – but he lets her off Scot free, to inflict more pain, yet again.

We live, in short, in a country where the tories want us to believe that black is white and wrong is right.

We need to reverse it all and prevent them from coming anywhere near the corridors of power for decades, but Blairite devotees aren’t going to do that – not alone…

…With Caroline Lucas, Carla Denya, Adrian Ramsay, Humza Yousaf and Ed Davey keeping Keir focused, however, it’ll be the strongest coalition of the left this country has ever seen…

…And the Tories will be consigned to the sewer where they so belong to be.

Another East Devon legacy problem – missing the opportunity to join this ecology project and bid for National Park status

See: National Park update, don’t mention it to EDDC

Dorset ‘super reserve’ recreates ancient savannah habitat to boost biodiversity

It comes three years after the UK’s first “super national nature reserve” was created in Dorset, knitting together 3,400 hectares (8,400 acres) of priority habitat.

Steven Morris (see online article for photos)

The mighty aurochs have gone, as have the tarpan horses and the wild boars, but modern-day substitutes have been drafted in to recreate a large open “savannah” on heathland in Dorset.

Instead of aurochs, considered the wild ancestor of domestic cattle, 200 red Devon cattle are to be found roaming the Purbeck Heaths, while Exmoor ponies are stand-ins for the tarpan horses and curly coated Mangalitsa pigs are doing the sort of rooting around that boars used to excel at here.

The idea of the project is to create more of the sort of habitat where precious species such as the sand lizard, southern damselfly and heath tiger beetle can thrive.

It comes three years after the UK’s first “super national nature reserve” was created in Dorset, knitting together 3,400 hectares (8,400 acres) of priority habitat. Within the super reserve, 1,370 hectares of open “savannah” for free-ranging, grazing animals as it would have been thousands of years ago is being developed with the cattle, ponies and pigs roaming freely to graze alongside deer to help shape a more diverse landscape with richer habitats.

David Brown, the National Trust’s lead ecologist for Purbeck, said: “Over large swathes of open grassland and heath, these domestic grazers are now mimicking their wild ancestors, who would have shaped habitats in the past.

“We can’t bring back aurochs but we can use our 200 red Devon cattle to graze and behave in equivalent ways. Similarly, Exmoor ponies mimic the actions of extinct tarpan horses, and the quirky, curly coated Mangalitsa pigs are rooting around like wild boars.

“We’re also discovering that by letting them get on with their own thing as much as possible, our grazing animals explore new habitats and discover different types of vegetation to eat – all of which help create a more dynamic and complex ecosystem.”

Large herbivores can play a crucial role in helping plants and less mobile insect species move around the landscape, carrying seeds and larvae on their fur and hooves, or in their dung.

By giving cattle, ponies and pigs this landscape to wander around, they are helping rare and threatened species such as Purbeck mason wasps, and heath bee-flies disperse and build stronger populations.

Brown said: “Grazing in their own individual ways, these animals are slowly forming diverse, wildlife friendly habitats. Cattle are untidy eaters, leaving messy tussocks perfect for insects; pigs turn over the soil and help sand lizards burrow; and ponies nibble tightly down to the ground creating grassland lawns full of specialist flowers such as stork’s-bill and waxcap fungi.

“These grasslands can be really important for pollinating insects, too, including rare mining bees. It’s the perfect mix of habitats in which biodiversity can thrive, and a great landscape for people to also roam freely.”

There have been some unexpected consequences. Peter Robertson, the RSPB senior site manager, said: “What has come as a surprise is how they have created new ponds by wallowing in water-logged areas and have opened up areas of salt marsh by foraging for shellfish.”

The Purbeck Heaths super reserve, which is to be the base for BBC Two’s Springwatch from Monday, is a mosaic of lowland wet and dry heath, valley mires, acid grassland and woodland, along with coastal sand dunes, lakes and salt marsh.

Already one of the most biodiverse places in the UK, it is home to thousands of species of wildlife, including all six native reptiles – the adder, grass snake, slow worm, sand lizard, smooth snake and viviparous lizard.

Mid Devon Council to become more “open and transparent”

That’s according to Mid Devon’s new leader

The new leader of Mid Devon District Council has vowed to make it more “open and transparent” whilst prioritising sustainability.

Ollie Heptinstall, local democracy reporter 

Liberal Democrat councillor Luke Taylor, who represents Bradninch, was elected at the authority’s annual meeting on Wednesday [24 May].

His party romped to victory at this month’s local elections to take control of Mid Devon, gaining 22 new seats to replace the Conservatives as the largest party.

Speaking after his election, Cllr Taylor said: “I promise the residents of Mid Devon that we will bring stability to [the] council. We will give the council a new start. We have an ambitious manifesto that we will now get on with delivering.

The new administration’s priorities include building more social housing, protecting leisure services, increasing recycling and meeting the council’s 2030 net zero target.

“We will also take steps to ensure the council is more open and transparent in its decision making,” Cllr Taylor said. “For too long discussions and decisions which could have taken place in public have taken place behind closed doors. We will look at ways of opening up the discussion at meetings to the public.”

He added: “As a working father of young children, I know how much time being a councillor takes, so we will be looking at how to involve a more diverse range of people.

“It is not acceptable that to participate in local democracy you need to be retired, wealthy or self-employed.”

Cllrs Simon Clist (Lib Dem, Upper Culm) and Jane Lock (Lib Dem, Canonsleigh) will serve as the new leader’s deputies.

Meanwhile, Lib Dem county and district councillor Frank Letch (Crediton Lawrence) was elected to be the council’s new chairman and promised to use his year in the role to encourage more people to vote.

“I found the turnout of voters at the recent council elections very disappointing,” he said. “This council is spending local people’s money and we have to convince them that participating in elections is in their interest.”

30 water treatment works released 11bn litres of raw sewage in a year, study suggests

That’s 4,352 Olympic sized swimming pools of raw sewage from just 30 water treatment works out of a total of more than 7,000.

What a lot of whoopsies!  – Owl

“It is extraordinary to see estimates of the volume being discharged. I am very disappointed that the government did not follow the recommendations of the environmental audit committee and make water companies fit volume monitors.” [David Clayden of the Harrogate Flyfishers’ Club and a member of the Nidd Action Group,

“I would never vote to pollute our water…….I voted for a crackdown on sewage spills.”  [Simon Jupp MP]

Here are some more of Simon’s comforting words:

“….In recent years, a spotlight has been shone on storm overflows and CSOs. Water tourism is booming across our region, including windsurfing in places such as Exmouth and Sidmouth in my constituency. However, there is another reason why people have finally started talking about the issue: the Conservative Government have put in place a plan to improve our water, giving us all an opportunity to hold water companies to account.”


“……Of course, in a perfect world, we would stop sewage spills completely and immediately. Sadly, that is virtually impossible in the short term; because of the pressure on our water infrastructure, we would risk the collapse of the entire water network, and the eye-watering costs involved mean we would need not just a magic money tree, but a whole forest.” [Simon Jupp MP leading his Westminster Hall debate on South West Water]

30 water treatment works released 11bn litres of raw sewage in a year, study suggests

Sandra Laville 

Eleven billion litres of raw sewage were discharged from a sample of 30 water company treatment works in one year, new research suggests.

The study aimed to reveal the volume of discharged effluent released from storm overflows by water firms. Companies are not forced to reveal the volume of raw sewage released during discharges. They are only required by regulators to provide data on the number of discharges and the length of time they lasted.

Recommendations by MPs on the environmental audit committee that volume monitors be installed by water companies have so far been rejected by ministers.

In a study of 30 treatment works in 2020 run by nine of the 10 water and sewerage companies in England and Wales, the volume of raw sewage discharged was estimated at 11bn litres – or the equivalent volume to 4,352 Olympic pools.

Prof Peter Hammond, a mathematician who analyses data on sewage discharges, carried out the research. He has previously given evidence to MPs to reveal that the scale of illegal discharges of raw sewage by water companies is 10 times higher than official data suggests.

Hammond said it was vital to establish the volume of sewage discharges by water companies. He said his research suggested the government’s target to reduce raw sewage releases to 20 per year by 2025 was not robust because there was no requirement to reveal the volume of raw sewage discharged for each release.

“There is still no data readily available showing the volume of untreated sewage discharges,” he said. “Water companies have some idea, but the regulators [Ofwat and the environment agencies in England and Wales] and the government [the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs] probably have no idea. Sewage detritus in rivers, on beaches and in seas offers clues but may not reflect the volume of discharges.

“So what is the potential discharge volume for 20 spills per overflow per year?”

Of the 30 treatment works analysed, only one – Mogden sewage treatment works in west London – has volume monitors fitted. In 2020, Mogden, which serves more than 2 million people, released a volume of raw sewage equivalent to 2,768 Olympic pools.

The average volume of sewage discharged per spill from the other 29 treatment plants in 2020 was 1.3 Olympic pools. The government target of 20 spills per year by 2025 would therefore still involve huge volumes of untreated sewage, according to the analysis.

“Even if the government’s storm overflow discharges reduction plan target of 20 spills per overflow per year were to be achieved, some treatment works could still discharge a volume equivalent to 26 Olympic pools of untreated sewage annually,” Hammond said.

Measuring the volume of discharges was vital to establish the environmental impact of them upon rivers, he said. “Individual rivers receive direct, simultaneous discharges of untreated sewage from multiple storm overflows on their journey from source to sea,” Hammond said. “So, during longer spills, the lower reaches of a river may already be polluted from upstream discharges when yet more overflows downstream discharge untreated sewage.”

The River Nidd in North Yorkshire, one of the river catchments studied by Hammond, receives untreated sewage discharges from at least seven treatment works. Calculations were possible on estimated volumes for four treatment works: Pateley Bridge, Harrogate North, Darley and Kirk Hammerton. Hammond estimated the river received an equivalent of 317 Olympic pools of raw sewage from those works in 2020.

David Clayden of the Harrogate Flyfishers’ Club and a member of the Nidd Action Group, said he saw no reason water companies could not reveal the volume of raw sewage being discharged into rivers. The group is carrying out testing on the river helped by the University of Leeds. They are working on an application for bathing water status for a section of the Nidd known as the Knaresborough Lido, to drive a clean-up.

“There is a real buzz about this issue here as there is nationally,” he said. “It is extraordinary to see estimates of the volume being discharged. I am very disappointed that the government did not follow the recommendations of the environmental audit committee and make water companies fit volume monitors.”

Data from treatment works run by Welsh Water that feed into the Conwy, a sea trout river in north Wales, was also studied. Hammond estimated the volume of discharges from both inlets and storm tank overflows was an equivalent to 34 Olympic swimming pools.

Volumes at the 29 treatment works that did not have monitoring were estimated in one group by calculating the difference between flow meters at the inlet where raw sewage arrives and outlet where treated effluent is discharged. During spills of raw sewage, Hammond estimated the volume of raw sewage being released rather than treated, as the difference between the two meters.

At another group of treatment works Hammond had to estimate the volume by analysing data from overflow weirs, start and stop times on event duration monitors and flow to treatment meters – something he accepts was the least reliable approach.

The water industry has promised to triple investment in the sewerage network to £10bn this decade as it apologised for not acting on sewage pollution. Clayden said his group was waiting to hear details from Yorkshire Water about what that meant for cleaning up the Nidd.

A Yorkshire Water spokesperson said: “In the short time we’ve had to review this report we’ve identified several industry-wide claims we don’t recognise … The report focuses on potential impact of storm overflows at Pateley Bridge, Harrogate North, Darley and Kirk Hammerton. We are aware of an instrument issue that was identified in the 2020 Pateley Bridge return, which overinflated discharges from the 6x overflow and paints a false picture of the overflows.

“This monitoring is being replaced and was discounted in the 2021 and 2022 returns. Storm overflows are not identified by the Environment Agency as reasons for these sections of the Nidd not achieving good ecological status. The assessments suggests that where Yorkshire Water can make a difference is in reducing phosphorus from final effluent of wastewater. That is why we are investing £790m by 2025 in phosphorus removal.”

Devon flood victim calls marines to help clear up garden

Royal Marines have helped a woman clear up her garden after it was covered in mud following a flash flood.

By John Ayres & Rebecca Ricks

Royal Marines from the Commando Training Centre, in Lympstone, Devon, came to the aid of Ms Pinfold

Hilary Pinfold, from Newton Poppleford in Devon, said she contacted the local barracks and was “delighted” when more than 40 marines turned up to help.

Dane, one of the marines, said it “feels good” to be able to help the local community.

A 6ft (1.8m) wall in Ms Pinfold’s garden collapsed during the downpours, and the downstairs of her house was also flooded.

Ms Pinfold’s garden following the flood

“We were getting a bit downhearted at the weekend about the amount of work that we’ve got to do and didn’t see, even with volunteers, how we could get it done,” she said.

Ms Pinfold, a nurse, said she made a phone call to the local barracks, Commando Training Centre, Lympstone, after a friend suggested they might help.

Royal Marines helped to build a sandbag wall to offer some extra protection to the garden

“What they’ve done in just a few hours is amazing, it would’ve taken weeks.

“This is part of what King Charles III said in his Coronation mandate, that he wanted to see communities working together and I think that’s what you’re seeing here.”

Newton Poppleford was badly hit by the flash flooding

Matthew, one of the commandos, said: “She needed help digging up all the mud that came through from the farmer’s field.

“It [the garden] looks quite good now, but it was quite a mess when we first got here. It was under a lot of mud and we just had to shift it out the way.”

Ms Pinfold said builders were expected to start work on her house in late June.

Major Devon hospitals told medical services require improvement

Medical care and surgical services at the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital (RD&E) and North Devon District Hospital (NDDH) have been rated as ‘requires improvement’ following an unannounced inspection instigated by 16 ‘never events’ being reported at the sites between March 2021 and November 2022.

Anita Merritt

Never events are serious, largely preventable patient safety incidents that should not occur if healthcare providers have implemented existing national guidance or safety recommendations. It promoted independent health and social care regulator Care Quality Commissions to inspect the hospitals at the end of 2022.

Areas of concern found included a ‘high number’ of staffing shortages, long increasing waiting lists, surgical outcomes not always meeting national standards, action not always being taken quick enough for patients at risk of deterioration and significant challenges with the new integrated electronic patient record system.

The results of the inspection of diagnostic services, published today, May 26, state the RD&E has declined from a rating of ‘good’ to ‘requires improvement’ overall for medical care. It was rated as requires improvement for being safe and well-led. Effective, caring and responsive categories were inspected but not rated.

Surgery at both locations, dropped from good to requires improvement overall as did the ratings for safe and well-led. How responsive, caring and effective the service is was inspected but not rated. Medical care at North Devon District Hospital remains requires improvement overall. It was rated as requires improvement in safe and well-led. Effective, caring and responsive were inspected but not rated.

Diagnostic imaging at both locations was rated as good overall. It was also rated as good for being caring, responsive and well led, and requires improvement for safe. As per all CQC inspections, diagnostic services were inspected but not given a rating for how effective they are as it is not usually used for treatment.

This is the first inspection of the trust since the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust and Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust merged to form the Royal Devon University Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust in April 2022. The aim of the merger was to combine resources and expertise to provide acute, community and specialist services across North Devon, Mid Devon East Devon and Exeter.

Corporate and clinical services are in the process of being merged. The inspection was one of a number of CQC visits that will form the Royal Devon’s overall trust rating.

The trust had a separate well-led inspection earlier in May which looked at the leadership and governance of the organisation. A further report and an overall trust rating is expected in the coming weeks.

Cath Campbell, CQC deputy director of operations in the south, said: “Our inspection of Royal Devon University Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust was prompted by concerns about the number of never events that had taken place. Although we understand the pressures that healthcare providers have faced, and continue to face, never events are precisely that – they should never occur.

“If they do, it’s important they are thoroughly investigated to ensure they don’t happen again. Once an investigation has taken place learning should be shared with all staff and that wasn’t always happening.

“The trust had mitigated risks by putting in place a never event investigation report. While individual investigations into each never event had taken place, the trust also recognised the need to join up the learning and communicate this between all trust locations as it wasn’t currently happening.

“Inspectors found staff knew how to safeguard people. They also treated people with kindness and compassion, considering their individual needs and preferences.

“Following the inspections, we reported our findings to the trust. Its leaders know what they need to do to improve services, and where there’s good practice on which they can build on.”

The inspection report does not reveal details of the 16 never events that were reported by the trust. The concerns highlighted by inspectors include:

  • The service had a high number of vacancy rates at all levels. There was a high reliance on a locum workforce. Due to the shortages on most shifts, some people had to wait longer to receive help with food and personal care.
  • In medical care, people’s documentation and risk assessments were not always completed. This meant staff did not always identify or act quickly enough for patients at risk of deterioration.
  • In medical care staff did not always know if people had enough food and drink to meet their needs and improve their health as it was not recorded.
  • In surgery, outcomes for people did not always meet expectations based on national standards. The surgical division was under pressure with long waiting lists which were increasing.
  • In surgery and medical care, there were challenges with the new integrated electronic patient record system as a complete oversight of the service provided was difficult. Some audits that were required had been postponed during the pandemic and the results were currently unavailable due to the introduction of a new integrated electronic patient record system. This did not give sufficient oversight of performance and how to improve.
  • Staff were not always competent in using the new integrated electronic patient record system.
  • At the safety and risk meeting in October 2022, the trust acknowledged they were not completely assured that all the steps identified to minimise the amount of never events, were being taken. While individual investigations were completed, the trust did recognise the need to join up the learning and communicate this between all trust locations.

However, inspectors also praised the hospital in a number of areas. Inspectors note people didn’t stay in hospital longer than they needed to as managers and staff started planning each person’s discharge as early as possible.

Staff were said to be open and honest and understood the duty of candour. They gave patients and families a full explanation if and when things went wrong.

If staff were concerned about people’s mental health, it was noted the service had 24-hour access to mental health liaison and specialist mental health support provided onsite by the local mental health trust.

In diagnostic imaging services, inspectors found staff were discreet and responsive when caring for people. They took the time to interact with people and those close to them in a professional, respectful, and considerate way – to ensure people understood every issue.

Chris Tidman, the trust’s Deputy Chief Executive Officer, said: “We are pleased that our diagnostic imaging services have been rated good. We are of course disappointed by the results in our medical and surgical services, however, we feel it is a fair reflection of the challenges the trust and our teams were under at the time of the inspection.

“We are a learning organisation and we welcome feedback from the CQC and their response to our never events, which will help us to continuously improve our services for our patients and communities. We are reassured that the majority of the areas for improvement were already known to us, and work is underway to raise standards and performance.”

The report describes the challenges caused by the rollout of the trust’s electronic patient record.

Chris said: “Epic brings us huge opportunities to modernise the care we provide to our patients, but with a new system of this size we always expected it to take time to become embedded, so we were not surprised to see this reflected in the report.”

Inspectors also highlighted how patients were treated with compassion and kindness, and examples of positive-team working, staff feeling empowered to raise concerns and treating patients according to their individual needs.

Chris added: “As a leadership team, we are extremely proud of our staff and we encourage them to be proud too, of everything they do every day for our patients.”

Ministers step in at Woking council as debts forecast to reach £2.4bn

Ministers have appointed external commissioners to in effect take control of a Surrey council with debts expected to reach £2.4bn – 100 times its annual net income – after spending heavily on commercial property.

The council, which was run by a Conservative administration when the investments were made but now has Liberal Democrat leadership, said it welcomed the move as the “challenges are so significant that the council and its officers cannot deal with these on its own”.

We will be living with Conservative legacy problems such as this for years to come. – Owl

Peter Walker

Woking borough council, which spends £14m a year and has an annual net income of £24m, now has a total debt of £1.9bn. But it is forecast to hit nearly £2.4bn by 2024-25, a written statement from Lee Rowley, the junior levelling up minister, said.

The council, described by Rowley as the most indebted council in England compared with its financial resources, risks effective insolvency after a surge in debt interest costs on its investments including a shopping centre, residential tower blocks and a 23-storey Hilton hotel.

In February, Woking said it was at risk of issuing a section 114 notice, which signals insolvency. Councils cannot technically go bankrupt, but such a move obliges central government to intervene to ensure local services are sustainable.

Rowley’s statement said the council faced “the most challenging financial position of any local authority in England”, and that his department had increasing concerns about the size of the debt and how it was being managed.

In January, the levelling up department commissioned three experts on local government to carry out an external review. While this has not yet been published, and is likely to be redacted in part due to commercial sensitivities, Rowley quoted it as concluding that there “is no realistic route to the council returning to financial sustainability alone”.

He has thus appointed the same three experts to become commissioners with wide-ranging powers over the council, including financial and commercial decision-making, and restructuring the authority.

They are Jim Taylor, who was chief executive for three metropolitan councils; Carol Culley, the deputy chief executive of Manchester city council; and Mervyn Greer, a senior Cabinet Office official with responsibilities for local government.

The decision to appoint the three, taken by Michael Gove, the communities secretary, “reflects the acute situation in Woking and the urgent need for commissioners to begin work immediately to ensure that the council takes steps to secure compliance with their best value duty”, Rowley’s statement said.

The council, which was run by a Conservative administration when the investments were made but now has Liberal Democrat leadership, said it welcomed the move as the “challenges are so significant that the council and its officers cannot deal with these on its own”.

Ann-Marie Barker, its leader, said: “My administration is very clear about the huge challenges facing the council due to the legacy of both the extraordinarily high and disproportionate levels of debt that we have inherited from the previous administration. We are also very clear and focused on the significant risks that the council is now facing up to as a result of that debt.

“We also recognise that these challenges are so significant that the council and its officers cannot deal with these on its own. We therefore fully acknowledge and accept the findings of the report and welcome the support set out by the minister in his letter.”

New Council Chair plans to water ski in the Estuary!


This refers not to our new Chair but to the Chair of Teignbridge District Council (and it’s a man obviously) – Owl

The new chairman of Teignbridge District Council claims he will unite the community and water ski in the Teign Estuary during his year of office.

Guy Henderson, local democracy reporter 

Long-serving Cllr Chris Clarance (Independent, Shaldon and Stokeinteignhead) was chosen to chair the council for the coming year after spending the last 12 months as deputy.

“He has performed admirably as deputy chair,” said proposer Cllr Martin Wrigley (Lib Dem, Dawlish NE). “He has navigated our way through some interesting discussions.  I also like the fact that as an Independent he can ensure openness and transparency.”

Cllr Clarance was elected by 32 votes to nine, defeating Cllr John Radford (South Devon Alliance, Kerswell-with-Coombe).

He told a meeting of the full council on Tuesday: “I consider this to be a great honour, and I hope all council members will have confidence in me.”

He named the Devon Air Ambulance as his chosen charity for the year, and pledged to raise funds by water skiing at Coombe Cellars, as he had during a previous stint as chairman a decade ago.

He will not be able to tackle the famous ski jump this time, though, as it has been removed since his first leap.

“I hope to bring members together to work for the good of the community,” he went on.

And he broke the news of the death of former chairman Mike Walters. “He was in relatively recent times a member and chairman of this council,” he said.

“I have fond memories of Mike. Our condolences to his family. It is very sad.”

Cllr Clarance’s deputy will be Cllr David Cox (Lib Dem, Teignmouth Central)

Westminster Debate on short-term lets. Startling statistics but a lightweight performance from Simon Jupp

Kevin Forster MP (Con) Torbay led a Westminster Hall debate on Tuesday on short -term holiday lets and the planning system.

The purpose was to air the problem and consider the Government’s proposal to tweak the planning system as a solution.

A Correspondent has filleted some nuggets of information (so you don’t have to read it all)

First a pithy quote from Luke Pollard MP (Lab) Plymouth:

”The south-west has enough houses; we just do not have enough homes for people to live in.

Now some interesting stats:

In ENGLAND although there is no single source of data on short-term lets “one plausible estimate” is 257,000 properties. (Report commissioned in the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport )

In DEVON there are 13,363 second homes, an increase of 11% from last year.

In Totnes in south Devon, there are 3,454 Airbnb lets. But houses available for long term rental in Totnes number 34 properties.

In CORNWALL, there are approximately 25,000 second and holiday homes.

Holiday lets have grown by 661% in Cornwall in five years, according to the Campaign to Protect Rural England.

There are 23,500 households on the housing waiting list.

“One of the villages just down the road from where I live is over 70% second homes already “(Luke Pollard )

In NORTH NORFOLK, Wells-next-the-Sea, 40% of all homes are now second homes or holiday lets.

Villages such as Morston, Salthouse, and Blakeney, where every new build house now goes for £1 million, over 50% of the homes are holiday homes or holiday lets.

Some 2,700 families and households are on the North Norfolk District Council housing list

In CUMBRIA there are 8,384 short-term lets of which 75% are Airbnbs.

There are only 232 long-term rental properties available in the whole of the county of Cumbria.

Why has this happened?

Why have our local councils not been given the powers to balance the needs of the economics of tourism with the basic human need of local families to have a safe, affordable place to live?

The minister has the final say:

The Minister Rachel Maclean outlined the details of the proposal to enable local authorities, if they wish, to require planning permissions for change of use to short term and holiday lets.

In passing she boasted that the government delivered 232,000 additional homes—a 10% increase on the previous year. This included “over 632 affordable houses” (Can this be right? Is the Minister, like many of the rest of us, confusing “affordable”, 20% off market rate houses, with old fashioned “council houses”?)

Just to remind you, East Devon has a waiting list of over 4700 individuals and families .

What contribution did Simon Jupp make?

Below is his speech verbatim.

Frankly, this correspondent is unimpressed. 

Simon seems more interested in name checking and political point scoring than adding anything constructive to the argument. Compared to his peers, he comes across as an intellectual lightweight.

[Tim Farron rather than Richard Foord spoke for the LibDems, Speakers are chosen to give political balance. Richard Foord managed one small interjection. So only Jupp got to speak for East Devon]

Simon Jupp:

I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Torbay (Kevin Foster) for securing this morning’s debate on short-term holiday lets and the planning system.

I represent a glorious part of the UK. It is understandable that many people want to visit East Devon year after year: we have the Jurassic coast, stunning food, rolling hills, country pubs, quaint bed and breakfasts, and historic attractions. Many jobs in our communities depend on visitors enjoying the variety and availability of accommodation options. Visitors, in turn, spend money locally year after year.

Homeowners benefit from the flexibility offered by short-term lets. For many, it is an important second income at a time of high inflation. However, the soaring numbers of short-term lets and second home ownership make it more difficult for so many local people to own a home of their own. I live in Sidmouth, where a glance at the estate agent’s window reveals the reality: local people are being priced out of the market. It is a similar story in Beer, Branscombe, Budleigh Salterton, Exmouth, Topsham and Seaton. Many local people find it increasingly difficult to get on the property ladder, given the high prices advertised. Homes are often being sold to cash buyers from elsewhere within days of being advertised.

I hope the key message of today’s debate will be that we need to get the balance right. Homes to buy and for long-term rent are out of reach for many people who grew up in Devon, like me, or who work locally or need the support of family to look after a loved one. Our country and our county need strong communities all year round, not places that are ghost towns half the year. What have the Government done, what will the Government do and where could the Government go further?

The Government have been listening to the concerns of colleagues, particularly those who represent tourist hotspots in Devon, Cornwall, Norfolk, the Lake district and Yorkshire. There have been welcome measures. The Government have already introduced higher rates of stamp duty for additional properties. They have closed business rate loopholes. They plan to let local authorities double council tax on second homes, as has been mentioned. That is a great start, but more action is needed, specifically on short-term lets. That is why I welcome the introduction of a registration scheme through an amendment to the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill, which will bring short-term lets up to a higher standard and provide much-needed data on activity in local areas.

This debate is timely, because the consultation on how the registration scheme will be administered is still open; it closes in roughly a fortnight. There are also plans to restrict the ways in which homes can be flipped into short-term lets by bringing in new permitted development rights for a change in use from a C3 dwelling house to a C5 short-term let. Councils would then have the option to limit the use of those permitted development rights, such as in certain geographical areas with the highest number of short-term lets. Let me tell you: East Devon is definitely one of those.

The consultation is running in parallel to the one on registration schemes, which also closes soon. It is right to give local councils all the tools they need. Those powers should not be mandated by Whitehall officials. Decisions will be made by local people elected at the ballot box. I hope that East Devon District Council will use the tools given to it by this Conservative Government.

Finally, there are areas in which the Government can go further. As I have mentioned before in Parliament, one policy could be to allow councils to reserve a percentage of new builds for people with a local family or economic connection to an area. For example, the purchaser or tenant could have to meet one of the following conditions: that they currently live or work within 25 miles of the property, that they were born within 25 miles of the property, or that they can demonstrate a care network within 25 miles of the property. A covenant would permanently protect a percentage of any new housing stock from short-term let or second home ownership. We undoubtedly need to build new homes in East Devon, but we should aim to look after locals first. The Government can be creative and proactive in looking at all possible options. Only then will there be a better balance.

Obviously there are two sides to this debate, and I do acknowledge that short-term holiday lets bring visitors to the places we love. Visitors contribute a great deal to our communities in East Devon, but their stay is often enjoyable only because of local workers behind the bar of a pub, in the kitchen of a restaurant or tapping on the till of a local high street shop. Those workers need somewhere to live, too. Our economy in East Devon would grind to a halt without them. We need a much better balance for our communities in East Devon for local people, now and for generations to come.

Political groupings within the new East Devon District Council

The Democratic Alliance Mk 2.

Council members may give notice that they wish to be considered as part of a political grouping for the purpose, amongst other things, of assigning seats to committees so as to achieve political balance. 

The formal political groupings amongst members of the new East Devon District Council are listed below

Owl notes that our Labour councillors follow national guidance and stand aloof.

Democratic Alliance Group (29)
Councillor Paul Arnott
Coly Valley Liberal Democrat Leader of the Council
Councillor Christopher Burhop
Newton Poppleford and Harpford Independent
Councillor Sarah Chamberlain
Broadclyst Liberal Democrats
Councillor Olly Davey
Exmouth Town Green Party Portfolio Holder Strategic Planning
Councillor Tim Dumper
Exmouth Halsdon Liberal Democrats
Councillor Paula Fernley
Broadclyst Green Party
Councillor Charlotte Fitzgerald
Budleigh and Raleigh Independent
Councillor Steve Gazzard
Exmouth Withycombe Raleigh Liberal Democrats
Councillor Anne Hall
Exmouth Littleham Liberal Democrats
Councillor Matt Hall
Exmouth Withycombe Raleigh Liberal Democrats Portfolio Holder Economy
Councillor Paul Hayward
Axminster Independent Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder Finance (Assets)
Councillor John Heath
Beer and Branscombe Independent
Councillor Nick Hookway
Exmouth Littleham Liberal Democrats Portfolio Holder Culture, Leisure, Sport and Tourism
Councillor Sarah Jackson
Axminster Independent Portfolio Holder Communications and Democracy
Councillor Richard Jefferies
Tale Vale Liberal Democrats
Councillor Geoff Jung
Woodbury and Lympstone Liberal Democrats Portfolio Holder Coast, Country and Environment
Councillor Jamie Kemp
Exe Valley Liberal Democrats
Councillor Dan Ledger
Seaton Independent Portfolio Holder Sustainable Homes & Communities
Councillor Yehudi Levine
Dunkeswell and Otterhead Liberal Democrats
Councillor John Loudoun
Sidmouth Rural Independent Portfolio Holder Council and Corporate Co-ordination
Councillor Duncan Mackinder
Yarty Liberal Democrats
Councillor Todd Olive
Whimple and Rockbeare Liberal Democrats
Councillor Marianne Rixson
Sidmouth Sidford Liberal Democrats Portfolio Holder Climate Action & Emergency Response
Councillor Eleanor Rylance
Broadclyst Liberal Democrats Chair of the Council
Councillor Simon Smith
Axminster Independent
Councillor Andrew Toye
Exmouth Halsdon Liberal Democrats
Councillor Susan Westerman
Trinity Liberal Democrats
Councillor Joe Whibley
Exmouth Town Independent
Councillor Eileen Wragg
Exmouth Town Liberal Democrats

Conservative (17)
Councillor Brian Bailey
Exmouth Littleham Conservative
Councillor Colin Brown
Dunkeswell and Otterhead Conservative
Councillor Jenny Brown
Honiton St. Michael’s Conservative
Councillor Alasdair Bruce
Feniton Conservative
Councillor Fred Caygill
Exmouth Brixington Conservative
Councillor Maddy Chapman
Exmouth Brixington Conservative
Councillor Iain Chubb
Newbridges Conservative
Councillor Mike Goodman
Sidmouth Sidford Conservative
Councillor Derek Haggerty
Seaton Conservative
Councillor Marcus Hartnell
Seaton Conservative
Councillor Stuart Hughes
Sidmouth Sidford Conservative
Councillor Ben Ingham
Woodbury and Lympstone Conservative
Councillor Cherry Nicholas
Exmouth Brixington Conservative
Councillor John O’Leary
Honiton St. Paul’s Conservative
Councillor Helen Parr
Coly Valley Conservative
Councillor Sophie Richards
Sidmouth Town Conservative
Councillor Henry Riddell
Budleigh and Raleigh Conservative

Independent Group (9)
Councillor Jess Bailey
West Hill and Aylesbeare Independent
Councillor Ian Barlow
Sidmouth Town Independent
Councillor Kevin Blakey
Cranbrook Independent
Councillor Kim Bloxham
Cranbrook Independent
Councillor Sam Hawkins
Cranbrook Independent Vice Chair of the Council
Councillor Mike Howe
Clyst Valley Independent
Councillor Vicky Johns
Ottery St Mary Independent
Councillor Melanie Martin
Budleigh and Raleigh Independent
Councillor Tony McCollum
Honiton St. Paul’s Independent

Labour (3)
Councillor Violet Bonetta
Honiton St. Michael’s Labour
Councillor Bethany Collins
Ottery St Mary Labour
Councillor Daniel Wilson
Exmouth Halsdon Labour

Independent Councillor Group (2)
Councillor Roy Collins
Honiton St. Michael’s Liberal Party
Councillor Peter Faithfull
Ottery St Mary Independent

A correspondent writes on Blue Flags

From a correspondent:

Yesterday Owl reported that “The owner of Exmouth Watersports company has written to South West Water claiming that sewage pollution in the sea is damaging his business” and then also reported that Exmouth has been a “Blue Flag” beach for five years.

I was not entirely sure what merited the award for a blue flag so was astounded to read that WATER QUALITY was a requirement.

“The Blue Flag is a certification given to beaches by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE).  A beach that has been awarded the blue flag means that it meets the organisation’s standards of environmental management. These standards are for water quality, safety, and public environmental education. Local governments try to get the Blue Flag for their beaches and marinas, to show people that they have high environmental and quality standards.

The Blue Flag is a trademark owned by FEE which is a non-profit, non-governmental organisation. It is made up of 65 organisations in 60 member countries in Europe, Africa, Oceania, Asia and the Americas.”

Perhaps the 32 times that sewage discharged in Exmouth for 418 hours from the Sewage Treatment Works, plus the 39 episodes of 470 hours from Maer Pumping Station in 2022 is considered acceptable. See: Sewage Map | The Rivers Trust (sewage pollution was considerably down last year from previous years due to less rainfall)

I then looked at Sidmouth which has a four year history of an award, 48 discharge episodes totalling 608 hours in 2022.

Seaton, with only two previous awards, experienced 49 discharge episodes totalling 490 hours in 2022.

Beer, the newcomer, experienced a mere few hours of outfall.  Perhaps the only beach which may be said to have met the public’s expectations.

Budleigh Salterton doesn’t have a Blue Flag, why not?

BS experienced a mere 31 episodes of 270 hours duration.

That beats Sidmouth, Seaton and Exmouth. 

Did the FEE know about the Honiton Waste Water Treatment works discharging for 1,966 hours over 115 episodes into the River Otter eventually flowing onto the beach, and then thought twice? (Not to mention Gittisham, another 606 hours and all outfalls south).

‘Sewage pollution in the River Exe is unacceptable’ in Blue Flag Exmouth

The owner of Exmouth Watersports company has written to South West Water claiming that sewage pollution in the sea is damaging his business.

Exmouth has been a  “Blue Flag” beach for five years. Despite this, a correspondent recently added up all the sewage discharges recorded by the rivers trust for their latest annual report. This found that Exmouth had over 2,000 hours of outfall into Lyme Bay and the Exe. 

2,000 hours of sewage discharge merits a “Blue Flag”- how come? – Owl

Adam Manning 

Stephen Rollason Managing Director of Red Rock Leisure Ltd, which owns PrattsHayes campsite and Exmouth Water sports has written the letter to South West Water in reference to the sewage spills into the estuary, river and seas over the past year. 

Stephen said in the letter: “We work hard to encourage in the region of 20 thousands visitors to our campsite, wedding venue and watersports/activity centre. To then have received so much bad feed back and complaints due to the closure of bathing and watersports is surely unacceptable. There is also an obvious financial loss as we have to refund customers who cannot go out out on the water and the loss we have suffered from guests no longer wishing to return to East Devon.

“In our times when the environment is such and issue, should we not be leading the way and showing care to our environment and protect our resources for the future generations? As a company we have planted thousands of trees and support green levies. We teach our customers about sustainability and about protecting nature.

“We pay out extra for green energy and environmentally green waste collections. And we are in the process of possible large scale solar system, we are trying to do our bit for the environment.”

In response, a South West Water spokesman told the Journal: “We want everyone to feel confident about water quality across our region and proud of the performance of their water company.

“We continue to reduce our use of storm overflows but we know there is more to do. We are investing in several schemes in Exmouth to prevent surface water entering the sewer network and to reduce spills.

“All overflows in Exmouth are currently included in plans to be improved by the end of 2030.”

They concluded: “We have a plan, it is working and we won’t stop until everyone can feel proud about the performance of their water company in the South West.”

Olly Davey becomes first Green Party mayor of Exmouth

Exmouth Town Councillors have voted in a new mayor – Green Party councillor Olly Davey.

Adam Manning 

At the Exmouth Town meeting held on Monday, May 22, Cllr Davey became the new mayor, with independent councillor Jo Whibley as his deputy mayor.

Cllr Davey takes over the mayorial role from Cllr Steve Gazzard, an independent who represents Exmouth Withycombe, who had been the mayor since May 2019.

Cllr Davey said: “I am honoured to be the first Green mayor of Exmouth and thank Exmouth Town councillors for nominating and electing me to this position. I shall aim to represent Exmouth and its people to the best of my ability”.

Olly has served as a district councillor and town councillor for the last four years and has been re elected as a district councillor for Exmouth town ward.

As a member of the EDDC strategic planning committee  he has been involved in the development of the draft new local plan for East Devon. He is now in a key role to ensure that the views of Exmouth Town are considered by the district council.

Following the district council elections in May, councillor Steve Gazzard was re-elected for another term.

He spoke to the Journal at the count: “I’m delighted to be re-elected, whether people voted for me or not we are here to serve the community and we will do what we can for residents until the next election.

“We did not set out specific aims in our manifesto but if any residents what to come and raise something with us we can do what we can to help.”

After an election, councillors agree at the next council meeting a new mayor and deputy. 

Apologies – Owl gets the giggles in the Annual Meeting

Outgoing Council Chair Ian Thomas did not seek re-election. 

However, his retirement was delayed as he was required to return to the “colours” to preside over the nomination and election of the new Chair, Cllr Eleanor Rylance.

Thereafter, protocol apparently required that he be described as the “Dowager Councillor” Thomas.

The new Chair, in her words recalling and thanking him for his long service in EDDC, culminating in deftly chairing the past couple of years of the coalition, struggled with that.

(So did Owl)