Cranbrook (and elsewhere) – do you want independent councillors at East Devon District Council?

For the first time next year in May 2019 , Cranbrook will be electing three district councillors to serve on East Devon District council. This happens only once every four years.

Elected councillors serve on committees such as planning, housing and scrutiny.

Councillors are paid for their time (from at least £4360 per year plus expenses):
http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/2513061/members-allowances-2017-18.pdf

You may feel that you have a natural affinity for the ruling block on the council – Conservatives or the other party represented at EDDC, Lib Dems. Conservatives currently hold 36 of the 58 seats, Lib Dems hold 6 seats.

But what if you feel that party politics (following the orders of your national party at such a local level) is not for you?

The next biggest group after Conservatives is independent councillors. They currently hold 16 seats. There is also an Independent East Devon Alliance councillor (Martin Shaw – Seaton and Colyton) at Devon County Council but their elections do not take place until 2022.

Some Independent councillors at East Devon (10 of them) belong to the East Devon Alliance.

How come independent councillors can be in an alliance?

Well, on all matters EDA are always totally independent and free to vote however they wish – there is no Whip as there is for a political party (though, by an anomaly of the electoral system, EDA has no alternative but to register as a political party for elections because the electoral system has not moved with the times!).

EDA councillors do though share common values – a committment to accountability, scrutiny and transparency in all council business and fight hard for these values for which they find it useful to be a group supportive of each other, while maintaining their independence. They also help each other in practical ways – canvassing, leaflet distribution, advice, etc.

If you think you would like to be a councillor, check out:
https://www.gov.uk/government/get-involved/take-part/become-a-councillor

If, after reading it, you like the idea of being an Independent East Devon Alliance councillor, contact the group at:

http://www.eastdevonalliance.org.uk/admin/contact-us/

or visit their Facebook page.

(East Devon Watch is supportive of East Devon Alliance but independent in its own views)

Farmer Neil Parish might want to slap Michael Gove’s wrist!

“It’s beginning to dawn on many UK farmers that the British government might not be quite so clued up as they had been led to believe. Not only do they now doubt that the current levels of subsidies they receive will continue post-Brexit, they also worry that their needs for seasonal workers to pick vegetables and soft fruit have not been fully understood.

The latest cause for alarm has been a video produced by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to promote its vision for post-Brexit agriculture.

It’s all very nostalgically rustic, with fields of barley rippling in the wind and glorious sunsets. A vision of mellow fruitfulness. Except for one thing. Some sections of it were filmed overseas.

As the magazine Farmers’ Weekly has observed, the scene in which Defra promise that farmers can expect less red tape was actually footage of an inspector visiting a Slovenian cattle shed, while the section on British farmers being rewarded for improving air and water quality was filmed on a German farm. To complete the hat-trick of errors, the part where Defra promise kick-backs for farmers who try to prevent climate change was accompanied by a framer planting a Bonsai tree.

We pay these people.”

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/sep/21/theresa-may-memorabilia-why-not-now-may-be-her-time

Cornwall unitary approaching the rocks at speed

“Cornwall to cut hundreds of jobs in bid to save £80m and avoid Northants-style disaster:

However, the proposed cuts are only the equivalent of 388 full-time jobs.

According to a report ahead of the council’s Cabinet meeting today, the amount of jobs to be cut will reduce to 167 after mitigations such as reducing the amount spent on agency staff.

It is not yet clear where in the council’s services the jobs will be cut from, but the report noted that workforce reductions will be delivered in line with the Public Sector Equality Duty, the Councils Equality of Opportunity Policy and Organisational Change Toolkits and guidance.

The report also said that, as funding from central government continues to fall and demand for public services increases, the council must find a further £77m of savings over the next four years on top of the £300m of savings it has already delivered.

Cornwall Council has seen significant cuts to its central grant funding since austerity began in 2010, according to the report. There has been a reduction of about 40% from 2009-10 to 2018-19, during which time £300m in savings have been made.

“Whilst the council is in a sound financial position, with a strong track record of delivering its budgets supported by reserves, it cannot continue to deliver the savings required year on year and deliver a balanced budget without impacting upon the delivery of services,” the report warned.

The report even went as far as pointing to recent events in Northamptonshire, Somerset and East Sussex to illustrate the challenges facing local government, particularly for those local authorities responsible for providing social care.

“Cornwall Council does not want to face the position currently faced by these authorities of only providing services at the statutory minimum,” it concluded.”

http://www.publicsectorexecutive.com/Public-Sector-News/cornwall-to-cut-hundreds-of-jobs-in-bid-to-save-80m-and-avoid-northants-style-disaster

“Fewer households will ‘reduce need for new homes’ “

Will the number of extra houses predicated for the Greater Exeter area (57,000] be reduced in line with these new findings? Of course not – develipers rule, OK!

“There are likely to be 1.4 million fewer households in England by 2041 than the government originally thought, a forecast that economists warned yesterday could have a big impact on housebuilding targets.

The Office for National Statistics said that the number of households in England was projected to grow by 159,000 a year, from 22.9 million in 2016 to 26.9 million by 2041.

The figures are used by the government to work out future housing needs and have been a key reason for its target of building 250,000 to 300,000 homes a year.

This is the first year that the projections have been calculated by the ONS rather than by a government department.

A large proportion of the growth will come from the rising elderly population. Households headed by someone aged 65 years and over are set to account for 88 per cent of total growth between 2016 and 2041. The highest growth is set to take place in London and the lowest in the northeast.

However, while this overall 17 per cent increase in households may seem large, it is significantly smaller than the projection made in 2014. Then, the government said that there would be an extra 210,000 households a year in England, resulting in 28 million homes by 2041.

Bidwells, a property consultancy, said that the latest projections would lead to a dramatic drop in the required number of homes in England.

Ian Mulheirn, director of consulting at Oxford Economics, said that the drop in projections demonstrated that there were several myths around Britain’s housing shortage and argued that it was not necessary to build 300,000 homes a year.

“Over the last 20 years, the various housing departments have used a methodology to predict household need that was flawed,” he said. “It predicted that a significantly higher number of households would form and it was consistently shown to be incorrect at each census point.

“The ONS has changed the methodology and if we had used their figures over the last 20 years we wouldn’t have this figure of extremely high housing need being quoted everywhere.”

Previous projections made by the government were based on census data starting in 1971, which showed household sizes steadily shrinking as more people chose to live alone or to have smaller families. But this trend stopped around 2001, which is when the ONS is now basing its projections from.

The latest figures were disputed, however. Matthew Spry, senior director at Lichfields, a property consultancy, said: “The number of households that have formed can only ever match the number of dwellings that there are for people to live in. Statistically a household cannot form if it doesn’t have an extra house to form into.”

The ONS has also made a new assumption for net migration. It is now projected to be 152,000 a year from mid-2023 onwards. The 2014 projection had assumed 170,500 a year.

Joanna Harkrader, of the Office for National Statistics, said that the slower growth reflected “lower projections of the population — notably assumptions around future births, how long we will live and migration — and more up-to-date figures about living arrangements, such as living with parents or cohabiting.”

Source: Times (pay wall)

The big 2022 “social housing” con

“… May’s rabbit-in-the-hat was an additional 2bn funding for affordable housing. Considering the scale of the crisis, this is almost pitiful. It will build just 40,000 new affordable homes, when we have a need for more than a million. And the funding itself won’t be available until 2022, at which point are very likely to have a different government and/or prime minister. …

… For a number of years, big housing associations have been behaving more and more like private developers. May was quite right yesterday when she said they are ‘major multi-billion pound businesses’. And as the number of homes they build increases, their new model is proving so lucrative that private providers, pension funds and other investors are coming along for the ride, reinventing themselves as ‘affordable housing developers’, seeing a clear business opportunity for doing something that apparently has a social purpose.

But the homes they are building are not the houses we need, and the social purpose is often harder and harder to see. By far the greatest need is for social housing, and we are building the lowest levels of that since the Second World War, despite the pretty high housing outputs of housing associations. …

https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/social-housing-theresa-may-housing-crisis_uk_5ba3bfbce4b0375f8f9af692