The owl returns …..


Shining a light into the darkest corners of East Devon

Contact us at








Monday 7 November 2016, Sidmouth The Knowle Council Chamber, 13,00 – 15.30 and 17.30 – 20.00

Tuesday 8 November 2016, Ocean, Queens Drive, Exmouth 13.30 – 16.00

Tuesday 22 November 2016, Exmouth Community College, 17.30 – 20.00 (main hall Green Close site)

Thursday 24 November 2016, Town Hall, Fore Street, Seaton 14.00 – 16.30 and 17.30 – 20.00

Tuesday 29 November 2016, The Beehive, Honiton, 12.00 – 14.00


01392 356 084    OR EMAIL

events are scheduled for Tiverton, Okehampton, Exeter – see link above for details



Big NHS changes demo in Barnstaple

Hundreds of people have attended a march in opposition to proposed cuts in services at a hospital.

The Devon Sees Red march, held in Barnstaple, was to highlight concerns over potential cuts at North Devon District Hospital.

A document leaked to the BBC showed that stroke, maternity and neo-natal provision could feature in cost-cutting plans.
The hospital said “no decisions” have been made about the future of services.”

But, of course, a series of “preferred options” have been chosen. Amounts to the same thing these days.

“Come and meet Sir Hugo Swire MP on 29th Oct and Speak Up for the climate”

From Christian Aid – Ottery St Mary

“Dear friends,

Here are two important items of news that we thought you might like to know about concerning Ottery – an informal talk with Sir Hugo Swire at the next Community Market (29th October) and the latest update from campaigners regarding the proposed mineral extraction at Straitgate:

Informal conversation with Sir Hugo Swire MP, 11am on Sat 29th October in

The Institute, Yonder St, Ottery St Mary

Do you feel passionate about protecting all that we love from climate change? Do you want to see our elected MP Sir Hugo Swire take action on this issue? If your answer is yes, please come to an informal conversation with Sir Hugo Swire MP over a cup of tea/coffee and the WI’s fabulous cakes at
11am on Saturday 29th October in The Institute, Yonder St, Ottery – and visit Ottery’s dynamic Community Market at the same time. All are welcome!

The conversation with Sir Hugo has been organised by Christian Aid and is supported by the local branch of the Women’s Institute, Ottery St Mary United Reformed Church, and Sustainable Ottery. It is part of the national Speak Up for the Climate week of action promoted by The Climate Coalition:

Officially the national week of action finished last Saturday with nearly 300 events taking place with local MPs all over the UK. Prime Minister Theresa May and Chancellor Philip Hammond were among the MPs who participated in local constituency events. A very constructive meeting was
also held with Ben Bradshaw MP in Exeter. In Ottery we thought it would be good to wait till our monthly Community Market (organised by the United Reformed Church) which typifies Ottery’s community spirit, our support for local produce and crafts, and our commitment to more sustainable shopping and living.

There is no strict agenda for this event. Christian Aid will briefly kick things off and ask Sir Hugo to press his government to draw up a national plan for reducing carbon emissions (in line with the Climate Change Act) –
as this is what The Climate Coalition has been calling for throughout the week of action nationally. After that, we will all be free to share with Sir Hugo our personal reasons for taking climate change seriously – and what we would like him to do about it, both locally and nationally. Some of us will be moved by the impact of climate change on the world’s poorest communities.

Others may want to talk about the impact on bees and other wildlife, our coastline, our farming, or our health. Some of us may be worried about floods in Ottery; others may be excited about the opportunities to scale up renewable energy or to promote cycling and cleaner transport. Whatever
climate change means for you, come and share it with your local MP on 29th October.

This is the start of a conversation with Sir Hugo which we hope will be ongoing over the coming years. And by the way, no technical knowledge of climate change science is required! If you know you can come, please contact
Helen Collinson:

(mob 0790 394 7782)

and please mention to her any issues or questions broadly related to climate change which you’d particularly like to raise with Sir Hugo. Alternatively, feel free to just turn up on the day!”

Straitgate quarry update

“This is just to let you know that the Inspector has now written his report for the Devon Minerals Plan. Straitgate is to remain in the new Plan, as a ‘Preferred Area’.

So, despite the Environment Agency’s recommendations, despite all your excellent letters submitted during the consultations, despite the fact that there is nowhere in the Plan for material from Straitgate to be processed, despite the fact that Aggregate Industries are struggling to find a suitable access to the proposed site, despite the fact that there are less than a million tonnes of sand and gravel available, the Inspector in his wisdom has concluded that Straitgate should be in the Plan.

Separately, AI continue to work on their plans for the site, albeit slowly. They have more or less ruled out Little Straitgate as a potential point of access and are now looking at Birdcage Lane onto the Exeter Road at the junction with Toadpit Lane.

They are also considering the possibility of quarrying Straitgate on a campaign-basis, spread over ten years. If they couldn’t process at Blackhill, they would apparently consider taking the material all the way to Hillhead at Uffculme, some 23 miles away.

For further information, see

You can also read about the Minerals Plan decision on Claire’s blog:”

EDDC spends more than £ 700,000 on external legal advice in 3 years

Summary of request

I would like to know the amount of money the department spent on the services of external law firms and barristers for each of the last three years (years ending March 31). If this is not possible within the restrictions of the Freedom of Information Act, two years of data will suffice.

Summary of response

2013/14 Legal fees including barristers £285,075.61
2014/15 Legal fees including barristers £353,060.78
2015/16 Legal fees including barristers £79,053.34

3 or maybe 4 or maybe 7 organisations and 2 or maybe 5 individuals decided how to spend £82,000 S106 in Seaton – you work it out!

Except when you read the answer to this FoI request, it is SO contradictory!

It says in one part 2 individuals and 7 organisations responded, then it says 5 individuals and 4 organisations responded – and then it names only 3 organisations!

Whatever – it was a couple of individuals, the town council and 2 sports clubs that made the decision. That’s public consultation EDDC style!

Section 106 publicising for Seaton in 2014

Date submitted: 27 September 2016

Summary of request

On your website you state:

‘In 2014 we gathered in ideas from the community on how £82,000 of section 106 money from new homes in Seaton should be spent. We received nine eligible, affordable and possible ideas from the community and from sporting organisations.’

I would be grateful if you would detail:

1. How the community were asked for ideas?
2. What organisations were asked for ideas?
3. How organisations were asked for ideas?
4. How many individuals responded?
5. How many organisations responded?
6. Of the nine eligible ideas, how many were from individuals and how many from organisations/representatives of organisations?
7. The names of the organisations whose ideas were deemed eligible
Summary of response

1. How the community were asked for ideas? – Through press releases sent out to all media contacts; through social media and the councils website; local Councillors and Seaton Town Council were involved and were asked to publicise the opportunity. Also e-mails were sent to several relevant local organisations we were aware of, we asked them to publicise the opportunity
2. What organisations were asked for ideas? – We do not have a record of this
3. How organisations were asked for ideas? – See answer to question 1
4. How many individuals responded? – 2
5. How many organisations responded? – 7
6. Of the nine eligible ideas, how many were from individuals and how many from organisations/representatives of organisations? – 5 were from individuals and 4 from organisations/representatives of organisations
7. The names of the organisations whose ideas were deemed eligible – Seaton Town Council; Seaton Cricket Club; Axe Valley Runners
Date responded: 4 October 2016

Hugo Swire, Pratts and Beefsteak

In days gone by (2006) when Hugo Swire was in opposition, debating funds for the BBC with the then Minister Tessa Jowell, a report by Simon Jenkins, political commentator:

” … Tessa Jowell has been lucky in her opponents. Yesterday she made a statement to the Commons about the new white paper on the BBC. …

… Then up sprang Ms Jowell’s opposite number, Hugo Swire, the Tory MP and a scion of – Eton! St Andrews! The Grenadier Guards! His clubs are White’s, Pratt’s and the Beefsteak. It seems unlikely that he dashes home from these establishments to catch EastEnders.

In our egalitarian times there are some MPs who would hesitate to mention all this, but Mr Swire is made of the stuff that built the Empire. Sadly his vocabulary is made from the stuff that built the Wobbly Bridge over the Thames. It shakes alarmingly, and is an object of scorn.

Why had the white paper had the same gestation time as an elephant? Why not? I thought. Would it have been preferable if it had the same gestation period as, say, a wombat? He swerved at a new metaphor. The paper was meant to be a springboard. “But it is not so much a launching pad as a holding pen!”

Nowadays, “is it credible to believe that a compulsory tax on the ownership of a television set [Mr Swire pronounces every single letter: ‘tell-eh-viss-ee-on’] is the right way to fund our national broadcaster?”

At this point a Labour MP, goaded beyond endurance, shouted “Drivel!” Mr Swire was undaunted. “Will the BBC Trust have the capacity to clip the wings of Auntie?” he asked, and we had a vision of the old lady rushing round while trustees, or perhaps Mr Swire himself, pursued her with shears.

He moved on to the notion of selling Britain abroad and to the British. “The chancellor wants to see a flagpole in every garden; is there now not a danger that this will be followed by a Union Jack on every TV aerial in the land?”

He might have got away with this, but he had to follow it by saying “Jesting apart!”

When did anyone last say that? That was jesting? Labour MPs laughed merrily. The BBC brass, sitting, anxious, in the gallery, began to relax.

“The bill for the BBC is higher than the GDP of Mongolia!” he announced, to tucks of laughter from almost everyone.

That’s not surprising. Mongolia is a very poor, yurt and yoghurt-intensive country. Britain is 20 times bigger, we live in houses, and can afford to eat mango flavoured yoghurt while watching our excellent TV service.”

How long do our MPs actually sit in the House of Commons?

Answer: not long at all. And MPs have no obligation to attend any sittings unless they are whipped to do so.

Mondays 2.30-10.30pm

Tuesdays and Wednesdays 11.30am-7.30pm

Thursdays 9.30am-5.30pm

Sitting Fridays 9.30am-3pm
(There are only 13 “sitting Fridays” in this Parliament)

Commons Hansard: Sittings of the House

MPs (such as Neil Parish) who sit on committees have slightly more work, though his committee has no current scheduled meetings arranged:

If you want to see exactly what is happening day by day here is the daily diary of Parliamentary activities:

The website of the Conservative Middle East Council, of which Hugo Swire is Chairman, does not give details of its meetings: