“Planning rules could be ripped up in last-ditch bid to save Britain’s high streets”

We’ve had offices into houses, barns into houses, now developers are going to be able to get their hands on high street shops to turn into houses …

https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/6574438/planning-rules-could-be-ripped-up-in-last-ditch-bid-to-save-britains-high-streets/

Has Swire bet on the wrong horse?

His new company with his mate Lord Barker (friend of Russian oligarchs) was formed to take advantage of “emerging energy markets”:

https://eastdevonwatch.org/2018/05/30/swire-and-his-investment-in-emerging-economies/

https://eastdevonwatch.org/2018/06/15/swires-mate-and-co-director-shames-himself/

Today, we read (following Trump’s trade tantrums):

“Emerging Market stocks hit an 8-month low, down 7% YTD and 16% from their January high.”

Only 7% – poor Swire.

The Great Public Asset Sale!

No mention of community hospital sales – many hospitals having been financed by the local population.

And it begs the question: if the community has no assets and is getting only statutory services which are funded out of general taxation – what are we paying (increased) council taxes for?

“Libraries, swimming pools, youth and community centres, town halls, parks and other open spaces were among more than 4,000 public assets sold by local councils to developers and other private buyers last year.

Sales appear to have risen since George Osborne, who was then the chancellor, changed the rules in 2016 to allow local authorities to use money from sales of publicly owned buildings and land to cover running costs. Campaigners say that authorities facing financial pressures are denying future generations access to many community assets.

Locality, a network of community organisations, submitted freedom of information requests to all 353 local authorities in England asking about asset sales, of which 240 responded. The results showed that councils sold 4,131 buildings or plots of land last year.

Tony Armstrong, the chief executive of Locality, said: “One of the concerns we have is that many local authorities are just selling these assets off, and until now we have not had a clear picture of the scale of this.” He called for more buildings and sites that councils could no longer operate to be transferred to community groups that could run them on a not-for-profit basis.

Richard Watts, of the Local Government Association, said: “With local government facing an overall funding gap in excess of £5 billion a year by 2020, councils face difficult decisions about how best to use their resources to support local services, day-to-day activities and to protect public assets. Before a decision is made to sell an asset, the cost of selling it versus the benefit it could bring is considered carefully.”

Source:Times (pay wall)

How many Lords does the south-west have?

“The South West has slightly too many peers.

8 percent of the population live in the South West and 9 percent of the House of Lords own their main home there.

But, that’s only from the 564 Lords that declared where they live – we don’t even know where 252 are from.

London and the South East on the other hand make up a shocking 44 percent of the chamber on just 26 percent of the population.

While London is over-represented, 11% of the public live in the North West – but only 5% of peers live there.”

https://action.electoral-reform.org.uk/page/19800/action/2

Retirement home builders feeling the pinch …

“” … Another profit warning at McCarthy & Stone (MCS.L) triggered a sharp share price fall for the UK’s biggest builder of homes for retirees a 18.8 percent decline. …”

Could this be part of the reason? There are no affordable properties being built at the PegasusLife Knowle site:

“The Mayor of London’s Office has today welcomed a judgment handed down by the High Court that has backed the Mayor’s ‘threshold’ approach to affordable housing.

Following a legal challenge by four retirement homes developers, the Hon Mr Justice Ouseley has ruled that the Mayor’s threshold approach, which allows developments to be fast tracked through the planning system where they provide at least 35 per cent affordable housing, is consistent with the adopted London Plan.

The judge rejected claims by McCarthy and Stone Retirement Lifestyles Ltd, Pegasus Life Ltd, Churchill Retirement Living and Renaissance Retirement Ltd that this policy, contained within the Mayor’s Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG) on Affordable Housing and Viability, would fail to secure the maximum reasonable level of affordable housing.

Jules Pipe, Deputy Mayor for Planning, Skills and Regeneration, said; “Tackling the capital’s housing crisis is the Mayor’s top priority and this ruling is an important moment for thousands of Londoners who are desperate for genuinely affordable homes to rent and buy.

“Our guidance sets out a clear approach that makes the planning system in London clearer, quicker and more consistent. I am pleased that the Judge has backed this approach which will help us to turn around years of neglect when it comes to building the homes Londoners so desperately need.”

The Mayor’s Draft London Plan includes the same requirements on reviews as the SPG. The judgment confirms that this has weight as it is an emerging plan.

The judgment also rejected the claims of the retirement homes developers that the guidance should have been the subject of Strategic Environmental Assessment and found that the claims that the Mayor had failed to have due regard to his duties under the public sector equality duty of the Equality Act 2010 were unarguable.”

https://www.london.gov.uk/press-releases/mayoral/judge-rules-in-favour-of-mayors-housing-approach

Wake up apathetic Honiton! For the sake of half-a-dozen volunteers your town is at enormous risk!

Owl simply cannot believe that in a town the size of Honiton half-a-dozen people cannot be found to join the neighbourhood planning group. People have been falling over themselves in the rush to volunteer in smaller towns and villages, many of which gave already had their plans signed, sealed and delivered.

What is wrong with the people in the town? Have they no civic pride? Do Honiton people not realise what enormous danger they are in if they DON’T have a neighbourhood plan? Everywhere in Honiton NOT named in the Local Plan (and that’s a lot of land) up for grabs by developers. Who will provide no infrastructure to the town and likely no affordable housing.

It paints a dreadful picture of a totally apathetic town with an inept town deputy clerk (who suggested shelving the project until 2020) and lazy town councillors if this situation is allowed to happen.

“Residents have been urged to ‘step up’ or face ‘losing out’ after the creation of the Honiton’s Neighbourhood Plan was granted a six-month continuation.

The warning, made by the town’s mayor, comes a month after the future of the document was thrown into doubt following a recommendation to shelve the document until 2020.

Deputy town clerk Heloise Marlow made the suggestion to town councillors based on the ‘lack of past and current’ interest from residents in getting involved with the plan’s creation.

The Honiton Neighbourhood Plan’s current committee is ‘inquorate’ – meaning it is not made up of enough members.

A report submitted to last month’s council meeting said: “A steering group made up of about nine to ten members with one-third councillors and two-thirds community members is essential. In view of the lack of past and current interest from the community of Honiton, the recommendation is that a neighbourhood plan cannot currently be delivered.”

However, at a meeting of Honiton Town Council last week, members agreed to let the creation of the town’s Neighbourhood Plan continue for the next six months.

Cllr Henry Brown, town mayor and chair of the council, said: “The Neighbourhood Plan will continue for the next six months, with the hope that the Community Engagement Forum will act as a conduit to entice members of the public to join the Neighbourhood Plan.

“The public must outnumber the council in representation on this – our community needs to step up or we face losing out.”

At last month’s council meeting, Cllr Roy Coombs staged a late intervention to save the Neighbourhood Plan from being shelved until 2020 – recommending it be deferred until last week’s council meeting at The Beehive.

He said: “If we have not got a Neighbourhood Plan in place it could, I feel, become a developers’ free-for-all.”

The Community Engagement Forum, which is comprised of various groups in Honiton, was formed in 2016 with the aim of improving the town and bringing about change.

Anyone who wants to join the Neighbourhood Plan committee should get in touch with the town council on 01404 42957 and ask to speak to Heloise.”

http://www.midweekherald.co.uk/news/creation-of-honiton-s-threatened-neighbourhood-plan-granted-a-six-month-continuation-1-5567305

Children pay a terrible price for austerity cuts – a shaming report

“More than 40% of parents with primary school children have had to forgo basic hygiene or cleaning products because they cannot afford them, according to a study.

A survey of 2,000 parents by charity In Kind Direct also found some 18% admitted their child wears the same underwear for at least two days in a row.

The charity, which was founded by the Prince of Wales, said teachers are seeing soaring numbers of young children who turn up to school unwashed and in dirty clothes.

Almost half (47%) of 100 primary school teachers polled said children have attended class without brushing their teeth, while nearly two thirds (63%) have seen youngsters in unclean clothes. More than a third (36%) said they have provided toothpaste, while 29% claimed to have given children soap, and 27% said they provided head lice products or bought pupils a toothbrush.

Nicola Finney, head teacher at St Paul’s Church of England Primary School in Stoke on Trent, which receives products from In Kind Direct, said staff are considering installing a washing machine.

She said: “We now make allowances in our very tight school budget to make sure we can buy personal hygiene and washing items, such as toiletries, washing powder and toothpaste, as well as spare uniforms, shoes and deodorant, because we know increasing numbers of families simply can’t afford to buy them.”

Ms Finney said she has spent hundreds of pounds of her own money buying items for students. She added: “We have seen significantly more children coming into school with washing and hygiene issues over the last few years.

“It used to be just a couple of children across the school, but now there are two or three in every classroom dealing with these issues. “I’ve spoken to teachers across the country and they are doing the same as us. “We want all of our pupils to get the best outcomes, not just those that can afford the basic essentials to keep themselves and their clothes clean and presentable.”

The charity survey found more than a quarter (26%) of parents said their children have to wear the same shirt or blouse for at least a week, while almost one in five (19%) admitted they cannot afford to wash their offspring’s clothes as often as they would like.

Some 14% said they have struggled to afford soap and shampoo, while 43% admitted they had to forgo basic hygiene or cleaning products because they cannot afford them.

Robin Boles, In Kind Direct chief executive, said: “The results of our latest study are a shocking reflection of the growing scale of family hygiene poverty across the UK. “Teachers are increasingly being relied upon to step in to provide pupils with everyday essential products because their parents simply can’t afford to make ends meet. “Alongside this, we have seen a sharp rise in the number of people who are increasingly relying on support from the charities across the UK to which we supply products. “It is clear that hygiene poverty is hitting families hard and is having a huge impact on children’s wellbeing at school.

“No child’s education and future life chances should be compromised because of the stigma they face, simply because their families can’t afford the hygiene products to keep themselves clean.”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/children-going-school-dirty-because-1690421