The owl returns …..


Shining a light into the darkest corners of East Devon

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After Ms Cox’s killing Mr Cox said: “[Jo] would have wanted two things above all else to happen now, one that our precious children are bathed in love and two, that we all unite to fight against the hatred that killed her. Hate doesn’t have a creed, race or religion, it is poisonous.”

Does EVERYONE ignore our Police and Crime Commissioner

The official Facebook page has many posts from Ms Hernandez but only a small handful of comments, most of them negative. The Twitter account seems similarly sparse.

Not a good start for someone who said she was going to use social media to engage with the public.

Wonder what Mrs May thinks of these non-jobs?

OFCOM wants rural broadband volunteers to inform them of ” challenges” to service

Telecoms watchdog seeks rural volunteers

TELECOMS watchdog Ofcom wants rural people to tell it about the broadband challenges they face.

Ofcom said it wanted to find out more about the “rural broadband experience” by encouraging rural people to join its research panel.

Ofcom said it existed to make communications markets work for everyone. One of the ways it did so was by conducting research to find out about the customer experience across the UK.

Each year, Ofcom reports its findings in its flagship Connected Nations report – which provides a snapshot of the state of the UK communication network.

To inform this and wider work, Ofcom is calling for volunteers to sign up to join its expanded research panel of broadband customers.

Ofcom said it was “particularly looking to sign up more people who live in rural areas in order find out more about the challenges they face”.
Potential participants are encouraged to sign up via Ofcom’s partner’s website at

Volunteers who meet Ofcom’s sample requirements will be sent a unit to plug into a mains socket and connect to their home broadband router.

Further details of the sign-up process are set out below.

1. Broadband users sign up to take part in the research by completing an online form on SamKnows, Ofcom’s technical partner’s website here:

2. SamKnows compares these volunteers to Ofcom’s sample plan, which is designed to ensure that the panel is statistically robust and nationally representative. Please note that not all of those who volunteer to take part in the research will be selected.

3. Those who fit Ofcom’s sample plan will be asked to complete an online end-user licence agreement.

4. Volunteers are then sent a whitebox hardware measurement unit that they plug into a mains socket and connect to their home broadband router using the provided cable.

Please note that the whitebox will not interfere with the panellist’s connection as it only runs tests when the connection is not in use, and it does not monitor what the panellist uses their connection for.
Further detailed information about the process can be found at

If you have any questions or would like further information about this work, contact Jose Kurian at

Problems in East Devon can also be referred to EDDC’s broadband czar, Councillor Phil Twiss …

Hinkley C doesn’t make sense

And yet our Local Enterprise Partnership and its devolution deal puts it at the heart of their plans – not surprising given the nuclear interests of several LEP members:

” … Hinkley C had been described as “the most expensive object on Earth” many months before the National Audit Office (NAO) revealed that subsidies would be nearly five times as big as had been previously advertised. The avalanche of subsidies has produced an ongoing state aid dispute with the UK launched by Austria, a new state aid investigation by the European commission into the reactor builder Areva, and a potential state aid dispute over France’s plans to make up EDF’s credit shortfall on the project.

Hinkley C has now become so uneconomic that it has been condemned in editorials in the normally pro-nuclear Times, Telegraph and Mail, and many EDF executives and employees think it might be a bad enough plan to completely destroy the state-owned utility.

On Thursday EDF’s board will make a widely trailed decision on whether to proceed with this “investment”. After years of delay, this unseemly hurry looks a bit like panic.

The tide has been turning against Hinkley ever since the problems at Olkiluoto in Finland and Flammanville in France, Hinkley’s elder siblings, became horribly apparent. Now, with a new UK government not so publicly committed to the project, EDF may be feeling that its chances of getting Hinkley built are likely to diminish even more quickly. Osborne seemed willing to countenance almost anything in his desperation to get his legacy built, but Philip Hammond might look at thte figures and the alternatives, and start looking for a way out.

To be clear, the Hinkley subsidies are not bungs to power brokers or inexplicable government largesse; Hinkley’s problems are so severe and so numerous that it requires potentially illegally high levels of state support in order for it to be built. Listing them all – the legal risks, the engineering risks, the liability risks, the credit risks, the safety risks – would take so long there would probably be some new ones before I’d finished. But they all spring from a reactor design, which has so far proved impossible to make work, and has even been described as “unconstructable” by an engineering professor.”

“Councils demand reassurance on universal broadband pledge”

Councils have urged the government to “reaffirm its commitment” to a minimum broadband speed to stop thousands of homes and businesses falling into a “digital twilight zone”.

The Local Government Association called for a “timetable for action”, saying it was “paramount” to press on with extending broadband to all of the UK.
Ministerial changes after the Brexit vote must not delay work, it added.

The government insisted it was on track with its broadband coverage plans.
The promise to give every household a legal right to high-speed broadband was announced in the Queen’s Speech in May, as part of measures to make the UK a “world leader in the digital economy”.

The government expects an initial minimum speed of at least 10 Mbps (megabits per second) by 2020 under the new “broadband universal service obligation” (USO).

The pledge is included in the Digital Economy Bill, which will also include powers to direct Ofcom to regularly review the speed provided to ensure it is “still sufficient for modern life”.

Council leaders said they supported the creation of a national minimum broadband speed, but called for a “safety net” for those who were unlikely to be covered by the plan.

The government plans to set a reasonable cost threshold above which the remotest properties could be expected to contribute to the cost of their connection.

Mark Hawthorne, from the Local Government Association (LGA), said good digital connectivity was “a vital element of everyday life”, and key to the economy.

A minimum speed was “a good start”, but it must keep pace with national average speeds, especially at peak times, he stressed.

“Without this there is the real possibility of some areas – particularly in rural and hard-to-reach areas – falling into a digital twilight zone.”
The LGA’s call comes a day after Ofcom announced proposals to make BT’s Openreach division a distinct and legally separate company from BT to ensure “faster, more reliable broadband.”

But Ofcom stopped short of calling for Openreach – which runs the UK’s broadband infrastructure – to be spilt off entirely.

Responding to the LGA’s intervention, Digital Minister Matt Hancock said nine out of 10 UK homes and businesses could already get superfast broadband, and Britain was on target to reach 95% coverage by the end of next year.

Fast and reliable broadband was “a must these days”, he added, saying the bill to make the minimum speed requirement law was currently going through Parliament.”

MD of Butlins warns of seaside degeneration and youth unemployment

“In her first speech as prime minister, Theresa May set out her goals to tackle the social injustices faced by many, including the working-class young. One to add to the list is that of young people who come from our coastal and seaside towns.

The UK’s coastline is 7,700 miles (12,400km) long and contributes hugely to our cultural wellbeing. Some 250 million visits are made to the coast each year but it is an inconvenient fact that if you come from our seaside towns you are more likely to be poorly educated, unemployed, unemployable, lacking in ambition, claiming benefits and living in multiple-occupation housing.

This is largely down to the long-term decline of fishing, agriculture and tourism — the industries that traditionally supported coastal communities. Tourism could arrest that decline if government helped to create the environment to allow businesses to do so. Although tourism is the UK’s sixth largest export earner and employs nearly 10 per cent of the working population, it could do better.

A recent survey found that more than half of the British public have not visited the seaside in the past three years, 30 per cent have not visited as an adult and 65 per cent believe the seaside is run down and in need of investment.

This is why the British Hospitality Association has come up with a plan to revive these communities. The first step is to appoint a seaside tsar, someone to co-ordinate government and local authority spending. This person, who needs to be strong enough to make a real difference, would oversee the creation of coastal enterprise zones to bring in investment and encourage businesses to move to the coast.

The second initiative is to create a tax environment that encourages people to visit and coastal businesses to invest in themselves. The obvious incentive for visitors is a reduction in tourism VAT — on accommodation and visitor attractions. UK visitors are taxed harder than almost everyone else in Europe for simply going on holiday. Our tourism VAT rate is a punitive 20 per cent while the average in Europe is half that.

If Mrs May is serious about rebalancing the economy, tourism is one industry that can deliver export growth by creating a seaside that is worth going back to.”

Dermot King is managing director of Butlins and chairman of the Cut Tourism VAT Campaign

EDDC – Exmouth: searching questions about relationship with former ” preferred partner”

“Dear East Devon District Council,

I make this request under the FOI Act and Environmental regs

We have learned from local press reports that EDDC has ended the status of Moirai Capital Investments as preferred partner in relation to the regeneration of Exmouth.

Has council made any payments to Moirai, or any agent on their behalf (JLL?) and if so, what are the details.

What meetings have been held with Moirai or any of it’s agents and what officer time or other costs have been incurred. Full details please , to include dates, place of meeting and officers/members meeting.

Is it correct that EDDC has been taking councillors (and any others e.g regeneration panel members) to view Moirai’s Swindon operation? Full details please.

When did EDDC decide to end it’s preferred partner relationship with Moirai and why? please supply full reasons and dates with copies of reports and decisions .

Please explain what has changed, other than the passage of time, that necessitates a rethink on regeneration proposals.

Please ensure that the fullest details are given in response together with copies of all relevant paperwork, emails etc.”

How to fail better in public services – be more honest and avoid superficial solutions

“The government must stop reaching for superficial solutions when explaining the failure of public services, according to an Institute for Government report released today.

In Failing Well, the Institute of Government analyses why organisations fail and makes recommendations on how to minimise the impact if and when things go wrong.

The report points to a raft of high-profile public service failures, such as Rotherham child services and Mid-Staffordshire Foundation Trust.

Within these and other examples, the institute found that cultures of denial, weak accountability and dysfunctional mechanisms for identifying failure “inhibited an effective response”.

It concluded that warning signs are often missed and that politicians routinely use “stock responses” to explain failures instead of seeking the root cause of the problem. …

… it was shown that the turnaround in performance [in case studies] was thanks to more honest reporting cultures, strong peer involvement, reinvigorated leadership and a shared ownership of failure. The tendency to restructure or lay blame, which is a standard organisational response to failure, was avoided. …

… “Failure is an ever-present threat in our public services – and the risks are increasing. Yet there are good and bad ways of responding to failure. Politicians too often use a superficial set of tools – restructuring a service or parceling out blame.

“But this won’t solve the problem: leadership, collaboration and transparency will,” she added. “Those overseeing turnarounds also need to hold their nerve and accept that performance can dip further as recovery begins.”