The owl returns …..


Shining a light into the darkest corners of East Devon

Contact us at





Saturday 3 December 2016 midday – 2 pm

Bedford Square, Exeter (Princesshay)




Devon-wide non-political protest at the loss of community hospitals and community beds:

wear something RED

Show a united front against the closures of our hospitals and beds, without proper evidence and proper consultation.  This follows a similar successful rally in North Devon.  Please forward this information to get a huge gathering together to tell the health authorities that these cuts and closures are unacceptable.

“Conservative Councillors Gatecrash Save Exmouth Seafront Meeting “

Interesting that Councillor Skinner feels he can bully his way into an SES meeting but does not allow anyone to attend (and listen) at an Exmouth Regeneration Board meeting! One law for him one law for others, it seems.

“An unexpected and uninvited band of Conservative councillors descended on the Harbour View cafe last night for the meeting of the Save Exmouth Seafront (SES) campaign group.

Councillor Philip Skinner, Chair of the Exmouth Regeneration Board was flanked by two Conservative Exmouth Town councillors, Fred Caygill and Richard Scott, when they arrived to the meeting of the campaign group. SES aims to push for independent consultation on the future of the seafront before any further work, including the submissions of additional planning applications. This is in sharp contrast to the Exmouth Regeneration Board who appear determined to press ahead with their development vision without consultation.

Councillor Skinner said he’d come to listen. People at the meeting were stunned but used the opportunity to question him. Laura Freeman, an SES member explained “I attended the meeting to help with SES’s campaign for independent consultation and the support of the existing seafront businesses. I was shocked to see Councillor Skinner, but like others, I tried to use the opportunity to ask him questions. However he rudely laughed at me as I tried to ask a question, which he then avoided answering. His presence at the meeting seemed to be more about disrupting SES than listening to what any of us had to say”.

SES spokesperson Louise MacAllister has been trying for some time to organise a public Q&A session with Councillor Skinner, and despite the negative feeling surrounding Councillor Skinner’s unexpected arrival at an SES meeting, hopes that this is a sign he is willing to engage with the wider public and ensure a Q&A session is organised as soon as possible. SES are not against meeting with external stakeholders but would rather they did not gate-crash their meetings. SES are now seeking an arranged meeting with Dr Mark Dixon the benefactor of the Watersport’s Centre.

Knowle officer decision exposes hypocrisy of planning system

Unsurprisingly, planning officers have recommended the PegasusLife planning application for luxury flats at the Knowle.

Well, be honest, would you go against the wishes of your CEO, deputy CEO and all the Tory councillors?

Yet a very similar (almost identical) planning application in Bath has just been turned down – but that isn’t being built on council land and part- financing a new HQ.

Funny that.

Lympestone has to suffer to “benefit” Exmouth

“Lympstone residents have accused Devon County Council (DCC) of ignoring the village during the Dinan Way extension consultation process.

Council officers were subjected to scrutiny by the public at an open meeting in the village over a proposed £12million extension, which will link Dinan Way to the A376.

Mary Truell, who has lived in the area for 88 years and currently resides in Wotton Lane, Lymsptone, said the council had taken no notice of where the road was due to be built.

She said: “I would like to know who put in the application for the road because it is erroneous.

“All the time it talks about Exmouth and Exmouth benefits, but the whole thing is in Lympstone.”

DCC’s chief engineer for highways, Rob Richard, responded by admitting it was a project for Exmouth.

He said: “I am not going to stand here and say this is a scheme for Lympstone because it clearly isn’t. I am not pretending it is something it isn’t.

“It was quite clear the strength of feeling about the south route. It was very much the preference, not only from residents and the community of Lympstone, but also Exmouth as well.

“Unfortunately, consultation for us goes wider than the community and residents and, unfortunately, it is not us that dictates the importance of listed buildings, it’s government policy.

“We don’t get on with the National Trust and English Heritage any better than you guys do.”

Mr Richards added: “Hopefully, the road will provide a long, feasible structure that is going to help move traffic in and around Exmouth.”

DCC has voted through a compromise third route for Dinan Way after two proposed routes – a ‘south’ route and ‘valley’ route – were rejected after consultation. Despite being more popular with the public, the south route, which passed near A la Ronde in Summer Lane, was opposed by the National Trust.

Lympstone district and parish councillor Rob Longhurst accused the county council of letting everyone down with the road extension.

He said: “We are talking about loss of homes, financial hardship and social trauma.

“I am afraid I consider Devon County Council has failed us on these consultations.

“I think £12million is a ridiculous amount. It ignores the views of the consultations, raises the prospects of flooding in Lympstone and puts transient traffic problems over and above the effects on residents here.”

Exmouth: have councillors been misled – asks councillor

Have Councillors been misled?

East Devon District Council’s Cabinet “rubber stamped” the go ahead for a “full planning permission” on the redevelopment at Queen’s Drive, Exmouth which they were told needs to be submitted by the end of the year.

This is part of what the Cabinet recommended on the 9th November:
“To note that under delegated powers and an exemption to standing orders, officers have engaged planning and design services to take forward a reserved matters application for the continuance of the current planning approval of Queen’s Drive.”

This means that contrary to normal procedures officers engaged the planning and design services of a company to design and submit a full planning application proposal for the remainder of the Queen’s Drive Development.

Within the submitted papers presented to the Cabinet it explains officers drew up a proposal to hire consultants in September 2016 and gave details of the costs which are estimated at £65,000.

The document states it is “necessary to submit the application by the end of 2016.” It also claims to be a “technical exercise” simply to “sustain a planning application”.

Local Independent District Councillors believe that the advice given to the Cabinet members was misleading. Rather than a “technical exercise” the proposal to submit a “reserved matters application” would provide full planning permission which in theory would allow contractors to start development as soon as it is approved. The ‘reserved matters’ application does not need to be submitted until 24th January, when the current outline application expires.

Megan Armstrong, District Councillor for Exmouth said “Independent colleagues and I cannot understand why the Council has now decided to appoint a designer to submit a full planning application at vast expense when all that is required is to submit a further outline planning application to replace the present one.

The cost of a new outline application would be far less than the ‘reserved matters’ proposal.”

Councillor Armstrong added “If this goes ahead, it contradicts the recommendation that “the Council will give Exmouth people another opportunity to have their say on what happens on that site. The Council will bring in external expertise to carry out a review. This will involve full consultation that is neither developer nor Council led.”

“I believe the District Council should put in a fresh outline planning application for phases two & three, which could be done before the current one expires. Then we can have the full consultation, rather than setting out the ‘reserved matters’ details first, which seems to be putting the cart before the horse. We understand that these Cabinet decisions will be discussed further at the next Full Council meeting on 21st December.”

— ENDS —

Health crisis: EDDC scrutiny committee grills NHS rep

01 December 2016
Scrutiny committee questions CCG representative
Councillors voice concerns over proposed East Devon in-patient bed provision within Your Future Care consultation

At a meeting on Thursday 24 November 2016, members of East Devon District Council’s Scrutiny committee listened to Rob Sainsbury, the Chief Operating Officer of the NHS North Eastern & Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (NHS NEW Devon CCG), give a talk about the NHS’s Your Future Care consultation.

Mr Sainsbury spoke about issues such as the financial pressure faced by the NHS, the changing way in which people are cared for, proposed models of care and the number of community inpatient beds in East Devon. He outlined the options set out in the consultation and reassured the committee that no changes to services would be made until tests created by local clinicians had been undertaken to ensure the changes are safe and reliable.

Consultation options
• Option A: Tiverton 32 beds, Seaton 24 beds, Exmouth 16 beds
• Option B: Tiverton 32 beds, Sidmouth 24 beds, Exmouth 16 beds
• Option C: Tiverton 32 beds, Seaton 24 beds, Exeter 16
• Option D: Tiverton 32 beds, Sidmouth 24 beds, Exeter 16 beds
The CCG’s preferred option is A, as this combination is considered by the CCG to result in the smallest changes in travel time and to have the greatest impact on the whole system.

Prior to councillors questioning Mr Sainsbury and debating a number of issues, the Scrutiny Chairman Councillor Roger Giles reminded the committee of recent comments made by Neil Parish MP who asked that action be taken to: “Fight all closures across East Devon.” Cllr Giles expressed a hope that the committee would adopt a unified front rather than focus on arguments between the towns where community hospitals are located.

Following a wide range of questions from councillors, which Mr Sainsbury answered, councillors voted in favour of the following comments being sent in a response from the Scrutiny committee to the NEW Devon CCG Your Future Care consultation:

1. Asks that the New Devon CCG presents an outline of how care delivery integrates health, social, and mental care, as well as physiotherapy, and how it is provided to patients

2. Consider that the comparison with Northern and Western Devon areas is unfair as the demographics were not the same as Eastern Devon

3. The committee considers that the models proposed in the consultation will not meet the needs of the District because of the local issues of social isolation, and the support that carers need

4. The NEW Devon CCG should review the expenditure on management and administration as a means to realise savings that could be used to provide care rather than divert funding from in-patient beds

5. The committee considers that the evidence presented to date by the NEW Devon CCG is not sufficient to convince them that the new model of care will be successful

6. The Committee does not accept Options A – D, but recommends that the NEW Devon CCG should retain the current level of in-patient beds in community hospitals in the Eastern Devon locality

7. Should a decision be made to close in-patients beds, the Committee insists that this is not undertaken until the replacement model of care is recognised as safe and in place; subject to the provision of evidence that the model of care has resulted in no bed blocking at acute hospitals, non occupancy of beds in community hospitals, and full care in the community

Commenting on the content and outcome of the meeting, Councillor Roger Giles said:

“The Scrutiny Committee were very far from convinced about the practicality of the CCG proposals to close beds in East Devon community hospitals and replace them with care in the community. There was also concern about the accuracy of the CCG costings used to justify closure of hospital beds. The committee felt strongly that East Devon hospitals provided an excellent and essential local service and that the existing hospital beds should be retained.”


Devonwide NHS cuts rally Exeter 3 December midday – assembly arrangements

Dear Friends,

I wrote to you a few days ago giving you the suggested meeting places in Exeter on Saturday for those demonstrating who wished to march through the town to the area of our rally in Bedford Square, Princess Hays rather than going directly to the rally. The rally is from 12.00-14.00.

I have now been informed that at the final planning meeting it was considered that the suggested places were too many and too complicated.

So to Keep it Simple, individuals and any towns or communities that have not made their own arrangements to enter Exeter as a group could gather, at 11.30, at Bury Meadow at the Northern end of Queen Street (ten minutes walk up the hill from St Davids Station, near Exeter College) and walk south to High Street, and turn left to Bedford Square. If you do get lost, just join a group wearing red, particularly if they are waving placards!

Others may assemble as already planned, for instance, East Devon people will meet near the bus station by the civic centre on Paris Street, walk north to High Street and left to Bedford Square.

It looks as though we can expect a very active rally with some good speeches. This is not just about the hospital beds in East Devon. That is only the first of the NHS cuts planned here in Devon which are part of the NHS’s STP (Sustainable Transformation Plan). People throughout England are getting up to be counted, led and motivated to some extent by 38 Degrees who have revealed the secretive nature of this STP which will be applied in 44 areas, or footprints, in England. Cuts are also to be made in AE departments, major acute hospitals and GP surgeries.

See you on Saturday.


Chris East

Chris East started this campaign on the 38 Degrees Campaigns by You website.

MPs asked to curb second jobs

Operative word “asked” not “forced” …

MPs will be asked to restrict the hours they dedicate to lucrative second jobs and drop any work involving lobbying lawmakers or civil servants, according to a proposed new code of conduct.

Outside work will be scrutinised to ensure that MPs dedicate a majority of their working week to parliament in proposals which have been sent to the commissioner for standards and seen by the Guardian.

Those who are paid to lobby for outside interests – including those who work full-time for unions or charities – will be asked to drop their second jobs, according to the proposed code.

Twenty MPs declare more than £100,000 from second jobs
The change in the rules, which are still to be approved by MPs, could cut the amount of time MPs will be allowed to spend away from their constituents.

Until now, there have been no regulation of MPs doing other jobs apart from a general requirement to register income received from outside sources and to declare a conflict of interest.

Tommy Sheppard, the SNP member of the standards committee, has written to Kathryn Hudson, the parliamentary commissioner for standards, suggesting major changes.

He argued that there should be a ceiling on the amount of additional work an MP can take and this could be measured either by the year or by the week. …

… It comes after a study last year from Transparency International found that scores of MPs were being paid millions of pounds a year for outside jobs. The research found that 73 MPs, who are paid £74,962 per annum, also received £3.4m in the previous 12 months for “external advisory roles”, including in some cases board positions.

The biggest earner in that period was former prime minister Gordon Brown, who made almost £300,000 while still serving as the MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath.