The owl returns …..

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EAST DEVON WATCH

Shining a light into the darkest corners of East Devon

Contact us at eastdevonwatch@gmail.com

“Nothing about us, without us, is for us”

owl

Owl belongs to no political party, is not financed by any political party or politically aligned individual or group, but DOES support political independence in local politics.

If only Owl could tell you … voters please ask awkward questions!

Owl has such wonderful correspondents but sometimes their information, whilst being terribly important to voters, just can’t be used – though some if it could and will be used at a later date should the pecuniary interests of some current and prospective councillors not be fully dealt with in future deliberations.

[Sorry, the information reaching Owl is only about Tories – other information may be available, Owl is happy to receive it].

People with contractual relationships with each other involving council projects, a very long-serving councillor who spends a very great deal of time in Somerset and very little in his ward … these things totally legal (for now) but perhaps somewhat ethically debatable and politically awkward …

Really, voters should be asking ALL councillors:

Do you live here the vast majority of your time? If not where (roughly) do you live.

Do you have any business relationships with other councillors?

What have you achieved (or will you pledge to achieve) for your ward if elected?

Do you have any political relationships or enthusiasm for groups which would be considered outside the mainstream for your party or group and which might affect voter perception of your party affiliation – if so, what are they?

Do you own any land or property that is, or may be, of planning or development interest to the council? If so, what and where?

But, unfortunately, almost no-one will ask these questions.

11 days to local elections – today’s picture

Obscene inequality
Children in abject poverty
Massive increase in food bank need
Schools without resources
NHS privatised and on its knees
Global warming inaction
Potholed roads

Austerity: a political choice that favours the rich and punishes the poor.
There are things WE can do about these issues at a local level – but not by being whipped by the parties causing them.

Vote Independent …

Your vote – for Cambridge, East Grinstead or East Devon? Does it matter?

Why have East Devon Tories had to recruit candidates who have more links with other parts of England, far, far away from East Devon?

We already have stories of an (admittedly locally educated) student who must spend the vast majority of his time at his university in Cambridge standing in Sidmouth Sidford and a person in Seaton who seems to have a much greater link to West Sussex than East Devon.

And we have the odd spectacle of old-timer and former Leader Paul Diviani deserting his home turf (Yarty, Blackdown Hills) after many years to stand in Broadclyst, still giving his address as Yarcombe. Go figure!

And around 30 candidates (mostly Labour but some Tory and Lib Dem and one independent – Harv Sethi in Ottery) refusing to say exactly which part of ‘East Devon District’ they live in.

Are there more?

But just these few examples show that, in particular, East Devon Tories are really, really desperate – they do NOT have any truly local replacements for candidates standing down.

Does this matter? Yes. We need to know just how active and interested candidates are in their chosen (chosen for them) seats. What motivates them? Their ambition or their community?

Fortunately, there is a solution. ALL East Devon Alliance Independent candidates have been locally-active and locally high-profile in their respective communities for years.

Cambridge, East Grinstead or East Devon based – make your choice wisely.

Global warming: a local initiative

A correspondent has sent the following email to EDDC CEO Mark Williams:

“Dear Mark,

Back in 2006 you supported me in a move to show Planners the Al Gore film “The Inconvenient Truth’ about climate change. You allowed staff a half hour of work time on top of their lunch break to enable the departments staff to watch that film. Thank you!

Tonight I was reminded of this event and your support while watching David Attenborough s documentary ‘Climate Chsnge: the Truth’.

What is scary for me is that the film tonight was so similar to that of Gore’s almost 15 years ago. Pleasing in that Attenborough verifies all the fears that Gore postulated then with our increasingly sophisticated technology. But the reality is the same.

In what way have we changed our practices to respond to our pending oblivion on this planet. ? The answer: not enough.”

“Power plant plans for [Carter family?] land on outskirts of Exmouth”

A planning application has been submitted to provide 20 self-contained generators on land south of Woodbury Business Park.

Enquiries seem to point to Woodbury Business Park being the instigators. Woodbury Business Park is owned by Zoe House and her husband. Zoe is the sister to Robin and Rowan Carter and therefore an an aunt to William Carter, who is a Conservative candidate for Woodbury and Lympstone at the coming district council election on 2 May 2019.

“A new power plant could be built on the outskirts of Exmouth, new plans have revealed.

A planning application has been submitted on behalf of Plutus Energy Group for 20 self-contained natural gas engine-driven electricity generators on land South of Woodbury Business Park.

The application has already drawn two objections with one saying it contravenes both the National Planning Policy Framework and the other calling it ‘totally inappropriate’ for this part of East Devon.

However, East Devon District Council’s environmental health department has said the power plant would have a ‘low impact’ on the nearest residential properties.

Woodbury Parish Council is set to be consulted and the deadline for consultation is Friday, May 10.

East Devon District Council will make the final decision.

https://www.exmouthjournal.co.uk/news/power-plant-plans-for-woodbury-1-6004231

Leader of large district council explains why he’s not standing as a Tory this time: party-political tribalism at its worst

“York council leader Ian Gilles is not standing for re-election on May 2. He told STEPHEN LEWIS why

IAN Gillies has never been one to mince his words. But the former policeman turned Tory leader of City of York Council has to bite his tongue to keep his frustration about the state of local politics from spilling over.

Owl says: BUT this is the kind of I dependent to be Very wary of! if there is a REAL i dependent to vote for – no brainer!

“It can be very tribal,” he says. “Very… challenging.”

We’ve met over coffee to talk about his reasons for deciding not to stand in next month’s council elections: a decision which means that, from May 2, he won’t even be a city councillor, let alone council leader.

He took over as leader of a fractious Tory/ Liberal Democrat ruling coalition early last year, when previous Tory council leader David Carr sensationally quit the Conservative Party, accusing some within the council’s Conservative group of committing an ‘act of betrayal’ against him.

Cllr Carr is one of a number of former Tory councillors who will be standing as an independent on May 2. But it’s not exactly all sweetness and light in the city’s other political parties, either. Former Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors will also be standing as independents this time around.

Cllr Gillies, a former Conservative group leader and one-time Lord Mayor, was clearly seen as a safe pair of hands when he took over as head of the Tory group and as council leader last year.

But, while he insists he’s perfectly willing to try to work with members of other political groups in the interests of getting things done, he admits it has been hard work.

“The Liberal Democrats are not natural bedfellows for us,” he says. “And the situation in my own group has been very challenging.”

He says that when he took over as group and council leader last year, he intimated to other group members that it would only be until the next election.

But it is clear his frustrations run deep.

A couple of years ago he even thought of setting up a new centrist party in York, so as to escape some of the traditional party tribalism and infighting. It would have been effectively a collection of independents – none of them ‘extremists’ – whose viewpoints were similar enough for them to work together to get things through, he says.

That never happened, and he ended up leading the Tory group again and becoming council leader.

But he has begun to seriously question whether party politics should have a place in local government.

“Do we really need political parties in local government? No. I’m a Conservative: that’s what I am. But as far as this city is concerned, what matters is what is best for the city. Whipped party politics (ie a system where councillors have to obey their party line) isn’t really necessary in a local environment.”

What you need, he says, is intelligent, able people from all kinds of backgrounds who are willing to work together to get things done. “Is that Utopian? I don’t see why. You’d still have debates and arguments. But it wouldn’t be so tribal.”

Party politics isn’t the only thing that has frustrated him to the point of persuading him not to stand again, however.

The glacial pace of the move towards Yorkshire devolution has also got to him.

He places the blame for that squarely at the feet of Whitehall.

Sheffield has gone its own merry way. But council leaders in Leeds, Bradford, North Yorkshire and York all want to have a single tier of government for Yorkshire, with an elected mayor at its head, he says.

That would mean more money for the region – and more powers for regional decision-making on things such as transport. Yorkshire could become a real financial powerhouse. “I want that for Yorkshire and for York,” he says.

A proposal for such such a devolved regional government is now sitting with the Treasury. But the government has been slow to respond, and keeps drip-feeding suggestions that it would prefer smaller devolved authorities, such as one for West Yorkshire and one for York and North Yorkshire, he says.

He believes there’s only one reason for that. A regional government made up of West Yorkshire, North Yorkshire, York and Humberside combined would have a population bigger than Scotland, he points out. “I think the government is scared of the size of Yorkshire.” …

And what about the prospects for York Conservatives at the election?

He chooses his words carefully. “I don’t want to decry them,” he says. “But I think there will be a lot of people who won’t vote in the local elections.” Who knows? in other words.

His own part in local politics is over, at least for now. And once he ceases to be a councillor and council leader, he will also give up his place on various other local and regional bodies – as a director of the York BID, for example, and as vice-chair of Transport for the North. But he’s not ruling out a return to public life altogether. …”

https://www.yorkpress.co.uk/news/17580657.do-we-really-need-political-parties-in-local-government-outgoing-council-leader-ian-gillies-speaks-out/