Deputy Leader suspended for sending texts under different names

It wouldn’t happen here would it …. and if it did, would the Monitoring Officer report the offender to the Standards Committee if he were the Deputy Leader of the majority party?

Paul Shotton [Deputy Leader, Stoke council] contributed to debates on BBC Radio Stoke both supporting the council and criticising the opposition over a period of six months. Staff rumbled the councillor after he sent text messages from the same mobile number under names such as Alison, Jean and Dave. He also pretended to be from different areas of Stoke-on-Trent, including Fenton and Smallthorne.

Mr Shotton yesterday admitted sending the texts and will now face a council standards board hearing. He said: “I apologise fully for my actions. They were plain stupid. I will never do anything like this again.”

BBC Stoke presenter Tim Wedgwood warned listeners recently that DJs at the station can see the phone number of people texting the station. A BBC spokesman said: “Audience interaction is an important part of our programmes and we read out texts from listeners in good faith but we are reliant on the audience being up front and honest about who they are. “In this case, we became suspicious after recognising the phone number and then referred the issue to the council.”

The Labour party has now launched an investigation into the incident after suspending the councillor. A spokesman said: “The Labour party takes these matters very seriously. Councillor Paul Shotton has been suspended pending an investigation.”

Mr Shotton is cabinet member for economic development and a ward councillor for Fenton East. He recently fought off a challenge to his position as deputy leader from Janine Bridges, cabinet member for housing.

Mr Shotton was not at a meeting of the council’s cabinet held last night, but it was reported that Stoke-on-Trent City Council leader Mohammed Pervez has taken on his cabinet responsibilities. Mr Pervez, said: “I was informed of the issue yesterday and immediately contacted the Labour party. The Labour party suspended councilor Shotton pending investigation.”

Gerry Clarke, the council’s deputy monitoring officer, said: “We have been alerted to allegations made against the deputy leader of the council. On the basis of information that has been provided, the council will initiate a standards board process to enable the facts of this case to be investigated.

“We understand an internal investigation is also being undertaken by the Labour Party, and it would therefore be inappropriate for the council to comment further until such investigations have been concluded.”


EDDC & Planning…a comparison with nearby authorities.

Changes to rules for public speaking is one of the most sensitive items on the agenda at the next EDDC Cabinet meeting (Weds 4th June, 5.30pm at Knowle).

Many questions from the public are to do with Planning. Why is this issue so acute here? How does East Devon compare with nearby areas?  Here’s what an EDA researcher found, in a study done earlier this year Public speaking analysis_EDDC


EDDC HQ for Seaton?

Why not?  New build on virgin site exactly like Skypark but with the added benefit of helping to regenerate the town.  On the far edge of the district, just like Skypark so just about as difficult for people to get to.  In an area that desperately needs jobs (probably more than Cranbrook does with its proximity to Exeter), next to a lovely big Tesco and with a great walk by the sea at lunchtime!

Do your job, click and collect, walk by the sea, go home – what could be easier.

But it isn’t next to Exeter or its airport …..  ah well.  Bring on the Zimmer frames.

Protest group formed in Seaton after site on regeneration site for hotel changed to McCarthy and Stone retirement flats

We have received the following message from Seaton:

 The Seaton Regeneration area (Tesco site) had a plot set aside for a hotel to replace tourist beds lost when the holiday camp was demolished but the developers of the site (Tesco and Bovis Homes) say they were unsuccessful in marketing the site for a hotel.

Now McCarthy and Stone has take an option for yet another block of retirement flats.  Seaton is already highly over-represented with elderly people and retirement blocks which are to the north (Jubilee Lodge), east (Haven Court) and south (Homebaye House) of the regeneration area and will nowtotally encircle the planned new Visitor Centre.

Recently Tesco won the right to delete all the affordable housing that had been planned for the site.  No affordable housing has been built for many years in Seaton.

A protest group has been set up to oppose the latest development and will have its first meeting at

The Hook and Parrot

on Seaton seafront at

7.30 p.m. on

Thursday 5 June 1014 at 7.30 pm

to which anyone who objects to this planning application is warmly welcome.


Public access to EDDC accounts

We are once again approaching that time of year when the public have the right to inspect the council accounts for 20 days, full details of which rights can be found at

Click to access Council-accounts-Know-your-rights-July-20132.pdf

This right is a powerful tool and gives exceptional public access to this material, so we are encouraging people, a few weeks beforehand, to seriously think about what accounts information might be useful and how they might use it to their best advantage.
Those who wish to examine any accounts should make their own arrangements, as EDA is not able to make enquiries for other individuals or campaign groups.
When making an enquiry, please try to be specific as possible with regard to the information you want to look at, as the staff need to find what you want, rather than give you a pile of papers to fish around in. The lady at EDDC is most helpful and giving early notice of what you might like to examine is strongly recommended- not least as it gives time for follow up requests before the statutory 20 day period is expired.

The start date is variable, so we will be keeping an eye on the public notices in the local press and as soon as we have confirmation of the dates, we will let you know.

No-one gets paid anything …

Just to reassure EDDC:  no-one gets paid anything for posts on the EDA website – see this attempt to stop a blogger in Whitby criticising his local council – they had him investigated by the Department of Work and Pensions but it backfired spectacularly on the council:

and no councillor or officer is involved it its ramblings!

Mr Pickles LOVES citizen bloggers and is doing his best to make life easier for us!

Voter dissatisfaction: direct action – what WE could do

Here a council must change from the tight-knit Cabinet only model (as EDDC has) where a Leader appoints his own Cabinet for a Committee model where committes make binding decisions and are made up in proportion to the parties voted in:

Some background to this is given here:

And here a town is petitioning to leave one local authority to join another:

and the background to this is here:

Seaton to West Dorset, Axminster to South Somerset, Cranbrook to Exeter City, Exmouth to Teignbridge, Budleigh Salterton to Kensington and Chelsea (sorry, got carried away there!) – interesting!

Progress of Local Plan: anyone know the difference between “could and should” and “can and will”?

It is almost an embarrassment to publish the latest correspondence between EDDC and the Local Plan Inspector, Mr Thickett.  The letter from EDDC with its “action plan” is so vague and indeterminate that it is simply a “wish list” (could and should) rather than an “action plan” (can and will).

You can almost hear the irritation in Mr Thickett’s reply.  However, he at least does try to set some sort of timetable (October/November) for the next stage of the process.

Interesting that the whole process will take us up to election time – so developer free-for-all will probably continue till then.

The correspondence:

Letter from EDDC:


The “action plan”


and Mr Thickett’s reply


All correspondence and details of information provided for the Local Plan is HERE

Knowle relocation news: Richard Cohen to reveal all at Cabinet meeting next Wednesday (4th June)

Well, maybe not quite all? This, and other highlights of the Cabinet agenda, are listed at

Independent Councillor Claire Wright to run for Parliament against Hugo Swire

Independent Councillor Claire Wright (EDDC Councillor for West Hill and Devon County Councillor for Ottery St Mary Rural) has announced HERE that she will be running for Parliament in the next general election in May 2015.

Claire has signed the EDA Charter.

Also link to Express and Echo article HERE.

The shape of things to come?

…..Labour victory in Hammersmith and Fulham has raised questions over the future of Terry Farrell’s £8billion masterplan for Earls Court

Speaking to the BBC after the local elections, Labour Leader of Hammersmith and Fulham Stephen Cowan, said that some planned developments in the area would now be scrapped – although he wouldn’t reveal which ones.

The first phase of the Earls Court scheme designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF), Terry Farrell Architects and Pilbrow & Partners, had been given planning permission back in April 2014 and includes the demolition of two estates and the Earls Court Exhibition Centre.

Prior to the election Labour councillors had been in discussion with local residents against the demolition of the surrounding estates and had issued a manifesto pledging to take immediate measures to protect homes. .….

“Non Metropolitan England” – your views sought

The non-political and independent commission will be chaired by Sir John Peace, who is also the Chairman of Standard Chartered PLC, and Burberry, as well as Chairman of Nottinghamshire’s local Growth Board. Sir John has been asked by the Local Government Association, which represents almost 400 councils, to lead this major review alongside a panel of leading figures from business, the voluntary and public sectors.

They will explore the unique characteristics of non-metropolitan economies and their drivers, as well as what more can be done to free up their public services to promote growth and deliver better outcomes for residents. By the autumn, it will make recommendations for reform to shape the way economic growth and public service transformation are supported in the future.

As part of the review, the commission wants to hear from everyone who has a stake in non-metropolitan areas. It is calling for evidence from business leaders, voluntary and faith groups, community and public service leaders. It has today launched a public Call for Evidence.

– See more at:

Yet another big businessman whose personal and public agenda is “growth” to decide the fate of people he probably rarely meets.


Letter on Express and Echo website: listen to the people

IS it so surprising that the electorate is disaffected and is rejecting the traditional parties? Had there been more elections in rural districts last week there would surely have been an even greater protest vote.

And it is interesting to note that last Friday a non-party-political Community Action Group in Formby, Lancashire, campaigning against over-development, convincingly won a councillor seat from a “safe” Labour councillor.

And why is this? Since the inception of the National Planning Policy there has been a relentless attack on our countryside, on our small towns and villages and our green belt, by developers in league with local politicians pursuing housing policies promoted by the main political parties.

The result has not been “affordable” homes nor housing for social need, in which large developers are not interested, but a rash of expensive and unsustainable housing development, much of it sold as second-homes or investment properties.

This, encouraged by the Right-to-Buy scheme, has only increased the price of housing and created a housing bubble.

And whatever happened to the coalition Government’s vaunted “localism”?

It is now exposed as a sham because individual communities have, in fact, ended up with less power and restrictions on their democratic freedom of speech; while there are fewer checks on the rapacity of greedy developers, and the myth of inflated housing figures goes unchallenged.

Our advice to all the main parties is to listen: the people who gave power to politicians will soon have the chance to take it away. We need and deserve representatives who will protect our environment and heritage.

Michael and Beryl Temple , Sidmouth

EDDC finally bites the bullet on the Thelma Hulbert Gallery – or does it?

Thank you an eagle eyed reader for pointing out that the Cabinet Agenda for 4 June 2014 also seals the fate of the constantly loss-making Thelma Hulbert Gallery in Honiton.

On page 92 of the 93 pages of the agenda and under the part where discussion is in private it recommends:

That Cabinet agree in principle to a transfer of the Thelma Hulbert Gallery to the LED Leisure Trust, and that the transfer takes place

subject to 

(i) successful grant applications which mean the Gallery can still function with a reduced financial support package from the Council.

 (ii) satisfactory detailed transfer arrangements being agreed between the Council and LED, with delegated authority being given

to the Chief Executive, in conjunction with the relevant portfolio holder to approve them, and subject to further legal, financial and

valuation advice as required.

Questions to be asked:

Why is EDDC still subsidising this little-used facility?  Perhaps its collection could be moved to the new Beehive Community Centre (which EDDC has so generously funded).  Or perhaps to Skypark!

LED is itself subsidised by EDDC so surely this is simply removing the subsidy to a less transparent area (though we have not been allowed to see the operating figures for this gallery on which EDDC decisions have been made).

What exactly does LED have in mind?

What will be the basis of the Trust?  Will EDDC still be underwriting its losses?

If LED cannot make a go of it, what happens to it then?  Who “owns” it in those circumstances?

The people of Honiton might well wish to ask a few questions.

The report ends with this sentence  “The Gallery helps achieve the priorities under Enjoying this Outstanding Place in the Council Plan as well as supporting the economic objectives of the Council”

Oh that the council REALLY understood what “Enjoying this outstanding place” REALLY means!



Trust in politics and business

In her speech to the Inclusive Capitalism conference, Christine Lagarde, head if the International Monetary Fund, recommended income and property tax changes to reduce inequality, attacked the financial sector for not changing its behaviour quickly enough and said that inequality in the UK was at levels not seen for almost a century.

It was highly political, quoting Pope Francis, John F Kennedy and Winston Churchill.

It was also a demand for the players at the top of business and politics to understand that “trust arrives on foot and leaves in a Ferrari”.

Capitalism needs to change its ways, she said.

Yes, trust arrives at Knowle on a bus and leaves with BMWs at Skypark too perhaps!

Transparency – a foggy issue

In response to the post below where EDDC is trying to keep information secret by claiming that a consultant was “seconded” to EDDC so his information should be secret (although his report was written under his employer’s name and he continued to be paid by said employer) even though the Information Commissioner has said that it should be published a correspondent writes:

It does make one angry that EDDC engage external private “consultants” without transparency stating that such vested interest is somehow considered in-house. Some senior officers are so partisan they seem to believe they and their “stakeholders” friends have a political mandate to operate behind closed doors on behalf of the electorate. Some like the EDDC Economic Development Manager and his EDBF developer chums seem to think the public were voting for them. They fail to appreciate such insider trading with private enterprise is highly suspect and lacks democratic accountability and responsibility. We unfortunately live in the “Age of Shopping” but all this quick-buck culture of privatising and selling-off of the public assets which our more civilised grandparents generation established after two world wars is deeply disturbing.

EDDC Overview and Scrutiny Committee – it’s not too late …

…to include an agenda item of the next O and S committee in June on the “Business Task and Finish Forum” investigating the creation, running and administration of the East Devon Business Forum and its effect on planning and the Local Plan debacle.  You know, the one you kicked into the long grass for as long as possible.

Oh, and where is Mr Harrison – EDDC Economic Development Officer – these days?  Since his job as Hon Sec of EDBF finished he seems to have gone totally silent when, in the past, he had such a lot to say about individual developments, particularly those of EDBF members.

And just when “economic development” is an even hotter topic.

What exactly are we paying (and paying handsomly) this person to do?