Rest easy in your beds … we are protected from Ebola and ready to welcome President Obama …

It is so reassuring to know that, even though it has taken 7-plus years to bring forward a (not yet agreed) Local Plan (see post below) our Head of Planning Strategy (Ed Freeman) and our Property and Assets Manager Amy Gilbert [who only joined EDDC in August 2015] have taken time from their extra-busy schedules to protect us all from the Ebola virus and have us all well sorted should President Obama pay us a visit. Thanks to today’s Sidmouth Herald (page 25) for this gem:

“Two senior officers from East Devon District Council successfully dealt with a potential Ebola outbreak and a visit from President Obama to bag top prize in a new competition for local authorities.

The pair were pitted against 22 other teams from across the region and challenged to deal with the hypothetical crises while saving money and delivering better local services for the customers of a fictional council. They were teamed up with colleagues from Teignbridge and Exeter.”

EDDC Chief Executive Mark Williams said:” I am extremely proud of Ed (our head of planning strategy) and Amy (our property and asset manager) for taking part and  roving successful partnerships are a winning formula”.

How much officer time did this exercise occupy?

But thank you Ed and Amy, we can all sleep much more peacefully in our beds tonight knowing that we are safe from Ebola and that President Obama will get the welcome he deserves.

Who know, he may have been booked to open the new EDDC HQ – or possibly the new Pegasus luxury retirement complex – or both!



The Local Plan, Knowle relocation, Sidmouth Mill Street – Hugo thinks it’s all a dog’s dinner


Photo Source:  Daily Mirror

Fresh from his fine performance at the Houses of Parliament Dog Show, Hugo Swire has some harsh words for our local district council in this week’s Sidmouth Herald. What a pity that he didn’t make his views known before the local and national elections …..



Here is the article from today’s Sidmouth Herald:

Swire 30.10.15

His idea for a multi-storey car park-cum housing block over the Ham car park might raise more than a few eyebrows.

Amongst his comments are the following:

“… People are put off by multi-storey car parks, but we can do a clever design that incorporates multi-storey parking and residential homes with affordable housing – which is what we need to bring people into this part of the town. …”

Er, not sure the people in the apartments upstairs would welcome the intense vehicle particulate discharge of the multi-storey car park below them – or the noise  …

“ … You are solving the parking issue and if we do it as one, we are really invigorating the whole of the town. I think the one thing we lack is a marina and I don’t see why we could not have one in Sidmouth – it would bring people into town. “Again, the whole redesign of Alma Bridge and also the Drill Hall area needs to be done as one .”..

Owl can visualise now the wonderful image of Hugo drawing into Sidmouth Marina for his annual visit ….. and, yes, Hugo, your constituents in Sidmouth have been saying this for years, only your fellow Conservative councillors have disagreed.

…Mr Swire admitted the Government’s commitment to building more houses created a problem in Sidmouth, where much of the land is within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).  This, he says, is why there needs to be an established Local Plan, which would provide a blueprint to determine areas earmarked for future development for the next 15 years and beyond.
Speaking about the delays in drafting a plan, Mr Swire said: “It has been a nightmare.

Well, only a nightmare for your constituents, Hugo – a beautiful dream for our council and its developers.

“I have said this is an absolute priority and it has been extremely frustrating that we have not got here sooner.  If you live in a place, you do not want the field next door to be covered in houses, but if everybody said ‘not here’, there would be no more new houses. “We are determined to get more people on the housing ladder. If we build houses in the right area, then people will not complain.

Yes, Mr Swire, we have all been saying this for the whole 7 -plus years that the Local Plan has been under discussion by your fellow Conservatives.

“I would favour putting more at Cranbrook, but then what is the knock-on effect on our services? “The sooner we come up with the Local Plan, the sooner we can have a more rational discussion about it.” …”

Er, no Hugo, that’s not how it works.  Once the Local Plan is agreed the discussion is over.  The time for rational discussion has already passed.  It was done by many of your constituents in front of Planning Inspector, Mr Thickett – twice.  But, unfortunately, you were not there to give him the benefit of your wise words.

A bit of closing the kennel door after the dog has bolted, perhaps …


Neil Parish supports government on tax credits then criticises them

Owl can’t really get its head around MPs who vote FOR something and then criticise it, feeling that it should really be the other way around.

Still, at least he said something, unlike our other MP Hugo Swire who probably thinks tax credits are something wealthy bankers deserve:

“Neil Parish, the MP for [Honiton and] Tiverton, said: “W
e have just lost our way a little, but we can come back out of the wilderness and put this right. It is not a crime to be lowly paid. We have got to put this right, because the Conservative party and the government’s reputation is at stake.”

People would be driven back on to benefits if the government were not careful with its tax credit changes, he warned.

The environment select committee chairman added: “I think we are standing up for what we believe to be right because as far as I am concerned it’s absolutely fundamental people that work are better off than those that don’t.”

Pegasus and EDDC jumping the gun at Knowle? Or just a Hallow’een prank!

This headline is currently the banner headline of East Devon District Council:

“Please be aware that contractors will be carrying out ground investigation on the car parks and grounds of the Knowle on Friday 30/Saturday 31 October and Friday 6/Saturday 7 November. This will involve works including drilling and some resultant noise. Works time will be restricted to between the hours of 9am and 5pm. If you need to speak to someone about these works then please contact Emma Webster at Pegasus Life Ltd – or call 07776 444341. Thank you for your understanding and patience.”

Will they be drilling the public parkland? And on Saturdays. No planning permission needed one presumes.

Hugo Swire’s dog “wins” competition

” … Old Etonian Foreign Office minister Hugo Swire, an ex-pig farmer, got his paws on the public vote thanks to his 14-month-old blond cockapoo Rocoo.

He won after he was caught red-pawed sending a mass e-mail begging for votes.”

A bit like a General Election, then!

Blond cock-a-poo?

“Audit should be citizen led” – that grey area for “Devolution plc” again

As the article points out, devolution comes with dangers:

” … There is a risk that moves towards greater decentralisation of power to newly empowered spaces – institutions of local government – simply replicate on a smaller scale the weaknesses of the national system. With the focus on new models of governance – directly elected mayors and combined authorities – crafted to suit the accountability requirements of Whitehall, it is important that new opportunities to strengthen accountability of decisions to the public space are not missed.

At core, the challenge for democratic institutions is to blur the boundaries between the governed and the government, creating more space for the former to engage with the latter while ensuring equity of participation and access. In practice at a local level there are more opportunities for this interaction – not simply due to proximity enabling direct engagement but because shared space in communities creates a focus for deliberation. There are already examples of local authorities pioneering new approaches, such as Oldham’s Co-operative Borough (as opposed to council), which involves developing the community leadership skills of elected members. The devolution of the entire health budget to Greater Manchester will be an interesting chance to consider how aligning health resource and decision-making more effectively across a place can create greater individual engagement in healthy choices and outcomes. …”

Build, build, build …. er, actually, no

… Overall, registrations for new homes fell by 2% in the last three months compared with the same period last year. That figure masks what many see as a more worrying trend. In the private sector, new building registrations fell by 1%.

” …While in the public sector – that’s largely homes built by housing associations which tend to be more often in the “affordable” category – the number was down a more precipitate 4%.

This morning, one housing association chief executive told The Times newspaper that it would certainly be cutting the number of affordable homes it planned to build this year.
Neil Hadden, of Genesis Housing Association, one of the largest in the UK, said that he was “looking carefully at priorities for spending”.

The reason? Uncertainty over how new Right to Buy plans will affect housing associations (the government wants to allow tenants to buy their homes at a discount and cuts to housing benefit which has meant income for many associations has fallen or is at risk.

… The latest figures from the Department for Communities and Local Government released in August said that house building “starts” (that’s actually building houses rather than registering a plan to do so) were down 14% compared to the previous three months and down 6% compared to the same period a year earlier.

And that comes against a background of generally poor construction figures as the sector becomes concerned about economic head winds.

It may not be time to roll out the tumbrils for UK house building.

But the latest figures could be making things a little twitchy for a Prime Minister who has made affordable housing one of the key priorities for this Parliament.”