Aah, so this is what a ” small enterprise town” is – fewer planning rules!

We have to go back all the way to July 2015 for this explanation of ” small enterprise towns”, which Owl thinks shows that the “growth point” and Cranbrook have been in deep trouble for a while. And/or another back-door route for “Local Enterprise Partnerships” to assume control by the back door yet again?

Shall we soon see councils disappear entirely so that LEPs take their place, perhaps? Developers to control planning and housing, unelected and unaccountable LEPs to control everything else?

“In his Summer Budget yesterday, Osborne said the government will be “launching a new round of enterprise zones for smaller towns” across England.

Historically, enterprise zones have introduced relaxed planning rules and economic incentives for businesses to operate in them. A Budget document published alongside the chancellor’s statement says the government will now be inviting bids for a new round of zones.

The document says: “This new round will focus on ensuring that all places in England can benefit, including rural areas where appropriate, and the government encourages towns and districts to work with local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) to develop bids.”

In May, Osborne said he was inviting bids to create new enterprise zones as part of his proposals to boost the northern economy.

Melanie Leech, chief executive of the British Property Federation, said: “Enterprise zones can galvanise government incentives, increase local government commitment to an area, and help businesses set up or expand.

“We therefore support the government announcing a new round of enterprise zones, and agree with its emphasis on LEPs having a role, and that they are seeking to support a broad spectrum of different business areas, whether that be industrial or retail, urban or rural.”


We hear in the press that Diviani and Williams were in the House of Commons yesterday:


Did they have the begging bowls out or were they plotting something more Machiavellian one wonders.

Student Loans: goalposts moved retrospectively and makes saving for a home even harder

“Students have reacted angrily to major changes to how England’s poorest graduates will need to repay their tuition fee loans, which were excluded from George Osborne’s Autumn Statement speech yesterday.

As part of a raft of unpopular measures that will hit young people, the government confirmed its plans to change student loan repayment conditions in the spending review, potentially costing students up to £6,000 more, according to IFS estimates.

Despite previously promising students in 2010 the £21,000 repayment threshold would be raised in line with average earnings, Osborne announced it would be frozen for five years, saving the government up to £680m.

Even graduates who took out loans in 2012 will be affected, as the threshold freeze is to be backdated four years.

Martin Lewis, founder of Money Saving Expert, accused Osborne of not having “the balls” to announce the changes in his Autumn Statement speech.

“It is one thing to set up a system that is unpopular but it is entirely different to make retrospective changes that mean you cannot even rely on what you were promised at the time you started to study. Even though it was warned of the huge dangers of doing this, it’s still blundering ahead, ignoring all right thinking concern.

“The fact that the Chancellor didn’t even have the balls to put it in his Autumn Statement speech shows that he knew how unpopular it would be. If a commercial company made retrospective changes to their loan terms in this way they’d be slapped hard by the regulator – the Government shouldn’t be allowed to get away with it either.

“I’m deeply saddened, it’s chosen to act in this way.”

The IFS estimated the changes will mean graduates on average salaries will pay back £3,000 extra, while disadvantaged students will be even worse off. Those earning close to the median income will be made to pay back £6,000 more.”

Source: Huffington Post online

Parliament’s “Monitoring Officer” investigates only 10% of complaints

“The Commons standards commissioner investigates just one in ten complaints about MPs, it can be disclosed.

Kathryn Hudson’s office has been asked to consider almost 300 formal complaints by members of the public and other MPs in more than two years but has opened just 29 investigations, a Telegraph analysis has found.

Mrs Hudson was this week left facing fresh questions over her judgment when a High Court judge found that Tim Yeo, an MP she cleared, was willing to act in breach of Commons rules.”


Pegasus Sidmouth: Milton Keynes without the roundabouts

Pegasus Life, the company buying the Knowle from EDDC, has just held a glossy public exhibition in Sidmouth to unveil their plans to build 126 retirement apartments on the site of the council offices, car parks and part of the gardens (presumably the other large block to the right of the first picture is built on the current car park?):



The relocation of the council HQ is highly controversial as it will cost the town four hundred jobs which the Council proposes to compensate for by building a business park in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty at Sidford.

The gardens and parkland around the council offices are one of jewels in Sidmouth’s crown. Pegasus Life claim to have “looked at the local buildings, landscape and ecology when taking inspiration for our design”, but many visitors were unimpressed. One commented that “Milton Keynes is coming to Sidmouth!”

In the current design most of the planned apartments will be in five big brutalist blocks on the plateau which dominates the southern part of the public gardens. They encroach onto the upper lawns and, four stories high with flat roofs topped with lift machinery, they will loom over the gardens.

Some East Devon watchers will remember that that these lawns were surreptitiously removed from the public gardens in 2012 by officers and slipped into the area to be sold to developers. None of Sidmouth’s Tory councillors seemed to noticed this sleight of hand at the time which could help to explain why most of them are no longer there.

Cranbrook to become a ” small enterprise town” – whatever that means!

Perhaps it just means lots of self-employed people with zero-hours staff. Anyone else find this jargon for “big subsidies to business to try to kick-start failed projects” annoying? It hasn’t worked, so pump more taxpayer money into it. AND the number of jobs to be created (Owl seems to remember it was 6,000 at Skypark alone a while back):

Councillor Paul Diviani, leader of East Devon District Council, said:

“We are over the moon to be awarded Enterprise Zone status as important recognition of East Devon’s strategy for growth with the potential to provide 10,000 jobs and 18,000 homes in East Devon.”

Again, anyone remember the “one new job to be created to one new home” mantra – now, with more money it’s nearer half a job per house! Try paying the mortgage on that small enterprisers!

And the new zone:

“Hopes of an influx of new businesses to East Devon have been raised after a joint bid with Sedgemoor for Enterprise Zone status was approved.

The bid, which was given the green light by Chancellor George Osborne as part of the Autumn Statement, comprises five sites across two locations in the Heart of the South West (HotSW), four in East Devon and one near Bridgwater in Sedgemoor.

The Enterprise Zone combines the South West’s largest brownfield site at Huntspill Energy Park near Bridgwater with the innovation led offer of Exeter Science Park, the low carbon credentials of SkyPark, expansion space for Exeter Airport business park and the development of the new community of Cranbrook as a small enterprise town, all linked by the M5 corridor.

Benefits of enterprise zones include the local area being able to keep 100 per cent of the growth in business rates over 25 years, to re-invest in infrastructure and growth generating projects.” …


Developers profit yet again from housing crisis

“Campaign group Generation Rent said he [Osborne] was wrong to ‘hand the money to private developers instead of bringing down rents’. And Matt Hutchinson, director of flatshare site SpareRoom.co.uk, said: ‘Helping a select few buy homes doesn’t fix the wider affordability crisis.”

Source: Metro e-newspaper

“95% reject Exmouth seafront plan”

Good luck with that, good people of Exmouth – EDDC’s default position in such cases is to go with the views of the 5%, which includes the views of their favourite people of all time – developers.


“Local councils warn of critical funding crisis as £18bn grant is scrapped”

“Town halls are facing a £4.1bn a year black hole in their budgets that not even the closure of every children’s centre, library, museum and park could fill, council leaders have warned.

George Osborne’s decision to axe the central government grant to councils over the next four years came in a comprehensive spending review that the Local Government Association (LGA) chairman, Gary Porter, a Conservative peer, described as a tragic missed opportunity to protect the services “that bind communities together, improve people’s quality of life and protect the most vulnerable”.