Why do councils need the LEP to direct them to work together?

Questions from a correspondent:

1. As I understand it the desire is that Plymouth, Torbay, Devon and Somerset County Councils and their districts will work together for the benefit of electors who (unsurprisingly) elected them in local elections.

The LEP gets funds direct from the Government and allocates them according to their perceived policies as (mostly) local unelected businessmen.

Why do these authorities NEED an LEP to co-ordinate their closer working at all? If they can’t do it by sorting it together without the LEP what hope is there for them working together at all?

2. We are told that the councils (all of them – counties cities and districts) will lose no powers.

So what will this devolved area actually be able to do that can’t be done now?

3. Are we going to be consulted?

Good questions!

Someone help me here!

Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership – in their own words

This is the unelected and unaccountable body that wants to run Devon and Somerset

http://www.heartofswlep.co.uk/

and this is what it wants to do:

“Our ambition is to maximise our area’s assets and inspire innovation and entrepreneurship to create long-term economic growth. We want to see our urban centres fulfil their capacity for growth whilst ensuring that our rural areas flourish through enterprise and improved competitiveness.”

This is their ” vision” for our area:

http://www.heartofswlep.co.uk/current-priorities

This is what it is currently spending our money on:

http://www.heartofswlep.co.uk/current-activities

These are the unelected people running it:

http://www.heartofswlep.co.uk/chief-executive-and-non-executive-directors

including our own Paul Diviani, who will be in charge of housing for Devon and Somerset if this comes off (hope you won’t be needing a Devon and Somerset Local Plan guys) and Andrew Leadbetter (DCC councillor in charge of the rural broadband omnishambles).

Most of their current money (around £65m) has already been pledged to their favoured projects and most of the leg-work of who does what appears to have been pretty much sorted out.

Makes the East Devon Business Forum look like nursery school! Oh look, it has its own Business Forum:

http://www.heartofswlep.co.uk/heart-south-west-business-forum

Time to re-read “Brave New World” and “1984” Owl thinks!

Australians say Osborne has abandoned UK renters

“A host of big property companies have “serious concerns” about his plans, which many think will benefit the already well-off while hitting the country’s poorest. One property agent says the Chancellor is “abandoning the millions of people who rent in this country.”

Rocketing house prices, caused in part by a shortage of supply, have led to the level of home ownership in the UK falling to its lowest level in almost 3 decades.

You might think Osborne’s idea to build more cheap houses is the obvious solution. Home ownership is a classic Tory policy. But observers say what’s needed is a holistic approach to address the systemic problems in the market — a lack of supply of both private and rental properties where they’re needed.

Not only has Osborne done nothing to encourage growth in the rental sector, another one of Osborne’s policies could actually make the problem of spiralling rents even worse.

Alongside the pledge to build 400,000 new homes affordable homes for purchase, Osborne also hiked Stamp Duty — the tax charged on completed property transactions — for buy-to-let properties and second homes. The tax was hiked by a huge 3%.

There are concerns that the tax hike could lead to a restriction of supply for rental properties, as the price rise puts off potential would-be buyers. That in turn could drive up rents, as supply fails to keep pace with demand.”

http://www.businessinsider.com.au/george-osborne-autumn-statement-2015-buy-to-let-affordable-homes-rent-2015-11

Of course, it is the institutional and property-heavy buy-to-let landlords who are shouting, but the problem hits all renters.

What of those people who have to rent – not only those who cannot afford a mortgage even with all the schemes coming out every day to encourage them? The renters whose jobs mean they move often and can’t wait to sell a house. Those who cannot get a deposit together? Most end up paying more in rent than they would for a mortgage. Now rents will rise even further to reflect increased costs of purchasing buy-to-let mortgages. …”

East Devon eighth least-affordable place in the country

Page 99 of current cabinet papers:

In East Devon:

Unemployment = 546 people as at September 2015. This is 0.7% of total population and represents a reduction of 136 since May 2014.

Working age population = 63.6%

Median full-time salary = £22,700

Earnings are 7% lower compared to the English average.

Average house prices to salary ratio are 11:1, which is the highest in Devon.

East Devon is the 8th least affordable district in England

(The Joseph Rowntree Foundation)”

http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/1395571/021215-combined-cab-agenda.pdf

Subservience to unelected and unaccountable Local Enterprise Partnership – CEO to be given delegated authority for decision- making

It really is extraordinary. With no public consultation and no meaningful debate EDDC councillors propose that wide powers over the district should be given to the unelected, unrepresentative and unaccountable body that is our “Local Enterprise Partnership”.

Not only that, they propose to delegate authority for this whole process to EDDC’s CEO Mark Williams.

On pages 44-51 of current Cabinet agenda papers:

http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/1395571/021215-combined-cab-agenda.pdf

is a colourful account of what powers they will be given (Owl’s inverted commas, not being exactly sure what the words mean) over health, “care” and well-being, connectivity and ” resilience”, all of which, according to the brochure will be ” business-led”.

So, forget your district, forget your communities, forget your compassion and help for the old, disabled,vulnerable and very young, forget your elected councillors – and say hello to your politically-led (page 50) yet politically unelected and so far totally unaccountable new masters.

Oh, brave new world that has such people in it.

Key decisions made by EDDC must be advertised 28 days in advance of meetings

For what Owl thinks is the first time ever, Owl sees that this appears on the first pages of the Cabinet agenda for the meeting to be held at 5.30 pm on 2 December 2015:

http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/1395571/021215-combined-cab-agenda.pdf

Page 12

Key Decisions are defined by law as “an executive decision which is likely :–

(a) to result in the Council incurring expenditure which is, or the making of savings which are, significant having regard to the Council’s budget for the service or function to which the decision relates; or

(b) to be significant in terms of its effects on communities living or working in an area comprising two or more wards in the Council’s area

In accordance with section 9Q of the Local Government Act 2000, in determining the meaning of “significant” in (a) and (b) above regard shall be had to any guidance for the time being issued by the Secretary of State.

A public notice period of 28 clear days is required when a Key Decision is to be taken by the Council’s Cabinet even if the meeting is wholly or partly to be in private. Key Decisions and the relevant Cabinet meeting are shown in bold.

The Cabinet may only take Key Decisions in accordance with the requirements of the Executive Procedure Rules set out in Part 4 of the Constitution and the Local Authorities (Executive Arrangements)(Meetings and Access to information)(England) Regulations 2012. A minute of each key decision is published within 2 days of it having been made. This is available for public inspection on the Council’s website http://www.eastdevon.gov.uk, and at the Council Offices, Knowle, Sidmouth, Devon. The law and the Council’s constitution provide for urgent key decisions to be made without 28 clear days notice of the proposed decisions having been published. A decision notice will be published for these in exactly the same way.

This document includes notice of any matter the Council considers to be Key Decisions which, at this stage, should be considered in the private part of the meeting and the reason why. Any written representations that a particular decision should be moved to the public part of the meeting should be sent to the Democratic Services Team (address as above) as soon as possible. Members of the public have the opportunity to speak on the relevant decision at meetings (in accordance with public speaking rules) unless shown in italics.

Fracking: another set of goalposts move

Minister to decide over Lancashire fracking appeal

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-lancashire-34938891

but

KKR’s Samson Resources Files for Bankruptcy as Shale Slumps

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-09-17/kkr-s-samson-resources-files-for-bankruptcy-as-shale-slumps

Middle Eastern oil producers are pumping large amounts of oil, in order to reduce the price and drive out competition.

So, what will happen to the fledgling operation in Lancashire – especially as today ASDA announced that it will sell petrol at a price below £1 per litre?