Seaton Heights: EDDC sees no reason for delay

“GS had been contacting Seaton Heights by email but had not made any progress on contacting the owners at present. It was understood
that there were no barriers to development starting at Seaton Heights, except for stringent S106 requirements. With the economy and property market improving it may be that development could proceed. …”

Click to access 110516-combined-cabinet-agenda.pdf

What EDDC wants to keep secret in the next few months

EDDC has to publish details of “key decisions” it intends to discuss only in the secret part of agendas. This list is in the current agenda for the next Cabinet meeting on 11 May 2016. Here they are:

Sports and Social Club rents
The boundary review for West Hill
Community Infrastructure Levy governance issues
Business Support – options for the future
Thelma Hulbert Gallery – options

Does anyone see any good reason why ANY of these should be secret?

And doesn’t “Business Support – options for the future” scare you – especially as EDDC will be contributing heavily to this via the Local Enterprise Partnership?

Click to access 110516-combined-cabinet-agenda.pdf

French government to sell assets to finance Hinkley C?

“The French government owns 86% of EDF, the company behind the nuclear power project, and has agreed to pay €3bn of a capital injection plan that was announced last month.

In October EDF struck a deal with China General Nuclear Power Corporation, which agreed to pay a third of the total cost of the project in return for a 33.5% stake.

Hinkley Point was supposed to start producing power by 2023, but French giant EDF, which is leading on the project, is reportedly struggling to raise the cash for its 66.5% stake.

According to the Financial Times, there are plans in place to sell airports in Nice and Lyon to help finance the deal.

Shares in Renault and Safran, the aerospace and defence group, could also be sold.

A spokesman for the French government did not comment yesterday.”

“EDF should invest in renewables, not Hinkley Point – French junior minister”

“EDF (EDF.PA) needs to change its strategy and invest in renewable energy rather than putting money into something as complicated as the Hinkley Point nuclear project, French Minister of State for State Reform Jean-Vincent Place said.

The comments on Thursday by the former head of the left-wing Greens contradict those of French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron, who has argued that EDF must go ahead with the 18 billion pound project to build two nuclear plants in Britain.

“EDF needs to change its strategic vision,” Jean-Vincent Place said in an interview on Europe 1 radio.

“EDF should put its money into renewable energy, rather than into a project which has so many difficulties,” the junior minister added.

The government was to discuss EDF’s finances on Wednesday ahead of an EDF board meeting on Friday.

“Greens call for greater transparency as ‘secret’ plans for ‘super cross-county authority’ emerge”

“The Green Party last night condemned Exeter Labour’s for backing plans which place the ill-fated Hinkley C nuclear power station at the heart of an economic growth plan for the city.

Speaking on the panel at the city’s cultural hustings Diana Moore said: “It is very disappointing that Exeter Labour have backed Tory Councils and the Local Economic Partnership in a plan to build the most expensive building on earth at £18bn in an unviable project which won’t guarantee local jobs.”

The plans are part of the government’s new devolution agenda which would see councils in the region grant more power over spending decisions to unelected representatives from the Local Economic Partnership (LEP) and a controversial new ‘Combined Authority’. The proposed Authority would have wide-ranging powers over Health and Social Care, infrastructure and house building across Devon and Somerset.

Diana, who is lead Green candidate in St David’s ward, says: “This plan for a new combined authority covering Devon, Plymouth, Torbay and Somerset has quietly received the backing of both Labour and the Conservatives in Exeter. It is another example of how important decisions are being made without the involvement of local people.

“It is extraordinary that the city council have entered into an agreement to put in place a large new combined authority and give the unaccountable LEP more influence over planning and spending decisions, without finding out if the people of Exeter wanted to enter into such an arrangement.

“An absence of openness and transparency is sadly all too common within the Labour-led council and the Tories’ top-down model of devolution is so very different to the kind of genuine devolvement of powers that local communities and Greens want to see.”

Diana is calling on the newly elected council on May 5th to call in the plans and engage in genuine consultation.

She concluded: “Green Councillors will challenge plans that are cobbled together behind closed doors and we will work hard to ensure people in Exeter are properly involved in major decisions that affect them.”

Greens call for greater transparency as ‘secret’ plans for ‘super cross-county authority’ emerge

Make all new homes flood-proof says Local Government Association

“Housing developers should be forced to install flood prevention measures when building new homes in at-risk areas, the Local Government Association has said.

The group, which represents councils in England and Wales, believes protection including raised electrical sockets, sealed floors and wiring above floor level should become a mandatory part of building regulations.

Deputy chairman of the LGA, Councillor Peter Fleming, told Sky News that the Government and the construction industry must “step up to the plate” to stop homes being devastated in future storms.

“These are simple, low-cost changes that can easily be made that would actually make a massive difference to people that have been affected by flooding,” he added.

An estimated one in six homes in the UK are at risk of flooding, and last winter’s floods are believed to have caused damage worth £5bn. …”

Does EDDC know how much S106 money it has and how much is owed?

S106 money is that due to a town or parish where a developer has had to enter into an agreement to provide facilities or infrastructure to mitigate damage caused by a development.

This is the Freedom of Information request to East Devon District Council that reveals how little EDDC knows about how much money is still uncollected from S106 agreements. It should be noted that EDDC employed a S106 Officer and a Community Engagement officer for many years. Indeed, this is the convoluted procedure a town or parish has to go through to access its share of S106 contributions which mentions them by title:

and it states that the S106 officer knows how much money is available to each town and parish.

The request:

Dear Mr Metcalfe,

Thank you for your request for information. Please see our response to
your request below with supporting documentation attached.

This request concerns agreements made under Section 106 of the Town and
Country Planning Act 1990 (known as s106 agreements) particularly during
financial years 2014/2015 and 2015/2016 (to date) and compliance with
these s106 agreements.

1. How many s106 agreements were made by EDDC in each of the years stated above?

2011/12 – 170 registered agreements
2012/13 – 196
2013/14 – 297
2014/15 – 307

Please note that these are registered agreements and some are likely to
have been withdrawn, refused, or be resubmissions or supplemental agreements. Please see the attached spreadsheet for a breakdown of s106
agreements, where it’s been colour coded into financial years for ease of

2. What financial contributions were due to EDDC arising from s106
agreements in each of the years stated above?

We do not hold this information in a format which enables us to easily identify the financial contributions that were due to EDDC arising from s106 agreements in each financial year.

To find this detail we would need to check through each agreement during the stated time period. The attached list of each of the applications where a s106 agreement was registered can be searched online

Simply enter the relevant application number into the search box and all
associated documents can then be accessed.

We estimate that to search through each of these agreements to locate the
ones specifically relevant to your request will take around 30 hours of
officer time. We know that it has taken an experienced officer some 6
hours to search through 200 of these documents and this is what we have
based our estimate on. This information is therefore exempt from
disclosure under s12 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

I am sorry that we cannot provide this information but hope that you will
find the application reference numbers helpful in conducting any searches
of your own. If you have any difficulties using the online search
facility, please let us know.

3. What financial contributions were received by EDDC for s106
agreements in each of the years stated above?

2014/15 – £2,464,737.56
2015/16 – £1,825,993.28.

4. In respect to monitoring of s106 agreements, how many agreements
have not been complied with in each of the years stated above? In cases
where there has been a breach of the obligation, how many direct actions
has EDDC taken to recover the payments due and expenses? –

This information is not held.

5. How much revenue for s106 agreements in total is now owing to EDDC
(regardless of what year the agreement was made) because payment has not
been made?

This information is not held.

If you are not satisfied with the way we have responded to your request,
please fill in our online complaint form[2] or write to the Monitoring
Officer, EDDC, Knowle, Sidmouth, EX10 8HL.

Yours sincerely,

Devolution: what’s in it for Devon?

The main driver of this devolution deal is Somerset. Hinkley C is the main focus of the deal and education, skills and supply chain projects dominate the LEP – hardly surprising given the nuclear, construction and educational bias of its board. The lead councillor and the lead officer are from Somerset County Council. The LEP’s telephone number is answered at a business unit in Yeovil.

So, rather than asking the (belated) question: what is in it for Devon with a (possible Somerset) Mayor, perhaps the question should be: what is in it for Devin?

Pity this poor LEP Board member

Barbara Shaw

Barbara has worked in housing for more than 15 years. In January 2012 she became Chief Executive of Westward Housing Group which manages 7,000 properties across the south west. Prior to this she worked for The Guinness Partnership and before that, Sovereign Housing. She began her career as a communications specialist and has held positions in the commercial, public and charitable sectors.”

Westward Housing Group’s website states:

Westward Housing Group is a major housing association in the south west. It encompasses Tarka Housing, Westcountry Housing, Help to Buy South West and Horizon Homes. As a developing landlord, we build new homes across the region, working in partnership with local authorities to rent homes to those in need.”

Most of the Group’s properties are in Devon, and include supported housing, housing for older people and shared ownership housing.

Given the government’s stated policy of supporting only home ownership and converting many rented properties (including those of housing associations) into private ownership, perhaps Ms Shaw should also be asking herself what’s in the devolution deal for her group.

Particularly as the Chair of the LEP, Steve Hindley, is Chairman of the Midas Group – a leading house builder for the private sector.

Leader of Norfolk Council now backtracking on devolution deal for East Anglia

…”So let’s not get too excited by the idea of devolution, Osborne-style. It’s not what we’ve campaigned for all these years. The Municipal Journal last week allowed Cllr George Nobbs, Leader of Norfolk County Council a page to share his frustration. Beneath a photo of the East Anglian flag and the headline ‘Killing off devolution’, he wrote:

“There is no more enthusiastic proponent of regional devolution than myself. I have supported the idea of moving powers from Whitehall to East Anglia all my adult life. When on Budget day the Chancellor announced a draft deal for East Anglia I nailed my colours to the mast in the most literal way, flying the flag of East Anglia from Norfolk County Hall. However, remarkably, the institutional arrogance of central government seems set to give us a deal that cannot be sold locally. As it stands not one of the three counties that make up the ‘Eastern Powerhouse’ look likely to be able to sell the current deal to members or residents…

The current ‘devolution deal’ was the result of a knee-jerk reaction to the Scottish referendum result and bears no resemblance to any other form of devolution in the UK, other than the insistence on the office of a London-style mayor for rural England…

The office of elected mayor is fine for London but universally opposed in shire county England. Senior government ministers have said time and time again that in the past devolution has failed because it was top-down. They had learned, they said. This would be bottom-up. We could design our own deal. We would be in the driving seat, they said. When we urged them to consider any alternative to an elected mayor (because we couldn’t sell it to our citizens) they said it was non-negotiable. ‘No mayor no deal’ was the answer. They were not even prepared to consider changing the one word mayor for another title.”

First it was Prescott, now it’s Osborne. You can have any colour of devolution you want as long as it’s black. So black you can’t see what’s going on. The mayoral model is non-negotiable because it’s part of a London-party consensus that values opaqueness above all. The democratic model, taking decisions openly, in full view of the press and public, and transparently, subject to the forensic examination of political debate in council chamber or legislative assembly, is judged not fit for purpose. End all the politics, we’re told. Actions, not words. But efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things, and without continual accountability it’s very easy both to do things wrong and to do the wrong things.

Next month, we’re told, we need to reject the unaccountable Brussels bureaucracy in favour of, well, what? How is accountability unfolding here? We need to put our own, British values first, apparently. Values like privatising our schools and our NHS, transforming them into profit centres far beyond any hope of democratic redress.

We’ve been told many times that the dissolution of English political unity would be too high a price to pay for the benefits regionalism brings, even if the regions reflect deep-rooted identities like Wessex and East Anglia. Yet the displacement of our historic shires by ‘Greater Lincolnshire’, ‘North Midlands’, ‘Tees Valley’ and other mayored innovations isn’t viewed as a problem. (Nor is it viewed as part of the ‘euro-plot’, as would any attempt to give England the regional governments now standard across all large west European countries.) As Ben Page, Chief Executive of Ipsos MORI, also writing in the Municipal Journal, noted, “The new rash of elected mayors for improbable geographies face some real challenges in getting noticed in any way at all.” That’s just it though. They’re not there to be noticed. A revolution in how England is governed is now underway as secret deals are lined up for sign-off. Personality mayors and commissioners for made-up areas will preside as local services are handed wholesale to global financial interests.

Do the public care? According to Ben Page’s data they do. Around half (49%) support the principle of decentralising local decision-making powers, with only 17% opposed. There are two main worries that are shared by 58% of those who don’t support devolution.

One is the spectre of ‘postcode lottery’ – the fear that services would start to vary between areas to an unacceptable degree (though it’s surprisingly acceptable for the Irish or the French to have different standards). Keeping the number of English regions well below double figures is one way to minimise this fear: the present hotch-potch of ‘improbable geographies’ is going to have to be sorted out sooner or later and the sooner the better. Another way is to make devolution real, so that regional politicians cannot blame Whitehall if they fail to match the standards of the best.

The second worry is that politicians in the provinces aren’t up to the job and so can’t be trusted with real power. That’s hardly surprising: real talent isn’t going to be attracted to run an ever-shrinking range of services subject to ever more intrusive interference from ministers and their civil servants anxious about poor performance. Breaking that vicious circle is easy. Tolerate responsibility through the ballot box, open up the opportunities and the talent will come. Or, to be more accurate, it will stay exactly where it is and not be lured to London.

… Meanwhile, the British State for which we’re supposed to boldly patrify shows how much it really cares about our identity, turning our ancient shires, the roots of our democracy, into clone-zones of the metropolis and topping each with its own little Caesar.