Swire – many, many feathers ruffled!

Oh dear, Hugo really does have his tighty-whities in a twist with this (very long, very pompous, very verbose) rant on his website about independents (i.e. what he REALLY means is how much he is rattled by Claire Wright).

It’s just too rambling, too illogical and too vituperative to quote, but read it if you must here:


Poor old Hugo, times are changing and he just can’t keep up with it.

Hugo: an Independent has one BIG, BIG, BIG advantage over you – he or she can actually SPEAK out for East Devon in Parliament and elsewhere, whereas you refuse to do so, citing you ministerial foreign office post as an excuse ( not a reason, an excuse).

It will be very interesting to see, if Brexit wins, just what you will then do.

Oh, and an independent is likely to actually LIVE in the constituency, unlike you!

Rome favouring Independent for Mayor

“Italy’s anti-establishment Five Star Movement (5SM) took a large lead in the first round of voting for the mayor of Rome, according to exit polls published on Sunday, in a possible blow to prime minister Matteo Renzi.

Some 13 million people, or a quarter of the adult population, were eligible to vote for mayors in around 1,300 towns and cities, with attention focused firmly on a handful of major centres, including the capital.

Victory in Rome would be a huge breakthrough for anti-establishment 5SM, which was founded in 2009 by comedian Beppe Grillo and has grown to be Italy’s second largest party.

A victory by the populist party in the capital’s mayoral election is considered to be a key marker of whether the 5SM could eventually challenge Mr Renzi for leadership of the whole country.”


Exmouth Splash developer facing problems in Swindon

“THE COMPANY behind the North Star multi-million pound development has moved to allay fears about its accounts.

Moirai Capital has a lease for the Oasis and the surrounding land with plans to convert the site onto one of the country’s leading leisure destinations.

However, the organisation missed an April deadline to file its accounts and has been contacted by Company House over the issue.

Should Moirai fail to respond to the letter, winding up procedures could be started later on in the summer.

But the company’s directors say the issue is being dealt with and the missed deadline was due to circumstances outside of their control.

Bobby Rach, of Moirai, said: “This is something which will be sorted within a few weeks. We are aware of everything and the letter is perfectly normal business procedure.

“We are a fully functioning business so there is no chance of the company being wound up.”

Moirai first took control of the lease in 2012, with the promise of refurbishing the Oasis and transforming the surrounding land.

The new leisure destination will have an indoor ski-slope, an arena, sport-related shops and a hotel as well as restaurants and a cinema.

An outline application was submitted last year and while there has been frustration at the length of time it is taking, Bobby says progress is being made.

He said: “When this is completed it is going to be a draw for the entire region. Getting these things right does take time but we should be able to reveal who has been signed up in the coming weeks.

“A lot of negotiation takes place as we have got everything right but when we have the details that should push the planning application forward.

“It could be that we are on site by next year. When we reveal everything this is something the people of Swindon will be able to get really excited about.”

The two areas which have held the application up is the signing up of partners to run the various parts of the development and the traffic management plan.

Highways England had initially said more work needed to be done to examine the impact the development would have on the town’s roads, most notably junctions 16 and 15 of the M4.

This has now been dealt with and the organisation have said the planning application can be accepted with conditions.”


“Ben Ingham was born in East Devon. A chartered engineer by profession he has also worked as a district councillor for twenty years dedicating much of hie free time to issues that affect East Devon.

In recent times he has become increasingly concerned about the activities of the East Devon Conservative Group. So much so that last year he was motivated to mount an independent challenge to take over the control of the council. It was this that led to him becoming the leader of the East Devon Alliance of independent candidates.

Amongst his key motivations his top priority is to make sure that the East Devon Local Plan is adopted as soon as possible in order to protect the district from uncontrolled development.

He is also working to create a Development Strategy Committee to ensure that development can be managed in a sustainable and intelligent way.

He is also keen to abolish the cabinet system at East Devon District Council in favour of a committee system where all councillors become involved in making decisions on their constituents behalf.

The following interview was filmed when he visited a meeting of like minded people in Totnes on the 25th May of this year in order to discuss independent councillors in local democracy.”


Sidford: controversy gets an airing on BBC Radio Devon

Sidford Employment site result of “heroic calculation” on a “speculative basis” , SOS Chair tells Radio Devon

BBC’s Simon Bates’ interview with Richard Thurlow last Friday (3rd June), can be heard on the Radio Devon website. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03vh95v

Go to Simon Bates o3/o6/2016, from 00.45-01.02, and 49.50 to 57.14.

The interview was followed up by a phone-in from Independent East Devon Alliance (IEDA) Cllr Marianne Rixson, EDDC Ward Member for Sidmouth-Sidford since May 2015. You can listen to what she said, from 01.41.05 to 01.47.25 in the recording.

Simon Bates suggests he wants to pursue the Sidford business park planning application issues, on his breakfast show later on.

And don’t forget there are just a few days’ left to comment to EDDC DEADLINE is 8th June:

See https://saveoursidmouth.com/2016/05/26/urgent-sidford-business-park-planning-application-now-in-the-more-people-who-write-in-the-better-deadline-for-comments-weds-8th-june/

Sidford Employment site result of “heroic calculation” on a “speculative basis” , SOS Chair tells Radio Devon

The democratic deficit – from the top down

Replace Parliament with EDDC and Executive with Cabinet [and backbenchers with Independents] and you have a dead-ringer for local politics too!

“Scrutiny of the executive

The prime minister’s active participation in parliamentary proceedings is a key mechanism for ensuring the accountability of the executive, but they have been less and less present in the Commons since the time of Thatcher and Blair. David Cameron’s attendances are limited to a 30 minute question time (PMQs) once a week when Parliament is sitting, occasional speeches in major debates, and periodic public meetings with the chairs of Select Committees in the new Liaison Committee.

More encouraging is recent research is showing that backbenchers used PMQs in 1997-2008 as a key public venue, with backbenchers often leading the agenda and breaking new issues that later grew to prominence. The current Leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, has also routinely been using PMQs to ask questions sent in on email by the public, somewhat changing the tone of the session.

The ‘payroll vote’

Parliament’s independence vis-a-vis the executive has long been qualified by strong partisan loyalties amongst almost all MPs, who (after all) have spent many years working within parties before becoming MPs. The members of the government’s frontbench are expected to always vote with the executive, as are Parliamentary Private Secretaries (who are pseudo-ministers) The last official data in 2010 showed approximately 140 MPs affected. Unofficial estimates of the size of the payroll vote suggest that it was equivalent to well over a third of government MPs, by 2013. Given the smallish number of Conservative MPs in the 2015 Parliament the ratio will still be high. When Commons seats fall to 600, the prominence of the payroll vote will increase, unless government roles for MPs are cut back.

Dissent by backbench MPs

The coalition period marked not just a period of record dissenting votes by backbenchers against their party line, but also the extension of this behaviour to larger and more consequential issues. The cleavages inside the Conservative party between pro and anti-EU MPs are exceptionally deep. During the summer of 2016 the Cameron government backed off several controversial legislative proposals, and proposed an exceptionally anodyne set of bills in the Queen’s Speech, apparently to avoid straining party loyalties further in the aftermath of the Brexit referendum. The rise of serial backbench dissenter Jeremy Corbyn to be Labour leader has also created a serious gulf between his team and many of the Parliamentary Labour Party, which may reduce the cohesion of the main opposition party’s voting.


Public confidence in Parliament was very badly damaged by the expenses scandals of 2009, and trust in the House of Commons remains at a low ebb, despite some worthwhile but modest reforms in the interim, especially making Select Committees more effective in scrutinizing government. The Commons remains a potent focus for national debate, but that would be true of any legislature in most mature liberal democracies. There is no evidence that the UK legislature is especially effective or well-regarded, as its advocates often claim.

Five years of Coalition government 2010-15 (almost automatically) somewhat reduced executive predominance over Parliament. But it did not break traditions of strong executive control over the Commons. Tory divisions over the EU (plus the artificial exclusion of UKIP from Commons representation) have perpetuated backbench unrest after 2015. But these ameliorations of party discipline may still be termpoary. Structural reforms to make the Commons a more effective legislature, and to modernise ritualistic behaviours and processes, are still urgently needed.”


Fixed term parliaments – a headache for the EU referendum

“What do fixed term Parliaments mean?

The new rules require a PM with a Commons majority to call the next general election on a five year fixed timetable.

However, should the PM resign or lose a no-confidence vote, the process to be followed is still unclear. The monarch could ask another member of the largest party to try to form a government. But if they too declined, conceivably the Leader of the Opposition could be asked to and might seek to form a minority government without any immediate dissolution.

To dissolve Parliament early a vote of two thirds of MPs is needed, which would normally require that (most) MPs from both the government and the main opposition should support the motion.”

How effective is Parliament in controlling UK government and representing citizens?

Fabian Society on devolution

A notable feature of the 2015 general election campaign was the degree of apparent unanimity across all parties that Britain has an overcentralized governmental structure, which is ripe for devolution.

In the wake of the Scottish independence referendum, and the desperate resort to ‘devo -max’ to save the day for Better Together, this was hardly a surprise.

But the superficial unanimity of the narrative concealed a gaping void in the intellectual underpinnings of what a devolved governmental structure might look like. From both the Tory and Labour camps, the message was a fuzzy ‘make it up for yourselves and we’ll discuss it with you’ – in effect, ducking any intellectual engagement with the tricky issue of taking fiscal and social policy responsibility out of the hands of Whitehall and Westminster and into the hands of local communities and their elected representatives.

That political and intellectual evasiveness continues to dominate both Labour and Tory thinking.

The government’s policy since the election has justifiably been described as incoherent and inconsistent by the Local Government Select Committee, and Labour-led local authorities have been ploughing their own local furrows without any coherent party policy to refer to.

In practice, the government’s approach has been a travesty of genuine devolution. Their policy is best described as an incremental extension of the City Deal/Local Growth Fund policies inherited from the Coalition period. Local authorities are encouraged to come together to propose expenditure plans (notably for transport, housing and skills infrastructure) that will promote economic growth over a medium-term period.

In return for a multi-year capital funding allocation, the local authorities are expected to create a different and more unified decision making structure across their chosen area, preferably with an elected mayor at the helm of the new structure.

Three things are notable about this policy:

it takes powers away from local communities and places them in the hands of more distant combined authorities and their elected mayors;

no fiscal devolution is being offered;

the capital allocations are timebound, while the new structures of local government are permanent. In brief, it’s a policy of local government reorganisation by stealth. Devolution is not on offer.

This conclusion is reinforced by the simultaneous stream of massively centralising government measures which have drained even more powers out of local community control, such as the Housing and Planning Act, which spells the death of social housing and dictates how local housing markets should work, the nationalising of schools through academisation, and central control of Council Tax levels.

Labour’s policy is unclear. The innovative work that was undertaken by the LGA Labour Group and the Local Government Innovation Taskforce before the 2015 Election and published in ‘People, Power and Public Services’ has been forgotten, and the centralising instincts that come from the worthy desire to ensure that all our citizens get equal treatment regardless of where they live, have revived. The party remains strong in local government and there needs to be more policy engagement with the issues of devolution, community involvement, local government structure and local democracy.

From discussions with other Labour local authority leaders, a framework for rethinking the party’s approach to devolution is emerging:

The old two tier local government structures are no longer appropriate and the basis for devolution has to be new unitary authorities. A rational approach to the creation of new unitaries which respect community loyalties and pride in ‘place’ is required. This process should be overseen by an Independent Commission and undertaken within a defined time period.

A wide measure of freedom for local authorities to set their own levels of taxation, and service charging structures, allowing them to raise and control a large proportion of their income locally.

A transfer of business rate income to local authorities with a redistribution mechanism which recognises the differential capacities and needs of different communities and is not skewed by government bias towards their own councils – whatever the colour of the government in power.

A re-establishment of local education authorities with strong links to the skills agenda and to children’s services.

A national structure merging adult social care and local health services, managed through an Expert Group that can bring about the necessary transformation of service structures within a defined period.

A revived public scrutiny system based on panels drawn from large ‘colleges’ of scrutineers, whose composition reflects the social and demographic make-up of the area.

No requirement for directly elected mayors which run directly counter to the aim of drawing local communities closer to the decision making processes which affect them.

As the new party leadership develops the agenda for the next election we should be endorsing genuine devolution of power to local communities. Place-based unitary authorities should be reflective of, and responsive to, their residents and services should be delivered by ward-based political leaders open to regular scrutiny and challenge.