Sir Hugo Swire, KCMG? It stands for “Kindly Call Me God” says “Yes Minister”!

So, rumour has it (Sunday Times) that David Cameron intends to make Hugo Swire a Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG) which would allow him to style himself Sir Hugo Swire. He joins such illustrious people as Samantha Cameron’s stylist.

Shall we need to bow down and kiss his ring now?


In the satirical British television programme Yes Minister, Jim Hacker MP is told an old joke by his Private Secretary Bernard Woolley about what the various post-nominals stand for. Season 2, Episode 2 “Doing the Honours”:

In the service, CMG stands for “Call Me God”. And KCMG for “Kindly Call Me God”.
Hacker: What does GCMG stand for?
Woolley: “God Calls Me God”.

Or the posh explanation:

Members of the Order of St Michael are assigned positions in the order of precedence in England and Wales. Wives of male members also feature on the order of precedence, as do sons, daughters and daughters-in-law of Knights Grand Cross and Knights Commanders; relatives of female members, however, are not assigned any special precedence. (As a general rule, individuals can derive precedence from their fathers or husbands, but not from their mothers or wives.)

Knights Grand Cross and Knights Commanders prefix “Sir”, and Dames Grand Cross and Dames Commanders prefix “Dame”, to their forenames. Wives of Knights may prefix “Lady” to their surnames, but no equivalent privilege exists for husbands of Dames. Such forms are not used by peers and princes, except when the names of the former are written out in their fullest forms. Furthermore, honorary (foreign) members and clergymen do not receive the accolade and thus are not entitled to use the prefix “Sir” or “Dame”. Knights and Dames Grand Cross use the post-nominal “GCMG”; Knights Commanders and Dames Commanders use “KCMG” and “DCMG” respectively; Companions use “CMG”.

Knights and Dames Grand Cross are also entitled to receive heraldic supporters. They may, furthermore, encircle their arms with a depiction of the circlet (a circle bearing the motto) and the collar; the former is shown either outside or on top of the latter. Knights and Dames Commanders and Companions may display the circlet, but not the collar, surrounding their arms. The badge is depicted suspended from the collar or circlet.”

As an antidote, here is a list of people who have refused honours:

Hill Barton and Greendale business parks to be treated as villages with built-up area boundaries

Agenda pages 95 and 99 provide indicative maps of the suggested boundaries.

“3.8 Hill Barton and Greendale Business Parks – The adopted Local Plan advises that these two business parks will feature in the Villages Plan.

3.9 Therecommendedpolicyapproachsetoutintheconsultationdocumentisforthese business parks to have what is termed a ‘Business Park Development Boundary’. Within this boundary infill development and redevelopment of existing buildings, for employment/job generating uses, will be permitted. Land beyond the Business Park Development Boundary is be classified as countryside and further employment or other development will not typically be permitted as adopted Local Plan Countryside policies will apply.

3.10 The policy approach for these two business parks is one of placing clear constraining boundaries in respect of scope for outward expansion. Whilst there could be economic benefits associated with further employment growth at these business parks the potential benefits need to be weighed against environmental consideration which specifically include potential for adverse landscape impact and poor accessibility to these places of employment for cyclists and pedestrians. There is also potential for adverse social impacts from further development on nearby residential communities, including at Woodbury Salterton in respect of Greendale and Farrington in respect of Hill Barton.”

Click to access 210716-combined-strategic-planning-committee-agenda.pdf

EDDC threatens to complain to Local Government Ombudsman as Blackdown Hills broadband application rejected by Government!

Oh dear, Councillor Diviani fell at the first hurdle on this one! And very interesting that the very first time EDDC threatens to go to LGO, it’s about the Blackdown Hills!

“NEARLY 40 parishes on the Blackdown Hills which came together to call for fast, modern, internet connections are to launch an appeal after it was rejected by the Government.

A bid by a consortium of 39 parishes in the Blackdown Hills Parish Network (BHPN) in Devon and Somerset to bring fast, modern, internet connections to isolated rural communities has been rejected at first assessment and without discussion, by government.

In a letter to Sajid Javid MP and his South West Growth Team, the newly appointed Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (previously Greg Clark MP), the group said: “This would have brought major benefits to small businesses in the area.”

The consortium argue that rural productivity, isolation and access to services including health care could all be improved by the project in parishes that the government’s own statistics show has some of the worst deprivation in the country for access to housing and services.

The group pointed out that Prime Minister Theresa May was breaking her own promise to create a country that “works for every one of us” saying that broadband has not worked for many in the rural Blackdown Hills for years.

An appeal has now been made directly to Sajid Javid, with the support of local MPs Neil Parish and Rebecca Pow and if the application is not reconsidered, it is planned also to appeal to the Local Government Ombudsman.

East Devon District Council who are the BHPN’s Delivery Partner for the project have described rejection of the bid without due consideration as a disgrace and are also making their views known directly to the Minister.

Heather Stallard, Chair of the Blackdown Hills Parish Network said “If Mrs May means what she says, then we hope that the new Minister for Communities and Local Government will reconsider our outline application.”

Hinkley C: is this what Theresa May is worried about?

“State-sponsored hackers aligned with the Chinese government have been accused of infiltrating the computer networks of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), a major banking regulator responsible for safeguarding the bank accounts of US citizens.

According to a damning report compiled by the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, “advanced persistent threat” (APT) hackers compromised 12 agency work stations and 10 servers in three separate cases in between October 2010 and April 2013.

The hacks, alongside a number of internal security breaches involving past staffers, were never declared to law enforcement or the US Computer Emergency Response Team (US-CERT), the authority that manages cyberattack responses in the US, the probe claims.

What’s worse, evidence from a number of FDIC whistle-blowers indicates the agency actively worked to cover up breaches impacting high-level officials – including the former chairman, chief of staff and general counsel, whose computers were all reportedly targeted. …”

And now Persimmon in trouble for not honouring S106 obligations

Interesting how Plymouth City Council slams an enforcement notice on a developer within a month whereas EDDC asks Wainhomes really, really nicely if the developer could see its way to possibly doing what it was contracted to do in Axminster!

” … the work was scheduled to be completed by Friday August 26, ahead of the new school term, adding: “This will be a huge relief to people living on the estate, especially those with children who have to cross this very busy road every day to get to and from school”.

However, four weeks after the start date and Persimmon Homes had failed to begin any work on the crossing, prompting the threat of legal action by council bosses.

Earlier this week, as still no work had begun, Plymouth City Council announced it had issued a “breach of condition planning enforcement notice requiring developer Persimmon to install a toucan crossing on Billacombe Road by the start of the new school term.”

The council said it reminded the multi-million pound company of its obligations as per the planning agreement, noting how the first homes began being occupied last year.

However, dismissing the threat Persimmon has now blamed Plymouth City Council for the delay, claiming planners had not sat down with the firm for a meeting. In addition, it accuses the council of turning down a plan to create a new access point to the large development.”

So basically, Persimmon blames the council because it wanted a crossing in a different place – presumably one that didn’t have planning permission and was better for the site rather than the school!

What one council did with a large development site

EDDC and Knowle and local NHS Estates: hang your heads in shame and pay particular attention to the last paragraph.

Housing can be a gloomy beat: most news stories focus on eviction rates, homelessness, rising house prices and rent rates locking people out of stable homes, while council housing is forcibly sold thanks to short-sighted government policies.

Obviously, bad news needs to be reported; often the people most subject to discrimination and homelessness are precisely those people the political class view as voiceless. But amid the doom, small symbols of hope appear in housing.

One such example, in a corner of Haringey, is the St Ann’s redevelopment trust Start: a disparate team of local residents working together to try to work out what housing the local area needs and then deliver it. The St Ann’s hospital site in the borough is being partially sold off – two thirds of it has been earmarked for private development. In itself, that is not unusual. The NHS has a lot of land that’s undeveloped or hasn’t been in use, and with services changing, empty sites often pop up.

Originally the plan was for the site to be sold for private housing development, with only 14% of the homes being classed as “affordable” (itself a loaded term). But Start Haringey had different ideas. It wanted to use the land for a genuinely community-led development and asked locals what they wanted to see in the area. The organisation held consultation events with hundreds of attendees, circulated a survey completed by more than 300 locals, and collaborated with architects, who were asked how the community’s desires could be realised.

The clear winners were truly affordable housing, and a development that considers health in the built environment and the need to be environmentally friendly. St Ann’s already has areas of great natural beauty that the community wants to retain, but locals also pressed the importance of green space that is accessible to all, not fenced off.

With mental health services continuing to run from the remainder of the site, the community was keen to integrate the development into the existing NHS services. The provision of affordable housing would not only be sympathetic to the needs of patients and staff at the hospital, but could also provide valuable accommodation for people who wish to live independently with support. At the same time, local outreach work could be carried out, so early intervention and preventative health work could seamlessly integrate into the development if done properly.

Community land trusts are growing in numbers throughout the UK, but perhaps key to this group’s success so far is how easy it is to get involved: meetings on the progress of the plan are held weekly at a local school, with a housing sub-group looking particularly at the type of buildings St Ann’s could benefit from. They’re open to all those in the area over the age of 16, and, while membership is £1, anyone can contribute without becoming a member. Costs are covered by a crowdfunding campaign, which is a quarter of the way to its target with over 100 backers. The funds will allow the group to finish the architect’s plans and put together a bid for the site.

Starting with a bottom-up approach, Start Haringey has developed a genuinely costed and doable plan for a development that meets local needs and helps mitigate the housing crisis locally.

Too often, locals are completely locked out of public consultations on the very land they live on, and neighbourhoods they have called home for decades: the assumption that locals don’t care about development simply isn’t true. You only need to see the strength of feeling involved in the many housing protests around the country. But in many cases, residents are patronised, offered a so-called choice between very similar models of development, and are never asked what they want their local area to look like – or, more importantly, why. Start Haringey shows that the appetite for proper consultation is there, and the political will to devote time to doing so is rising.

Bad news for our devolution councils and LEP

Particularly our LEP which has totally based its strategy on ever-increasing growth and productivity, continuing to receive EU funds or a similar level of funding from the government and for trickle-down from Hinkley C.

Plan B?

Growing uncertainty over the future of European funding for infrastructure and regeneration projects across England will hit economic growth unless there is clarity from government soon, councils have warned today.

In the strongest warning yet on the potential loss of regeneration funding following the vote to leave the European Union, the Local Government Association called for government action to prevent vital developments being lost.

The group said the majority of EU regeneration funding pledged to the UK in the 2014-2020 funding round remains tied up in thousands of growth-boosting proposals submitted to government. As these had not yet been approved, around £5.3bn of funding could potentially be at risk, particularly following the Brexit vote, LGA chair Lord Porter said.

“Communities and local economies have become increasingly reliant on what EU funds can achieve for them. Councils have used EU funds to help new businesses start-up, create thousands of new jobs, roll out broadband and build new roads and bridges,” he stated.

“Losing any of this vital money over the next few years would be a real blow for local economic growth and communities. It is important for the government to end the current uncertainty and guarantee that local areas will receive all of the EU funding they have been allocated by 2020, regardless of whether decisions over which projects it should be spent on have been made or not.”

In order to benefit from European funds, local areas are required to submit proposals, for example to create jobs or build new infrastructure, with government then deciding which projects the money can be spent on. Although the current period started in 2014, the LGA estimates that billions of this EU funding has yet to be released to local areas. For example, Cornwall and the north-east have both only received 20% of their EU funding allocations so far and Birmingham has only received 25%.

If these funds are not released soon, councils are concerned that Whitehall could hold onto this cash amid the uncertainty caused by the vote to leave the EU.

Projects that could be hit include the rollout of superfast broadband in Cornwall, which is part funded by the EU, as well as investments around Birmingham as part of the Midlands Engine devolution drive.

In addition, programmes in Greater Manchester supporting people into work, such as its flagship Working Well pilot programme that has so far engaged 4,000 residents on Employment and Support Allowance, are underpinned by European money. The initiative is being expanded to help a further 15,000 people who are on out-of-work benefits or in low-paid work. The expansion will run until March 2020 but is reliant on £12m of EU cash it is expecting to receive.”

Standards in public life – an example

It seems one of the rules for standards in public life is that no-one needs to resign if they don’t want to. And that lack of effective scrutiny is a widespread problem.

“A troubled NHS trust has paid millions of pounds to companies owned by previous associates of its embattled chief executive, BBC News has learned.
One firm received more than £5m despite winning a contract valued at less than £300,000, while another was paid more than £500,000 without bidding at all.

Both are owned by former acquaintances of Southern Health NHS Trust’s chief executive Katrina Percy.

The trust said it took its financial responsibilities “very seriously”.

‘Failure of leadership’

The BBC has also learned Southern Health has access to the services of former Labour spin doctor Alistair Campbell, after it hired Portland Communications to help with its ongoing problems.

Mental health trust Southern Health has been under intense scrutiny since an NHS England-commissioned report in December found it failed to investigate the unexpected deaths of hundreds of patients.

A failure of leadership and governance at the trust was blamed for the problems, a conclusion a subsequent CQC report in April agreed with.
In light of the criticisms, Katrina Percy, the only chief executive the trust has ever had, has faced widespread calls to resign but has refused to do so. …”

Hinkley C: NOT (yet) a done deal

“Plans to build the first new UK nuclear plant in 20 years have suffered an unexpected delay after the government postponed a final decision until the early autumn.

French firm EDF, which is financing most of the £18bn Hinkley Point project in Somerset, approved the funding at a board meeting.

Contracts were to be signed on Friday.

But Business Secretary Greg Clark has said the government will “consider carefully” before backing it.

According to reports, EDF’s chief executive Vincent de Rivaz has cancelled a trip to the UK on Friday following Mr Clark’s comments.

Critics of the plan have warned of environmental damage and potential escalating costs.

They are also concerned that the plant is being built by foreign governments. One third of the £18bn cost is being provided by Chinese investors.

EDF still hopes to have more than 2,500 workers on site by next year.
Announcing the approval of investment earlier, EDF described the plant as “a unique asset for French and British industries”, saying it would benefit the nuclear sectors in both countries and would give a boost to employment. …”

Hinkley C: if it brings 5,000 jobs, where are the other 20,000 promised by the LEP coming from?

On Spotlight tonight, the spokesperson for Hinkley C said that it would bring 5,000 jobs to the Devon and Somerset area (presumably mostly in Somerset).

However, our LEP says:

Hinkley Point C will see investment of by EDF of £20m in training, education and skills in the Heart of the South West. By the time the project is completed, we expect to see 25,000 new employment opportunities with 5,600 people and 400 apprentices employed at its peak. Over the lifetime of the project, over £2bn will go into our area’s economy.”

Click to access Non-tech%20summary%20-%20FINAL.pdf

How do these numbers stack up – 25,000 jobs but 6,000 at its peak? What happens to the other 19,000 jobs? Zero hours? Or is it 19,000 people doing education, training and skills for 5,000 jobs!!!

EDF board member resigns as company expected to vote to construct Hinkley C

“A board member of the French energy giant EDF has resigned ahead of a vote to give the green light to construction of the controversial Hinkley Point nuclear power station in Somerset.

Gerard Magnin, one of 18 board members, quit today saying that the £18bn project is too financially risky for EDF and will divert France away from investment in renewable energy.

Is support for Hinkley nuclear plant Philip Hammond’s first bad move?
The resignation of Magnin, who has a background in alternative energy, is not expected to derail EDF’s approval for the project today.

But it signals growing doubts about Hinkley Point and the financial capacity for EDF to deliver the UK’s first new nuclear power station in 20 years.

The firm’s chief financial officer, Thomas Piqemal, resigned in March over the project, saying it would jeopardise EDF’s financial situation.

“As a board member proposed by the government shareholder, I no longer want to support a strategy that I do not agree with,” Magnin wrote in a letter to EDF chief executive Jean-Bernard Levy which has been seen by Reuters.

EDF is listed on the French stock exchange but the French state retains an 81 per cent stake.

When the project to build a state-of-the art European Pressurized Reactor (EPR) on the Somerset coast was originally outlined in October 2014 EDF was only supposed to take a 50 per cent stake.

The rest was supposed to be financed by Chinese state companies and another majority state-owned French-nuclear engineering firm Areva.

But Areva has subsquently stumbled financially and its nuclear unit has been absorbed by EDF. And the Chinese have said they will fund no more than a third of the project, leaving EDF to finance 66 per cent of Hinkely Point.

Since January 2015 EDF’s share price has fallen by 50 per cent and its market capitalisation is just €22bn, less than the entire Hinkley Point project value.

The company, which has €37.4bn of debt, also needs to spend €50bn to upgrade its French nuclear plants over the next decade.

“Let’s hope that Hinkley Point will not drag EDF in the same abyss as Areva” said Magnin in his letter.

EDF unions have six seats on the board and have suggested they might vote against the Hinkley Point investment, arguing that it could jeopardise the company’s future.

The Hinkley Point reactor is also controversial in the UK as the UK government has agreed to buy electricity from the plant for 35 years at a price that is more than twice current market rates.”

Cranbrook: what can happen when you are tied to one district heating energy supplier

From the Cranbrook Town Council Facebook page:

Your Town Council recently brought a matter to the attention of E.ON that their annual energy service charge not changing other than by inflation contradicts the residents’ Customer Supply Agreement. Following our initiative, E.ON have now reviewed what the residents have been charged up until 31 March 2016, against what they would have been charged up to the same date, had they priced your energy service charge in line with inflation. We understand that residents will receive a letter stating how much has been credited to their Heat account and if you are affected by this you will receive a credit on your account in July.”

Claire Wright acts quickly on Lloyds Bank closures

Although Claire Wright is appealing on behalf of Ottery St Mary, this could equally apply to all the smaller towns of East Devon:

Following the devastating news this morning about Lloyds Bank proposing to axe 3000 jobs and close 200 branches I have written to the bank’s chief executive, Antonio Osorio…….

Dear Mr Osorio

I was dismayed to read the news this morning about your decision to close 200 branches of Lloyds Bank with a loss of 3000 jobs.

I realise that this must have been a horribly difficult decision to make as it will cause much hardship for your staff and for the communities where branches are closed.

I felt I must write straightaway however, to implore you not to shut our Lloyds branch here in Ottery St Mary.

Ottery’s branch is the only bank now left in the town, which has a population (including nearby villages) of around 10,000. Hundreds of new houses are given planning consent and will be built in the coming months and years.

I know from talking to local people and traders that they really value your bank and whenever I pass it, it always seems busy.

The town’s traders unsurprisingly are finding things tough during these difficult times and several businesses have closed in recent times. If Lloyds closed here it would make things harder for them, as they would need to take a 10 mile round trip to either Sidmouth or Honiton to do their banking, potentially several times a week.

Ottery also has a large proportion of elderly people, many of whom do not have their own transport. I know that many elderly people living here rely on being able to bank in the town. Closing it would mean a 10 mile round trip on public transport. Fine for a fit person but potentially very hard for someone who is not in the best of health or who is infirm. Elderly people would be very disadvantaged by such a decision.

I realise that wherever you close branches people will be upset, but I would urge you to keep Ottery’s branch open for the reasons above.

Kind regards

Best wishes

Mr Osorio’s email address is – please drop him a line urgently if you can, saying how much Lloyds means to you and what it would mean to you if lost!

American view on Hinkley C: “a radioactive white elephant”

“… Under the terms of a deal struck in 2013, British electricity customers will fund large guaranteed payments to EDF for 35 years in return for the French utility shouldering much of the construction risk for Hinkley Point. Because of lower projections for future wholesale electricity prices these subsidies are estimated to have risen to a staggering 30 billion pounds.” …

Does EVERYONE ignore our Police and Crime Commissioner

The official Facebook page has many posts from Ms Hernandez but only a small handful of comments, most of them negative. The Twitter account seems similarly sparse.

Not a good start for someone who said she was going to use social media to engage with the public.

Wonder what Mrs May thinks of these non-jobs?

OFCOM wants rural broadband volunteers to inform them of ” challenges” to service

Telecoms watchdog seeks rural volunteers

TELECOMS watchdog Ofcom wants rural people to tell it about the broadband challenges they face.

Ofcom said it wanted to find out more about the “rural broadband experience” by encouraging rural people to join its research panel.

Ofcom said it existed to make communications markets work for everyone. One of the ways it did so was by conducting research to find out about the customer experience across the UK.

Each year, Ofcom reports its findings in its flagship Connected Nations report – which provides a snapshot of the state of the UK communication network.

To inform this and wider work, Ofcom is calling for volunteers to sign up to join its expanded research panel of broadband customers.

Ofcom said it was “particularly looking to sign up more people who live in rural areas in order find out more about the challenges they face”.
Potential participants are encouraged to sign up via Ofcom’s partner’s website at

Volunteers who meet Ofcom’s sample requirements will be sent a unit to plug into a mains socket and connect to their home broadband router.

Further details of the sign-up process are set out below.

1. Broadband users sign up to take part in the research by completing an online form on SamKnows, Ofcom’s technical partner’s website here:

2. SamKnows compares these volunteers to Ofcom’s sample plan, which is designed to ensure that the panel is statistically robust and nationally representative. Please note that not all of those who volunteer to take part in the research will be selected.

3. Those who fit Ofcom’s sample plan will be asked to complete an online end-user licence agreement.

4. Volunteers are then sent a whitebox hardware measurement unit that they plug into a mains socket and connect to their home broadband router using the provided cable.

Please note that the whitebox will not interfere with the panellist’s connection as it only runs tests when the connection is not in use, and it does not monitor what the panellist uses their connection for.
Further detailed information about the process can be found at

If you have any questions or would like further information about this work, contact Jose Kurian at

Problems in East Devon can also be referred to EDDC’s broadband czar, Councillor Phil Twiss …

Hinkley C doesn’t make sense

And yet our Local Enterprise Partnership and its devolution deal puts it at the heart of their plans – not surprising given the nuclear interests of several LEP members:

” … Hinkley C had been described as “the most expensive object on Earth” many months before the National Audit Office (NAO) revealed that subsidies would be nearly five times as big as had been previously advertised. The avalanche of subsidies has produced an ongoing state aid dispute with the UK launched by Austria, a new state aid investigation by the European commission into the reactor builder Areva, and a potential state aid dispute over France’s plans to make up EDF’s credit shortfall on the project.

Hinkley C has now become so uneconomic that it has been condemned in editorials in the normally pro-nuclear Times, Telegraph and Mail, and many EDF executives and employees think it might be a bad enough plan to completely destroy the state-owned utility.

On Thursday EDF’s board will make a widely trailed decision on whether to proceed with this “investment”. After years of delay, this unseemly hurry looks a bit like panic.

The tide has been turning against Hinkley ever since the problems at Olkiluoto in Finland and Flammanville in France, Hinkley’s elder siblings, became horribly apparent. Now, with a new UK government not so publicly committed to the project, EDF may be feeling that its chances of getting Hinkley built are likely to diminish even more quickly. Osborne seemed willing to countenance almost anything in his desperation to get his legacy built, but Philip Hammond might look at thte figures and the alternatives, and start looking for a way out.

To be clear, the Hinkley subsidies are not bungs to power brokers or inexplicable government largesse; Hinkley’s problems are so severe and so numerous that it requires potentially illegally high levels of state support in order for it to be built. Listing them all – the legal risks, the engineering risks, the liability risks, the credit risks, the safety risks – would take so long there would probably be some new ones before I’d finished. But they all spring from a reactor design, which has so far proved impossible to make work, and has even been described as “unconstructable” by an engineering professor.”