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. …”