What locals like least about the Sid Valley

“… In total, 88 people said the thing they liked least about the town was transport, which included parking, cars, traffic and speeding.

The second most-disliked response was East Devon District Council, said some 45 residents. This included topics such as planning, the Local Plan and Knowle.

Housing and inflated prices due to wealthy retirees, along with elderly residents and too much emphasis on their needs, were next on the list with 25 votes each.


Devolution Mayors – in or out? Who knows!

“Mayors can provide an answer to the questions of accountability raised by devolution, but they are not the only solution. These decisions should be informed by what works for local places, not by the demands of national politics.

The Times has reported that Theresa May is to abandon George Osborne’s plans for imposing regional mayors. The reported reason for the change of policy? The prime minister’s wish to avoid establishing ‘new powerbases’ for the moderate wing of the Labour party.

This is not a sound basis for policy making and plans for local devolution should not driven by national party politics. We should remember that a sensible devolved settlement is not just about what works for Westminster, but what works for areas like Manchester, Liverpool, Tees Valley and all the other regions around the country that are set to benefit from increased powers.

So far, DCLG has denied the claims, saying that mayors “remain the best way to make [deals] work”. Though the government stopped short of forcing it on local authorities, directly elected mayors were a core part of George Osborne’s strategy, and government attitudes seemed to be hardening on the issue over the course of 2016. But the DCLG statement does seem to leave room for the government to row back on the mandatory element of the mayor programme.

LGiU has always argued that the decision to establish a directly elected mayor should be a local one and that different models might be appropriate in different areas of the country.

Directly elected mayors can be very positive for a region: they can provide a figurehead and political voice for a region and speak on a national platform for the local community. They have lots of soft convening power and direct accountability to their electorate. Mayors could use their powerful local mandate to ensure that those operating within the local state are accountable and transparent while maintaining acceptable standards.

Mayors therefore provide one answer to questions around leadership and accountability at a local level – but they are not the only answer. There are plenty of other models for regional governance, from a rolling chairship to a committee structure. And there is certainly appetite for different models. Two-tier rural areas in particular have found it difficult to reconcile their ambitions for devolution with the introduction of a mayor. Other parts of the country have already voted against the idea of mayors in a local referendum. LGiU is continuing to explore these options.

It is not surprise that Labour MPs have realised that running a city is a bigger draw than spending years in opposition. However, Theresa May’s reasoning for a u-turn on mayors shouldn’t be politically driven – it should be about sharing prosperity and growth as well as increasing democracy and local accountability.”


Planners get antsy

Continual changes in the planning system have left planners without the powers they need to drive public sector-led development, the Royal Town Planning Institute has warned.

It said 73% of planners in England felt changes to the planning system had reduced their ability to deliver, and 53% thought the numerous changes had made it more difficult to ensure sufficient housing was built, while 70% felt their position was worse than it was a decade ago.
The report, Delivering the Value of Planning:

Click to access rtpi_delivering_the_value_of_planning_full_report_august_2016.pdf

[Don’t hold your breath: the authors think Cranbrook is an example of good planning!]

warned that deep budget cuts and continual changes had left England with a system that was complicated and uncertain, with planners possessing too few powers to ensure that development is well-planned and connected to transport and facilities.

RTPI president Phil Williams said: “For too long planning has been relegated to a reactive, bureaucratic function, instead of being able to plan strategically to drive development, jobs and growth.

“Public sector planners’ ability to be proactive is especially important in these uncertain times. It is absolutely crucial we resource councils’ planning teams properly, so that planners can operate strategically.”
He said planning should be more closely integrated with councils’ economic development teams, with stronger public sector-led management of land supply but also a stronger private sector role in development partnerships.
Mark Smulian


Check where your councillors REALLY live!

“An ex-councillor has been jailed for two months after pleading guilty to supplying false information to an electoral registration officer.
Richard Smalley was elected to represent Allestree on Derby City Council, a safe Conservative ward.

According to a report on the BBC website, he had claimed on a form submitted to the electoral registration officer that he lived at an address in Allestree, when he actually lived in Borrowash, which is outside the city boundaries of Derby. He resigned ten days after he was elected.

Smalley subsequently pleaded guilty to a charge of ‘Supplying False Information to the Electoral Registration officer’ under s13D Representation of the People Act.”


London Mayor releases land for affordable housing

Imagine what a difference EDDC could have made if it released land at Knowle or Honiton – or even the grossly under-tenanted Skypark Business Park …
for affordable housing NOT but-to-rent landlords creaming off housing benefit payments.


Seaside poverty (2): Cornwall

… the county’s six Conservative MPs are doing their “damnedest” to raise awareness of the poverty problems.

He says: “Politicians come down to Cornwall on holiday. They have their second, or maybe third home here. They have pictures of their family having a lovely time and just think ‘Oh, can there be poverty in lovely Cornwall?’”

“It is a beautiful place. But when you live and work here, the beauty is tinged because you know you’ve got this underlying poverty.”