BBC Inside Out – Exeter Fire and Hinkley safety concerns

When on iPlayer, worth watching tonight’s Inside Out (BBC)- a brief overview of the Royal Clarence Hotel fire and interviews about the safety of the current Hinkley nuclear reactors where there may well be serious cracks in the structure and graphite blocks weakening around the nuclear rods in a plant at the end of its useful life.

EDF says on the programme that cracks should be ok till “at least 2023” which is very reassuring! And that it wants to be allowed to work with 20% cracks and not the current 10%.

The debate on this will continue on Radio 4’s “Costing the Earth” at 3 pm tomorrow (Tuesday).

Make millions, pay peanuts … EDDC says that’s fine

“Town councillors have reiterated their opposition to Churchill Retirement Living’s plans to demolish Green Close, in Drakes Avenue, and build 36 sheltered housing apartments for the elderly.

They said the housing stock for older people cannot keep growing without also creating homes for nurses and carers to look after them – and argued the developer could cut into its 30 per cent operating profit margin to pay for it.

Planning committee members suggested Churchill should pay at least £360,000.

Councillor Ian Barlow, committee chairman, told the Herald: “Churchill’s profit margin is the one of the highest in the industry.

“They say they can’t pay more than £41,000 or it won’t be profitable – but those 36 homes are probably going to be worth £6-7million.

“Churchill is making a profit and taking it out of the town. They’re bringing in older people who will use the facilities, but they’re barely putting anything into the pot.”

The £41,000 referred to is a ‘section 106’ payment – cash that is meant to mitigate the impact of developments and fund improvements such as ‘affordable’ housing. The contribution depends on factors such as the size and number of dwellings being built.

Churchill is proposing to build 36 apartments in place of the 23-bed Green Close care home, which was run by Devon County Council until cutbacks brought about its closure in 2014.

The planning committee, which met last week, ruled: “Members noted that a contribution of £41,208 had been offered by the applicant towards affordable housing. Members expressed the view that this was an insult to the community of Sidmouth and urged the local planning authority not to accept the offer.”

Cllr Barlow compared the Green Close proposal with the Sanditon development, on the plot of the former Fortfield Hotel.

The developer there built 29 apartments and made a £1.5million ‘section 106’ payment – 36 times what Churchill is offering.

Cllr Barlow said the firm can avoid a larger payment because it is creating sheltered housing, adding: “We’re concerned that a lot of places are being provided for the elderly, but there’s nowhere being built for younger people.

“If there’s no provision at the same time for a nurse or a carer to live, who is going to look after them?”

Churchill’s planning director, Andrew Burgess, told the Herald: “We are disappointed by Sidmouth Town Council’s decision, since we have been consulting the community and working with the planning authorities for several months to develop plans for an attractive and sustainable new retirement community that will bring benefits to local people and the local economy.”

He said the proposed affordable housing contribution is based on a detailed viability assessment, industry best practice and factors such as the market value of the site.

Mr Burgess added: “We will continue to work with the council and the local community to ensure we can deliver the high-quality specialist retirement accommodation that is urgently needed by older people in Sidmouth.”

The application has been recommended for approval by EDDC’s planning officers, who noted the ‘comparatively modest’ financial contribution.

The authority’s development management committee will decide its fate on Tuesday (November 1).”

“Tory councils warn of £600m black hole after demise of education bill”

“Conservative council leaders are warning they face a £600m black hole in budgets to improve struggling schools after the government last week pulled the plug on its education bill.

With council budgets already under severe pressure after years of austerity, some say they may need maintained schools to contribute from their own shrinking budgets, while others may be forced to cut support services they provide to local schools, leaving them vulnerable to decline.

The threat to school improvement services comes as Ofsted’s chief inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw, described England’s schools as “mediocre but getting better”, giving the education system a rating of “6.5 out of 10”.

Local authorities – including Conservative-run county councils in Kent, Hampshire and Buckinghamshire – say they have been left in limbo by the government’s axing of educational services grants worth £600m ahead of passing the bill that would have curtailed the role of local authorities in maintaining community schools in England.

But the demise, announced to parliament by education secretary Justine Greening last Thursday, of the education for all bill, means councils will still be legally required to run school improvement services next year and meet other costs, such as maternity cover for teachers, but without funding from central government.

Martin Tett, the Conservative leader of Buckinghamshire county council, condemned the government’s failure to coordinate its funding and support for the many state schools that have not become academies.

“What we now have is a situation where the grant is being removed but the responsibilities will remain, particularly the statutory responsibility with regard to school improvement. And councils at the moment – particularly upper-tier councils, like county councils – are very financially stretched,” Tett said.

“This is a massive issue for us, because we have an important role in school improvement – not only supporting schools that require improvement or are in special measures, but actually stopping schools from reaching that stage in first place, by intervening early in a preventative approach.That costs money and, at the moment, that money is disappearing.”

The cuts will affect the bulk of the more than 20,000 state schools in England which are still maintained by their local authorities, rather than the fewer than 5,000 academies which are funded directly by central government.

Research by the County Councils Network – representing 37 unitary authorities and county councils – has found that more than two-thirds of academies choose to purchase school improvement services from their local authority, meaning that academies also rely on council support in many places. …”

“Theresa May’s claim on health funding not true, say MPs”

“Two Tories among signatories of letter pointing out that PM’s statement about £10bn extra cash for NHS are untrue.

Theresa May’s claims that the government is putting £10bn extra into the NHS are untrue and the underfunding of the health service is so severe that it may soon trigger rationing of treatment and hospital unit closures, a group of influential MPs have warned Philip Hammond.

Five MPs led by the Conservative Dr Sarah Wollaston, the chair of the Commons health select committee, have written to the chancellor demanding the government abandon its “incorrect” claims of putting £10bn into the NHS annual budget by the end of this parliament and admit the severity of its financial shortage.

“The continued use of the figure of £10bn for the additional health spending up to 2020-21 is not only incorrect but risks giving a false impression that the NHS is awash with cash,” Wollaston and four fellow committee members tell the chancellor in a letter.

“This figure is often combined with a claim that the government ‘has given the NHS what it asked for’. Again, this claim does not stand up to scrutiny as NHS England spending cannot be seen in isolation from other areas of health spending.”

The letter’s other signatures are Dr James Davies, a Conservative MP who is also a family doctor; Labour’s Ben Bradshaw, a former health minister, Labour MP Emma Reynolds; and Dr Philippa Whitford of the Scottish National party, who is an NHS breast cancer specialist.

Their letter’s detailed rejection of the government’s claims raises serious questions about the accuracy of May’s insistence, in a newspaper interview on 17 October and again at prime minister’s questions two days later, that her administration was giving NHS England boss Simon Stevens even more than he had sought in negotiations with ministers.

May told the Manchester Evening News: “Simon Stevens was asked to come forward with a five-year plan for the NHS. He said that it needed £8bn extra; the government has not just given him £8bn extra, we’ve given him £10bn extra. As I say, we have given the NHS more than the extra money they said they wanted for their five-year plan.”

However, the MPs say that May’s £10bn claim cannot be justified. “The £10bn figure can only be reached by adding an extra year to the spending review period, changing the date from which the real terms increase is calculated and disregarding the total health budget,” they concluded.

In the run-up to the general election, George Osborne, the then chancellor, promised to spend £8bn more a year by 2020, a figure that has risen since. But the MPs dispute that arithmetic, saying that the real amount of extra cash being given to the NHS in England between 2014-15 and 2020-21 is only £6bn and even that much smaller sum has only come from cutting spending on public health programmes and medical education and training by £3.5bn.

Worries about health service funding have emerged with increasing intensity in the run-up to the autumn statement on 23 November after it emerged that May told the head of the NHS in private that it would get no additional money this parliament.

Last year, finances were so tight that the NHS overspent its budget but public pressure to fund the health service generously remains strong. During the EU referendum campaign, the successful leave campaign promised to boost funding for the health service by diverting money that it said was being spent in Europe.

Warning of the political risk involved in underfunding the NHS, the five MPs add that “public expectations of the health service, and the continued rise in demand for its care produced by an increasing and ageing population, mean that measures which could be taken in some government departments are not acceptable in the NHS … including rationing of care and cuts in service provision.”

The MPs maintain that what they see as short-sighted cuts to social care threaten the viability of NHS services. They also raised the risks of the Department of Health “repeatedly raiding” the NHS’s capital budget in recent years and the decision to give the NHS only tiny budget increases in 2017-18 and in the two years afterwards.

“Our fear is that, given the ‘U-shaped’ trajectory of increases in funding for the NHS over the spending review period, these short-term pressures will become overwhelming. Despite the real-terms increases set out in the spending review, per capita funding for the NHS is projected to be flat in 2017-18 and actually to fall in 2018-19. That calls into question the ability of the NHS to maintain services in the latter part of the spending review period,” they say.

Andrew Lansley, the health secretary in the coalition government, recently called for the NHS to be given £5bn more than the money already planned.

There have also been widespread calls for the government to make good on the suggestion by Brexit campaigners that leaving the EU could add £350m-a-week to the NHS budget.

NHS England declined to comment on the letter.

Chris Hopson, the chief executive of NHS Providers, which represents hospitals, said that NHS underfunding meant that “it is being asked to deliver an impossible task. Put simply, the gap between what the NHS is being asked to deliver and the funding it has available is too big and is growing rapidly”, he said.

Prof John Appleby, the chief economist at the Nuffield Trust health thinktank, said the MPs were right to warn that cutting the amount of per capita funding for healthcare could mean major restrictions to NHS services being needed in the later years of this parliament, too.

“It is hard to see how this can be reconciled with providing high quality healthcare that meets the needs of a growing and ageing population,” Appleby said. “Something will have to give – whether that’s an explosion in waiting lists, patients not being able to access new drugs coming on-stream or another record set of hospital deficits.”

The government rejected the MPs’ analysis and repeated previous statements made by May and the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, including the highly contentious £10bn claim. “The government has backed the NHS’s own plan for the future with a £10bn real terms increase in its annual funding by 2020-21, helping to ease the pressure on hospitals, GPs and mental health services. It is wrong to suggest otherwise”, said a government spokesman.

“As the chief executive of NHS England said last year, the case for the NHS has been heard and actively supported. We have allowed local government to increase social care spending in the years to 2020, with access to up to £3.5bn of new support by then.”

“Wave of prefab homes planned to tackle UK housing crisis”

Second-class housing for second class citizens? Just watch the high-end house owners when one of these estates is planned in their back yard!

Lack of funding could scupper homelessness reforms, say MPs
Ministers are planning a new wave of prefabs in a drive to solve Britain’s housing crisis, it has been reported.

More than 100,000 pre-packed modular homes could be constructed as the government looks at ways to meet its target to provide a million new homes by 2020, according to The Sunday Telegraph.

A government white paper due out next month will include measures to encourage banks to lend to firms that construct the homes off-site before delivering them to their final destination, the paper said.

The initiative recalls the reconstruction drive which followed the second world war as prefabs sprung up across the country as the government sought to house families bombed out of their homes by the Germans.

While the prefabs of the 1940 homes were often a byword for poor quality, improvements in technology mean that such concerns are no longer an issue.

Ministers were said to have been impressed by the fact that some of the new generation of prefabs could be put up on site in as little as 24 hours, as well as the potential cost advantages.

The Sunday Telegraph quoted a government source as saying: “The first and most obvious advantage is speeding up the building of housing. There is pretty good evidence that if you did it at scale it is cheaper.”

“Secret government papers show taxpayers will pick up costs of Hinkley nuclear waste storage”

“Taxpayers will pick up the bill should the cost of storing radioactive waste produced by Britain’s newest nuclear power station soar, according to confidential documents which the government has battled to keep secret for more than a year.

The papers confirm the steps the government took to reassure French energy firm EDF and Chinese investors behind the £24bn Hinkley Point C plant that the amount they would have to pay for the storage would be capped.

The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy – in its previous incarnation as the Department for Energy and Climate Change – resisted repeated requests under the Freedom of Information Act for the release of the documents which were submitted to the European commission.

“The government has attempted to keep the costs to the taxpayer of Hinkley under wraps from the start,” said Dr Doug Parr, Greenpeace chief scientist. “It’s hardly surprising as it doesn’t look good for the government’s claim that they are trying to keep costs down for hardworking families.”

But, earlier this month, on the very last day before government officials had to submit their defence against an appeal for disclosure of the information, the department released a “Nuclear Waste Transfer Pricing Methodology Notification Paper”. Marked “commercial in confidence”, it states that “unlimited exposure to risks relating to the costs of disposing of their waste in a GDF [geological disposal facility], could not be accepted by the operator as they would prevent the operator from securing the finance necessary to undertake the project”.

Instead the document explains that there will be a “cap on the liability of the operator of the nuclear power station which would apply in a worst-case scenario”. It adds: “The UK government accepts that, in setting a cap, the residual risk, of the very worst-case scenarios where actual cost might exceed the cap, is being borne by the government.”

Separate documents confirm that the cap also applies should the cost of decommissioning the reactor at the end of its life balloon. …”

Honiton NHS bed closure “consultation” meeting 10 November 2016


10.00 – 12.30

Please register to guarantee your place.
Call 01392 356 084 or email

For more details see:

Honiton is to be left with no beds at all in current plans, so it is hard to see what the town is being consulted about.

So far, EDDC top brass have issued watered-down, anodyne statements about the situation, so you might want to quiz your Tory district councillors BEFORE this meeting.

Daily Mail picks up Hernandez selfie story


A Tory crime tsar has provoked anger by taking a selfie with a fire chief in front of the blaze that has destroyed England’s oldest hotel.
Alison Hernandez was photographed posing with Lee Howell, the Chief Fire Officer for Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service, as the ancient Royal Clarence Hotel in Exeter burned behind them.

Mr Howell, who is seen in full protective gear in the picture, was in charge of fighting the blaze which broke out on Friday and was finally contained yesterday.

The Royal Clarence, which dates back to 1769, was devastated by the fire.

As Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon & Cornwall, Mrs Hernandez has no responsibility for live operations so had no need to be at the scene of the blaze, which also destroyed an art gallery and threatened other historic buildings near Exeter Cathedral.

Exeter MP Ben Bradshaw said: ‘I’m not sure this is appropriate behaviour for our Police and Crime Commissioner.

‘Taking selfies with senior fire officers during such a tragedy when they may have more important things to do is not in the best of taste. ‘I’m sure Mrs Hernandez will reflect on this and apologise.’

Her actions were branded ‘utterly contemptible’ in a Twitter post by the former mayor of nearby Dawlish, Howard Almond. Other Twitter users accused her of ‘rubbernecking’.

Mrs Hernandez did not post her photograph on social media but did upload two pictures of workers at the scene, writing that some had been on duty for 12 hours.

She said she had gone down to the scene of the fire in Exeter’s Cathedral Green to give thanks to the emergency services.

She added: ‘It is an extremely sad day for Exeter, so this is not an appropriate time to respond to Mr Bradshaw’s comments.’

Mrs Hernandez, who is paid £85,000 a year, has been under investigation since she took up her role in May over claims that she failed to declare expenses fully as a Conservative agent at last year’s General Election.
Her force’s Chief Constable, Shaun Sawyer, is now also under investigation over comments he made about her case in a radio interview.”

Someone not too sure exactly who our Police and Crime Commissioner is ….


Comment under the article about our PCC stopping a senior Fire Officer from doing his job at the Exeter hotel fire. Has she brought her office into disrepute? Hundreds of commentators on different sites seem to think so, saying what a stupid thing to do.


“The headline, “police and crime commissioner has been criticised for taking selfies at the scene of devastating Exeter fire”. Why has he been criticised? He has done absolutely nothing wrong! He did not take the selfie himself now did he? Alison Hernandez took the selfie of herself with the police and crime commissioner. I must also add that Alison Hernandez, the young lady who took the photo has done nothing wrong. I would say that this young lady simply wanted a picture of herself with our highly regarded police and crime commissioner. Give these people a break. What was he supposed to do….say no to the young lady and give a wrong impression? The poor man cannot win really can he? He, along with the rest of the marvellous support teams who have been dealing with this terrible inferno over the past 29+ hours, deserves a break and if he chooses to have time out by allowing someone to have a ‘selfie’ with him, then so be it. I am from Plymouth and have been watching the news intensely as I am devastated for the people of Exeter. I do not expect to see ridiculous headlines such as this. Please report the ‘news’ and not our police and crime commissioner taking some time out. I have never left comments before but felt the need to do so today.

Fortunately, someone later put the correspondent right:


“@sreeve – Are you completely stupid or what? Alison Hernandez *is* the Police & Crime Commisioner. The bloke she’s seen with in the photograph is a fire officer.”

Latest developer housebuilding scam: cost of converting a house lease to freehold

“When Clare Budgen bought her first house in Ellesmere Port in 2009 for £155,000 the last thing on her mind was the lease. Taylor Wimpey, the developer, arranged the lease on a 999-year basis, so what could the then 22-year-old possibly have had to worry about?

But just seven years later, when she looked into buying the freehold (to enable her to sell the home more easily in the future) she was astonished to find that, first, Taylor Wimpey had sold her freehold to another company, E&J Estates, and, second, it wanted £32,000.

Paula Richmond is in a similar boat. In 2015, she bought a four-bed house built by Taylor Wimpey in 2011 for £122,000, thinking she had bagged a bargain. Again, the original lease was for 999 years and with 995 more years to go, it was the least of her concerns. At the time, she understood that buying the freehold would cost no more than £2,000-£3,000. But, like Clare, she has found that her lease has been sold to E&J Estates by Taylor Wimpey and has been told by surveyors that she will have to pay up to £40,000 for the freehold – one-third of the house’s value. Paula can’t afford it and says “the house is almost unsaleable”, with solicitors warning potential buyers to stay away.

Like thousands of others in England and Wales, buyers like Paula and Clare (not their real names) have been trapped by a controversial trend among developers to sell homes as leasehold when they previously would have been freehold. The buyers are given reassuringly long 999-year leases – usually it is leases of less than 60 years on flats that are a worry – but later find that buying the freehold is prohibitively expensive.

One surveyor Guardian Money spoke to in Manchester said a client had just been forced to pay £38,000 to buy the freehold on their recently built home, despite its long lease.

The trap for unsuspecting buyers comes from the escalation in ground rent in the small print of long leases. Initially, it looks affordable. The developer gives the buyer a 999-year lease, with the ground rent set, in Paula’s case, at £295 a year. The contract says the ground rent will double every 10 years. This may look innocuous – after all, most people move every seven to 10 years. But to the company that buys the freehold, the income is valuable….

…Campaigners say issues around ­leasehold properties will be top of the agenda for an all-party parliamentary group on leasehold and commonhold next month. It has attracted 43 MPs and lords, and is chaired by Labour MP Jim Fitzpatrick and Tory Sir Peter ­Bottomley. Members include Sir Keir Starmer, Emma Reynolds and Barry Gardiner.

Sebastian O’Kelly of support group Leasehold Knowledge Partnership says: “It is disgraceful that plc ­housebuilders are building leasehold houses that ­ordinarily – and until recently – would have had freehold title. This is an ­erosion of the wealth of ordinary people at the expense of the rich.

“Young people, after years of paying rent, finally buy a home and then find they are still, in fact, tenants – which is what a leaseholder is – with all the ­vulnerability that that implies.”

He adds: “The housebuilders are evasive over this issue and it beggars belief that the ­outrageous ground rent multiples come from household-name builders. There is no attempt to justify the adoption of leasehold tenure for these houses, which are not complex communal sites such as blocks of flats.

MP Justin Madders is calling for a ban on leasehold for estates of houses. “It is clear this system is being abused to drive huge profits at ordinary ­homeowners’ expense. There is no need for there to be leasehold properties, particularly those on an estate where the properties are mainly detached houses.

“They need to be banned – it may be a convenient way for developers to get extra profit from their building work, but once they get in the hands of these private equity companies the profit motive overrides any considerations that there are real people living in their homes, who are being asked to stump up eye-watering sums.”

Hernandez statement on that selfie visit to Exeter fire

“I went to Cathedral Green to offer my support, and to thank the police, firefighters and other emergency services. They did a fantastic job in extremely difficult circumstances throughout the day.”

The bit she missed out: “Oh, and to get a selfie with the Fire Chief to show what a media star I am”.

Next – a fashion shoot in Hello magazine, perhaps?

One of her election “promises” was:

Co-Founder of Torbay Social Media Café – free events helping support organisations to better use social media. I will develop Cyber Crime Cafés to keep people safe online.”

Alison Hernandez

They say voters get what they deserve. Just about 22% of the electorate voted – THEY may have got what they voted for – the rest – well, you see now what a vote for someone else might have avoided.

Swire … working for … well, you decide

Written questions in Parliament- 25-26 October 2016

Written Answers’ speaker:Hugo Swire
Sort by relevance Sorted by date: newest / oldest Group by person

Written Answers — Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Staff (27 Oct 2016)

Hugo Swire: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what plans he has to increase the number of officials of his Department who work on issues related to the Commonwealth.

Written Answers — Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: Agriculture: Subsidies (27 Oct 2016)

Hugo Swire: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent progress she has made on resolving Basic Payment Scheme claims which include common land.

Written Answers — Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: Agriculture: Subsidies (27 Oct 2016)

Hugo Swire: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if she will take steps to improve the level of information provided to farmers on how claim payments under the Basic Payment Scheme are broken down.

Written Answers — Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: Agriculture: Subsidies (27 Oct 2016)

Hugo Swire: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if she will consider providing bridging payments to Rural Payment Agency claimants awaiting payment after 31 March 2017.

Written Answers — Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Maldives: Commonwealth (25 Oct 2016)

Hugo Swire: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if he will have discussions with the Commonwealth Secretary-General on the Maldives leaving the Commonwealth.

Written Answers — Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Commonwealth: Overseas Trade (25 Oct 2016)

Hugo Swire: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what support officials of his Department are providing for the Commonwealth Trade Ministers’ meeting in London in 2017.

Written Answers — Home Office: Refugees: Calais (25 Oct 2016)
Hugo Swire: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what criteria she is adopting to select refugees from the camp in Calais for resettlement.

Written Answers — Home Office: Refugees: Calais (25 Oct 2016)
Hugo Swire: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, which local authorities have agreed to relocate refugees from the camp in Calais.

Written Answers — Home Office: Refugees: Calais (25 Oct 2016)
Hugo Swire: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment she has made of the age of young refugees from the camp in Calais received into the UK.

Written Answers — Home Office: Refugees: Calais (25 Oct 2016)
Hugo Swire: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she is taking to pre-screen young refugees from the camp in Calais before they enter the UK.”

EDDC: Can’t tell us what they did – because someone else did it for them and they have no paperwork!


The implication in the correspondence below raises serious questions.

1. EDDC does not appear to check what a third-party has done on its behalf.
2. It does not seem to ask for proof that the third party has done the work.
3. It seems to allow work that needs legal clearance to go ahead on the basis of 1 and 2 above with seemingly no proof that it IS legal.


Dear East Devon District Council,

“Following Cllr Moulding’s statement of today’s date (28.09.16) on BBC Radio Devon, that EDDC had ‘used a badger expert, and applied for the relevant license from Natural England’, in respect of the badgers identified as living on the site of the Jungle Fun and Crazy Golf, on The Queen’s Drive, Exmouth, I would like to request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and Environmental Information Regulations 2004, the following additional information:

1. When were badgers first identified as living on the Jungle Fun and crazy golf site?
2. On what date was the ‘badger expert’, Dr. Brown, enlisted by EDDC in respect of the badgers on the Jungle fun and crazy golf site, and what was his brief?
3 – Please provide Dr. Brown’s report pertaining to the badgers on the Jungle Fun and crazy golf site in full.
4. On what date was a license to interfere with a sett applied for with Natural England?
5. Please provide full details of the application made (the original application form and all attached material, and any relevant communications).
6. On what date, if at all, was this license granted?
7. Following the Radio Devon report in which it was stated permission had been given to move the badgers to a new site, please confirm that date on which that has, or will, happen, and any related documentation.

Yours faithfully,”


[Points 1-3 are answered]

… In respect of parts (4-7) of your request, the application was made on behalf of the council and we do not hold a copy of the application or
licence itself


“I would like to further request under the FOI act 200 and Environmental Regulations Act 2004:

1 – Who made the application of behalf of the Council.
2 – On what date did they make this application.
3 – As the requested application was made on behalf of the Council I would like to re-request a copy of the original application, as I believe this is ‘information held by another person on behalf of the authority’, which as stated in the ICO report (… ) , is held for the purposes of the FOI act.”

A smell of badger poo somewhere?

Public toilets next for the chop in East Devon asks EDA councillor?

“Fears have been voiced for Sidmouth’s free public toilets as district bosses review their £800,000 cost in a bid to balance the books.

East Devon District Council (EDDC) is taking stock of its conveniences and is looking into paid access at some ‘key’ sites, leasing some to businesses and ‘innovative’ ways of reducing the cost of providing its StreetScene service.

Also on the cards is ‘rationalising’ its provision, but the authority insists that no decision has yet been made and residents will be consulted. Any changes are at least two years away, says the council.

Councillor Cathy Gardner, ward member for Sidmouth Town, said the result will be taxpayers paying more for less – and warned the authority will soon run out of ways to cut costs.

“A town like Sidmouth needs free public toilets,” she said. “An elderly population and lots of visitors with children need them, otherwise we have an increase in urination in public places.

“As well as cutting services that we’ve had as a mark of civilisation since the Victorian era, we will be paying more in council tax and getting less.

“This is what austerity means at a local level. It really does affect everyone and I doubt whether things will ever be put back.

“Once an asset is sold, it’s gone – never to be returned – and how do you balance the books next time?”

An EDDC spokeswoman said: “The council recognises that public toilet provision is a very important service for our residents and visitors – however, it is not a statutory service and we provide it because we know how much it is valued.

“As part of the council plan, we need to look at ways of operating services differently in order to help meet our budget deficit of £2.6million.

“We spend around £800,000 per annum on our toilets, so we need to assess them responsibly for quality, level of provision in any given area and possible options for different ways of operating.

“However, we would like to stress that no decisions have yet been made – it is far too early and is still a work in progress.”

The spokeswoman said the provision is being reviewed and the options will be discussed by EDDC’s asset management forum and cabinet. She added: “As and when proposals come forward, there will be full engagement, including consultation, with all interested parties.

“We anticipate that any changes would not come into place for at least two years.”

EDDC’s knuckles thrashed three times by Information Commissioner

From Save our Sidmouth website today. Coruscating condemnation of their secrecy over Knowle relocation.

“Knowle relocation project: BREAKING NEW

Information Commissioner tells East Devon District Council to publish documentation

News just in that the ICO have released three Decision Notices. They will be available on their website shortly:

Meanwhile, here is an overview:

Case: FER0626901
Pegasus agreement re Knowle

The ICO are telling EDDC to come up with all of this:

“I would like the Council to disclose the details of the agreement it has entered into with Pegasus for the Knowle site.
I would like to see the full, unredacted version of the agreement.
I understand that the information at issue would not be exploited by a competitor and that disclosure would not place either party at a commercial disadvantage.
All parties, including Pegasus, will have known that they would be subject to the FOIA when the agreement was signed.
To reiterate, I would like the full publication of the commercial terms of the agreement.
I would like you to provide me with all of the documentation I have requested: in their original electronic versions and not in their scanned versions.”

From: Pegasus agreement re Knowle – a Freedom of Information request to East Devon District Council – WhatDoTheyKnow

Case: FER0608237
Projected maintenance costs for relocation project

The ICO say EDDC don’t have to produce spreadsheets but have to publish the following re the new-build at Honiton:

“To disclose the price that the developer is prepared to pay for the land from the cash flow documents which the council withheld.”

The ‘Conclusions’ are interesting, however:

“53. There is a public interest in protecting the public purse, in this case this is balanced in this case against the public interest in allowing the public to scrutinise the council’s decisions and financial assumptions about the project to develop new offices for itself. This latter aspect clearly raises the level of transparency which would be expected as the council could be seen to be spending public money on its own facilities, for its own purposes. It has argued that it needs to change offices as overall, doing so would save the public money compared to staying in its current offices. The public however cannot know whether this is true without further information being open for them to scrutinise.”

With ref to:
Projected maintenance costs for relocation project – a Freedom of Information request to East Devon District Council – WhatDoTheyKnow

Case: FER0623403
Decision process which led to the award of the conditional contract with Pegasus re Knowle

The ICO are telling EDDC to come up with the last from this list – EDDC having given the first 5, but not the 6th:

“I request information on the decision to award a contract to PegasusLife for the development of the Knowle site in Sidmouth, including, but not limited to:
1. Bid documentation provided to prospective bidders;
2. process for and criteria for selection of successful bidder;
3. Number of organisations who expressed an interest in bidding;
4. Number of organisations who submitted a bid;
5. Names of organisations who submitted a bid;
6. Minutes of meetings and correspondence on the subject.”

Decision process which led to the award of the conditional contract with Pegasus re Knowle – a Freedom of Information request to East Devon District Council – WhatDoTheyKnow

Home care instead of hospital? Forget it

Care providers in Cornwall say there’s a crisis in the care of elderly and disabled people at weekends because there are just not enough workers.

One relative called every care agency in Cornwall but could not get weekend help for her grandfather.

South West councils pay the highest average hourly rate in the country, but its still not enough to attract new carers.

BBC Devon Live