“Information not held”

Freedom of Information requests to East Devon District Council on the whatdotheyknow website:

“EDDC policy and guidance on conducting public consultations
Response by East Devon District Council to tim todd on 23 March 2016.
Information not held.

Request for information that supports ‘success’ claims made by Cllr Moulding (Premier Inn)
Response by East Devon District Council to tim todd on 29 April 2016.
Information not held.


“Basic flood protection ‘missing in high risk areas’ “

“Hundreds of thousands of householders in flood risk areas have failed to install basic protection against rising waters, insurers say.

The Association of British Insurers said even buildings guarded by flood defences should have flood-proof doors in case embankments are over-topped.

The comments add to a complex blame game over responsibility for floods.

The insurers have been criticised by the Environment Agency for failing to protect inundated properties.

Local councils are also part of the melee – they want more cash for flood funding from the government, and more control of how it is spent. They are critical of the Environment Agency.

Ministers are in the fray too, as demands increase for tighter building standards to ensure at-risk homes are made more flood resistant.

Some of these tensions around flood policy are revealed in an unpublicised report to government that ministers plan to launch in coming weeks.

In the report, the Environment Agency blames insurers for failing to prepare for the increased threat of flooding.
The insurers, the agency says, should not simply re-instate flooded homes to their original state – they should ensure properties are resistant or resilient to future floods.
Emma Howard Boyd, who chairs the agency, says: “There is a disconnect between insurance reinstatement and resilient repair of property.

“Loss adjustors and builders do not understand the benefits of resilient measures.

“It is not clear that the insurance industry value property-level resilience or incentivising people to have it.”
That is despite research suggesting that precautionary measures are extremely good value.

The report’s main author, Sir Peter Bonfield, points the finger at householders for failing to improve their homes after flooding. …

… Finally, there remains the public. Comments made to me on trips to flood-hit areas in Devon [Topsham, Radio 4 Today programme today] and Cumbria suggest many reasons why owners of at-risk homes and businesses do not flood-proof their properties.

They include: distrust of builders; inability to get grants unless they have already been flooded; dislike of form-filling; uncertainty about flood protection products; complacency about future flooding; lack of help from insurance companies… or simply (and in many cases most powerfully), they can’t get round to it.”


Hard-working MP

Hugo Swire has put nothing on his MP web page since a very lukewarm response to East Devon bed closures on 22 September, after which he was made Chairman of the Conservative Middle East Council.

He has done 19 tweets since then: 10 on national or international issues and 9 on local issues – including 5 retweets from other sources.

His three latest (written) questions to Parliament were all about penalties for using mobile phones whilst driving:


According to his official MP page his wife, who is his paid assistant at £35,000-£39,999 pa, does his website and press releases, though we don’t know if she also does any of his tweets:


Perhaps his wife is on holiday.

Many more peers than MPs

The net operating costs of the House of Lords in 2013-4 were £93.1m, approximately equivalent to £118,000 per Peer. So whilst on the basis of allowances and expenses, an additional 100 Peers would cost almost £2.6m, this is likely an underestimate of their true costs. 24 Aug 2015″

A VERY easy thing for Mrs May to fix. Will she fix it?

“The growing size of the House of Lords has become increasingly controversial. Under David Cameron’s premiership, membership rose from just over 700 members to well beyond 800 in just six years, and he appointed to the chamber at a faster rate than any other prime minister since life peerages began (see page 13 here for figures to 2015). Both the Lords’ size and rate of appointments have frequently attracted fierce press criticism. Public figures expressing concern in recent months have included the Chair of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, Lord Bew, and the outgoing Lord Speaker, Baroness D’Souza.

Just in case Prime Minister Theresa May was in doubt about the strength of feeling on this issue, the incoming Lord Speaker Lord (Norman) Fowler began his term by strongly speaking out for change. Fowler was formerly a cabinet minister under Margaret Thatcher, and party chairman under John Major, so has significant gravitas in Conservative circles. In a BBC interview on 16 September he suggested ‘that by the next election, [the Lords] should be at a number that is just less than the House of Commons’, emphasising how the current situation is damaging to parliament’s reputation. A particularly sensitive contextual issue is that the Commons is itself due to shrink in 2020, from 650 MPs to 600, under the government’s proposed boundary changes. In an interview for the House Magazine (reproduced on Politics Home) Fowler commented that ‘I don’t think that we can justify a situation where you have over 800 peers at the same time as you’re bringing down the Commons to 600 MPs’. Conservative chair of the House of Commons Procedure Committee Charles Walker has gone further, suggesting that getting the Lords below 600 should be made a condition for voting the boundary changes through. A cross-party group of peers is pressing for the Lords to vote on the principle of being no larger than the Commons in the near future (notably the UK is the only bicameral country in the world where the second chamber is larger than the first). Conservative chair of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, Bernard Jenkin, has meanwhile asked his committee to launch an inquiry into Lords numbers and appointments.

So this appears to be a reform whose time has come. But the key question is how best to reduce from 800+ members to 600. To succeed, any such reduction must be both sustainable and seen to be fair. Here I argue that this requires four interconnected things: a large number of departures before 2020, a long-term cap on the size of the House, limitations on future appointments, and an agreed principle of balance between the parties (and other groups). Without all four, any attempted reform is doomed to fail.”


“Greater Exeter” and its impact on housing and infrastructure in East Devon

We learned recently that the current Stagecoach depot opposite the bus station in Exeter is going to be turned into a massive block of student housing – 557 units.

Now we hear that there are plans for the site of the Honiton Inn, on the roundabout opposite the bus station to be another student block of 101 flats with their own private gym and cinema – opposite a public gym and cinema!


What effect will this have on East Devon?

Well, “Greater Exeter” – whose “Visioning Board” like all such development and regeneration boards in “Greater Exeter” meets in secret – is making arrangements to do the next revision to its 3 Local Plans (Exeter, East Devon and Teignbridge) together.

It will be totally evident (in fact it is already) that Exeter’s main growth in housing will remain student housing. So, where will housing for other people go? Obviously East Devon and Teignbridge.

Cranbrook has natural boundaries beyond which it will soon make its further expansion much more difficult than heretofore. Therefore, it will be towns such as Exmouth, Honiton and Sidmouth – and the green fields in-between – that must be expanded to take in the commuters into Exeter, with a possible massive impact.

None of this is being put before the general public in any of the three areas nor is adequate infrastructure being planned for this big change (or at least we cannot be allowed know of any). And, of course, our Local Enterprise Partnership will “own” the business rates of the Exeter “Growth Area” and will have its fingers in the many development pies.

Time to start talking about the NEXT revision of the Local Plan which may well see even more massive development in East Devon on a much bigger scale than we could ever have imagined and could dwarf the extra numbers already agreed..