Black holes and green fields

Comment reproduced from post below:

The leaderships approach to finances over the last decade or more has been driven by a single-minded dogma to avoid any rise in council tax, even to match inflation. They have achieved this by relying not only on the government’s normal grant, but also on the government’s New Homes Bribe (ooops, Bonus – which gives payments for 6 years for each house built) which in turn has driven the mind-boggling growth numbers in the East Devon Local Plan which could easily see overall growth of more than 35% – YES THAT IS NOT A TYPO, I DO MEAN GROWTH OF HOMES OF MORE THAN A THIRD – over the period of the current Local Plan.

(Imagine all the buildings in East Devon – in Exmouth, Budleigh, Sidmouth, Seaton, Axminster, Honiton, etc. etc. – all lumped together – that’s a lot of land built on. Now take a third of that huge area, and imagine all the green fields in East Devon that will need to be built upon to make that happen, a lot of which will be in our AONBs. That is the EDDC Conservative vision for East Devon.)

Anyway, back to the finances. So EDDC’s future financial plans were predicated on large income from the New Homes Bonus. But George Osborne introduced an austerity regime which decided to abolish not only the normal grant but also the New Homes Bonus, so now the EDDC’s finances have a huge hole in them (made worse of course by the vanity projects they are undertaking like the no-longer-cost-neutral move from the Knowle).

And that is why we have seen a 4% increase in Council tax this year, and likely to see further increases in council tax way above inflation in the next few years.

Fortunately (????!!!!!), the government has thrown EDDC a lifeline by deciding to allow councils to keep all the local business rates as revenue – so we are now seeing EDDC allowing dubious business developments approved (like the recent Greendale application – submitted by a generous donor to the local Conservatives) and we should expect this to ramp up as the cash flow from the New Homes Bonus runs down.

Now back to the mental picture of 1/3 growth in homes – take the amount of land you have pictured for new homes, and add to it a significant growth in industrial buildings (like Sidford and Greendale). Terrifying isn’t it.

Of course, if you take have been watching EDDC’s actions, you will know that they have already rationalised this by joining (without any consultation with the public or indeed councillors) with Exeter City Council and Teignbridge District Council to form so called Greater Exeter. Think of Greater London and Greater Manchester and you will get the picture – huge sprawling joined up conurbations, with extensive suburbs to feed the businesses in the city centre. We are already seeing assaults on the green wedges that separate our towns and villages – so this is not as far from reality as you might think.

So there you have it. A double whammy – huge increases in Council Tax whilst rampant developments start to cover our beautiful countryside and Exeter grows exponentially in order to meet the huge Local Plan targets for new homes.