Can EDDC do basic arithmetic?

Read this first – the response to their external auditors that their Section 106 system is not working:

“An EDDC spokesman said: “We know exactly how much section 106 money is owed. “However, we only hold that information by development and do not hold a total of all monies outstanding across all developments. “This is currently being addressed.”

(The rest of the press release is just as bizarre)


Let’s say, for argument’s sake, EDDC has 100 developments which owe Section 106 money. What they are saying is: “We know what each of the 100 developments owes but we can’t add them all up and get a total!”

Or is Owl missing something here?

Has DCC Leader John Hart just killed off Devon and Somerset devolution plans?

Agenda item
Councillor John Hart, Leader of Devon County Council

Meeting of Exeter Board, Monday 21st November 2016 5.30 pm (Item 31)


The Chair welcomed Councillor John Hart, Leader of Devon County Council who spoke on the future direction and plans of the County Council in light of Government policy and continued cuts to local government funding – 2017/18 set to be the 8th consecutive year since 2009 of further restrictions, the precise nature of cuts to become clearer as part of the budget setting process in the New Year.

Having recently met Sajid Javid, the Communities Secretary, Councillor Hart expanded on latest developments in the Devolution debate.

A number of areas such as Norfolk and Suffolk had withdrawn interest and, whilst the Secretary had urged a joint Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and Dorset bid, Councillor Hart outlined the disparity of views across the region for this approach.

Quarterly meetings for the Leaders of Devon, Cornwall, Torbay and Plymouth councils continued to be held and, although Somerset now also participated, within that County the views of districts diverged.

Whilst funding of £15 million per year associated with the adoption of the Mayoral system would be available there was no enthusiasm for an extra tier of local government and this sum represented a fraction of the overall County Council budget.

With regard to two independent studies looking into potential local government reorganisation in county areas for the County Councils Network, he asserted that County/District relationships in Devon were much improved since the previous ruling on re-organisation as evidenced by various joint initiatives with the Districts, the National Parks and the LEP. However, he suggested that some Devon Districts would face increased financial challenges with changes in New Homes Bonus rules.

In his meeting with the Secretary he had urged greater funding commitment for training and skills given the gap of some 20% between the SE and the SW in productivity and he emphasised the value of apprenticeships, including for small businesses.

He thanked the voluntary/community sector for the role played in supporting the County in the delivery of many of its services referring to Senior Voice, Age Concern and CAB which were valued and supported by the authority. He also referred to ICE where again the input of this sector was invaluable, this initiative being a pilot for the rest of the UK. Community self-reliance was a growing theme and he referred to County initiatives encouraging collaboration between parishes.

Members referred to the impact of the reshaped County Council services on areas such as youth, libraries, reduced rural transport funding of 1.7 million, day care, closure of residential homes, the sale of old people’s homes as well as responsibilities under the Care Act legislation.

Responding, Councillor Hart stated that the old people/residential homes had no longer been fit for purpose and that this was also being reflected in the private sector, the County was retaining its overall £4million County wide bus service subsidy and that the transfer of the library service to Charitable Trusts would facilitate business rate relief.

Responding to the concerns of Members regarding the changes emerging from the Care Act legislation and the shift to community based service delivery, he advised that the County Council’s Health and Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee was leading on consultation and responses to the Wider Devon Sustainability and Transformation Plan which sought to achieve the NHS “Five Year Forward View”.

It was noted that the New Devon Clinical Commissioning Group had offered support towards the changes. The County Councils Network was reviewing changes at the national level. Devon’s older people population exceeded 170,000 – both over 65’s and over 85’s, with no specific Government funding for the latter.

It was noted that the Government had announced a £10 million investment to help strengthen the resilience of the railway line between Exeter and Dawlish and Teignmouth.

The Chair thanked Councillor Hart for attending.

More on the ” hidden” Hugo Swire

A commentator reacts to the post below on Hugo Swire:

A few more points that come out of this article:

He wishes that he had been more rebellious in his youth – we wish he was more rebellious now.

He says he doesn’t understand how business works!!!

He says he liked visiting Cuba – we wish he had stayed there.

He likes telling unprintable jokes – which goes well with being one.

His sense of humour is apparently a little more sophisticated than his best joke about Napoleon’s armies being up his sleevies – but we guess not much.

He really, really wants to meet Donald Trump. His hero?

His motto: “Confuse your enemies and confound your friends.” Well he certainly confounds his constituents.

He is INCREDIBLY VAIN because thinks he is better looking than both Robert Wagner and Sam Neil (both of whom he thinks are “mothy”), and as good looking and with the physique of Ross Poldark – by which I am guessing he means 33 year old Aidan Turner (dream on, Hugo) rather than 74 year old Robin Ellis. We know which one we think he is most like.

He likes hurling abuse at cyclists, and even stranger likes being abused by them in return. (Is that the most rebellious he can get? Pity he can’t rebel against his own parties lies and destruction of democracy and British institutions.)

He likes sticking things up chickens’ bottoms.

He thinks his mobile phone has been hacked by foreign powers (presumably before he was sacked as a Foreign Office minister) – but he hasn’t asked the security services to check it or got a new one. (Can anyone check his parliamentary receipts to see how recently he has claimed for one?)

He refuses to confirm that he is law abiding.

Web page saved for posterity at

The hidden Hugo Swire … should perhaps stay hidden

Some choice snippets, but you really need to read the whole thing …

<strong>If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

I think it would be very useful to be able to be invisible from time to time. [Well, he’s largely managed that one in his East Devon constituency]

What inanimate object are you most attached to, apart from your phone?

I’m quite attached to my money clip because I carry it with me every day. I just wish that it had more in it! [The Swire dynasty regularly appears in the Sunday Times Rich List]

Ok…when was the last time you cried?

When I opened my bank statement, only it wasn’t with relief. [see above]

Some small rural businesses MAY get 100% business rate relief

“Rural rate relief will increase from 50% to 100% from next April, saving a business up to £2900 a year.

The measure was announced by Chancellor Philip Hammond in his 2016 Autumn Statement on Wednesday (23 November).

This business rate relief is available to businesses in rural areas with a population under 3,000 – but there are additional conditions attached.
The business must be the only village shop or post office with a rateable value of up to £8,500, or the only public house or petrol station with a rateable value of up to £12,500.”

Privatisation: some things to think about

1. Your services get worse

Private companies have a legal duty to reward their shareholders, so they have to prioritise making a profit. This means they may end up cutting corners, or underinvesting in your public services. Water companies ignore leaks instead of investing in infrastructure, while private company involvement in the NHS has been bad for patients. Private companies also have ‘commercially confidential’ contracts, so they don’t share information with others; this makes it harder for them to work in partnership to make services better.

2. Your costs go up

You pay more, both as a taxpayer and directly when you pay for public services. Value for money goes down because private companies must make a profit for their shareholders and they also pay their top executives more money. This means either we the people, or the government, or both, end up paying more. Fares on our privatised railways and buses are the most expensive in Europe, while people are also being hit with high energy bills. 57% of 140 local authorities surveyed in 2011 said they had brought outsourced public services back in-house or were considering it, with 60% saying that the main reason was the need to cut costs.

3. You can’t hold private companies accountable

If the local council runs a service, you know where to go to complain. But if a private company runs a service, they are not democratically accountable to you. That makes it harder for you to have a voice. Academy schools are less accountable to parents. Private company Atos tried to silence disability campaigners instead of responding to their concerns about work capability assessments. A report by the Institute of Government reveals problems in outsourcing public services, including a lack of transparency, manipulation of contracts by suppliers and a reluctance to sack underperforming providers.

4. Staff are undermined

If you work in public services, privatisation will make your life harder. A Europe-wide study found that privatisation has had ‘largely negative effects on employment and working conditions’. There are often job cuts and qualified staff are replaced with casual workers, who are paid less and have worse conditions. This has a knock-on effect on the service being provided – for example, in the cases of care workers or court interpreters.

5. It is risky and difficult to reverse

Once our public services are privatised, it’s often difficult for us to get them back. Not only that, we lose the pool of knowledge, skills and experience that public sector workers have acquired over many years. We also lose integration both within and across different public services. A Deloitte report finds that many large companies are bringing services in-house because of the costs, complexity and risks of outsourcing.

But wait!

Aren’t private companies supposed to be better than the public sector? Doesn’t competition reduce costs and improve quality and customer care? No, because there is often very little competition; public services tend to be natural monopolies so there isn’t much choice for consumers. Instead, government (local or national) asks private companies to bid for contracts running our services – but there’s no real opportunity for our voices to be heard.

Labour will not back a progressive alliance – the proof

“… Labour has stuck with the usual protocol. Its candidate is campaigning hard in Richmond Park, leading to fears that he will split the anti-Tory vote. At the local party’s meeting to select the candidate on 4 November, a member called Mike Freedman suggested that proceedings ought to be abandoned. He says he was interrupted by an official sent from the Labour party’s London HQ. “He said: ‘You can’t do that,’” Freedman tells me. “I said: ‘I can.’ He said: ‘Well, I won’t let you. I’ll stop you.’ And he said if we didn’t choose a candidate the party would impose one.” …”