Exmouthians and the recent full council meeting – not happy …

Reports say …

Laura Freeman accused them of letting the people of Exmouth who voted in Town Poll and the March down. She promised they would see more action until they listened.

Sally Galsworthy said that East Devon strap line was “an area of outstanding natural beauty”. Yet they wanted to destroy the natural beauty of the Seafront. She said they ran the risk of building a road to nowhere that was now costing over £3m. She said they couldn’t be sure that Mark Dixon would stay the course. He was a rich man in his prime why would he want to be associated with incompetence, bad PR and spiralling costs? She said as someone who was born and bred in the town and whose parents and grandparents had businesses in the town she understood the temperament well. Exmouth likes to grumble but rarely takes action. She congratulated the council that they had managed to get nearly 5000 people to vote in the Poll and 400 to March. That they might well find if Dixon dropped out, they had built a road to nowhere.

Alex Huett reminded the Council when the Regeneration Board was set up in 2010 their main target was to regenerate the Town and the town was enthusiastic. Queens Drive was never mentioned.

Oh dear … and more than 2 years to go before people can show what they think by their votes …

Lost at Knowle … are there bodies buried in the “old” building?

Word reaches Owl that at December 21’s meeting of EDDC, Sidmouth resident Tony Green quizzed Chief Executive Mark Williams about comments made by a member of the crucial planning committee on December 6th which narrowly refused permission for Pegasus Life’s application for 113 apartments on the Knowle site.

Mr Green said impartiality was essential when councillors considered planning applications, especially ones in which the council had a vested interest.

This was clearly the case on December 6th, as the progress of the Council’s relocation project depended on planning permission being granted. But the council’s wishes should not have been a material consideration at this meeting, argued Mr Green, and so should not have been mentioned.

He said he was “surprised” that a veteran member of the DMC (the finger of suspicion points at Tory Cllr Mark Williamson) had commented that the existing Knowle offices were “not fit for purpose” and had gone on to tell a joke about people getting lost for years in the old hotel building.

The comments, and the fact that the councillor went on to vote against refusal, created the impression of bias said Mr Green.

He then asked the CEO:

1. Did he agree that the relocation project was not a material planning consideration on December 6th?
2. Would Mr Williams agree to caution planning committee members not to refer to it at any future meeting to determine an application to develop the Knowle site?

Neither question was answered. The reply was that, in Mr Williams’ experience, councillors said many things in planning meetings, some of which were “germane”! This, of course, implies that some are not – in which case, why make such comments.

Surprise! Surprise!

P.S. Avid followers of the long and winding road of the relocation project may remember that Cllr Williamson was Chair of the planning committee of March 1 2013 which refused the Council’s own application to develop the Knowle with 50 luxury houses.

He was criticised at the time for making disobliging comments about Sidmouth’s “dependence” on Council jobs, and other hints that he was biased in favour of the application. He voted for it.

Axminster and Cranbrook – slums of the future says Councillor Hull whilst Councillor Moulding says – nothing

At EDDC’s full Council Meeting on 21 December, venerable Axminster Lib Dem councillor Douglas Hull asked members to support a statement criticising the standards of the big national housebuilders.

He said the “little boxes” they were building in places like Axminster and Cranbrook were so appalling that they were creating “the slums of the future”

He circulated a local newspaper story of a young Axminster couple whose new purchase was so “ticky tacky” as to be virtually uninhabitable.

There was some tut tutting and the Chief Executive stepped in to say he would write to the offending companies, and Douglas was very grateful.

Interesting that Tory Axminster councillor Andrew Moulding had nothing to say about the problem.

But then he is a guiding light in Cloakham Lawns Social and Sports Club which has very cordial relations with Bovis!

Social housing lettings cut by 22,000 in past two years

Genuinely social housing requires little or no housing benefit subsidy for those in work. “Affordable housing” usually requires a larger housing benefit subsidy – paid to the landlord.

“More evidence of the challenges facing those seeing social housing. This story tells us: Councils and housing associations are letting nearly 22,000 fewer homes for social rent each year than they were two years ago, the latest Government figures show.

A statistical release put out by the Department for Communities and Local Government shows there were 261,163 social lettings by housing associations and 113,449 by councils in 2015/16 compared to 270,659 and 125,812 respectively in 2013/14.

The cut in genuinely affordable homes comes after a period of sustained cut in funding for building such dwellings, with grant funding for social rents all but abolished. The Government has also beefed up its Right To Buy scheme which has seen a sell-off of council housing to the private sector across the country.

Ministers have been directing house building funding towards building so-called “affordable” homes, which in fact cost tenants as much as 80 per cent of market rent; as well as discounted “starter” and shared ownership homes for people to buy.”

Source: Rural Services Network

Ukip fined by EU for election expenses scandal – no sign of Tories in UK being settled

So, that’s Labour, Lib Dems and Ukip sorted (and even an independent candidate fined by the Electoral Commission for forgetting to put an imprint (“published by”) on one leaflet).

Tory election voting scandal that was the first to be reported and includes investigation of our Police and Crime Commissioner?

Zilch, nada, nothing. Funny that.