LEP: in 2014 Devon County Council appears to admit it had no idea how much the LEP spent

Devon County Council Freedom of Information response in 2014:
Requested: 4 September 2014
Date of Disclosure: 2 October 2014

“Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership is an organisation that Devon County Council works with, along with other Local Authorities. Devon County Council is not aware of what monies have been spent by the LEP. As Somerset County Council is the accountable body for the Local Enterprise Partnership, I suggest that you contact Somerset directly for this information.”

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/228089/response/567922/attach/3/Information%20Request%20IR1750064.pdf

It then gives a link:
http://www.somerset.gov.uk/information-and-statistics/freedom-of- information/freedom-of-information-requests/

which is no longer live and ends:

“If you wish to speak with someone regarding the above request, please contact the Information Governance Team on 01392 383445 or email accesstoinformation-mailbox@devon.gov.uk”

Source: Alan White, South Devon Watch Facebook page

Bovis … creek … no paddle?

Bovis is currently constructing all over East Devon, including in large numbers at Axminster, Seaton and Cranbrook.

The company has recently seen the creation of the Bovis Homex Victims Group Facebook site:
https://eastdevonwatch.org/2016/09/08/bovis-homes-victims-group-facebook-page/

Could it be that this has also contributed to their woes?
https://eastdevonwatch.org/2016/12/23/axminster-and-cranbrook-slums-of-the-future-says-councillor-hull-whilst-councillor-moulding-says-nothing/

A City attempt to lay the foundations of a £5bn merger of Bovis Homes and Berkeley Group is on shaky ground, with Berkeley understood to have rejected the idea.

Schroders, Bovis’ biggest shareholder, wrote to Berkeley proposing an all-share merger following a difficult trading period for Bovis which claimed the scalp of its chief executive David Ritchie.

Bovis had issued a surprise profit warning at the end of 2016, saying that pre-tax profits were likely to be flat this year at between £160m and £170m, below analyst predictions of £180m, due to a slowdown in the rate of building and sales in December.

The string of events prompted Schroders to target a merger with Berkeley, which mostly builds homes in London and the South East. Bovis’ activity is also concentrated on that area.

But Berkeley sources said the company had dismissed the call, instead choosing to concentrate on growing through partnerships with the likes of the National Grid, with whom it signed a £700m joint venture to develop new homes on disused land owned by the power provider in 2014, rather than mergers.

Other housebuilders, such as rivals Redrow or Persimmon, could still be in the frame to buy Bovis, which has struggled in recent months with slowing sales of its homes amid wider market uncertainty.

Berkeley itself has not been immune to a slump in the market: last month it amended its five-year dividend plan to return some cash through share buybacks instead. It also said in December that the number of reservations for its homes had fallen by a fifth since the referendum, signalling the impact of the slowing London property market on the company.

It hit out at Government policy which it said was increasing demand rather than supply, saying while it had helped in some areas, it was having “a negative effect on the capital”.

Schroders declined to comment on the terms of its proposals.”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2017/01/22/merger-bovis-berkeley-shaky-ground/

TV Sunday Politics: Councillor tells Police and Crime Commissioner to quit

“Devon and Cornwall’s under-investigations crime chief was put under pressure this morning after a councillor told her to quit on TV

Cornwall councillor Candy Atherton said an ongoing police investigation, appalling crime figures and a complete failure to put one plan in place during nearly nine months in office, made PCC Alison Hernandez’s position intenable.

On Sunday Politics South West this morning, former Labour MP Ms Atherton pressed the point home and said the elected police boss must go – a call which was firmly rejected.

Speaking after the broadcast, she told Cornwall Live that it had simply “gone on long enough.”

She said Ms Hernandez, who earlier this month was revealed to have been interviewed by interviewed by police probing expenses allegations, couldn’t possibly have her eye on the ball.

“What I want is a PCC who is totally focussed on the job in hand, but we do not have that, we have someone who must be constantly looking over their shoulder and wondering what is happening next,” said Ms Atherton.

“She was elected in May for a four year term but still hasn’t got her first plan in place.”

Ms Atherton added that it “must be very difficult for her to concentrate” because of the weight of allegations.

“I’m sure you would have wanted for it to be kicked into the long grass by now, but that hasn’t happened and so now we have to move on.”

Ms Hernandez has been accused of failing to properly declare election expenses when she was employed as the general election agent for Conservative MP Kevin Foster.

And last year she was also widely criticised for taking a selfie with a firefighter outside the burning Royal Clarence Hotel.

Earlier this month it emerged that she had been interviewed by West Mercia Police, which is investigating the allegations, and that their report will go to the Independent Police Complaints Commission. A decision will then be made whether the case should be referred to the Crown Prosecution Servic

Ms Atherton said last week’s crime figures, which showed the number of offences was on the increase, was also reason for the PCC to go.

She said that while Ms Hernandez couldn’t be held responsible for the increase, the county needed a police commissioner who was “fully focussed on the job.”

She admitted not supporting the decision to introduce local police and crime commissioners, the election of whom attracted just a 22% turnout last year, up from 15% the previous election.

But said this was irrelevant as the point was getting a person in the role who was not distracted.

Ms Hernandez robustly defended herself in the interview on Sunday Politics South West saying she had been elected to do a job and that would continue with it.

She said: “In terms of saying whether I’m the right person for the job, the point is that I’m elected to do this job so I am here to do it and I will make sure I endeavour to do a really good job while I’m here.”

Ms Hernandez rejected the suggestion she hadn’t brought any plans forward and said that a budget proposal would be presented in early February and that a policing plan had been formulated with the chief constable.

She said she was looking to recruit more police officers, but would not be drawn on whether – and the extent – of any planned increased to the precept, the amount on council tax bills which go to funding the force.

She suggested that a 2% rise, which the maximum allowed, could mean another £2 million for policing in Devon and Cornwall.

Ms Hernandez claimed that a police and crime commissioner being at the centre of a police investigation had actually proved a “real positive” in terms of her profile.

“The bit that has been so positive is the publicity I have received.

“I can walk down Newquay town and I will get stopped by people who want my help.”

http://www.exeterexpressandecho.co.uk/devon-police-commissioner-alison-hernandez-told-to-quit-by-councillor-live-on-tv/story-30077618-detail/story.html

Swire to East Devon Alliance on NHS crisis – doctors are in control!

I think he may mean people with doctorates in things like “Economics of Privatisation” are in charge!

“You may be interested to see what my local MP Hugo Swire has to say about the NHS Bill and the mythical additional “£10billion”. Do doctors feel as though they are in “operational control for the day-to-day running of services”? I retype his letter here in full:

“Dear Cllr Dr Gardner, Thank you for your email dated 23 November.

I believe that the proposed NHS bill would be the wrong approach to improving the NHS. In my view, giving operational control for the day-to-day running of services to doctors was the right decision as they have the best understanding of their patients and local needs.

The Government has actively supported the NHS’ own plan for the future. that is why it is providing the additional £10 billion of investment per annum in real terms by 2020/21 – compared to 2014/15. Yours sincerely……H Swire”

East Devon Alliance leader on radio question and answer session

“19 January 2017:

BBC South West have run a series of items on the NHS and Social Care crisis this week (Jan 16-19). I was invited to take part in a panel debate on Radio Devon on Thursday 19th (1-2pm).

I went to Plymouth to be in the studio with Dr Sarah Wollaston MP (Totnes, Chair of Health Select Committee) and Mr David Halpin (retired surgeon and campaigner). Dr David Jenner from the NEW Devon CCG board was in the Exeter studio. The debate was presented by Victoria Graham, who did a very fair job, compared to other BBC interviews I have seen on national TV.

My aim was to raise awareness of the huge administration costs in the NHS today. It’s particularly interesting to her Dr Wollaston defend the managers, despite the fact that I had not criticised them. Telephone calls to the programme following this session included several from people picking up the points I had made and one criticising Virgincare in Devon.

To hear the full debate go to:

https://www.eastdevonalliance.org.uk/in-the-press/20170121/bbc-radio-devon-nhs-social-care-crisis/

How to book East Devon Alliance special coach seats to national NHS march in London on 4 March 2017

“In order to show how much we care about keeping the NHS, a rally is being organised in London on March 4th. More information can be found here:

http://www.healthcampaignstogether.com/

The rally is from Tavistock Square to Parliament Square and starts at 12 noon. Coaches are coming from all over the country.

If you would like to join a coach travelling up to London and back on 4th March, and you live in East Devon, please email your details (name, number travelling and address) to: coach@eastdevonalliance.org.uk

We will be asking for donations towards the cost of the coach, a suggested amount might be around £20 per person but this will be confirmed. If you are not able to afford that, please give what you can. To secure a seat, send your details as soon as possible, late comers may be disappointed! If there is demand we can organise more coaches but we need time to be able to do that – DON’T WAIT: SIGN UP TODAY! …

Act now before it’s too late! If you are not able to make it to London on 4th March, look out for events near you on 1st April.

Many thanks,
Cathy Gardner
Leader
East Devon Alliance”