The birth of our LEP – and it was planned to include the Chairman of the East Devon Business Forum!

This Exeter City Council committee document pretty much sets out how the LEP would take over council funds and transfer them to businesses – and the EAST DEVON BUSINESS FORUM:

4.3 Given the geography of the area it will be challenging to get all the key public and private sector and development companies to have a role in the combined Board. However it is possible to identify the significant parties for each of the local authority areas that could be invited to attend. The private sector participation on the Board needs to be broader than just development related companies and needs to ensure representation from the wider local business community as has been successfully achieved in Exeter and Heart of Devon Economic Partnership and the Exeter and the East Devon business forums. The NGPSB currently has on the Board the Chairman of Exeter Vision and the Chairman of the East Devon Business Forum*. The Board has resolved Exeter Chamber of Commerce should also be on the Board. Teignbridge DC has been asked to nominate a business representative for Teignbridge.”

* The Chairman of the East Devon Business Forum at that time was subsequently disgraced Councillor Graham Brown:

BBC Spotlight highlights Cranbrook district heating fiasco

A poor mother with 4 kids (including triplets) and no hot water, bathing them in the kitchen sink … intermittent problem … can’t stay warm … talking head from E.on says it is “bedding down” … consumers can’t switch … problems pretty much every day … residents think it is pretty rubbish … no option … E.on blames “internal plumbing” for at least one problem …

Oh dear – remember that award it got for “best new town” – though not eco-town” as it was originally labelled – that was quietly dropped.

New homes “not fit to live in”

“They might be the most ubiquitous feature of the modern English landscape, and yet they barely attract any comment: those sprawling newbuild housing developments that seem to surround almost every town and city, offering a promise of comfort and security and a vital foot on the property ladder.

More often than not, their avenues and culs-de-sac will have faux-bucolic names often ending in “meadows”, “mead”, or “wood”. The life therein seems profoundly modern: stripped of much history or sense of shared experience so that everything suggests the weightlessness of suburbia. Yet for all the outward gleam, something is wrong.

This week the Guardian reported that Bovis is set to award people who live in some of its newbuild homes a total of £7m in compensation, in response to claims that houses have faulty plumbing or wiring, missing insulation, and other serious defects. Some people say they were offered money to move into homes that have not been completed. When the news broke, the Bovis share price fell by 10%, wiping £100m off its stock market value.

This is just one part of a bigger story of complaints about Britain’s construction giants – and what happens when the rush to build leads to corners being cut and houses left either unfinished or deeply defective. On social media there are hundreds-strong groups telling their personal stories: “The toilet leaked into the living room and when my plumber came to fix it he found the toilet had not been installed correctly”; “having my kitchen ripped out for the second time”; “no insulation in roof”; “mould growing all over the house … too dangerous too live in as I have asthma”.

Meanwhile, the pressure is on to build as many new homes as possible. Even if it is behind on its targets, the government still wants a million to have been put up by 2020. The year 2015 saw a big jump in completed builds: 142,890 homes were finished, a 20% year-on-year increase. Last year the number was put at more than 150,000.

Behind these increases sat policies such as the new homes bonus (which gives councils cash rewards for granting planning permission for newbuild developments) and George Osborne’s help-to-buy scheme – now drastically stripped back, although the fact that interest-free loans are still available for newbuild homes means that the policy will carry on incentivising builders to put up houses.

But in privately owned developments and new social housing, and the mixed-tenure places that combine the two, problems abound. Last month I spent two weeks reporting on the case of the Orchard Village estate on the Essex/east London border, and properties split between homeowners and tenants whose problems – with leaks and damp, and allegedly faulty fire protection and dangerous levels of methane – are mind-boggling.

Since then I have been contacted by people in other newly built developments who have suffered similar problems. The most spectacular case is that of a development called Solomon’s Passage in Peckham, south London: four housing blocks completed in 2010 that were plagued with leaks, fire protection issues and defective balconies, until the housing association in charge – Wandle, which owns about 7,000 homes across the capital – decided to tear two of them down and start again. …”

Beach management: a timely warning from Dawlish Warren?

Is it good to go for cheap, short-term beach management plans?

“Storm Doris has caused beach levels at Dawlish Warren to drop. The recent stormy conditions have increased the vulnerability of the dunes, and have led to erosion of the dunes in some areas.

As a result, the schedule of works as part of the £14million scheme to raise the beach level at Dawlish Warren by two metres, as well as removing gabions along the sand spit, upgrading the revetments, dredging and recharging the beach and reinforcing the neck of the sand spit has changed.

A Teignbridge Council spokesman said: “To allow the dunes at Dawlish Warren to behave naturally, a key element of the Beach Management Scheme involves removing the existing stone filled gabion baskets installed along the Warren. Works started on this activity in early February.

“However, following recent stormy conditions the beach levels at Dawlish Warren have dropped dramatically, increasing the vulnerability of the dunes, and leading to erosion of the dunes in some areas. …

Time for a relocation cost update?

Including the REAL cost of satellites in Exmouth and Manstone Depot.

“Exeter’s planned leisure centre and bus station now face an indefinite delay, sparking fierce criticism of the council for not having a tender in place before beginning disruptive city centre works.

The chair of the Leisure Complex and Bus Station Programme Board, Cllr Phil Bialyk, also says he cannot promise the current £26m and £6.25m price tags attached to the major development won’t increase as a result.”

LEP funding – spin, old news

Why can Owl find information on only three of ten projects which are said to have received government funding through the Heart of the South West LEP? And why is this new news when it was announced last November (see below). And does anyone recall any of these going out for consultation as to whether they are the priorities of the electors? Oh, and our LEP applied for 27 projects – not the 3 or 10 they boast about.

All press releases mention these three projects only:

– funding for Hinkley C (you know, the nuclear plant that isn’t costing us a penny according to the government)

– funding for rural broadband (which will be paid for by all users)

and – a re-vamp of the Plymouth railway station area.

The remaining 7 are referred to as “other projects”.

But all ten projects – announced as if they are new are past projects recycled into new spin! The proof? Here

in a document produced in November 2016 listing all the projects:

“What will this new funding deliver?
This new tranche of funding is expected to deliver:

Phase 3 of the Somerset Innovation Centre in Bridgwater; which will provide a hub for businesses in the energy and engineering sector to collaborate. [For Hinkley C]

Expansion of the Connecting Devon and Somerset broadband and mobile project.

Youth Construction Skills Project “Devon Communities Together”, an innovative project offering students and people from disadvantaged backgrounds experience in construction [particularly nuclear? fulfilling developers’ needs?]

South Devon College Hi Tech Centre, linking to the Torbay electronics/photonics cluster [including nuclear?]

iAero (South) Centre, Yeovil, an aerospace innovation space [including nuclear?]

Next generation ICT training project “Blue Screen IT – PROJECT X” in Plymouth, offering training for cyber security, big data and social media. [and nuclear, given Chinese and French involvement?]

Houghton Barton Package, Newton Abbot – a link road and park and change site. [lovely for developers of the potential massive expansion of the town – including Midas one assumes]

Taunton Toneway Corridor Capacity Improvements (Phase 1 Creech Castle),
providing junction capacity on a major link between the M5 and Taunton [and Hinkley C?]

Huntspill Energy Park, Bridgwater, delivering infrastructure for the Enterprise Zone. [to service Hinkley C]

An exciting regeneration project around Plymouth train station [Developers again – perhaps including Midas]

Truly, our Local Enterprise Partnership’s board members will be very happy with this!

But apart from “Youth Construction Skills Project” can anyone see what benefits (a) the Devon County Council area or (b) the East Devon area.

Heart of the South-West LEP “local investment showcase”

Spot the board members’ interests!!!!!! And spot the missing number 4 ( or number 1 if you live in Devon – tourism!

“Top 3 reasons to invest

The location of EDF’s Hinkley Point C – the UK’s first new nuclear power station for 30-years. The £16 billion construction and decommissioning projects offer opportunities for lucrative inward investment.

The Heart of the South West has a strong, established Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering supply chain, powered by innovative research and design. Linked to world-leading colleges and universities and a highly skilled workforce it leads the market in marine, aerospace & space, food & drink and nuclear companies locally, nationally and internationally.

Companies locating to the Global Environmental Futures Campus, which features The Met Office Supercomputer, can collaborate on Climate Change ‘big data’ within a unique Information Economy cluster.”