Exmouth: Dinan Way extension ok’d by Minister

” …The road had previously seemed set to proceed when it was approved by county planners in January. However, the National Trust then protested to the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) that the application should be ‘called in’.

Had it done so, a final decision on planning permission would have been made by the Secretary of State; however, DCLG has now decided to take no further action, which means the planning permission stands.

This does not mean construction is imminent, as Devon County Council (DCC) must first carry out further negotiations.

A DCC spokesman said: “Conditional planning consent has been granted for the scheme. The county council will now be looking to acquire the necessary land, and funding, but no delivery period has been identified as yet.”

The National Trust had opposed the scheme, citing the effect on the Grade One listed A la Ronde, in nearby Summer Lane.

In a statement following the DCLG decision, the National Trust said: “We hope that DCC will now redouble its efforts to work with Historic England and the National Trust to help ensure the long-term protection of A la Ronde and to pursue the safeguards they proposed during the planning consultation period.” …


“Local authorities launch legal action over plans to downgrade hospital”

Owl says: could you EVER see EDDC doing this? NEVER – while Diviani is in charge.

“A group of local authorities have launched a judicial review challenge over what they described as a “confusing and flawed” consultation process on plans to downgrade services at a local hospital.

The challenge over Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group’s plans for Banbury’s Horton General Hospital is being led by Cherwell District Council.
South Northamptonshire Council, Stratford-on-Avon District Council and Banbury Town Council are acting as co-claimants. The legal action is also being supported by the Keep the Horton General campaign group.

The OCCG’s proposed changes affect services including maternity, critical care and hospital bed use.

The consultation covers five key proposals which include taking all of the most serious critical care patients and all stroke cases directly to Oxford.
It also proposes changing the way hospital beds are used and permanently closing almost 200 beds between the Horton and Oxford hospitals.

Cherwell said that a key aspect of the changes would involve changes to the maternity unit and replacing a consultant-led service with only midwives. “This would mean there would be no doctors or opportunity for epidural relief which means 90% of mothers will have to travel to Oxford or other hospitals.”

The only proposal which would increase availability at the Horton would relate to planned care services, it argued. These would be welcomed with the right investment, the council said.

Ian Davies, interim joint chief executive of Cherwell and South Northamptonshire Councils, said: “Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group has carried out a two-phase consultation into plans to downgrade key services at the Horton General Hospital. This approach has proved incredibly confusing and those who will be most affected by any changes – namely the residents of Banbury and surrounding areas – are still unsure as to exactly what is happening to their local hospital.

“For over two months we have struggled to help local people understand the implications of what is being consulted on and we have tried to answer the real concerns of real people. But there is still widespread confusion. We know the Horton General Hospital is a very valued and accessible hospital to people in north Oxfordshire, south Northamptonshire and parts of the Stratford district who regard it as their ‘local’ hospital of choice.
“These proposals have significant and permanent implications for future access to local services. Therefore we consider it entirely unacceptable that the OCCG is trying to move ahead with plans which have not been fully understood by those who will suffer the consequences.”

Cherwell said that a decision on whether it would receive permission to bring the judicial review challenge was expected next month.”


Teachers and pupils: bring your own toilet rolls to school (nurses and patients next?)

“Staff at the school provide their own tea and coffee in the staff room to help manage the budget.

A cash-strapped primary school has asked pupils to bring their own toilet rolls.

The appeal was sent out to parents at St John’s Primary School in Crowborough, East Sussex.

Parents at the school have been sent a letter requesting donations of ‘non essential’ items. This includes glue sticks, pencils, sellotape, envelopes – and even loo roll.

In an earlier letter headteacher Laura Cooper highlighted toilet paper as an expense which must be “rigorously monitored”.

She wrote: “The cost of resources such as toilet rolls now has to be rigorously monitored alongside the progress and achievement of the pupils.”

In her most recent letter Laura added: “We will be holding a non-uniform day on Thursday – instead of donating money we would like the children to bring in various ‘essential’ items such as stationary (e.g. glue sticks, pencils, blutack, boxes of tissues, sellotape etc) and of course loo rolls!”


This is what our NHS taxes pay for … and trying to bamboozle us with

“NHS managers diagnosed with a rampant case of jargon

The NHS is riddled with jargon and gobbledygook and may even be using impenetrable language on purpose to hide plans from the public, the Plain English Campaign has warned.

“Sustainability and transformation plans” (STPs) that divide England into 44 “footprints” and make promises such as “system-wide quality improvements” as a consequence of “shared understanding of all the interrelated issues” was one example highlighted by the campaign. Steve Jenner, its spokesman, said: “If you use impenetrable language it means the public has no clue what is going on. I can’t help thinking that suits the NHS sometimes.

“What this jargon is describing is very important. It should be articulated very clearly. We expect doctors to clearly explain themselves. It should be the same for the NHS management.”

Health service bosses have been told to draw up STPs for their areas to show how they can save money and improve services. Many of the plans involve hospital or service closures and have drawn widespread opposition. But despite the importance of STPs, some officials have started referring to them as “sticky toffee puddings”, the BBC reported.

The campaign said that jargon terms were “an inevitable sign of trouble” and that references to “reconfiguring” were “suitably vague enough to hide all manner of potential changes”.

It added: “We all know what it means when think tank representatives and planners talk above, over and behind the backs of those whose lives they are meddling with.

“Simply put, it’s to keep those that might have concerns and justifiable complaints out of a debate. In this case, that’s completely unacceptable.”
Last year, NHS England ordered hospitals to stop referring to being at “red alert” or “black alert” as a result of winter pressures.

Instead, hospitals that were so busy that they had to cancel non-emergency operations, call in extra staff and divert ambulances — previously a black alert — were at “operational pressures escalation level four”.

The level down — formerly a red alert — is now “operational pressures escalation level three”.

Source: Times (paywall)

13th police force sends electoral fraud information to Crown Prosecution Service

“Another police force has sent a file on alleged Tory election fraud to prosecutors, it was revealed today.

The Crown Prosecution Service confirmed that it had received a file from West Midlands Police – the 13th police to do so in recent weeks.”


“… That is the sort of thing which can not only destroy a government in the eyes of voters, it can wreck the party’s long-term standing too. Any serious prediction about the future has to factor in the possibility that there will be an even more destructive swamping with sleaze stories of Theresa May’s government than happened to John Major. That not only helped bring down a Prime Minister, it helped ensure his party failed to win an overall majority at the next four general elections in a row.

The odds of this happening are certainly a good way short of certain. But they are also far higher than the zero which so many pieces of coverage about how high the Conservatives are riding imply. … “


But you can be almost certain that no action will be taken until after the county council elections …

A warning for “Greater Exeter” as London council backs out of 3- council agreement due to lack of transparency and conflicts of interest

“The high-profile Tri-borough shared service arrangements are to set to come to an end with Westminster City Council and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea deciding to serve notice.

Westminster and Kensington & Chelsea said they had “reluctantly” taken the decision “in the face of uncertainty caused by.… Hammersmith & Fulham appearing to make alternative in-house plans without any formal engagement with the other two local authority partners about key services”.

The two authorities claimed this was causing anxiety to shared staff and placing potential risks to the joint services for vulnerable people in each borough.

In response the Leader of Hammersmith & Fulham, Cllr Stephen Cowan, said the council had had concerns about the value of Tri-borough and conflicts of interest.

Westminster and Kensington & Chelsea’s decisions will terminate the shared staffing arrangements in respect of Tri-borough Children’s Services, Tri-borough Adult Social Care and Tri-borough Public Health Services.

According to a paper on the Westminster website, the decision was urgent “because the tri-borough agreements require a year’s notice to terminate the shared arrangements; and ideally any new arrangements need to be in place before the next financial year beginning April 2018; and as soon as possible so that staff can be clearer about their future options”.

Westminster and Kensington & Chelsea said they were determined to continue to work together. They also maintained that the Tri-borough project, which was established in June 2011, had improved services and realised £43m in savings.

The two authorities stressed that Tri-borough’s legal agreements “set out that with any termination of the arrangements all parties are obliged to minimise disruption to delivery of services and to staff during the period of notice”. They called for a joint project team with Hammersmith & Fulham to oversee the transition.

The Leader of Westminster City Council, Cllr Nickie Aiken, said: “We would not have chosen to end the Tri-borough arrangements which we believe have been a great success. When it was established in 2011 it was quite rightly lauded as an innovation in local authority service delivery.

“However, both the Leader of Kensington and Chelsea and I feel we are unable to continue with tri-borough when we have a partner that we do not believe is committed to it as we are and appears to be making their own plans to leave, without any formal discussions. We can’t have that uncertainty for staff and these vital services which is why, with much regret, we have taken the very reluctant decision to terminate the joint arrangements for children’s services, adult social care and public health.”

Cllr Aiken added: “We are confident that the future remains stable and positive for the continued sharing of services between Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea and our door remains firmly open should Hammersmith & Fulham wish to come and discuss a review of the current arrangements and find alternative ways of working together.”

Hammersmith & Fulham’s Cowan said: “We’ve had concerns for some time about the value of the ‘Tri-borough’, its lack of transparency and its built-in conflicts of interest.

“In our last two budgets, Hammersmith & Fulham Council found £31m in savings but the ‘Tri-borough’ contributed no more than £200,000 of that, less than 1%.”

Cllr Cowan claimed that problems with Tri-borough contracts had cost Hammersmith & Fulham more than £5m, including a contract for special needs transport that he argued had put its disabled children at risk.

He added that “senior Tri-borough officers have had to balance Hammersmith & Fulham’s determination to keep Charing Cross Hospital open with Westminster and Kensington & Chelsea’s support for closing it.”

Cllr Cowan said: “Triggering withdrawal is evidently a long-planned move by the two councils. I look forward to having sensible discussions with them about how we can all move on in the best way for our residents.”


“Private fat cats have got rich on the sale of our schools”

” … The invention of academies has involved a different kind of transfer of assets (schools) from public hands to private. In most cases, publicly owned schools are leased to academies and trusts on 125-year leases, with the local authority retaining the deeds. The academies must carry on educating children but can “maximise their assets” by using the premises to raise money. It is this area of money-making that has on occasions caused problems, as with Durand academy and its on-site businesses.

Academies can also flog off land and buildings, if the much weakened local authorities agree. Serious money can be made, management salaries are high, and hidden in all this is the long-term public subsidy in such sites.

The birth rate didn’t stay low. Children need schools. The very same councils that flogged off their prized school buildings are forced to squeeze children into overcrowded schools elsewhere in their districts. Fair enough: children from overcrowded homes should go to overcrowded schools, eh? Local authorities are not allowed to open new ones. The government solution is to use our money to send search squads to find and buy sites for new schools, some at enormous cost, such as £7.6m paid for a former police station, some within spitting distance of the ones now converted into flats.

I must remind myself that these new schools are called “free” and I do hope that these transactions and new arrangements have enabled a few thousand people to make some serious money out of the public sector. …”