Swire’s other jobs – which includes advice to a company that owns “Jolly Roger (Amusement Rides) Ltd”!

Job 1 – Deputy Chairman of the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council (CWEIC)

For this job Swire has declared a salary of £2,000 per month which is said to be for 2 days work a month as cited below:

“You asked for the Committee’s advice [Office of the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments] OFFICE OF THE ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON BUSINESS APPOINTMENTS] about accepting a new role as Deputy Chairman of the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council (CWEIC).

CWEIC is an international organisation representing governments and business from across the Commonwealth. It promotes trade between Commonwealth countries and their work includes bringing together Commonwealth Trade Ministers and leaders to discuss trade and investment cooperation.

The Committee noted that as Deputy Chairman, the role would be part­time, paid, and involve around two days’ work per month. This would include attending four Board meetings a year, conferences and other meetings related to CWEIC in order to promote their activities.”


Job 2: Advisor to KIS (France)

For his other job of advising Photo Me he has declared an income of £3,000 per month for approximately 8 hours work per month = £375 per hour:

“Sir Hugo sought the Committee’s advice about taking up a paid, part-time appointment as an advisor to KIS (France), a manufacturer of photo booths and mini labs.

When considering this application the Committee noted that KIS (France) is a subsidiary of Photo-Me plc, which Sir Hugo was previously associated with when the Conservative Party was in opposition, as non-executive Chairman.

The Committee took into account that Sir Hugo’s role with KIS is not likely to include any contact with Government and his former department raised no concerns about it.”


KIS is run by Serge Crasnianski and the company has diversified into the laundry business, with a division called ‘Revolution’. Revolution is a 24/7 outdoor self-service launderette:


Mr Crasnianski, also an alumni of the Sunday Times’ 1,000 Richest People in Britain, now owns 22.5 per cent of the company’s shares.”


It’s doing well:

Investors piled into photo booths operator Photo-Me after its chief executive bought another big chunk of shares.

Serge Crasnianski spent £4.6 million on shares, taking his stake to above 22%, just four days after he splashed out £3 million on the AIM-listed company’s shares.”


“During the year, the Group paid dividends totalling £18.2m in respect of the interim and final dividend for the year ended 30 April 2015.
The interim dividend for the year ended 30 April 2016 (2.575p per share) declared in December 2015 was paid in May 2016 and amounted
to £9.7m.”

Click to access Photo-Me%202016_AR_Spreads.pdf

And one rather surprising subsidiary company owned by this company!

“Children’s rides manufactured by Jolly Roger (Amusement Rides) Limited, a subsidiary company in the UK, are produced in accordance with the industry guidance issued by BACTA (British Amusement and Catering Trades Association). “

Click to access Photo-Me%202016_AR_Spreads.pdf


Well, he won’t starve if he loses his other part-time job!

Those “missing” 6,000 voters – electors jump from 96,000 to 113,000-plus!

Owl broke the original story in July 2014 that EDDC was in the worst 6% of councils for voter registration and had “lost” 6,000 voters from the previous years – 102,000 down to 96,000. Owl was shocked and so a was Parliamentary Committee which summoned Electoral Officer Mark Williams to (not very satisfactorily) explain himself;




As of March 2017, the number of electors in East Devon stood at 113,079 – an increase of more than 20,000. And this doesn’t include a recent surge for the upcoming general election who registered after that date. An increase of more than 22%! In THREE years! That’s only registered voters – imagine the total population increase!


Food (bank) for thought

Copied from Facebook:

Here’s a thought experiment:

Say Jeremy Corbyn had been the Home Secretary for six years, during which time he slashed some 20,000 police jobs taking us back to 1970s levels of per capita policing.

Let’s say he also slashed the UK Border Agency budget so that over a million people per month were coming and going through UK airports without being properly checked.

Let’s say by virtue of an extremely self-serving EU referendum non-campaign he managed to get into 10 Downing Street, where he kept up his agenda of cutting the UK security services and border agency.

Then there’s a home-grown terrorist attack by a known Islamist fanatic in a city where Corbyn had cut the police budget by £157 million.

Let’s say Jeremy Corbyn “lost” files on an internal pedophile ring.
Let’s say he wanted to take the homes from the elderly.
Let’s say he cut 30% of your disabled benefit.
Let’s say he signed an arms deal with the (ISIS-funding) Saudis worth millions.
Let’s say he wanted to take away your child’s free school meal.
Let’s say he forced NHS staff to use food banks.
Let’s say he made so many cuts to the NHS that people are suffering waiting for ambulances and A&E doctors.
Let’s say he went against doctors, nurses, teachers, fire fighters, the armed forces…
Let’s say he took away funding for University for upcoming doctors and nurses.
Let’s say after all these cuts there’s still a deficit and he’d missed every target he’d set himself for reducing it.

What would you have to say about Jeremy Corbyn under these circumstances?
And why are they not saying those things about Theresa May and the Tories right now?

Please copy, paste, and share if you found this interesting!

How do we fund the NHS? Well, maybe we could start here

The High Speed 2 rail link is running billions over budget and likely to be delayed, MPs have warned. They say ministers must set out a realistic timetable for delivering the project, currently expected to cost more than £55bn.

Members of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said they were “not convinced” by the current schedule, describing it as “overly ambitious”.

The first phase of HS2, between London and the West Midlands, is due to open in December 2026. But minister and bosses at HS2 Ltd, the company behind the project, are now looking at extending this by a year, MPs said.”


iF HS2 were economically viable private companies would be falling over themselves to fund it and make money from it.

And now with Brexit we really won’t need that cross-Channel connection to those durned foreigners and potential immigrants will we!

Perhaps we could prioritise – first fix the NHS and then, when that’s sorted and working properly for all of us, we can possibly think of funding a 20 minute time-saving on the time between London and Birmingham – more than offset by the 20 minute-plus extra time taken to get to the stations by road due to increasing traffic congestion!

Not to mention that, in the south-west, we will see no benefit whatsover from HS2 – quite the opposite.

Our Election omnishambles – and the Returning Officer’s pay

In addition to the omnishambles about postal vote mistakes (twice) we should not forget this, too:

East Devon’s returning officer has defended the delays at the count for the General Election in Sidmouth.

In a statement given to the press Mark Williams said: “This the first time since 1979 that we have had three elections in one night. The reasons why the government stopped this was that in rural areas like East Devon means the sheer volume of ballot papers that are prepared for counting causes a huge volume of work.”

Earlier Mr Williams said his team was ready and said the count would conclude at 2.30am. …


Question: How come other rural areas didn’t have this problem?

AND remember Mr Williams is paid EXTRA for his election duties. Wonder how much extra and whether cock-ups mean a pay cut? We will never know, because the job is not covered by the Freedom off Information Act and EDDC refuses to tell us. AND the Returning Officer has a big budget but because of that Freedom of Information block, we are not allowed to know what it is and, crucially, what happens to any underspend.

However, we do know that the Sheffield returning officer refused his fee of £20,000 in 2015 and here is a list of what other election staff are paid:


Election officials’ fees vary widely from constituency to constituency but might typically be:
Presiding officer: £250-£300;
Poll clerk: £115-£190;
Postal vote issuer: £8 per hour;
Postal vote opener: £9 per hour;
Count supervisor: £150 night shift;
Counting assistant: £12.50 per hour (plus £10 training fee).”


Oh no! East Devon’s General Election postal voting screwed up AGAIN

It happened in the 2015 election when the wrong voting instructions were sent out with postal votes:


and now it’s happening again this year – but worse and affecting many more people.

And in an election where a handful of votes might decide a winner between Swire and Claire Wright.

If Claire Wright is within 9,000 votes of Swire could she demand a rerun?

Our Returning Officer was called to Parliament to explain why he “lost” 6,000 voters too – saying he preferred to telephone them rather than sending canvassers into deepest, darkest East Devon:


In 2015 he blamed his postal vote fiasco on “inexperienced staff”:


What will it be this year?

Is it perhaps time for Mr Williams (EDDC CEO and Election Officer) to consider his position(s)?


A total of 9,000 postal voters in East Devon have been reassured after a mistake meant their slips did not have the correct security mark.

A statement has been issued today by the Acting Returning Officer for the East Devon Constituency (Mark Williams) to reassure postal voters who have not yet returned their postal votes.

He said: “It has come to my attention that the postal vote packs we issued on 25th May contained voting slips that did not have an official security mark visible on the front of the ballot paper. This has affected a total of 9,000 postal voters.

“I want to reassure those postal voters affected that if they have not yet returned their postal votes they should still do so. We have taken all the necessary steps to ensure the postal votes are valid and will be counted. I apologise for the error but want to reassure postal voters that they should still complete their postal voting statements and return their postal voting envelopes back to me for validating as part of the normal postal voting process.

“To be valid, a postal vote has to be accompanied by a valid postal voting statement containing the voters date of birth and signature. After these are checked, the envelope containing the postal voting slip is opened and the slip is put into a sealed ballot box where it is kept safe until the formal count. My postal vote opening teams will ensure that all validly completed postal votes are double checked so that they will go forward to the count along with all the other votes that will be cast on polling day itself.”

There is a second issue of postal votes tomorrow (31st May) and all the postal voting slips will have the appropriate security mark. Similarly all ballot papers issued at the polling stations will have the necessary security mark.

The news comes after it was revealed East Devon was chosen as one of eight UK constituencies to be monitored as part of an international mission to ensure elections are fair.

The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) has announced that the constituency will be one of its target seats for the general election.

An Election Assessment Mission (EAM) will be conducted in the area from June 4 to 9 by Phillip Paulwell, an MP from Jamaica who will lead a team of Observers from the Commonwealth.

The Mission, which is being arranged by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association UK Branch (CPA UK) as it did in the 2015 and 2010 general elections, will also observe elections in seven other UK constituencies to oversee:

post-election complaints or appeals

The team will compromise of three parliamentarians and one election official from Tonga who will monitor Election Day procedures at polling stations, meet with candidates, returning officers, local officials, community groups and other relevant stakeholders in order to assess the conduct of the election.”


Essex council switches to ‘more democratic’ committee system

“Councillors at Basildon last week (25 May) voted to switch to a committee system to run the council in place of the Leader and Cabinet.

Following a vote at the council’s annual general meeting, councillors were appointed to various committees and other positions.

The committees include: policy and resources; housing and community; regeneration and environment; infrastructure, growth and development; planning; licensing; and audit and risk.

Cllr Gavin Callaghan, Policy and Resources Committee Chairman, said: “We have taken a very important step to change the way that decisions are made because we believe it will make the council more democratic and more effective. It is now down to us to prove it.

“All of us need to commit ourselves to listening to what our constituents and our communities are saying and to making sound decisions based on good evidence and careful consideration. We will need to work together and listen to each other too.”

The council has resolved that no one should use the title of Leader of the Council but that the chairman of the Policy and Resources Committee shall assume the responsibilities of a Leader of the Council in a committee system.

Basildon councillors had resolved on 15 December 2016 to cease operating the Leader and Cabinet form of governance and start operating a committee system from the earliest permitted time, which was the AGM in 2017.

The authority cannot resolve to make another change to its governance arrangements, including a return to the Leader and Cabinet form of governance, for five years, except if approved in a referendum.”


Time running out to tell Clinton Devon Estates what you think about them

The survey is here:

And, for information, here are the questions the survey asks – perhaps you have questions you would like them to answer that don’t appear on this rather arbitrary list:

Clinton Devon Estates Survey, time is running out to take this survey. They’d love your views.

“We look to listen carefully to our staff, customers and those in our community. How we engage with you and what you think about our approach to sustainability is important to us and we want to get it right. Your feedback to this survey will play an important part in helping us develop our future communications.”

“Please click on the button below to start the survey. It will take around 3 minutes to complete.”


“Everyone who takes part in the survey will be entered into a prize draw with a chance of winning one of three £100 high street gift vouchers. The prize draw will take place on the 7th of June and the winners will be notified on the 9th of June 2017.”

1. Which of the following do you associate with Clinton Devon Estates?
Residential properties;
Forestry and timber;
Equestrian events;
Wildlife conservation and management projects;
Commercial properties;
Farms and land;
Other (please specify)

2. To what extent do you agree with the following?
Clinton Devon Estates puts responsible stewardship and sustainable development at the heart of everything they do?
Disagree strongly; Disagree slightly; Neither agree/nor disagree; Agree slightly; Agree strongly

3. Clinton Devon Estates understands and conserves the wildlife it manages
Disagree strongly; Disagree slightly; Neither agree/nor disagree; Agree slightly; Agree strongly

4. Clinton Devon Estates contributes to the local economy
Disagree strongly; Disagree slightly; Neither agree/nor disagree; Agree slightly; Agree strongly

5. Clinton Devon Estates supports the local community
Disagree strongly; Disagree slightly; Neither agree/nor disagree; Agree slightly; Agree strongly

6. If you disagree strongly or slightly with any of these statements, please tell us why………………………

7. To what extent do you agree with the following?
Clinton Devon Estates takes the views of its staff and the local community into account when making decisions.
Disagree strongly; Disagree slightly; Neither agree/nor disagree; Agree slightly; Agree strongly

8. Clinton Devon Estates communicates the reasons for its decisions and actions to its staff and the local community.
Disagree strongly; Disagree slightly; Neither agree/nor disagree; Agree slightly; Agree strongly

9. Clinton Devon Estates is transparent and open about the decisions it makes as a business
Disagree strongly; Disagree slightly; Neither agree/nor disagree; Agree slightly; Agree strongly

10. If you disagree slightly or strongly with any of these statements, please explain why…………………

11. Clinton Devon Estates is considering using the sentence: “We pledge to do today what is right for tomorrow” to help communicate their commitment to sustainability and making decisions that will have a positive impact on future generations.
In this context – How would you describe the word “pledge”?
Traditional; Meaningful; Irrelevant; Old-fashioned; Powerful; Meaningless; Don’t know what it means
Other (please specify)

12. What does the word “pledge” mean to you?……………………………………………..

13. Again thinking about the meaning of the words : “We pledge to do today what is right for tomorrow” in relation to Clinton Devon Estates commitment to sustainability – Do you prefer the word “promise” to the word “pledge” ?
Yes; No; Don’t know

14. Why do you say that? ………………………………………………

15. How credible do you think “We pledge to do today what is right for tomorrow” is as a statement from Clinton Devon Estates?
Not at all credible; Not very credible; Neither; Quite credible; Very credible

16. Why do you say that?………………………………………………….

17. If you’d like to be entered into the prize draw to win one of three £100 high street gift vouchers, please complete your contact details below: Thank you and good luck with the prize draw.”

Pensioners, disabled and mentally ill scapegoated by Tories in this election?

The dementia tax betrays the Tories’ underbelly. For a leader who protects our homes and offers our grandchildren hope, it’s got to be Corbyn for us pensioners.

The Conservative manifesto assault on pensioners bore all the hallmarks of Thatcherism – without the competence. Even the U-turn on the “dementia tax” will do little to win back pensioners who’ve been thrown under the bus – the one with £350m a day for the NHS emblazoned on the side – once too often.

Theresa May’s intervention was designed to mollify us oldies, but it did nothing of the sort. There was nothing that made me feel more secure in my home than I had before the whole sorry mess had started.

That the Tories would come after their most loyal supporters wasn’t a shock to me. We’re vulnerable and compliant and, in the past at least, voted Tory out of habit. Even with the extortionate charges for residential care and the drive to force people into buying their hip replacement surgery, pensioners were still set to vote Tory. But the election’s triple whammy – scrapping the triple lock guarantee on our pensions, attacking the winter fuel allowance, and the social care plans that mean vulnerable pensioners could be made homeless – has changed that.

This attack came in a context in which pensioners are increasingly scapegoated. The headlines would have us believe that it’s “bed-blockers” making the NHS grind to a halt. Not Tory cuts. There’s a constant, nasty subtext that, in times of austerity, old people are living too long which is damned inconvenient because we’re expensive to maintain.

The fact that May thought she could get away with this flagrant attack on her most steadfast supporters shows just how out of touch she is. But blaming the vulnerable is a strategy that has worked for the Tories. Deflecting the financial crash away from financial institutions and political failings, and on to the poor, the sick and the old, has allowed the Tories to justify austerity, to say: “It’s not bankers’ bonuses we should be cutting back, it’s the welfare state.”

The elderly, disabled and mentally ill are portrayed in much of the media as shirkers and spongers, so it’s no wonder we’re seen as easy prey.

Pitting the elderly against the young has been a growing and divisive tactic. Our protected state pensions and our dominance in the housing market are cited as causing the financial misery of the younger generation. We have our great big madeira cake and we’re jolly well going to eat it.

The reality is quite different; 1.9 million pensioners live below the poverty line, one in four people over 65 struggle to survive to the end of each month, the waiting list time for elective surgery is anything up to a year, and now, should we need nursing home care, our own homes will be sold to pay for it. Old people are not the cause of the problems of today’s younger generation, they are scapegoats for a social care system that has been made bankrupt by reckless cuts and Tory incompetence.

May’s dementia tax betrayed the underbelly of the nasty party. It has not only abandoned but attacked a generation of citizens, many of whom lived through the second world war and the dire austerity that followed. She would rather steal from her loyal pensioners than ask her friends in the city to pay their fair share. The curtain has been lifted, and we see May as she really is – a reverse Robin Hood, stealing from the palms of the poor to line the pockets of the rich.

This gigantic own goal will be followed by days of grovelling promises to “look after” older people. I may be old but I’m not stupid. Who on earth would trust anything Theresa May now says? I’ve lived through many an election but never in my life have I seen a U-turn on a manifesto pledge before an election has even been won. Incompetence on this scale is unprecedented. If Theresa May can’t get this right, how can we possibly trust her to handle complex Brexit negotiations? … “


“Why help to buy your home is no help at all to the economy”

“State subsidies to promote home ownership is not always a good thing – it hikes public debt, cuts labour mobility and often boosts prices not ownership levels …”


Quote from Tory candidate for seat of murdered MP Jo Cox

“A Conservative candidate for the seat formerly held by the murdered MP Jo Cox has apologised and blamed fatigue for telling a hustings: “We’ve not yet shot anybody so that’s wonderful.”

Ann Myatt made the comments while discussing the coming together of various communities in Batley and Spen, in West Yorkshire.

“This sort of evening is absolutely first-rate because we have here people of all faiths, we have here people from different parts of the community and we’ve not yet shot anybody so that’s wonderful,” she told the meeting.”


Claire Wright one of the 25 key tactical voting candidates along with MPs Caroline Lucas, Nick Clegg and Chuka Ummuna

Press release

“Claire Wright, independent parliamentary candidate in East Devon is today named alongside national political figures as one of 25 key candidate “champions” in a campaign for Britain’s biggest ever tactical vote to stop a Conservative led hard Brexit.

The endorsement comes from the Best for Britain campaign set up by Gina Miller whose fight for Parliament’s right to trigger Article 50 went all the way to the Supreme Court.

Announcing the deal the Best for Britain team said Ms Wright had mounted a strong challenge against Conservative Hugo Swire in East Devon. She is the candidate most likely to put principle first and speak up for what is best for Britain in the next Parliament.

Gina Miller, Board Member, Best for Britain said:

“Theresa May has said this election is about her mandate for negotiation with Europe. But this means accepting the Conservative manifesto’s Deal or No Deal rhetoric. Britain deserves considered debate, not posturing.

“By supporting independent minded candidates, we want to help to deliver a Parliament that scrutinises and holds the Government to account to ensure that Britain get the best deal from Europe. Tactical voting will make a real difference in this election. That’s why we are backing strong and talented candidates that agree with our position that MPs must have the right to a full and free vote in Parliament on the terms of the deal, with all options on the table.”

Other figures named include Labour’s Chuka Ummuna, Liberal Democrat Nick Clegg and Green Caroline Lucas. Best for Britain is a non partisan organisation campaigning to ensure the final negotiation with the EU ends with the best deal for Britain by endorsing MPs that will fight extreme Brexit.

Ms Wright has expressed concern about the Brexit process and has a manifesto commitment to fighting for a vote in parliament on any final deal. Responding to the announcement Ms Wright said:

“I am delighted to receive this endorsement which raises my campaign to a whole new level. It is exciting and humbling to be named alongside experienced national politicians. I firmly believe in the democratic right for MPs to be able to properly debate and meaningfully vote on any Brexit deal.

“Again and again I have heard from people who are so fed up with the divisive nature of our politics. I am proud to be an independent and to fight for parliament to have a say on any Brexit deal.”

Claire will not receive any financial support from the Best for Britain campaign. Her funding has come from about 200 donations by local people through an internet funding site, which is transparent and accountable. It has raised ten thousand pounds in just under three weeks.

The Best for Britain endorsement is the latest high point in Claire’s campaign:

On Sunday her crowdfunding website reached £10 000, raised in less than three weeks, last week she was endorsed by East Devon based Booker prize winning novelist Hilary Mantel, the author of Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies. Ms Mantel backed Claire saying:

“If you want a different kind of politics, do something different to get it. Don’t waste your vote, give it to Claire Wright: trust a candidate with a clear vision for our unique part of England.”

Claire has also been endorsed by tactical voting website Tactical2017 as the best East Devon candidate to defeat the Conservatives. She is currently the only Independent candidate in the country with this endorsement.

She has also been named by bookies William Hill as the official opposition in East Devon with odds of 9/2 and the only credible alternative to the Conservatives.

Events Diary
Tuesday 30th May 7.30pm, Exmouth Hustings, Holy Trinity Church, 6A Bicton Place, Exmouth, EX8 2SU

MPs and their tenuous links to their constituencies

Well, we know that Hugo Swire lives in Mid Devon, now here’s another who prefers not to live in his constituency:

Source: Facebook Unseat Marcus Fysh

At least Hampshire is in England – our MP spends lots of time travelling the world as Chairman of the Conservative Middle East Council:

“A January 2016 Middle East Monitor investigation revealed that nearly all of the CMEC’s financial backers have strong business interests in Saudi Arabia and its smaller Gulf allies, ranging from defence to manufacturing to energy resources”

Time to pack him off on his camel?

(Claire Wright – Independent – was born, raised, educated and has family in East Devon and continues to live here; the Lib Dem candidate is a Teignmouth Councillor; the Labour Party’s candidate may or may not live in East Devon (says so but candidate documents say Central Devon).

Claire Wright reaches her £10,000 crowdfunding target

Though Owl is sure she would be grateful for more – she doesn’t have big donors or battle buses to call on – just ordinary people. You know, those affected by health cuts, education cuts and environmental destruction.

The ones caused by Hugo Swire’s party and its fat cat donors.

The choice really is yours.


Who do you believe on the environment – Claire Wright or Hugo Swire

Claire Wright said that the environment post-Brexit wouldn’t be in safe hands if Conservatives win and did something about it for Devon:


Hugo Swire said she was scare-mongering and it would be fine:


The Guardian now says:

The UK is lobbying Europe to water down a key energy-saving target despite the fact it will not take effect until after Brexit, according to leaked documents that sparked warnings that energy bills could rise and jobs put at risk.

On the day Theresa May triggered article 50, government officials asked the European commission to weaken or drop elements of its flagship energy efficiency law.

Green campaigners warned that the efforts to undermine the energy efficiency directive were a sign the Conservatives would dilute or abolish European energy and climate policies after the UK leaves the EU.

In the past, the UK has publicly welcomed the targets, which end in 2020, as an important driver for reducing consumer bills and reliance on energy imports.

The European commission wants a binding target of improving energy efficiency 30% by 2030, compared with business-as-usual.

But documents obtained by Greenpeace, dated 29 March, show the UK urging the commission to lower the goal to 27% and make it non-binding on the EU’s 28 members. A more recent version, dated 22 May and seen by the Guardian, shows the UK has maintained its stance. …