Meet and question Police and Crime Commissioner Hernandez in Exmouth

Police commissioner to attend meeting in Exmouth

The Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon and Cornwall is to answer questions from the public at an event in Exmouth.

Alison Hernandez will attend an open meeting which will take place at Exmouth Community College’s Telfer Centre on July 5, at 7pm.

Residents from Exmouth and the surrounding area will be able to question her on local issues.”


Why do you need a deputy.
Why did you appoint a “good friend” to be your deputy?
Did you consult the Police and Crime Panel?
How many people did you interview for the post of deputy?
Do you really believe people with guns should supplement police?


What exactly are you FOR?

Oh, oh – no business rates devolution? Where’s the lost income coming from?

“Councils demand ‘clarity’ over funding after business rates devolution is dropped.

A steering group which spent the last 15 months consulting on how 100% business rates retention would work has been disbanded after the exclusion of local government finance legislation in this week’s Queen’s Speech.

Parliamentary time to consider the Local Government Finance Bill in the last Parliament ran out before Theresa May called this month’s General Election. However, the sector was stunned this week when the government made it clear that it would not revive the process for at least two years.

Room151 has seen a letter sent to members of the steering group from Anne Stuart, the newly-installed civil servant leading the business rates retention process.

It said: “I’m sorry this should be my first communication, but I am emailing because as you will have no doubt seen, the Queen’s Speech did not include a new Local Government Finance Bill and so it will not form part of the Parliamentary timetable for this session.”

In her letter, she thanked members of the steering group but said she would only be in touch “once we are in a position to resume working with you on the future of local government finance reform.”

However, she said that ministers remain committed to local government taking greater control of its income. “We are engaging ministers on the options for future reform without an immediate Bill…,” she said.

Ministers have reaffirmed their commitment to a thorough, evidence-based review and that work will continue with local government on that issue, Stuart said.

One steering group member told Room151: “This is more than a year’s work down the drain.

“If the government is planning to introduce any reform by executive order, it needs to make sure they take the sector with them.”

Lord Porter, chairman of the Local Government Association, said that the failure to move on with business rates devolution was “hugely concerning”.

He said: “While negotiating Brexit will be a huge challenge for the government, it cannot be a distraction from the challenges facing our public services. The day-to-day concerns of our communities go far beyond Brexit.

“Only with adequate funding and the right powers can local government help the government tackle the challenges facing our nation now and in the future.”

Jo Miller, Solace president and chief executive of Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council, said: “I am disappointed that key legislation—absolutely fundamental to ensuring the future sustainability of local government—has now been dropped.

“Local government urgently needs clarity around our future funding—at present we simply face a cliff edge from 2020. This must urgently be resolved.”

A DCLG statement said: “The government is committed to delivering the manifesto pledge to help local authorities to control more of the money they raise and will work closely with local government to agree the best way to achieve this.”

The steering group to guide the process of business rates devolution was created in March last year after George Osborne announced that primary legislation would be introduced to allow councils to keep 100% of growth in business rates—up from the current 50%.”

“Spending watchdog condemns ‘risky and expensive’ Hinkley Point”

Owl says: abd still our Local Enterprise Partnership sleepwalks into disaster with OUR money.

“Generations of British consumers have been locked into a “risky and expensive” project by the UK’s subsidy deal for a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset, according to a damning report by the spending watchdog.

The National Audit Office said the contract sealed by ministers last September with EDF to construct the country’s first new atomic reactors in two decades would provide “uncertain strategic and economic benefits”.

Further, Brexit and Theresa May’s decision to quit an EU nuclear treaty could make the situation even worse, by triggering taxpayer compensation for EDF or a more generous deal for the French state-controlled company.

The watchdog condemned the past two governments for failing to look at alternative ways of financing the power station, such as taking a stake in the construction.

Observers labelled the report “deeply worrying”, a “strong reprimand” and a vindication of Hinkley Point C’s critics, who had argued it was too costly and advocated alternatives such as wind and solar power.

Under the terms of the 35-year contract, EDF is guaranteed a price of £92.50 per megawatt hour it generates, twice the wholesale price.

The subsidy is paid through energy bills, which the government estimates will translate to a £10 to £15 chunk of the average household bill by 2030.

At the heart of the spending watchdog’s criticism is the coalition government’s failure to look at any alternative financing model, such as taking an upfront stake in the £18bn project.

Instead, the Lib Dems and Tories decided all the construction risk for the plant must lay with EDF and its partner, Chinese state-owned CGN, to keep the project off the government’s books.

Taking a stake would have posed its own risks because of delays to projects with the same reactor design in Finland and France, the NAO admitted. “But our analysis suggests alternative approaches could have reduced the total project cost,” it added.

If the government had taken a 50% equity stake in the construction it could have almost halved the guarantee power price to as low as £48.50 per megawatt hour, according to the NAO.

The auditors were critical of ministers’ decision to negotiate bilaterally with EDF, rather than waiting for other new-build nuclear consortia to compete – an approach that the NAO noted had brought prices down on similar subsidy deals for windfarms.

The government’s case for the contract also weakened after the commercial terms of the deal were agreed by the then prime minister, David Cameron, in 2013, the watchdog said.

Delays to Hinkley and falling wholesale prices, caused by a two-year oil price slump, meant the total costs to consumers for the 35-year deal ballooned from £6bn in 2013 to £30bn now.

That number may rise even higher after new figures on power price expectations are released by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) next month.

Brexit could make matters worse still, the spending watchdog warned. In January, the government said it would quit a nuclear cooperation treaty as part of the process of leaving the EU.

That withdrawal from Euratom, the NAO said, “might be interpreted as a change of law” resulting in an adjustment of the £92.50 price promised to EDF, or even trigger a one-off payment for EDF through a compensation clause in the contract.

While the NAO concluded “it will not be known for decades whether Hinkley Point C will be value for money”, the usually conservative watchdog was strongly critical of the government for not assessing alternative finance models.

However, it said the report should not be taken as a recommendation that the government takes a stake in future nuclear projects – but the idea should be explored. Such an approach has been discussed by the Japanese and UK governments for a Japanese-backed plant in Wales.

Unions, industry experts and green groups said the report showed lessons must be learned for any future nuclear subsidy deals.

Commentators also raised questions over whether Hinkley would look cheap compared with alternatives such as wind and solar, which the government had argued would cost more.

Mike Clancy, general secretary of the Prospect union, which represents nuclear workers, said: “This is a deeply worrying report that highlights the lack of accountability and leadership in British nuclear policy.”

Dr Robert Gross of Imperial College called the report a “strong reprimand” of the past two governments.

A “slavish devotion” to free markets that ruled out taking a stake and failure to wait for other nuclear projects to bring competition were to blame, he said. “Renewables will become cheap, and this was not anticipated at all. It now looks likely that by the time it is built Hinkley will seem expensive compared to new solar and wind projects.”

Nina Schrank, energy campaigner at Greenpeace UK, called the report a damning indictment of the government’s agreement. “This year’s school leavers will still be paying for Hinkley when they approach their pension age, so it is concerning that the National Audit Office is suggesting it may not be worth their money,” she said.

Jim Skea, president of the Energy Institute, which represents energy professionals, said the report held “clear messages on the steps needed to protect consumers and taxpayers in the future, including possibly radical changes to nuclear policy”.

An EDF spokesman said: “Today’s report shows that Hinkley Point C remains good value for consumers compared with alternative choices. Consumers won’t pay a penny until the power station is operating and it is EDF Energy and CGN who will take the risk and responsibility of delivering it.”

A BEIS spokesman said: “Hinkley Point C will be the first new nuclear plant in a generation. This was an important strategic decision to ensure that nuclear is part of a diverse energy mix.

“Consumers won’t pay a penny until Hinkley is built; it will provide clean, reliable electricity powering homes and creating more than 26,000 jobs and apprenticeships in the process.”

Hernandez appoints “old friend” as her deputy

Owl says: can this woman sink any further into the swamp? How many people were interviewed for the job, one wonders. The Police and Crime Panel has to ratify the post. Now THAT will be interesting!

Crime czar Alison Hernandez has named a Conservative colleague from her local council days as her second-in-command.

The Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner admitted in April this year that she was considering appointing a deputy commissioner to share the workload, including increased scrutiny.

She had toyed with the idea of campaigning for office alongside a running mate last year but eventually stood alone on the Tory ticket and was elected in her own right.

Now she has revealed that fellow Conservative and Torbay councillor Mark Kingscote will be her deputy.

Cllr Kingscote, a 55-year-old NHS support worker, who specialises in mental health is chairman of Torbay’s planning committee and a councillor since 2000.

He was born in Torquay and has been in the NHS for 25 years, is the elected member for Shiphay with the Willows, a ward Ms Hernandez used to jointly represent alongside him.

Devon Live first revealed the appointment earlier this month.

At the time Cllr Kingscote said he had not “had a conversation about” nor been offered the post, which carries an estimated salary level of £50,000 a year though it is expected to be part-time and cost the taxpayer closer to £30,000 annually.

However, he said he believed he had the experience to take on the role.

“I am more than capable of doing the job so I don’t see why not,” he added.

“I am chairman of the planning committee, have been on the scrutiny panel for more than four years and am perfectly capable of putting my hand to lots of different things.

“I have known Alison for a long time and we have worked together on lots of community projects in the past.

“I went down to help her last week – she said “do you want to come along?” and I said “yes”. It was quite casual, just supporting her really.

“I have been doing community engagement for a long time so it’s not unusual that I would get involved in a thing like that.

“I have been involved in diversity and supporting the police in wards I represent.”

Ms Hernandez is free to appoint a deputy, as other commissioners have, without approval from the Police and Crime Panel, which is set to convene early next month.

The commissioner’s predecessor, Conservative Tony Hogg, also took on paid help in the role.

He recruited Jan Stanhope for strategic support after he was elected, paying her around £20,000 a year for a two-day post, although she was not officially designated as his deputy.

Phillipa Davey, a Labour city councillor in Plymouth and a member of the panel which oversees the work of the commissioner, said that the appointment smacked of nepotism.

“I have to be careful what I say as at the moment I don’t know anything at all about the appointment or his credentials, she told Devon Live.

“It does seem a bit odd – jobs for people’s friends.

“I would be interested to know what experience he has and how qualified he is to do the job especially as this is a new post which we will all be paying for.”

The plans for a deputy come after the £100,000 a year chief executive of the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner left at the end of last month.

Andrew White, who was recruited by Mr Hogg, has been hired by Lincolnshire Police to work as second-in-command to chief constable Bill Skelley.

Chief cons Skelly, who left his previous job as assistant chief constable in Devon and Cornwall last year, has hired White to become the force’s most senior civilian officer.

Ms Hernandez said she will next week ask the Police and Crime Panel to support the appointment of Mark Kingscote as her deputy.

She said he has significant experience in scrutinising the use of tax-payers money, planning, health (particularly mental health) and diversity.

“I have every confidence that Mark is the right person for this role,” she added.

“He is a strong individual who will represent the most vulnerable in our communities well, is committed to building safe, resilient and connected communities and with a track record in the areas we need to enhance efforts on.”

STPs may not be introduced till after Brexit – but are ‘Success Regimes’ similarly doomed or not?

Owl has had to resort to CAPITALS it is so mad!







What Hunt said yesterday:

“Given the result of the latest general election and with the negotiations around Brexit due to start later this month, it is now unlikely that the government will be able to introduce legislation for sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) in the next few years – if at all.

Speaking at NHS Confederation yesterday, health secretary Jeremy Hunt argued that the legislative landscape has changed after a hung Parliament was declared last week. Because of this, it is unrealistic to expect the government to enact legislative health changes before the Brexit process is finished.

“We said [in our manifesto] that we would legislate to give STPs a statutory underpinning if that was felt to be necessary,” he said. “To be clear, we’re expecting to be in power until 2022 and deliver a stable government to make that possible.

“But obviously, the legislative landscape has changed, and that means that legislation of this nature is only going to be possible if there is a consensus across all political parties that it’s necessary. I don’t think that is in any way impossible, but it’s realistically not something we would do while the Brexit process was carrying on.”

Post-Brexit, he added, the government will have “a lot better understanding” of the legislative changes required by STPs. But even then, changing the law would require cross-party support – a much greater challenge now that the Conservatives no longer hold the majority in the House of Commons.

Responding to audience questions after his keynote speech, Hunt – who survived Theresa May’s recent political reshuffle – also hinted that the NHS could be in line to receive some more transformation funding.

Asked by a West Hampshire GP about the possibility of supporting transformation with ringfenced investment in order to enable new models of care elsewhere in the country, the health secretary argued “that is what the STP plans are about”.

But the biggest risk to pouring in more capital funding, he noted, is “if we don’t maintain the financial rigour and discipline that we started to see coming back into the system in the last year”.

“That was really what slowed down this process in the 2015-16 financial year, when we would’ve liked to put a lot more money into transformation,” the health secretary said. “But I think now we’re in a much, much better position to do that. We absolutely want to make sure that money is not an impediment to the rolling out of the STPs, because they are central to our vision.”

In fact, the recent NHS response to the horrific terrorist attack in Manchester, which saw staff working around the clock to cope with the unexpected demand, is a “very good reason for exactly what we’re trying to achieve with the STP process”, Hunt argued.

“The interesting lesson for me about the response in Manchester was how joined-up it was as a result of the terrific progress, under Jon Rouse’s leadership, that trusts have made in coming together as part of their STP,” he added. “I think they’ve probably gone further and faster than anywhere else in the country. I know it’s not been easy to do that, but it was extremely streamlined and effective.”

He also suggested that the government would be prepared to boost the region’s cash pot “if there are specific aspects of the response to those terrible events where there have been unexpected costs that the NHS incurred that wouldn’t be part of its normal response to emergency situations”.

STPs need local support
Asked by another audience member to explain the importance of bringing all local communities together into designing and delivering change, Hunt emphasised that the reasoning behind STPs is to bring about “fantastically beneficial” changes for patients.

“It’s a transformation that is wholly positive for the public,” the secretary of state said. “But people are passionate about their NHS and they obviously worry about any change that happens, and that’s why we have a responsibility to communicate that change. And that change is usually best not communicated by politicians, but by clinicians, because frankly you guys are trusted a lot more than we are.

“That’s why I think it’s really important to have that local engagement, and that’s why, when it comes to the big transformation plans, Simon Stevens and I are supporting them with every fibre in our bodies at a national level.
“But at a local level, we need you to be making the arguments. The evidence is that when you do that, even with potentially controversial changes, it’s quite possible to win the case to do them. But it does involve a lot of local engagement and I think that’s going to be one of the central challenges for the next few years.”


Blogpost by recently-elected Independent East Devon Alliance DCC Councillor Martin Shaw”

“East Devon District Council’s Scrutiny Committee called tonight for the existing level of community hospital beds in East Devon to be maintained, with no closures. It expressed ‘great concern’ that under the NEW Devon Clinical Commissioning Group’s plans ‘there will be no community hospital beds east of Sidmouth, leaving residents in a whole swathe of eastern Devon remote from the nearest hospital facilities.’

The Committee also agreed to write to Devon County Council’s Health Scrutiny Committee, urging it to refer the matter to the Secretary of State for Health ‘as a matter of urgency’ as it was ‘concerned that lack of an early submission will result in NEW Devon CCG going ahead with its proposals’. This followed a claim from Councillor Mike Allen that staff were already leaving and patients being turned away from Honiton Hospital. The point was echoed in comments by County Councillor Martin Shaw about Seaton Hospital.

The Committee’s resolution was the outcome of two hours’ pressure from Committee members, other councillors and the public on the Chair of the CCG’s Eastern Locality, Dr John Kerr. The resolution was proposed by Chairman, Councillor Roger Giles of Ottery St. Mary, who had interrogated CCG representatives on their proposals. He repeatedly asked ‘how many additional staff will be required’ for the CCG’s new model of care, only to be told ‘what is required’. Other members expressed doubt that enough new staff could be recruited.

Cllr Giles’ proposals followed speeches by Councillor Shaw and EDDC ward councillor Andrew Moulding of Axminster for keeping hospital beds in Seaton. Councillor Moulding pointed out that not only Axminster, but also Axmouth, Uplyme and Rousdon, had been omitted from the CCG’s calculations of the population served by Seaton Hospital.

Much of the discussion at the EDDC meeting reacted to the discussion at Devon’s Health Scrutiny Committee last Monday. Devon councillors had followed the recommendation of their Chairman, Councillor Sara Randall Johnson, to postpone until July a decision on Councillor Claire Wright’s proposal to refer the CCG’s decisions to the Secretary of State for Health. Councillor Shaw, who also addressed the Devon meeting, said afterwards that he was ‘incredibly disappointed and frustrated by the unnecessary and damaging delay’. Sixty protestors, from Honiton, Seaton, Colyton and other parts of Devon, had waved placards outside County Hall and had then watched the Scrutiny Committee, some of them jeering when it was proposed to delay the decision.

Councillor Shaw later expressed his satisfaction with the outcome of the EDDC meeting, which he said ‘put saving the beds back on the agenda’ and pointed the way for Devon County Council’s Scrutiny Committee to follow when it reconvened. He said, ‘I am very pleased at the strong cross-party case made for East Devon hospitals and especially the mounting support for looking again at the CCG’s completely indefensible abandonment of Seaton. Keeping beds in Seaton has had tremendous backing this week, including not only from Councillor Moulding but also Councillor Hall from Axminster, and Mike McAlpine, Chair of the Committee for the Axe Valley Health Hub. Seaton’s Deputy Mayor, Martin Pigott, made an excellent case at County Hall.’

Councillor Shaw said it was very obvious that CCG representatives, Dr Sonja Manton at the Devon meeting and Dr Kerr at EDDC, had refused to answer direct questions about the flawed case for axing Seaton’s beds. ‘I am optimistic that when this comes back to Devon, councillors on the Health Scrutiny Committee will pick up the Seaton issue and we will finally get justice for our communities.’

Martin Shaw
Independent East Devon Alliance County Councillor for Seaton & Colyton

EDDC’s reputation on planning described as “disaster area”

Express and Echo interview online with editor Patrick Phelvin had a brief mention of the reputation of East Devon (about 5 minutes into the interview on the video embedded within the article)

being an absolute disaster area on matters like planning

And, no, he hadn’t contacted Owl when he said it!

“Health and safety professionals urge deregulation rethink”

But it goes hand-in-glove with the Tory policy of the smaller state and the hands-off approach to development and developers!

“The government has been urged to rethink the deregulation of health and safety legislation in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire, which is believed to have killed at least 79 people.

In an open letter to prime minister Theresa May, more than 70 leading organisations and figures from the UK’s health and safety professions have called for a change in attitude to health and safety regulation and fire risk management.

The signatories have also called on the government to complete its review of Part B of the Building Regulations 2010, which cover fire safety within and around buildings in England, as a matter of urgency.

The letter, whose signatories include the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), Park Health & Safety, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) and the British Safety Council, states: “We believe it is totally unacceptable for residents, members of the public and our emergency services to be exposed to this level of preventable risk in modern-day Britain.”