“Floral tributes laid as hundreds say farewell to Exmouth Fun Park”

Floral tributes were left inside the iconic swanboat and messages of thanks were left as a family run seafront Fun Park closed after more than 60 years tomorrow.

The Fun Park on Queen’s Drive, Exmouth, closed for the last time on Thursday ahead of major multi-million pound plans that East Devon District Council has to renovate the seafront.

Hundreds of people came out for one last ride on the pedalos and a round of crazy golf at the Fun Park.

A vigil was also held by Save Exmouth Seafront campaigners and floral tributes were presented to the Wright family who have run the Fun Park for more than four decades.

Unless a motion that an extraordinary meeting of East Devon District Council to be held on September 13 to discuss the closure of the businesses as part of the Queen’s Drive redevelopment is agreed to give the seafront businesses a chance of an eleventh-hour reprieve, the Exmouth Fun Park has now closed for good.

The Harbour View Café is set to follow the Fun Park in closing at the end of September while several long-standing businesses including DJ’s Diner, the Arnold Palmer/Jungle Fun site, and the model railway have already closed. … ”


“The real villains in Harvey flood: urban sprawl and the politicians who allowed it”

Houston has quietly become [the USA’s] fourth largest and fastest-growing city, due in large part to cheap housing. But the latter has come at an exorbitant cost to its safety. The swamps and wetlands that once characterized Houston’s hinterland have been replaced with strip malls and suburban tract homes.

Those landscapes once served as a natural flood protection system for the city. Research shows that, if they hadn’t been filled and developed, Harvey’s impact would have been lessened. Sam Brody and his colleagues at Texas A&M University in Galveston have been predicting an event like this for nearly a decade. That their work went unheeded by Texas policymakers should not be forgotten.

Worse, a generation of civic leaders have completely deregulated Houston’s land development market. In that process, they helped build a far-flung network of poor neighborhoods on top of a swamp. In Houston, there is a simple truth: the poorer you are, the closer you live to a petrochemical plant and the likelier your home is to flood.

There will be an impulse to elide past the political choices that led us to this point. We shouldn’t allow our politicians to use the use Harvey’s victims as human shields by pronouncing that now is not the time for criticism or blame. There’s never been a more important time to understand the political machinations that led to Harvey’s destructiveness, and to do everything in our power to dismantle them. …

Coastal infrastructure is incredibly expensive to build and nearly impossible to maintain, especially when you realize that the maintenance is borne entirely by local governments – none of which have the financial or technical capacity to do so effectively.

Some have already begun to point to Holland, where the world’s most complex flood control system operates, and to proclaim that if the Dutch do it, so can the United States. This simply isn’t true.

The Netherlands has a much higher tax rate, giving it more resources per person to invest in its infrastructure. Dutch storms are also less intense and bring lower surge heights and less rainfall than their American counterparts.

For a lasting recovery, Houston will need to supplement whatever barrier system it builds with a broader, regional network of wetlands, retention ponds, and green infrastructure to restore the once-robust, natural flood protection lost to a half-century of urban sprawl.

Designers have been calling for such an approach since Ike made landfall. Houston should look to New York’s landscape architect-led recovery process as a model worthy of consideration.

A half-century of bad design choices and impotent planning led Houston to this crisis. Now, it’s up to a new generation of Houstonians to do what their predecessors could not – prepare the Magnolia City to rise up and meet its wetter future head on. …


Warning bell on power-grab by Ministers excluding Parliament after Brexit

More than 70 charities, NGOs and trade unions have joined a formal alliance to scrutinise the “great repeal bill”, as major rights organisations such as Amnesty International, Liberty and Friends of the Earth say they are determined to halt a “power grab” by ministers.

Members of the alliance say it will be a platform to campaign for open and accountable lawmaking after the bill is presented. It will push for clear limits on the powers given to ministers by the bill and aim to ensure standards are maintained after the UK leaves the EU.

The alliance, which launched on Wednesday and is coordinated by Unlock Democracy, says it intends to scrutinise the legislation and offer legal and technical expertise from its members, who range from human rights lawyers to environmental scientists.

The European Union (withdrawal) bill will be the first major piece of Brexit legislation before the House of Commons, with its second reading next Thursday.

One of the most complex pieces of legislation in recent history, the bill ostensibly aims to transpose EU law on to the UK statute book via secondary legislation, which could then be gradually repealed or replaced as governments see fit.

Critics of the bill say it confers significant extra powers to ministers to make changes without parliamentary scrutiny, using so-called delegated powers.

Labour’s Hilary Benn, chair of the Brexit select committee, has previously suggested this could amount to a “blank legislative cheque”, although the government has insisted the powers will only be used to make technical corrections to make the laws translatable.

Concerns have been heightened because of the number of times ministers have used delegated powers to make highly controversial changes, including the so-called rape clause requiring women who have been raped to provide verification if they wish to claim tax credits for more than two children.

Lord Judge, the former lord chief justice, has been among those raising questions about the complexity of the repeal bill and its repercussions, calling Brexit “a legislative tsunami … the greatest challenge ever faced by our legislative processes”.

Funded by a range of charitable trusts including the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust and the Lloyds Bank Foundation, the alliance has a permanent member of staff in place to coordinate public campaigns, although it insists it is neutral on Brexit. …”


Tories funded by rich few, Labour by poorer many!

Tories funded by big donations from the (very, very rich) few, Labour funded by the (very, very much poorer) many!

“Labour generated 10 times more in party membership fees than the Tories in 2016

Labour received ten times more than the Tories in party membership fees in 2016 as the scale of the difference between the number of rank and file supporters for each was laid bare.

The Conservatives generated £1.5 million in membership fees last year while Labour coffers were boosted to the tune of £14.4 million, according to new figures published by the Electoral Commission.

Meanwhile, the Tories brought in £800,000 through membership in 2015 while the Labour figure was £9.5 million.

The size of the membership money gap between the two parties is likely to reignite speculation about the current size of the Tory party membership after previous claims that it may have dipped below 100,000.

Membership figures for the Conservatives have not been made available since 2013 when the party had about 150,000 paid up supporters.

That figure represented a sizeable reduction on the size of the membership during the 2005 leadership contest when it stood at a reported 253,000.

In stark contrast the most recent estimate of Labour Party membership from March of this year was 517,000.

The cost of standard membership of the Conservative Party costs £25 and £48 for Labour but both parties offer other, less costly membership packages for certain groups of people like young people and armed forces personnel.

The Conservative Party declined to comment on the current size of its membership.

A Labour Party spokeswoman said: “Labour is a mass membership party, proud to be funded by our members and working people.

“It is this broad funding base that makes us the party of ordinary working people, while the Tories increasingly rely on a small pool of super-rich donors.”

While Labour enjoys a huge financial advantage over the Tories on the issue of membership income, it is the Conservatives who are ahead when it comes to donations.

The Tories received almost £19 million in donations in 2016 while Labour received £14.7 million.

In 2015, a general election year, the Tories received about £32 million in donations compared to about £19 million for Labour.

Both Labour and the Tories spent less than what they generated in income in 2016.

Labour’s total income was just shy of £50 million with the party spending about £43 million while the Tories’ total income was just over £28 million with expenditure totalling just under £28 million.

The Liberal Democrats ranked third on the list of party expenditure, spending £7.7 million, followed by the SNP on about £6 million and Ukip with just shy of £3 million.

The SNP spent more than it brought in, recording income of just under £5 million.”


Councillor calls for Randall-Johnson resignation


Devon County Council’s Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Chair, Councillor Sara Randall Johnson, should immediately consider her position following the stinging rebuke issued to her by the Council’s Standards Committee. The Council should also act to restore the credibility of Health Scrutiny, since its failure to fully scrutinise the removal community hospital beds in Honiton, Okehampton and Seaton has destroyed public confidence in its activities across a large swathe of Devon.

At its meeting on 29 August, minutes of which are published today, the Standards Committee agreed that while Cllr Randall Johnson had not broken the Members’ Code of Conduct, she should ‘be strongly reminded of the importance of the work of scrutiny committees – reinforcing the value of neutrality in scrutiny both generally and in calling the “health service” to account – and the need to be seen to be even handed and scrupulously fair, recognising that failure to do so may be perceived as a deliberate act.’

The call for a Scrutiny Chair to ‘be strongly reminded of the importance of the work’ of her committee, and of the value of neutrality and being seen to be even-handed and fair, is unprecedented and should lead Cllr Randall Johnson to immediately consider her position. There is no public confidence that she will lead the committee to carry out full and impartial scrutiny of NHS decision-making.

The Standards Committee also ‘accepts that the events of the Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee meeting on 25 July 2017 may not reflect well on individual Members or upon the Council as a whole, and further recognises that the perception gained by persons present at the meeting or subsequently viewing the webcast is not that which would have been desired’.

This stark acknowledgement of the damage done to Devon County Council’s reputation also requires early action by the Council to reassure the public that the Committee will do its job properly in future and protect the NHS in Devon.

The Scrutiny Committee ignored the views of local communities and their representatives and has allowed the CCG to get away with damaging cuts. The Council must now consider how to restore people’s faith that it will protect all our community hospitals in the future. I shall ensure that this is discussed when the Council meets on 5th October.

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

Nothing happening in Cornwall

“Cornwall Council says it won’t be having a full council meeting in September because there are “no substantive agenda items”.

In a statement, the council said: “The full council meeting planned for September has been cancelled as there were no substantive agenda items and the only standing items related to member and public question time.

“The council’s meetings are run so that its business can be carried out efficiently; considering the interests of the community, the importance of using members’ time effectively and the cost of holding a meeting.” …

The decision means there has been no full council meeting since 25 July, and the next one is scheduled for 21 November.”


Scrutiny in Parliament: “party loyalty inhibits criticism and evidence-based reasoning”

Owl’s summary: From top to bottom – party loyalty trumps common sense. And we, the voters, pay the price.

The author’s summary:


Where once Parliament lurked almost completely impotently on the sidelines of policy-making, recent revisionist accounts have ‘talked up’ MPs’ collective influence, with some justification.

Yet the Commons is still far from having the ‘full spectrum’ and decisive influence that democratic criteria suggest are needed.

Party loyalties inhibit criticisms and evidence-based reasoning.

Budgetary consideration is largely a joke.

And legacy procedural practices plus MPs’ traditionalist attachment to inefficient and ineffective ways of working (like the witness system for select committees, instead of developing proper investigative staffs) have limited the legislature’s role, despite some positive recent developments.”

Vigil for Exmouth Fun Park – say farewell to the local family and their much-loved attraction 11 am – 8 pm today

Today is the last day today for the Fun Park complex run by the local Wright family in Exmouth, who must make way for EDDC’s vision of the future – a no-doubt very expensive water sports centre and other coastal clone businesses.

If you will miss this attraction and the local family who run it, people are being asked to please turn up with thank you’s, mementoes etc for a Wright family tribute today.

Save Exmouth Seafront will be there from 11 to 8 pm tonight when the doors finally shut.

Its contents will be auctioned on Friday:


“Nine in 10 MPs don’t believe UK’s social care system is fit for purpose”

And Owl thinks the other 1 in 10 are self-serving idiots – one of whom is Jeremy Hunt.

“Only 10 per cent believe pensioners needing help to stay living in their own homes are well served, found the poll of 101 English parliamentarians.

Just 13 per cent of Labour MPs and 35 per cent of Conservative MPs say social care services in their constituencies are up to scratch.

“Confidence that the social care system can deal with the UK’s ageing population has virtually evaporated among parliamentarians,” said Janet Morrison, chief executive of Independent Age, which carried out the research.

“The crisis in social care was front and centre in the election earlier this year, and it is clear from this poll that there is an overwhelming desire from politicians on all sides for the Government to work towards a cross-party consensus on a solution.”

Former Lib Dem health minister in the coalition government Norman Lamb said: “The health and care system in England is creaking at the seams.

“An unprecedented number of older people need support in later life but are finding high-quality care is hard to come by.

“Without lasting reform, the most vulnerable frail and elderly people are at real risk of falling through the gaps and not getting the support they expect and deserve.”

The Government has pledged an extra £2bn for social care over the next few years but it is only one-off funding which reduces each year.

Vital services caring for elderly and disabled people still face an annual £2.3bn funding gap by 2020, which will continue to grow, according to the Local Government Association.

Izzi Seccombe, chairwoman of the LGA’s community wellbeing board, said: “It’s encouraging to see so many MPs across all political parties recognising the need for action to find a sustainable solution to the adult social care funding crisis.”

Margaret Willcox, of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, said: “Older and disabled people and their families need and deserve high quality, reliable and personal care.

“For this to happen, and with MPs returning to Parliament next week, government needs to address adult social care as a priority so it can be future-proofed for people who will continue to need care and support in increasing numbers.”

The poll of more than 2,000 British adults also found that many under-estimate the cost of social care.

On average, UK adults estimate that residential care would cost £549 a week – when in reality it costs on average £866 for a place in a nursing home, the Centre said.

Meanwhile, another poll carried out by carehome.co.uk found that four in 10 of care home residents do not receive regular visits from friends and family.

A total of 1,154 care home owners, managers and staff were asked to estimate the percentage of residents that do not receive regular visits, with 42 per cent being the average figure given.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: “This Government is absolutely committed to improving social care in this country, which is why we have provided an additional £2bn for the sector, introduced tougher inspections to keep driving up standards and committed to consult on the future of social care to ensure sustainability in the long term.”


Ambulance delays – a matter of life and death – underfunding blamed

“Almost two patients die a month on average after failings by the ambulance service, including delays or a failure to recognise the severity of symptoms, a review of coroners’ reports has found.

Coroners in England and Wales have written to ambulance services or call handlers 86 times since July 2013 warning them that they need to make changes to prevent future deaths.

Forty-eight of the warnings related to ambulance delays or problems with call handling, according to the review by Minh Alexander, a former whistleblower who now campaigns on patient safety. She said the volume of reports suggested a “significant decline in ambulance safety in recent years”.

She added: “Action is needed to rectify underfunding, related workforce and skill mix issues, and pressures on the whole NHS that spill on to ambulance services.”

Coroners have a duty to write a report under regulation 28 of the Coroners (Investigations) Regulations 2013 if it appears there is a risk of other deaths occurring in similar circumstances. Dr Alexander, a psychiatrist who raised concerns about patient deaths, produced her report by analysing section 28 reports published by the chief coroner.

A number of the reports highlight delays caused by slow handovers at A&E departments, echoing warnings from the National Audit Office earlier this year. In many cases the delay was not found to have caused the deaths but coroners were sufficiently concerned by what they heard at inquest to warn ambulance service bosses that delays could be fatal in the future.

In April, Gilva Tisshaw, assistant coroner for Brighton and Hove, wrote to South East Coast ambulance service following the death of Ronald William Bennett, warning of “serious delays in ambulances arriving at the scene of an incident as a consequence of ambulance crews being delayed at the accident and emergency department”.

There were also a number of cases involving call handlers without medical training and their computer programmes failing to recognise the severity of a situation.

In June, Elizabeth Earland, senior coroner for the Exeter and Great Devon district, wrote to South Western ambulance service after the death of Colin James Sluman, 68, who had a burst varicose vein. He called an ambulance at 1.36am, but bled to death before an ambulance arrived at 3.03am.

Dr Earland said the protocol followed by call handlers, on which they were “completely reliant”, did not recognise reports of dizziness in a patient on their own “as important triggers for a rapid response”.

An ambulance service spokeswoman said the trust had taken action to address the concerns.

Martin Flaherty, managing director of the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives, said ambulance services took coroners’ reports “extremely seriously” and would make changes in response where possible.

In 2016 English ambulances handled 10.7 million emergency calls.

Case study

Grant Benson, 21, died in a fire following a car accident in August 2014 after making a 999 call. Andrew Tweddle, senior coroner for County Durham and Darlington, wrote to the Yorkshire ambulance service after the event. He said: “It is clear from listening to the recording how frantic the driver became as the fire began and took hold.”

The car came off the road near Barnard Castle, County Durham, but the call handler at the ambulance service was based in Wakefield. She and two colleagues failed to pinpoint the crash location so an ambulance could be dispatched.

The inquest heard that it was not possible to transfer responsibility for calls between emergency services, and one ambulance service could not send a vehicle from another. Emergency services attended only after a further call had been made by a passer-by.

A Yorkshire ambulance service spokeswoman said it had “taken steps to review local practice.”

Source: The Times, pay wall

Young Tory activists caught discussing ‘gassing chavs’ and ‘shooting peasants’ in leaked WhatsApp group

“Young Conservative activists joked about “gassing chavs” and “shooting peasants” in a string of disturbing WhatsApp messages.

The conversation, which has now been leaked, took place in a group chat described as a “professional discussion board” for activists communicating about how to help the Tories win the next election.

The revelation comes as a new Tory-supporting youth group, called Activate, was launched to try to engage young people in politics in a similar way to Momentum, the left-wing Labour campaign organisation. However, the group’s social media launch was widely ridiculed for its overuse of hashtags and memes.

Guido Fawkes, which published the leaked messages, said the WhatsApp group was used as a “precursor” to the Activate group.

During the conversation, one member refers to an event as a “fine opportunity to observe the spice homo chav”.

Another immediately replies: “And gas them all.”

The first activist then jokes that he or she is “gonna run some medical experiments on them” before the second adds: “We could use them as substitutes for animals when testing.”

As the conversation continues, the pair make a string of further offensive comments about poor people.

The first suggests “experiments” could be conducted “to see why they are so good at producing despite living rough”.

Realising the direction the chat has taken, he adds: “Okay we gotta be careful otherwise this is turning [in]to a Nazi chat.”

Undeterred, the second person continues: “Vermin often populate at high rates…But seriously, chavs are an actual problem”.

As other young Tory activists join in the troubling conversation, talk turns to “solutions” for dealing with “chavs”.

Suggestions include “chavocide”, “turn the Isle of Wight into a super prison”, “shooting peasants” and “compulsory birth control on chavs”.

The back-and-forth is only stopped when one member tells his allies: “We don’t take the mickey out of the poor.” Another threatens to kick people out of the group “if this continues”.

A third then adds: “This is supposed to be a professional discussion board about how we coordinate for the next election. It is not a place to gossip or make rather silly jokes.”

With impressive foresight, he or she then suggests the “dodgy chatter in here” could end up on the Guido Fawkes blog, damaging the group and its objectives. …”


Owl was right! The tiniest, infinitesimaly small tap on Randall-Johnson’s wrist!

From the blog of East Devon Alliance Devon County Councillor Martin Shaw:

“Sara Randall Johnson exonerated of breach of rules but reminded of ‘the need to be seen to be even handed and scrupulously fair, recognising that failure to do so may be perceived as a deliberate act’

I’m posting extracts from the minutes of Devon County Council’s Standards Committee yesterday, concerning the allegations about Cllr Sara Randall Johnson’s Chairmanship of the Health Scrutiny Committee’s special meeting about the Seaton, Honiton and Okehampton hospital beds – mostly without comment, because I haven’t yet had time to fully absorb them or to decide with colleagues how to respond. One brief comment at the end, though …

The resolution, unanimously agreed, states

(a) that the Investigating Officer’s Report be acknowledged and endorsed as an exhaustive and thorough piece of work;

(b) that the Committee finds that the allegations are not proven and that there has not been any breach of the Code of Conduct or that they disclose any sufficiently serious potential breach that might warrant punitive action or sanction or that the subject member failed to apply one or more of the Principles of Public Life;

(c) that there is no evidence to support any allegation that the subject member failed to adhere to the Code of Conduct or had failed to treat others with respect or had failed to act in the public interest or had acted improperly or did not have regard to the relevant facts before taking part in any decision making process as alleged, specifically, in relation to paragraphs 4 and 5(a), (c), (d), (g) and (h) of the Code and that that complaints cannot therefore be upheld;

(d) that, notwithstanding the above, the Committee accepts that the events of the Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee meeting on 25 July 2017 may not reflect well on individual Members or upon the Council as a whole, and further recognises that the perception gained by persons present at the meeting or subsequently viewing the webcast is not that which would have been desired: Group Leaders should therefore be asked to remind Members of the need to conduct themselves appropriately and respectfully at all times;

(e) that, additionally, the subject member be strongly reminded of the importance of the work of scrutiny committees – reinforcing the value of neutrality in scrutiny both generally and in calling the ‘health service’ to account – and the need to be seen to be even handed and scrupulously fair, recognising that failure to do so may be perceived as a deliberate act; the difference between perception and reality being not easily countered;

(f) that in light also of the evident lack of awareness of some Members of the procedures to be followed at meetings, further training be offered (i) to Members on the rules of debate including procedures relating to the moving of motions and amendments and voting at committee meetings and to remind them that assistance was available through the Council’s Democratic Services & Scrutiny Secretariat to help them in ensuring consideration of any matter by a Committee and in drafting motions or amendments and (ii) to Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen of Scrutiny Committees, generally, relating to the management of those procedures at meetings;

(g) that Members be also reminded of the need to ensure microphones are switched on and used particularly when meetings are webcast and that Officers examine the potential within the current audio system to ensure that Members’ microphones are switched on remotely, if necessary, to ensure that their contributions are heard and recorded on the webcast; [This would appear to relate to the fact that Paul Diviani’s comments cannot be heard on the webcast]

(h) that, additionally, the Procedures Committee be asked at its next meeting to ensure the wording of the Council’s Constitution in relation to the appointment and membership of Scrutiny Committees is accurate and consistent throughout and reflects the provisions of the law and that the presentation of information about such appointments at the Annual Meeting of the Council is similarly made clearer in future; and

(i) that complainants be advised that any complaint over the conduct of the Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee’s Co-opted Member cannot be dealt with by the County Council and that as that Member was currently an East Devon District Councillor any such complaints should be referred to East Devon District Council’s Monitoring Officer.

Additional comments from the Investigating Officer about the Committee’s ‘scrutiny’ of the CCG’s proposal:

‘In relation to concerns that the subject member did not guide or direct Committee Members sufficiently robustly to discuss the relevant issues set out in the papers before that Committee or upon which representations had been made direct to Members, the Investigating Officer recognised that the subject member had been at pains to allow all parties present and able to speak with the Clinical Commissioning Group’s representatives, public speakers and local Members attending under Standing Orders addressing the Committee first and speaking on any aspect of the situation as they saw fit. Thereafter Members of the Scrutiny Committee were invited to speak – without restriction as to subject or time – to enable them to raise any issues they may have wished so to do and enable an informed discussion/debate: only then coming to a view, having first heard all the arguments.

‘It was felt to be entirely reasonable to have assumed that Members of the Committee had read and digested the information before and that it was for Members themselves to refer or raise in debate and discussion any specific issues they felt were necessary or worthy of so doing. The Investigating Officer was of the view that it would be wrong for anyone to assume that there had been no consideration of the issues highlighted in the Report CS/17/23 circulated at the 25 July meeting simply because Members had chosen not to speak specifically to any of those points.’


My comment – no one said ‘there had been no consideration of the issues highlighted in the Report CS/17/23 circulated at the 25 July meeting simply because Members had chosen not to speak specifically to any of those points.’ What we said, and I still say very strongly, is that there was not proper consideration, let alone scrutiny.

The full minutes, which will be posted on the DCC website shortly, are here: Standards Committee 29 August 2017 “

Sara Randall Johnson exonerated of breach of rules but reminded of ‘the need to be seen to be even handed and scrupulously fair, recognising that failure to do so may be perceived as a deliberate act’

The “great and the good” should speak up for our NHS – but remember those who speak and vote against it

From Letters page, Guardian: remember it was Paul Diviani and Sarah Randall Johnson that took Honiton and Seaton hospitals from us.

• “I was thrilled to read Professor Stephen Hawking’s glowing tribute to our “finest public service”. At 75 years of age and a world-class scientist known by everyone in the country, Professor Hawking is in a perfect position to state his case for the prosecution of the Tories and Jeremy Hunt in particular, for their mendacity over what they say they are doing for the NHS, while undermining it by cuts, underfunding and demoralisation of staff, as well as introducing privatisation for years without proclaiming their real aim, which is to destroy the NHS and replace it with a US-style insurance system controlled by multinational companies.

Many ordinary patients like me have protested to our local MPs over the years about the political decisions the Tories have made to ultimately scrap the NHS, and their relentless pursuit of the drip-drip methods of convincing people that we cannot afford the NHS any more. This is a total lie, and I would like other well-known people who value and cherish the NHS to come out and say so before it’s too late.

Nye Bevan said the NHS would exist only as long as people were willing to fight for it. Let’s hear it from the great and the good in support of the treasure in our midst.

Lynda Mannix
East Grinstead, West Sussex”


Can you imagine THIS happening in Devon?

“Northamptonshire’s police and crime commissioner has asked the Home Office to allow him to take over the county’s Fire and Rescue Service.
The service is at present run by Northamptonshire County Council, which has supported the proposal. Commissioner Stephen Mold said a public consultation had shown 60.8% of the 1,212 responses received supported his plan. Fire service employees favoured the change with 92% in agreement.
The Policing and Crime Act 2017 allows commissioners to mount a business case for taking over fire services, though does not require them to do so.””


Our notorious and unpopular PCC (Alison Hernandez) made our Chief Fire Officer pause his leadership of the Royal Clarence Hotel fire so she could take a selfie with him!

Millionare praises Brexit: he can make people work longer hours in his shops

A multi-millionaire Tory peer has been mocked after suggesting Brexit will be good for young people as they will be able to work longer hours in shops.

Lord Harris, estimated to be worth more than £100million, claimed retailers could currently only employ young people for 35 hours a week because of EU law.

In fact, the European Working Time Directive means employees cannot be forced to work longer than 48 hours a week – and even then, they can opt-out of the restriction.

Brexit-backing Lord Harris, who made his fortune through interior store Carpetright, also set up the Harris Federation – which runs 44 primary and secondary in and around London.

He was challenged on the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme to explain how leaving the EU would help young people.

Harris: “It will give us more opportunity. It will give younger people more opportunity in this country and we won’t be controlled…”

Presenter: “Why?”

Harris: “Because we’ll have more freedom of laws.”

Presenter: “What’s wrong with the laws we have at the moment?”

Harris: “If you take a retailer, we can only keep our staff on for 35 hours a week, I think it is now.”

Presenter: “You’ve done alright out of it.”

Harris: “We haven’t done too badly.”


More on that Diviani “No Confidence” vote



A vote AGAINST means the councillor involved supports the decision to close community hospital beds and agrees that the EDDC vote to keep them open counted for nothing – party before people.

An ABSTENTION is as good as a vote AGAINST but means that the councillor involved wants to pretend it doesn’t – still party before people.

A councillor ducking the meeting without a very good reason is AGAINST the motion AND a coward and a disgrace to his or her community.

And remember too their votes in subsequent elections when YOU vote for what is important in East Devon.

“Most Tory MPs have no link to constituency”

No link here is taken as not having been born or educated within 20 km of the constituency.

Think-tank Demos reveals that 64% of Labour MPs at the last election had strong ties to their areas but only 32% of Tory MPs could make the same claim.

And their research suggests that “voters are becoming less forgiving of political ‘blow-ins’, rejecting them in favour of more local candidates’.

… In all, in 60 of the 70 seats that changed hands, 86% were won by local candidates – 35% higher than the UK average as a whole.”

Source: Times (pay wall)

Well, 100% of OUR MPs (Swire and Parish) have no ties to the area and 100% of our MPs choose not to LIVE in their constituencies – Swire preferring Mid-Devon and Parish the Somerset/North Devon border.

Perhaps this is why local-born candidate Independent Claire Wright came so close to winning the last election in East Devon and why Caroline Kolek, who lives in Honiton, made a creditable and credible runner-up to Neil Parish in Tiverton and Honiton.

Our “sitting” MPs might not be so lucky next time and might find themselves sitting in their far away homes permanently!

All you have to do is vote Local! AND as a bonus you would get MPs PASSIONATE to save our local NHS, local education, and local environment.

Knowle development – a Premier Inn adjacent to a Travelodge next to a Holiday Inn!

A new photo-montage reveals the size and scale of the proposed PegasusLife luxury retirement complex planned for the Knowle site when EDDC decamps to Honiton.

Owl thinks it looks rather like a Premier Inn adjacent to a Travelodge next to a Holiday Inn! With maybe a soupcon of Cranbrook thrown in for good measure!

Oh unlucky Sidmouth to have such a building foisted on it.


Anyone taking bets on Diviani and/or Randall-Johnson’s future plans?

Could our two most notorious local councillors Paul Diviani (Leader, EDDC but sitting as a co-optee on the controversial Devon County Council Health Scrutiny Committee) and/or its chairman, Sarah Randall-Johnson (see article below on secret DCC Standards Committee meeting on her conduct) perhaps be lining themselves up for lucrative and/or powerful jobs with our local Clinical Commissioning Group (or whatever its next incarnation will be)?

After all, they have ably demonstrated where their sympathy lies and there will no doubt be many opportunities over the coming months to put their sympathies into action.

Diviani already has form, being a councillor member of our Local Enterprise Partnership responsible for extra housing throughout Devon and Somerset and the many, many other pies in which he has his fingers. Including a leading role in “Greater Exeter” plans.

Randall-Johnson was Diviani’s predecessor as Leader of EDDC (until being ignominiously trounced by Claire Wright in local elections) but has failed to rise to such a dizzy height again at DCC (and may – or may not – have scuppered her chances of ever doing so with her recent behaviour).

Until her recent appointment as Chairman of the Health Scrutiny Committee she had to content herself with appointments to the DCC Pensions Board, East Devon Highways and Traffic Orders Committee, East Devon Locality (County) Committee and the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Authority.

And few of us can forget that she was the unsuccessful “Cameron’s Cuties” competitor for the Tory Totnes seat won by Sarah Wollaston?

Where better for both of them to spread their wings than our CCG?

Or, is Owl hooting up the wrong tree? Is Randall-Johnson’s behaviour designed to show her Tory councillor colleagues what a “strong and stable” leader she might make for DCC?

Or, and here Owl’s eyes widen to bulging, might she be gearing up for yet another bid to become an MP and flexing her muscles for such a bid?

RandallJohnson scrutiny behaviour – whitewash or justice today?

Owl’s prediction: a tiny, tiny tap on the wrist – barely contacting – then back to business as usual for her and her party.

“A standards committee is today meeting behind closed doors to consider whether a senior Tory broke the county council code of conduct, Devon Live understands.

Conservative county councillor Sara Randall Johnson, chair of the authority’s health scrutiny committee as well as the Devon and Somerset fire authority, angered campaigners at a public meeting last month.

The former leader of East Devon District Council was jeered by the public gallery when she ignored a tabled motion by independent councillor Claire Wright designed to halt hospital bed closure plans by making a referral to the Secretary of State.

Instead, she allowed party colleagues to seize the momentum by kick starting the debate and swiftly proposing the exact opposite, a motion which narrowly won the day by just one vote.

Ms Wright protested at the meeting and after the meeting, which attracted around 80 members of the public, a dozen people are thought to have complained.

The council’s cross-party Standards Committee met on Tuesday, August 29 to debate the issue but invoked a so-called Part 2 exemption which allows proceedings to be held in secret.

A formal report is expected to be published by the group, which also includes former councillors, after the meeting revealing, explaining the decision.

Ms Wright said she did not complain formally but submitted a statement of her concerns and has been interviewed by the committee chairman.

Ms Randall Johnson and Ms Wright clashed at the bad-tempered and at times rowdy Health and Wellbeing committee meeting in July.

Randall Johnson used her new power of chairmanship to thwart her long-time opponent, whose first electoral success at district level in 2011 cost Randall Johnson her seat and leadership of the council.

Some observers claimed the move was a settling of old scores.

In the months prior to the meeting, protestors had been opposing plans by the Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group to axe 71 beds across four cottage hospitals in the Eastern locality.

Campaigners, angry that the case had not been made for the Your Future Care model of home visits, labelled the consultation a sham and turned to the Health and Wellbeing Scrutiny Group for help.

Under the previous chairmanship of veteran Labour councillor Richard Westlake, the scrutiny group was poised to refer the plans to the Secretary of State if 14 documented points were not addressed.

But he stepped down at the election and Ms Randall Johnson took up control.

At the first meeting of the newly constituted committee in June, it became clear that she did not support the move.

She refused to put Ms Wright’s proposal to the last vote at the June meeting and eventually members were persuaded to defer a decision to get more information.

Ms Wright again proposed that the plans be sent back to the Health Secretary, submitting a written motion before the meeting began.

She cried foul when her tabled motion was ignored, claiming she had never seen it happen in six years of committee meetings.

Unfortunately for her, the legal advice from the council backed Randall Johnson, stating that motions needed to be proposed and seconded in the meeting.

She then dismissed Ms Wright’s protest by telling her the power to choose was entirely at her discretion as chair, before moving to a vote against referring the proposals, which was won by a majority of one, with one abstention.

Former Lib Dem county council leader and respected political veteran Brian Greenslade remarked after the meeting that the move had been highly unusual.

He considered that not mentioning or circulating a table motion – one submitted before the meeting begins – was rare: not against procedure but definitely a departure from protocol.

The committee is now expected to rule on whether this departure from protocol breached the members’ Code of Conduct.

A council spokesman said the minutes will be published within the next few days.

“It’s too early to say whether this is a subject that will be discussed or raised by elected members at a future full council meeting,” he added.”