“Supreme Court to consider legal standard on adequacy of reasons in planning”

A rather technical article but basically the Supreme Court is to rule on how much information and how much detail y must be provided when an applicant wants to build in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty:


“NHS ‘not fit for 21st Century’, says chief hospital inspector”

And not a word about austerity, cuts or underfunding!

“The NHS is not fit for the 21st Century, the new chief inspector of hospitals in England has said.

Professor Ted Baker, who started the role last month, said the system had not adapted to deal with the growth in the population.

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, he said: “The model of care we have got is still the model we had in the 1960s and 70s.”

The Department of Health is yet to respond to his views.

Prof Baker succeeded Sir Mike Richards overseeing the hospital division of the Care Quality Commission (CQC), having been his deputy since 2014.
The former hospital medical director said the NHS had not modernised because of a historic lack of investment.

He said: “One of the things I regret is that 15 or 20 years ago, when we could see the change in the population, the NHS did not change its model of care.

“It should have done it then – there was a lot more money coming in but we didn’t spend it all on the right things. We didn’t spend it on transformation of the model of care.”

The number of pensioners has increased by a third in the last 30 years and he said the system had not been able to deal with the increase in the number of elderly people in particular.

He also criticised accident and emergency wards and has written to all hospital chief executives calling for action to improve safety.

Too many hospitals had “wholly unsatisfactory arrangements”, he said, such as letting ambulances queue up at the entrance or leaving patients in corridors.

The CQC is expected to highlight increasing pressures on hospitals, who are in danger running out of beds and staff, in a report next month on the state of the health and care services.

That was an issue that Prof Baker touched on in the interview, saying: “Capacity is being squeezed all the time. That is a real concern going forward – because there comes a point at which the capacity isn’t there”.

The BBC’s health editor Hugh Pym said Prof Baker’s comments come after predictions of a difficult winter for the service, with the chief executive of NHS England warning of the possibility of a serious flu outbreak.
NHS Providers, representing trusts, has said that without an emergency cash bailout the service faces the worst winter in recent history, our correspondent added.”


Privatised good, nationalised bad? Think again

The NHS has about 1,700,000 UK workers:

“In December 2016, NHS Improvement forecast that NHS trusts would end 2016/17 with a potential deficit of £750–£850 million.”



Carrillion has about 48,500 UK workers:

Shares in the beleaguered Carillion construction group, which is working on the HS2 London to Birmingham rail line and the vast Battersea Power Station project, plunged by 20% on Friday after the company issued its second profit warning in two months.

Carillion reported a first-half loss of £1.15bn and said its full-year performance would be worse than previously expected. It described the loss as “disappointing”. The shares, which were changing hands at 190p little more than three months ago, closed at 51p.

The company is struggling with a large debt pile and badly-performing contracts. It said it would write down £200m on 23 support services contracts, and was taking a £134m charge relating to its UK and Canadian construction businesses. …”


CCG agrees deal with North Norfolk Council to save facility

“The North Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group have voted in favour of the Norfolk County Council’s £2 million offer to turn the Cromer unit into a re-ablement centre.

This should give patients greater access to short-term care, meaning they can leave hospital earlier but still receive further support before returning home.

The vote also means that the CCG’s original proposal to remove two of the beds at Benjamin Court will not come to light. The proposal saw 16 beds at the Cromer unit being used for palliative care, IV, and Discharge to Assess beds.

Dr Anoop Dhesi, Chair of NHS North Norfolk CCG, said: “Our public consultation allowed us to listen to the thoughts and views of the public and we are very grateful to all those who responded and gave us such valuable insights.

“We are very pleased that a further idea was proposed by our colleagues at Norfolk County Council. Using the beds for re-ablement will still help reduce pressure on hospitals and dovetail with our Supported Care service.”

Bill Borrett, chairman of the Adult Social Services Committee at Norfolk County Council, said: “We care about people who have had a stay in hospital and we understand that most of them want to be able to return home and live independently for as long as possible. Our re-ablement services allow that to happen by helping those who need some extra support for a short period of time.

“Re-ablement services can mean shorter stays in hospital and less reliance on long-term care as people return home. We are looking to develop more of these services across the county and think that leasing Benjamin Court will improve our ability to support people in Norfolk.”

However due to the County Council taking over the building with their own staff, some redundancies may be made when the takeover takes place.

Lorrayne Barrett, Director of Integrated Care for Norfolk Health and Care NHS Trust (NCH&C), said; “While NCH&C are confident that this decision is the best way forward for the local community, reducing pressure on hospital beds, we are aware that this will have implications for our staff.

“This is a highly experienced, skilled and committed staff group and we are continuing to support and consult with them to provide clarity during this prolonged period of uncertainty, and we will work hard in partnership with them to retain them in the local health and social care services.”


“Free market” facts

“… May’s “greatest agent” – free-market economics – has established a system where:

eight people own as much wealth as half the planet

Such grotesque levels of inequality run through the UK, where

50% of the country owns just 8.7% of the wealth

While living standards continue to fall for most,

Britain’s richest 1,000 families are well on their way to tripling their wealth since the financial crisis. Since 2009, these families have increased their fortune by over 155%


Retaining 100% business rates will make make many count councils worse off

“County councils face unique challenges and retaining 100% of business rates could widen their funding gap, the County Councils Network has warned.

Analysis from the cross-party group, released yesterday, showed under full business rate retention the funding gap for county authorities could increase by £700m by 2029.

This was because business rate growth would fail to keep pace with acute demographic and service pressures for county councils, the analysis – done by local government consultancy firm Pixel Financial Management – concluded.

In contrast areas, such as London boroughs and district councils, are likely to disproportionately benefit from this policy, the CCN found.

The research comes as the Department for Communities and Local Government is encouraging bids for the second pilot scheme.

Council leaders at the CCN are calling on the government to provide more options in the pilot schemes to encourage more county authorities to participate, which would enable the risks to be fully trialled before the policy was rolled out across the country.

Pilots for 100% business rate retention have already been launched in Liverpool, Greater Manchester, West Midlands, West of England, Cornwall and Greater London in April, which will also continue into next year.

The West Midlands combined authority was part of the first pilots for the scheme, which began this April, ahead of plans to roll out the policy nationwide by 2020.

CCN finance spokesman and leader of Leicestershire County Council, Nick Rushton, said the research did not aim to dissuade countries from taking part in the pilots but to raise awareness of the issues facing the sector.

Rushton said: “The modelling we have released shows the unique challenges facing county authorities in implementing 100% business rates retention.

“CCN is supportive of moves towards greater local retention, alongside wider fiscal devolution, but we must ensure the system provides sustainable long-term funding and a platform to truly incentivise growth and self-sufficiency.”

He concluded that more options should be on the table, such as a ‘no detriment’ clause which is missing from next year’s pilots.

The CCN warn that by not providing this clause it may mean only ‘high growth’ counties coming forward to pilot, meaning that risk is not properly trialled.

Rushton added: “These findings clearly demonstrate the need for a fairer funding formula as part of wider reforms to local government finance.

“These reforms must stay on track and government should not shy away from adopting a new approach to measuring relative need; one based on real cost-drivers, not past spend.”


Do not shut hospital beds – closures not evidence-based says influential King’s Fund – too late for East Devon

Independent DCC Councillor Claire Wright – RIGHT
Independent DCC East Devon Alliance Councillor Martin Shaw – RIGHT
All Independent Councillors at EDDC – RIGHT
All Tories at DCC – Wrong
All those Tories (DCC and EDDC) who voted to support Diviani and Randall-Johnson in closing community hospital beds – WRONG

ALL the time the Independents have called for REAL evidence about bed closures.
ALL the time DCC Tories have acceptec waffle and jargon and “death by Powerpoint” instead of REAL evidence
EDDC Tories sort-of got it right and then allowed their Leader to vote WRONG so they still got it WRONG!

Why on earth are people still voting for these useless excuses for Tory representative councillors!

Kill beds, no community alternative = kills US!

“NHS bosses have been urged to halt plans for more ward closures as experts warn that hospitals do not have enough beds to accommodate patients.

Britain has fewer hospital beds per person than almost any other rich country and numbers in the NHS have fallen to 142,000 from the 299,999 that were available 30 years ago, according to an analysis by the King’s Fund health think tank.

Thousands of further cuts are being planned as part of a strategy by Simon Stevens, head of NHS England, to improve out-of-hospital care and make £22 billion in efficiency savings.

The King’s Fund said that this plan was unrealistic at a time when wards are more than 95 per cent full, well above the 85 per cent level generally thought to be safe. Hospital bosses in London are hoping to cut hundreds of beds, but the King’s Fund estimates that the city will need 1,600 more by 2021 to keep up with population growth.

Helen McKenna, a senior policy adviser at the think tank, said: “There are opportunities to make better use of existing beds and initiatives to capitalise on these should continue, but with many hospitals already stretched to breaking point, reductions on the scale proposed in some areas are neither desirable not achievable.”

Chaand Nagpaul, head of the British Medical Association, said: “Serious questions need to be asked about whether these plans are realistic and evidence-based given it defies logic to cut bed numbers when we already don’t have enough.”

Mr Stevens said that he would only allow bed closures where NHS bosses could demonstrate local alternative treatments were being put in place first or where hospitals were remedying inefficiencies. The King’s Fund said that these tests lacked any real detail.

Saffron Cordery, of NHS Providers, said: “One of the key lessons from last winter was the importance of avoiding unsafe levels of bed occupancy.”

Mr Stevens agreed that hospitals would need to free more beds during the winter, promising an extra 3,700 would be opened for the busiest time of year as hospitals were told to prevent “bed-blocking” by elderly patients.”

Source: Times (pay wall)

“Great South West” LEP for LEPs! The South-West Regional Development Agency rising from its ashes?

We’ve had the Heart of the South West LEP!
We’ve had the “Golden Triangle” LEP (Exeter, Plymouth, Torquay)
We”ve even had the “Golden Quadrangle” LEP (Owl’s suggestion for adding in Cornwall or Dorset)

NOW we have the “Golden Pentangle” (adding in Cornwall AND Dorset)
yet ANOTHER unelected, unaccountable and non-transparent quango:


first reported by Owl in August 2016 here:

An update …

It seems plans are well-advanced for the “super” Local Enterprise Partnership of Local Enterprise Partnerships! They now even have a (very poor) website!

Those who remember life BEFORE our own LEP will recall that it was preceded by the much-derided South-West Regional Development Agency (SWRDA) – so despised by the Tory/Lib Dem coalition that one of its first actions was to dispose of it and replace it with business-led, business-dominated, business-driven LEPs.

In our case it didn’t exactly work that way as OUR LEP (Heart of the South West – ie Devon and Somerset) decided to employ at a vast salary ex-SWRDA senior manager Chris Garcia – who is so beloved of our LEP that they raised his salary 26% last year!

However, he will perhaps be miffed that the job of CEO of the CEOs of all these LEPs has not gone to him but to Rozz Algar, a former Human Resources Manager:

Want to know what this “super” LEP is planning for us? Go to their NEW (riddled with grammar and spelling mistakes – OWL has spotted SIX spelling mistakes on its home page alone!) website at:


And hear LEP-speak like you’ve never heard it before! Including that old chestnut about how many hospitals it COULD (but won’t) build!

[Yes there really IS a question mark at the end of that heading!!!]

The South West of England is a great place. It is poised for a step change in prospertiy and productivity. When the productivity in the South West of England matches that currently in the South East we will add over £18bn a year to the UK’s economy. That’s enough to build a new NHS hospital every week.

Our economy is already bigger than that of Manchester and more than two and a half times that of Birmingham – with the single largest infrastructure project in Europe already underway (generating billions of pounds of business opportunities) and the best natural capital in the country (attracting more visitors than anywhere else outside London).
[Just in case you don’t realise it, they are talking about Hinkley C nuclear power plant – that great white elephant in North Somerset]

The pubication of the SW Growth Charter in 2016 started our journey to promote our great region and we welcome the continuing support of stakeholders across the region to hlep in shaping our opportunities and building the momentum.

Our strategy for greater prosperity is to collaborate to promote

a self-sustaining and resillient South West ….
with innovation, enterprise and infrastructure ….
with productive people and rewarding careers …
utilising our natural and entreprenurial capital …
and sharing the benefits for all

We are focused towards having a clear and consistent strategy in time for the Autumn Statement.


Great South West looks to build on existing good practice and collaborative working such as the science and innovation audit

By working together as a region will ensure that the South West has a strong voice to highlight investment opportunities to national and international private and public investors; as well as projecting a positive and progressive image for all

It will help to support the economic growth and prosperity of the whole region by linking up programmes and ensuring that the asks and priorities are consistent and reflect the strengths of the region

The Great Southwest does not intend to impede individuals or groups from their own initiatives or joining with others. We will not be a bureaucracy; but look to support and add value where it can.

It aims to support a flourishing private sector and a highly skilled population able to make the most of the great opportunities that the South West has to offer

Note: The name Great South West is a working title at present and may alter as the intiative gains momentum in order to be appropriate and resonate with all parties. This is not a brand used by the West of England LEP for their local authority areas.”

Yep, all on the back of Brexit!

“Pensioners are STILL being failed by 15-minute care visits as they go without showers and proper meals”

“Vulnerable pensioners are going without showers and proper meals because ministers have failed to stamp out 15-minute care visits.

Three quarters of home helps say they are simply too rushed to do their jobs properly, according to the survey by public sector union Unison.

Almost two thirds of case workers said they have just 15 minutes to help people eat, drink, get washed and go to the toilet – despite government pledges to end the scandal.

And nine out of 10 of those questioned said they did not have time to chat, even though the person they looked after may not see anyone else that day.

The union’s survey of 1,000 workers found that three quarters feared they were compromising the dignity of those in their care because they were pressured to fit in too many visits.

The care workers help pensioners suffering from dementia, strokes, Parkinson’s, or with learning disabilities.

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: ‘Care workers and those they look after are suffering because standards are routinely being breached.
‘Care staff try to do their best within a system that increasingly prioritises quotas over compassion. Elderly and disabled people are ending up lonely, without dignity and with their care needs unmet.

Care workers and the vulnerable people they look after will continue to be failed by a flawed system unless the government acts.’

Unison’s report, Making Visits Matter, highlights the ongoing crisis in England’ s broken care system.

Earlier this month the Mail revealed that regulators are called in to deal with four complaints about care firms every day.

The Care Quality Commission launched 1,512 enforcement actions against care homes and companies which provide home helps in 2016/17 – 68 per cent up on the previous 12 months.

The watchdog dealt with complaints about unsafe care, residents not being treated with dignity and poor staffing levels. Other issues included lack of food or water and ‘abuse and improper treatment’.

Campaigners are demanding extra cash to prop up England’s care system. Last year ministers took urgent action to allow town halls to raise council tax to avert a meltdown.

Anyone with savings must meet the full cost of the care they receive – no matter how substandard.

The Tories have failed to honour a 2015 manifesto promise to cap the maximum bill at £75,000 and during the last election campaign Theresa May indicated the pledge could be scrapped.

Unison’s survey found that just over half of the care workers it questioned were on zero-hours contracts and almost two in three said they were not paid for the time they spent travelling between visits.

Some 63 per cent of respondents said they got just 15 minutes to help with personal tasks such as eating and drinking, or taking a shower.
The majority (89 per cent) of home care workers do not have time for a short chat even though the person they look after may not see anyone else that day, according to the survey.

Earlier this month a separate survey revealed that one in four care workers believe the service they provide for the most vulnerable in society is no longer ‘fair or safe’.

And many town halls are effectively breaking the law by slashing home helps and other services, according to a damning survey by the Care and Support Alliance and Community Care magazine.”


Developers can’t afford affordable homes in luxurious Kensington and Chelsea

Or in relatively luxurious East Devon, too!

More than 700 promised social homes in Kensington and Chelsea have been lost “in large part due to a legal loophole” where developers use viability assessments to reduce the number they are required to build, Shelter has claimed.

Research conducted by EG for the housing charity suggested that developers had managed in this way to reduce the amount of affordable housing from the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea’s policy target of 50% to only 15% on those schemes.

“This gap between the council’s target and what was eventually permitted is equivalent to 831 affordable homes, of which 706 would have been social homes, which have not been built,” Shelter said. It added that this would have been more than enough to house families made homeless from the Grenfell Tower fire.

Shelter called on the Government “to change the law so big developers can no longer use the loophole to boost profits”.

Chief executive Polly Neate said: “At a time when we desperately need more affordable homes, big developers are allowed to prioritise their profits by building luxury housing while backtracking on their promises to build a fair share of affordable homes.

“The government must make sure we treat affordable housing commitments as cast iron pledges, rather than optional extras, and act now to close the loophole that allows developers to wriggle out of building the affordable homes this country urgently needs.” …


Politics and life or death

The head of the Fire Brigade Union at the Labour Conference:

“They say don’t politicise Grenfell Tower, and we’ve not tried to politicise Grenfell Tower. But the truth is that actually when we examine this, and we do that, we’re already doing that, we will find – and any serious inquiry if it is genuine will find – that what led to the situation whereby Grenfell Tower could happen is a whole series of decisions, decisions that go back probably 30 years in reality, that go back over those three and a half decades.

“Decisions that altered the safety regime. Decisions that altered the housing regime. Decisions that altered inspection regimes and enforcement regimes.

“A process of deregulation and supposedly cutting red tape, where the previous Prime Minister David Cameron described health and safety as a ‘monster that should be slain.’ This is the language we’ve had off these people in power.” “And it is political decisions that have created the regime whereby Grenfell Tower, that atrocity, could happen.

“So there is no getting away from the fact that it is a political matter and we shouldn’t be afraid of saying it is a political matter.

Echoing Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell’s controversial claim that Grenfell victims were “murdered by political decisions”, Mr Wrack said: “They’re decisions and decisions are made by politicians. So by definition they are political decisions.

“To me it is a national political scandal. It is the sort of the scandal on which governments should fall, by the way.”

Mr Wrack said only London’s fire service was big enough to be able to give the level of cover needed to fight the fire.

“Plymouth has tower blocks that failed the tests” for flammable building cladding, he said. “They have night duties when they have 18 firefighters on duty.”

Turning to the inquiry, he added: “If we conclude, and if representatives of the residents and survivors and bereaved conclude, that the whole thing is a pointless stitch-up, then actually we may conclude that we’re going to walk away and boycott that inquiry.

“I hope it doesn’t happen but I think we need to tell the inquiry people that that’s where we stand.”


The “free market” PM shows how it’s done

As the article says: The NHS spends 1.02% of its budget on agency staff where the Cabinet Office has spent nearer 8% of its budget on such staff. But that is a mere drop in the ocean … read on …

“While all eyes were on the Labour Party conference, Theresa May’s Cabinet Office (CO) quietly published its accounts. And buried in the 114 pages was the fact that it spent a whopping £43.8m on agency staff in 2016/17.

But this was just the tip of a half a billion pound spending iceberg – with the CO blowing £8.86m on staff perks, and even giving [pdf, p89] former Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg £114,982 from the public purse. …

Excruciating figures

Some of the most notable spending compared to 2015/16 was:

£43.8m on agency staff, up 54%.
£2.47m on staff “termination benefits” when they left the CO, up 162%.
£8.86m on staff travel, food and “hospitality”, up 63%.
£196.8m on total staff costs, up 20%.
£50.2m on Police and Crime Commissioner elections.
£1.54m on Private Finance Initiative (PFI) contracts, up 387%.
£21.7m on renting buildings, up 38%.
Writing off £2.3m of “bad debt”, up 5,342%.

But the £43.8m spent on agency staff (7.8% of the CO’s entire budget) does not tell the whole story. Because another set of CO figures reveals that it only employed 299 agency, interim, or consultant staff in 2016/17. Meaning the average cost of one of these, including agency fees, was £146,488.

The CO spent, overall, £558.58m in 2016/17; down £1.24m or 0.22% on 2015/16. The spending increases listed above were mostly offset by savings from not having the cost of a general election, reductions in pension costs, and less being paid out for “professional services”.

But delve a little deeper into the figures and some of the CO spending is even more questionable.

Nudging paper

The full CO accounts reveal that it paid out [pdf, p89] £538,067 in total to all living former Prime Ministers as “public duty costs”. But this also included £114,982 to former Deputy PM Clegg; a 12.8% increase on his payment in 2015/16.

The CO has [pdf, p99] £210.6m worth of agreements with private contractors to pay out over the course of their durations. It also holds [pdf, p101] £64m of investments in six private companies that operate within the public sector/government. One of these is Behavioural Insights Ltd, also known as the controversial ‘Nudge Unit’. As writer Sue Jones noted in 2015, the Nudge Unit is:

aimed at ‘changing the behaviours’ of citizens perceived to ‘make the wrong choices’ – ultimately the presented political aim is to mend Britain’s supposedly ‘broken society’ and to restore a country that ‘lives within its means’, according to a narrow, elitist view, bringing about a neoliberal utopia built on ‘economic competitiveness’ in a ‘global race’.
The Canary approached the CO for comment on its accounts, but at the time of publication had not received a response.

May’s money for nothing

John Manzoni, Chief Executive of the Civil Service, said [pdf, p9] in his introduction to the CO accounts that:

This year the Cabinet Office celebrated 100 years… ensuring that government works efficiently and effectively for citizens across the UK.
Manzoni’s hopes of the CO “ensuring efficiency” are laughable, at best, when you have a government department that happily spends £43.8m on agency staff and nearly £9m on ‘perks’ for its employees.

But the CO’s seemingly frivolous spending should contrast with other government departments. Because during 2016/17, the DWP cut Personal Independence Payments (PIP) for 164,000 people living with mental health issues. It reduced their payments from the enhanced to the standard rate, saving it £27.45 per person, per week. So, this saved the DWP £234m, or 0.11% of the welfare budget.

Also, the NHS spends around 1.02% of its budget on agency staff, but is criticised for doing so. So, when the CO claims “efficiency” but sees fit to spend 7.8% of its budget on agency staff, yet the DWP cuts crucial support from some of the poorest in society to save it a mere 0.11%, we have a truly broken government.

Axe Valley Academy 6th form to close due to austerity cuts

“AXMINSTER has been hit by the shock news that the sixth form at Axe Valley Academy looks set to close.

The board of trustees of Vector Learning Trust, which includes the academy, issued a statement this afternoon saying that a public consultation has been launched regarding the proposed sixth form closure at Axe Valley Academy.

The statement said: “Schools and academies nationwide have come under increasing financial pressure from government underfunding in the last few years with a particular reduction in the amount received per sixth form student.

“Consequently, schools with small sixth forms have supplemented post-16 provision from budgets allocated to 11-16 year olds; a situation which is neither fair on the lower school nor sustainable in the long term, and subsequently many school sixth forms throughout the country have closed or are planning to close.”

Ann Adams, chairman of trustees of Vector Learning Trust, said: “Despite the best ever sixth form results in August of this year, the finances at Axe Valley Academy have reached a critical point and tough decisions are having to be made.

“Re-designation of the academy to an 11-16 provider would guarantee financial stability and allow us to direct staffing and resources to the lower school resulting in a more effective and efficient organisation which will ensure outstanding education for the young people in the Axe Valley communities.”

The proposed sixth form closure is for August 2019, to allow the current cohort of Year 12 students to complete their two-year courses.

All further post-16 recruitment has been suspended pending the outcome of the consultation.

Martin Brook, CEO of the trust said: “We are totally committed to providing our existing sixth form students with high quality teaching and resources to attain their required grades at A Level and thus secure their preferred places at leading universities.”

He went on to say: “I have no doubt that this is absolutely the right decision for the young people and staff at Axe Valley Academy and by making it now we are securing the future of the academy in the long term as well as the provision of outstanding schooling for students in Years 7-11.”

Further information regarding the proposed sixth form closure can be found in a full consultation paper posted on the Academy website http://www.axevalley.devon.sch.uk (printed copies available on request).

The consultation will run until Tuesday November 7thduring which time comments can be sent to the Academy by e-mail admin@axevalley.devon.sch.uk or delivered to reception in Chard Street, Axminster. A public consultation evening is being held at 6pm on Tuesday 10th October 10th in the Main Hall at Axe Valley Academy to which all are welcome to attend.”


DCC EDA Independent Councillor joins DCC independent Councillor Claire Wright as one of the few NHS champions at DCC

“After the failed Health Scrutiny Committee meeting in July – which has led to repercussions in the County’s Standards and Procedures Committees as well as at EDDC – the full Devon County Council will be asked to look again at the issues on Thursday 5th October. I have proposed the following motion, which Claire Wright will second:

The County Council regrets the failure of the Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee on 25 July 2017 to be seen to scrutinise the decision of NEW Devon Clinical Commissioning Group to close community hospital beds in Honiton, Okehampton, Seaton and Whipton, especially in the light of the subsequent urgent recommendation by the head of the NHS in England, Simon Stevens, which is supported by evidence from the Royal College of Emergency Medicine and the King’s Fund, that more beds need be made available for the coming winter.

Noting also the Standards Committee’s conclusion that events at the Scrutiny Committee meeting ‘may not reflect well on individual members of the Council or upon the Council as a whole’, its recommendations for the Committee’s Chair and its general recommendations to both members and chairs of Scrutiny Committees, the County Council therefore

requests the Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee to scrutinise those issues identified by the County Solicitor in her paper for 25 July which were not directly and fully addressed at the Scrutiny Committee in that meeting;
consistent with the Council’s ‘community champion’ role, alerts the Secretary of State to the strength of feeling in the locality at the overall STP process throughout the County and the significant numbers of objections made by the public to the CCG’sproposals and that in the interests of democracy and democratic accountability he might wish to satisfy himself that all relevant process were properly undertaken and assessed and that the CCGs subsequent decisions are supported by the evidence; and
welcomes the agreement of the Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee to examine, subject to the advice of the County Solicitor, means of safeguarding community hospital buildings throughout Devon as facilities for the provision of place-based health services.

Seaton and Axminster – combined health hub?

As I have reported before, Seaton Town Council, the League of Friends and I have been discussing the future of Seaton Hospital in the light of the removal of the beds. Full details of the proposals have not been finalised, so I can only quote the report of Councillor Jack Rowland, Mayor of Seaton, to next Monday’s Town Council:

‘The next campaign is to ensure that the site is retained with a compelling case for retaining the existing services and extending these. To this end I attended a meeting on 6 September to discuss the next steps. I cannot give fuller details at this stage, but broadly the idea is to set up a Steering Committee for an Axe Valley Health Hub and to work in conjunction with Axminster to build a case for retaining both sites with complementary services.’ “

After the failure of the July Scrutiny meeting, I am asking Devon County Council to look again at hospital bed closures on 5th October

DCC EDA Independent Councillor Shaw asks LEP CEO killer question

The question

When will the Heart of the South West LEP offer something to small town, rural and coastal Devon?

The response:

“This was the question I asked Chris Garcia, of the Heart of the South West LEP, when he appeared before the Corporate Infrastructure and Regulatory Services Scrutiny Committee (CIRS) at Devon County Council yesterday. Mr Garcia said that Government funding was geared mainly to urban areas, but the LEP has a ‘rural growth commission’ which will publish a report shortly. I shall look out for it.

Mr Garcia didn’t reply, however, to my criticism that the LEP is itself skewed by the ‘white elephant’ new nuclear power station at Hinkley C in Somerset. This project, rashly endorsed by Theresa May who had a chance to halt it, will cause British consumers pay over the odds for electricity for decades to come, based on an unproved type of nuclear station which is not supported even by many who believe nuclear energy is necessary for national energy needs, and in the control of French and Chinese state companies! As renewables get cheaper and electric storage becomes viable, this is a project we don’t need. True, it will bring some jobs to Somerset, but not to most of Devon.

Mr Garcia came with a powerpoint and brandishing the LEP’s latest glossy annual report. I asked that in future, we had proper written reports circulated in advance which members could scrutinise.

Mr Garcia didn’t mention the word ‘devolution’. HoTSW is leaving all that to Devon and Somerset county councils, who are apparently now planning to establish a Joint Committee. What that will involve is something else county councillors will need to scrutinise carefully.”

When will the Heart of the South West Local Economic Partnership (LEP) offer something to small town, rural and coastal Devon?

NHS winter crisis – all year round

With most of our community hospitals now on the “for sale” list:

“Crisis will outlast the winter, warns NHS chief

NHS Confederation Chief Executive, Niall Dickson, has warned that the NHS faces a prolonged crisis as hospitals deal with “unsustainable and unsafe” bed occupancy rates. He said the winter crisis “is actually an all-year-round crisis” with hospitals struggling to meet demand.”

Source: Local Government Association

Update on Honiton maternity care – and if you believe this …

“Expectant mothers in Honiton and Okehampton have been dealt a further blow after it was revealed that the temporary suspension of birth services at both towns’ birth centres is to be extended.

The Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust announced the news and cited on-going staff vacancies and long-term sickness absence across the maternity service as the reason.

The extension means that women will not be able to give birth at either site for a further three months until safe staffing levels have been attained. The suspension will be reviewed again early in 2018. .. .”


And the proverbial pigs might also take to the skies in early 2018 too!

What a fix!

The Tory Reform Group is holding a debate at the Tory Party Conference entitled:

“Fixing the Social Contract”

described as

”Conference panel exploring the changing nature of the social contract and how we can build an economy and society that ensures inter-generational equality.”

Owl has three comments:

1. Many think the social contract has already been “fixed” by Tories – and not in a good way!

2. If Tory party policies HAD been working for us all these last few years, the social contract wouldn’t need fixing at all!

3. Do you REALLY think this would be a topic if this wasn’t a minority government!

“Government of the many by the few” in action!