So, guess who EDDC’s new external auditors will be

Yep, former auditors Grant Thornton – the ones who found no problems following the expulsion from the local Tory party and subsequent resignation of disgraced ex-councillor Graham Brown after the front page sting in the Daily Telegraph.

And too late to send any representations about it.

“Having carried out their procurement exercise and decided on the scale of work to be allocated to each of the winning bidders, PSAA notified the Chief Finance Officer and Chief Executive that it was consulting on the appointment of Grant Thornton LLP as being successful in winning a contract and their appointed to EDDC for the 5 years from 2018/19, the appointment starting on 1 April 2018. Any representations to the proposal would need to be received by 22nd September 2017, as there was no reason to object to this appointment no representation was made.”

Click to access 161117agcombinedagenda.pdf

You can’t make it up: Persimmon wants more government help for developers!

“Housebuilder Persimmon has urged the Government to push ahead with simplifying the planning system as its order book for new homes continues to rise.

The company said in a trading update on Wednesday that, despite efforts to force local councils to identify sites for housing, “achieving detailed planning consent for the land identified is proving as challenging as ever”.

Under the National Planning Policy Framework, which was introduced by ministers in 2012, councils must draw up plans to build homes in their areas. However, it is estimated that almost half of councils are yet to publish a draft local plan.

Persimmon said it was “keen to work with all stakeholders taking part in the Government’s housing white paper consultation” in order to make sure that the planning process is simplified, which it says would result in more homes being built.

The white paper, which was published in February, sets out a raft of measures intended to stimulate the housing market.

Jeff Fairburn, chief executive of Persimmon, said: “A lot of good work has been done on the planning system but more progress needs to be made and that would hopefully be of benefit to the whole of the UK economy.”

He said that sales of homes had strengthened after the summer period, a traditionally quieter time for house purchases.

Persimmon said on Wednesday that trading in the past four months had been driven by attractive mortgage rates and the Government’s Help to Buy scheme. It reported that it has around £909m of forward sales reserved beyond 2017, an increase of 10pc on the same point last year.

It added that sales rates had been flat on the prior year because of a surge in sales after the Brexit referendum, although they were 14pc up on the same period two years ago.

Shares in the firm were down 3.76pc to £27.66 on Wednesday, although the company remains one of the best performing stocks on the index. …”

“Private equity firm made struggling care home operator take costly loan”

“Britain’s second biggest care home operator was made to borrow money through a very expensive loan from its private equity owner in a deal designed to extract £890m in cash from the struggling business.

The disclosures are likely to raise fresh concerns over the future of Four Seasons Health Care, which operates more than 300 care homes across the UK, and has been drowning in debt.

Described in reports as teetering on the brink of ruin, Four Seasons has been hammered by cuts to council care budgets brought on by years of austerity. This month, its private equity owner, Terra Firma, will plead with lenders to approve a financial rescue package.

However, filings in the tax haven of Luxembourg and data from the Paradise Papers reveal how Terra Firma hoped to make a vast profit from the business after acquiring it in 2012.

Four Seasons was made to borrow £220m from Terra Firma subsidiaries. The repayment terms were huge – 15% interest a year, on a compound basis, over 10 years. By 2022, when it was due to be repaid, Four Seasons would have owed its controlling shareholder four times the original sum.

The debt was later written off because of the financial struggles at Four Seasons. However, the bond stated a nominal repayment value of £890m. The intention seems to have been to extract profits from any future sale of the business largely tax-free – a manoeuvre that will raise concerns about whether buyout groups are suitable owners for businesses that form a key part of Britain’s care infrastructure. …”

What do you have to do to get sacked if you are a Tory these days?

“As a prime minister drained of authority struggles to hold her party together, ambitious ministers feel increasingly able to cock a snook with impunity.

This week’s rows over Boris Johnson’s dangerous handling of a disagreement with Iran, and Priti Patel’s freelance policymaking in the Middle East may seem a coincidence.

But the conduct of the foreign secretary is bound together with that of the international development secretary.

Both Mr Johnson and Ms Patel are able to play fast and loose because normal collective cabinet disciplines no longer apply. The prime minister is afraid to reprimand or sack. In this government it is everyone for themselves. …”

and yet there are people who will continue to vote for them.

It says as much about their voters as it does about their Ministers and MPs.

And so many of their voters in East Devon – where we had our own mini-scandal when Diviani voted against his own district councillors at county council over closure of community hospitals.

Did Tory district councillors sack him? No, they rallied round him and agreed to keep him not just as a councillor but as their Leader.

Such is political life today. Thank you Tory voters – for worse than nothing.

Ex-EDDC regeneration officer and Exeter City Council CEO gets award

“Exeter City Council’s dedication to supporting business and economy has resulted in its chief executive being named as one of the 2017 Faces of Growth.

Karime Hassan is one of seven people to appear on the list, compiled by accounting and consultancy firm Grant Thornton. …”

Grant Thornton award. Former external auditor to East Devon and Exeter City Council until new EU regulations forced some councils to change auditors a couple of years ago.

Karime Hassan: he grew East Devon as regeneration chief, he’s growing Exeter as Chief Executive, he will grow Greater Exeter as its lead officer.

Aren’t we lucky …

“We want our Brexit cash boost – NHS boss”

“The health service should get the cash boost it was promised during the EU referendum, the head of the NHS in England is expected to say later.
Simon Stevens will use controversial claims used by Vote Leave to put the case for more money in a speech later.

With waiting times worsening, he will say trust in politics will be damaged if the NHS does not get more.

During the referendum it was claimed £350m a week was sent to the EU and that would be better spent on the NHS.

The claim was widely contested at the time and ever since – it did not take into account the rebate the UK had nor the fact the UK benefited from investment from the EU. Some argued it proved highly influential in the referendum result.

‘Honour the promises’

The speech by Mr Stevens at the NHS Providers’ annual conference of health managers is highly political, coming just a fortnight before the Budget.
And it is being made as three highly-influential health think-tanks – the King’s Fund, the Nuffield Trust and the Health Foundation – publish a joint report calling for an extra £4bn to be given to health next year. That amounts to eight times more than health spending is due to rise by.

Mr Stevens is not expected to say exactly how much he wants, but instead will argue the health service needs a significant boost in funding beyond what has already been promised by ministers.

He will tell delegates gathered in Birmingham: “The NHS wasn’t on the ballot paper, but it was on the Battle Bus. Vote Leave for a better funded health service – £350m a week.

“Rather than our criticising these clear Brexit funding commitments to NHS patients – promises entered into by cabinet ministers and by MPs – the public want to see them honoured.

“Trust in democratic politics will not be strengthened if anyone now tries to argue: ‘You voted Brexit, partly for a better funded health service. But precisely because of Brexit, you now can’t have one.’

“A modern NHS is itself part of the practical answer to the deep social concerns that gave rise to Brexit.

“At a time of national division, an NHS that brings us together. An institution that tops the list of what people say makes them proudest to be British. Ahead of the Army, the monarchy or the BBC. Unifying young and old, town and country, the struggling and the better off.”

Targets ‘being missed’

NHS Providers chief executive Chris Hopson has also given his backing to extra money. He pointed out key targets for A&E, routine operations and cancer care were now being widely missed.

“The Budget is an important opportunity, at the beginning of this Parliament, to protect care quality for patients and service users and help the NHS break out of the downward spiral in which it is currently trapped.
“There isn’t enough funding to cope.”

The government has promised the NHS frontline budget will be £8bn a year higher by 2022 – once inflation is taken into account – than it is now.
But that does not take into account the whole health budget – which also includes spending on things such as training and healthy lifestyle services, like stop smoking services.

Once that is factored in, the current average annual increase are running at less than 1%.

Historically, the service has enjoyed rises of around 4% to cover the cost of the ageing population and new drugs.

A Department of Health spokesman said: “Research shows spending on the NHS is in line with most other European countries, and the public can be reassured that the government is committed to continued investment in the health service.”

Developer offers small bribe to avoid building affordable homes which would increase profits by millions

The development: 300 homes in beautiful Gittisham, home of the latest very posh and very popular “Pig at ..” hotel chain.

The bribe: £400,000

The catch: Allow Baker Homes to cut their “affordable” properties from 120 to 90.

So, for the likely cost of ONE of their new homes, let them build 29 more of them and see 30 families lose out on cheaper (but not cheap) homes.

Let’s say each new home cosy a very conservative £300,000 x in fact the average cost is likely to be MUCH more than that. Affordable homes would have cost £240,000 (a 20% discount).

120 homes sold at £240,000 = £28,800,000
180 homes sold at £300,000 = £54,000,000
Total income from sales: £88,800,000


90 homes sold at £240,000 = £21,600,000
210 homes sold at £300,000 = £63,000,000
Total sales = £74,600,000
Less £400,000 paid to council
Total income from sales = £74,200,000

Total increase in sales = £14,400,000

and all for an outlay of £400,000

If the houses DO cost even more the profit will be even higher.

So, what’s it to be Honiton? A bit of cash or 30 families done out of homes they MIGHT be able to afford – at a pinch?

And now for good news: £2 parking all day in EDDC car parks for winter

East Devon District Council has launched its five-month winter parking special offer.

From now until March 31 people can park all day for £2, regardless of what time they arrive.

It is a departure from the council’s usual policy of not starting the parking offer until 10am to avoid prime parks being blocked by commuters.

But this year officials wanted to be as generous as possible and say they are confident that the simple offer will work well.

The special offer tickets will be valid until midnight in all 41 EDDC pay and display car parks in Exmouth, Seaton, Sidmouth, Budleigh Salterton, Beer, Axminster, Honiton, Ottery St Mary, Lympstone and Colyton. But it does exclude Parkmobile payments and Permit Holders.

Customers should not be concerned if they notice that their ticket may not have an expiry time of midnight printed on it. Parking officers will be checking that the £2 has been paid, which will make the ticket valid for the rest of that day. …”