“Tenants lose out after landlord pressure halves UK home insulation cap”

“Tenants face missing out on energy bill savings after the government caved in to landlords’ demands by lowering a cap on the costs they face to upgrade Britain’s draughtiest homes.

Landlords must improve the energy efficiency of F- and G-rated homes from next April under new regulations designed to protect vulnerable tenants and cut carbon emissions.

But on Tuesday the government said the costs of the upgrade would be capped at £2,500, half what officials had originally told buy-to-let landlords to expect. The total energy bill savings is put at £337m.

The government’s own assessment warned that the lower cap means only 139,200 households in England and Wales will benefit from better insulation by April 2020. That is 121,000 fewer than if the cap was at £5,000.

Campaigners and industry groups said the change left ministers’ ambitions of tackling fuel poverty in tatters.

“This could leave a gaping hole in the government’s plans to meet its own fuel poverty targets,” said Richard Twinn, policy adviser at the UK Green Building Council.

The Association for Conservation of Energy said the government had “missed a big opportunity” to improve the efficiency of thousands of homes.

Officials said the lower cap was necessary to protect owners by ensuring “that landlords of F and G rated private rented properties are not faced with an excessive cost burden”.

The government also said the changes were necessary because landlords’ access to finance for energy-saving measures had become harder since the policy was first proposed.

One green energy charity accused Theresa May of putting landlords’ interests ahead of tenants. Max Wakefield, a campaigner at 10:10 Climate Action, said: “The prime minister claims to be prioritising controlling domestic energy costs, but in reality policy is being designed to suit landlords. …”

“Hundreds of thousands of renters will now be left wondering when, if ever, they can expect to live in a decent home.”

But the National Landlords Association was not happy either, calling the proposal a “complete farce”. It said there was a risk landlords who still could not afford the upgrades would leave properties empty and unimproved. …”


Is Owl a “digital criminal” as well as “vile and libellous”?

In the past, Hugo Swire has called citizen bloggers and activists (including Owl, East Devon Alliance and Claire Wright particularly) “a vile swamp”:

and called the same people “vile and libellous”:

and he has banned people he doesn’t like from his Twitter feed:

Now he has enthusiastically supported a parliamentary investigation of “hate crimes” towards MPs: Though it rather seems, from the examples above, that Swire conflates “hate crime” with criticism of him of any kind.

Does he have citizen journalists in mind in his statement below – or possibly only those he personally disapproves of?

His statement in Parliament:

May I add my congratulations to Lord Bew on presiding over a typically balanced and well researched piece of work? When some time ago I asked my right hon. Friend’s then ministerial colleague, my hon. Friend Sarah Newton, what the figures for successful hate crime prosecutions were, she said that she did not have the figures to hand at the time. Although I very much welcome the tone of my right hon. Friend’s statement about looking again at the Crown Prosecution Service’s guidance and about more funding for local police forces to investigate digital crimes in particular, will she reassure me that both the CPS and police forces nationally and locally will take this more seriously and that we will see some successful prosecutions to warn off others who would follow in their wake?”


Question: is being called vile, libellous and a swamp dweller by Swire hateful and, if so, could it be classed as a digital crime?

Fortunately, Owl feels that the cut and thrust of political debate means that one must be prepared to take such terms on the chin and will not be contacting the police to complain.

Though, it does remind Owl of that rather difficult time when Claire Wright was reported to police by Councillor Phil Twiss when she said MPs should be culled and he took it to mean something nasty such as shooting at seagulls rather than a term used MANY times by his own party in general (and the then PM David Cameron in particular as Owl pointed out), to mean a simple reduction in numbers! It hit the national headlines at the time!


We must NEVER perpetuate hate crimes but we MUST retain free speech – its loss is the first aim of despots.

Final Consultation for the East Devon Villages Plan – your input urgently needed, particularly on business park expansion

The revised policies will provide further controls on Hill Barton and Greendale Business Parks.

On a recent Planning Enforcement Appeal, the Planning Inspector`s conclusion was he disagreed with the appellant’s (FWS Carter and Sons owners of Greendale Business Park) contention that the Local Plan is silent on the matter of employment provision/future development at the major existing employment sites of both Greendale and Hill Barton Business Parks. He stated that ‘although there may be no specific policies for the business parks Strategy 7 and Policy E7, it is perfectly clear that the Plan seeks to apply a “restrictive policy approach” to accommodating further development’.

At a Strategic Planning Meeting last week it was agreed to submit the “Villages Plan” to a further 7 week consultation period which has been through the various consultations and Planning Inspectorates hearings.
East Devon District Council have yesterday(Monday 18th December) submitted the Villages Plan for consultation on the Local Plan Inspectors “Main Modifications” that she had included following her hearings held at Sidmouth in November.

The Village Plan is an extension to the already approved East Devon Local Plan which gives further detail on the 15 larger Villages in the district with new BUAB (Built up Area Boundaries) proposals which will provide some extra development for the next 15 years.

Also included are the two Industrial areas at Greendale Business Park and Hill Barton Business Park which will have an “Employment Area” drawn around them as they are both contrary to the East Devon Local Plan as they are considered to be in the open countryside where development should not be allowed.

The Planning Inspector has proposed two new Policies VP04 and VP05 covering the Business Parks. Reading the other Inspector’s report for the Enforcement Appeal who stated that there were no specific policies for the business parks, these new proposed policies will provide the clarity and guidance required to prevent these Business Parks expanding further into the countryside or closer to local communities.

History of the Village Plan

Following the hearings in 2015 with the Planning Inspectorate it was agreed to remove all villages’ growth targets from the Local Plan and create a subsidiary plan for the Villages. It was also agreed to include further clarity for Hill Barton and Greendale Business Park with this new Village Plan.

The original Village Plan was drawn up by planning officers from the District Council, agreed by the EDDC Strategic Planning Committee and at a meeting of the Full Council to go out for a 6-week public consultation from 22 March to 10 May 2017.

Following the consultations, changes were made to the Plan by the EDDC Planning Officers and the Strategic Planning Committee and then agreed by Full Council and submitted it to the Government Planning Inspectorate. This required another Public Consultation of 6 weeks when all interested parties were invited again to submit comments direct to the inspector followed by an Inspectors Hearing for 2 days in Nov 2017.

This procedure follows the agreed guidance of Democratic Principles, giving the Local Electorate plus the relevant Parish Councils, the ability to scrutinise and to submit comments to enable the District Council and finally the Inspector to ensure the Village Plan Document is both legally compliant and has followed fully the democratic principles.

Policy VP04 relating to Greendale Business Park.

Policy VP04 – Greendale Business Park Inset maps are included in this plan that show the extent of authorised uses at the Greendale Business Park for information purposes only. Development of Greendale Business Park as indicated on the inset map will be considered in accordance with the relevant policies of the development plan, in particular Strategy 7 of the East Devon Local Plan (Development in the Countryside)

Policy VP05 relating to Hill Barton Business Park.

Policy VP05 – Hill Barton Business Park Inset maps are included in this plan that show the extent of authorised uses at the Hill Barton Business Park for information purposes only. Development of Hill Barton Business Park as indicated on the inset map will be considered in accordance with the relevant policies of the development plan, in particular Strategy 7 of the East Devon Local Plan (Development in the Countryside)

These new Policies which the Inspector specifically required to be added to the proposed plan are to make it legally complaint and to link in to the already approved East Devon Local Plan.

It is a key principle to the Local Plan that these Business Parks are not to be extended from their present boundaries as they are in the open countryside.

District Councillor Geoff Jung (Raleigh Ward)

“This is another significant step forward by the Local Planning Authority to provide further support to the local plan strategy for Greendale and Hill Barton Business Parks.”

“The Business Parks provide employment for many local people, but the sites are in the open countryside located some distance from where people live. The Government and Local Authority strategy is to provide employment in locations close to where people live.”

“Further development will be provided within these business parks but expansion beyond their present approved boundaries will be against local planning strategies and policies.”

“If the Village Plan is adopted as proposed this will provide the clarity that local people have been asking for, for years”

“As well as being inappropriate development within the countryside, there are significant highway issues relating to these Business Parks with the HGV traffic on the A3052 Sidmouth Road from the M5 to the Halfway Inn being heavily used and the Sandy Gate roundabout and the Clyst St Mary Roundabout at already at full capacity.”

“It is thanks to local residents, various associations and action groups, and concerned Parish Councils, within the wider area who have worked with tenacity and persistence to get to this final hurdle”

An Urgent Request for Residents to Respond

What is required now is for local people to write or email to the Local Authority in support of 17.3 changes and additions, plus the new Policy VP04 for Greendale Business Park and 18.1-18.2 changes and additions, plus the new Policy VP05 for Hill Barton.

To agree with the Inspectors proposals in full recognising the current employment boundary of Greendale and Hill Barton, this would protect the “open countryside”

The schedule of main modification, the updated SA/SEA, an amended version of the Villages Plan that incorporates the proposed changes and further information about the consultation may be viewed on the Council web site at: Villages plan examination – East Devon


If you wish to comment on the proposed schedule of main modifications or the updated SA/SEA, please email


by no later than

2nd February 2018.

All responses received will be forwarded to the Inspector for her consideration prior to issuing her report, which will be in the Spring of 2018.

If you want further information please contact the planning policy team on 01395 571533.

The Officer to contact is Linda Renshaw (Mrs) Senior Planning Officer East Devon District Council Tel. 01395 571683 Working days Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.


DUP funding to stay secret

Owl says: What a surprise! Remind me – isn’t the DUP a fundamentalist “Christian” party? Oooohhhh … wait for the fire and brimstone – not.

“Labour has criticised an attempt by the government to allow the DUP to conceal details of past political donations, including during the EU referendum, despite a 2014 law that extended party transparency rules to Northern Ireland.

The government has announced it will bring into force new transparency rules for Northern Ireland’s political parties to allow the Electoral Commission to publish details of donations over £7,500.

The provision for the new rules, which will bring Northern Ireland in line with the rest of the UK, was first introduced in legislation in 2014, with the wide understanding it would be applied from that year.

However, the Northern Ireland secretary, James Brokenshire, said he intended the act to be applied from 1 July 2017, which would mean donations during the EU referendum in 2016 are not made public.

Campaigners have raised questions over the DUP’s spending on the EU referendum in June 2016 – including a £435,000 donation from a group called the Constitutional Research Council (CRC), chaired by Richard Cook, a former vice-chairman of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist party.

The source of the cash was revealed by the DUP after a series of articles published by OpenDemocracy, though details of the CRC’s source of income are still opaque. …”


Every major (and some minor) party fined for election and/or referendum expense overspends or illegal payments

Owl says: with maximum fines being so low why should parties bother what they spend?

“Britain’s Electoral Commission said on Tuesday it has fined the Liberal Democrats party 18,000 pounds ($24,069) for breaching campaign finance rules in the 2016 European Union referendum.

The party was fined 17,000 pounds for failing to provide acceptable invoices or receipts and 1,000 pounds because some payments were reported in aggregate rather than as individual payments, the commission said in a statement.

“The reporting requirements for parties and campaigners at referendums and elections are clear, that’s why it is disappointing that the Liberal Democrats didn’t follow them correctly,” said Bob Posner, the Electoral Commission’s director of political finance.”


Sidmouth Port Royal: an independent view

“In July, ‘Three Rs’ campaigners unveiled their alternative vision to ‘retain, refurbish, re-use’ the site’s existing buildings.

They wanted to challenge suggestions that the ‘only apparent option’ for the development of eastern town was to construct a multi-use building with 30 homes that could stand up to five storeys high.

Campaigners argue the existing buildings should be retained, the whole area should be refurbished as needed and sites such as the Drill Hall and the old boat park should be re-used.

In a bid to keep the public informed, they have created four information sheets ahead of the publication of a final report on Port Royal.

Councillor Cathy Gardner, [Independent East Devon Alliance] who is one of those leading the Three Rs campaign, said: “We think it is important people have more background information for the proposals for the Port Royal area, particularly while we are waiting for the final report from the scoping study – we are expecting that in January.

“We have tried to be as factual as we can. People ask a lot of questions and sometimes there are misunderstandings, and we just want to help clarify it for everybody.”

The information sheets explain the challenges East Devon District Council (EDDC) faces in redeveloping the site and the importance of the authority deciding on what happens, and argue it is essential to retain the Drill Hall.

The guides also look at what the Ham is and its conveyance, the role played by Sidmouth Town Council, what the Local Plan has to do with Port Royal, and where Devon County Council comes in.

As well as this, the information sheets will address how the car parks could be refurbished.

Cllr Gardner said the campaigners could also cover other topics so asked residents who were unsure on anything or think something should be clarified to let them know.

The information sheets have also been pinned up on a notice boards around Sidmouth and are available online at http://www.retain-refurbish-reuse.uk.

Alternatively, email cathy.gardner@eastdevonalliance.org.uk for an electronic copy.”


Fat cats … lots of them … getting fatter

Several of Britain’s best-known companies, including Burberry, Sky and Sports Direct, are included on a list ordered by the prime minister of firms rewarding bosses with “fat cat pay” and representing the “unacceptable face of capitalism”.

More than a fifth of Britain’s FTSE listed-firms are included on the “name and shame” register of companies that Theresa May said risk damaging “the social fabric of our country” by paying bosses too much money.

May ordered the creation of the world’s first public register of companies that ignored shareholder concerns and awarded “pay rises to bosses that far outstrip the company’s performance” in August. She said calling out the firms would help tackle the “abuses and excess in the boardroom” and restore public confidence in big business.

The public register was published on Tuesday by the Investment Association, a trade body of investment firms that manage the pensions of million of Britons.

The register lists every company in the FTSE All-Share Index which has suffered at least a 20% shareholder rebellion against proposals for executives pay, re-election of directors or other resolution at their shareholder meetings.

Companies on the register include fashion label Burberry, broadcaster Sky, retailer Sports Direct and Sir Martin Sorrell’s advertising company WPP.

Others on the list include banking giant HSBC, supermarket Morrisons, BT, estate agent Foxtons, the AA and Mothercare.

Chris Cummings, chief executive of the Investment Association, said the register “reveals the true scale of investor concern” and shows how many shareholders are “flexing their muscles by exercising their votes”.

Cummings said the fact that 22% of companies in the FTSE All-Share are included on the list shows that “a significant number of companies need to seriously start listening to shareholders views and acting on them”. …”


“£3bn NHS spend due to unfilled vacancies”

“Figures obtained under Freedom of Information rules have shown that the NHS is spending £3bn a year on agency staff to fill staffing gaps caused by 100,000 unfilled vacancies.

The highest vacancy rate, of 12.2%, was for nurses, leaving hospitals and care homes short on qualified staff and reliant on less experienced healthcare assistants.

Janet Davies from the Royal College of Nursing said: “Hospital wards and care homes alike increasingly rely on unregistered healthcare assistants, especially at night. The Government must no longer allow nursing on the cheap – patients, particularly vulnerable and older individuals, can pay the highest price.”

Source” The Independent, Page: 3 Independent i, Page: 5