Infrastructure: Shortfall of £270m over period of Local Plan says external auditor

“Appendix A page 39

Click to access 180118bpauditgovernaceoperationalrisk.pdf

“Current estimates show that there will be a £270 million shortfall in infrastructure over the period of the Local Plan. Changes in legislation are needed to address this albeit a CIL charging schedule review is underway and may improve the situation. Fundamentally the current system relies on funding from other sources and infrastructure providers and so pressure needs to be put in bodies such as DCC, NHS etc to help fund infrastructure projects in the district.”

External auditor reports on risks of combined authorities

“In July, the NAO published its report on Progress in setting up combined authorities which concludes that for combined authorities to deliver real progress they will need to demonstrate that they can drive economic growth and contribute public sector reform.

These authorities have inherently complex structures and are not uniform.

They vary in the extent of the devolution deals they have struck with government. The combined authority with the greatest degree of devolution, Greater Manchester, has now absorbed control over the office of the police and crime commissioner and fire and rescue services.

Others are currently primarily focused on transport issues, as well as housing and regeneration.

The report highlights a number of risks including:

— local councillors will have limited capacity for the overview and scrutiny of combined authorities. Furthermore, in May 2017, six mayors were elected to combined authorities in England, with candidates having campaigned on manifestos which frequently made policy commitments beyond the current remits of these organisations. This raises the question of whether mayors can be credible local advocates if they only deal with the limited issues under the remit;

— a number of authorities have been unable to bring local authorities together to establish combined authorities, while areas with a long history of working together have often found it most straightforward to establish combined authorities;

— the capacity of most combined authorities is currently limited and the lack of geographical coherence between most combined authorities and other providers of public services could make it more problematic to devolve more public services in the future;

— if the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union (EU) results in reductions in regional funding, the economic regeneration role of combined authorities would become more pressing. Combined authorities are generally in areas which receive the most EU funding. The North West, for example, is scheduled to receive in excess of 1 billion euros in European Regional Development Funds, European Social Fund, and Youth Employment allocations between 2014 and 2020.”

The report is available on the NAO website at:

page 41

Primary school children made to pay to play with school equipment!

“A primary school has been accused of segregating children in the playground based on whether or not their parents contributed towards the cost of sports equipment.

Those whose parents had paid for the footballs, skipping ropes and other items were allowed to play with them at lunchtimes, while those whose parents had not were excluded from the games organised by a member of staff.

Parents launched a petition online, accusing the headteacher of Wednesbury Oak Academy, in the West Midlands, of separating the children into “paid” and “unpaid” pupils.

“This has caused outright disgust from children, parents, grandparents, staff and suchlike,” the petition read. “The parents that have paid and parents that haven’t are totally against the separation of the children as this can cause upset, bullying and social exclusion among other things.”

After coming under pressure, the school’s governors quickly scrapped the system. “We have listened to the concerns raised and will be ending the scheme with immediate effect. We are a school that believes in putting our children at the heart of everything we do,” said Elizabeth Perrin, the chair of the school governors…. “

Clinton Devon Estates and Blackhill Quarry: a critical test of the company’s environmental credentials and standards

A correspondent writes:

Sites of Environmental Significance:

We have three very special environmental sites in, or on the edge of, East Devon protected by stringent European and UK Habitat Regulations: the Exe Estuary, Dawlish Warren and the Pebblebed Heaths.

Clinton Devon Estate (CDE) is the owner of 80% of the the Pebblebed Heaths, including the land of Blackhill Quarry.

CDE web site proclaims “Responsible stewardship and sustainable development are at the heart of everything we do”.

So it seems extraordinary that CDE, instead of promoting the reinstatement of the Blackhill Quarry site as part of the Pebblebed Heaths, should, instead, be seeking to turn it into an industrial site with all the accompanying pollution (noise, light, traffic etc).

Recently Aggregate Industries withdrew an application to continue quarrying on the site and has been restoring the site to encourage wildlife. Indeed, Aggregate Industries was awarded runner up and highly commended at the Mineral Product Association’s Biodiversity Awards 2017 for its restoration of the sand and gravel quarry.

“This is an unique wildlife habitat situated close to Exeter. Designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest, a Special Area of Conservation and a Special Protection Area, this area represents one of the most important conservation sites in Europe.”

Also, studies have shown these are popular local sites, and access to them is vital to the local economy and highly valued by local people.

Access has widespread benefits including health, education, inspiration, spiritual and general well-being. While much of the access takes place regardless of the wildlife interest, that wildlife interest is also a part of the specific draw for many people. New development in the area is putting this under pressure not only by destroying green space but by increasing the footfall on what is left from an ever larger population. Local authorities have a legal duty to ensure no adverse effects occur as a result of their strategic plans.

Legally, there can be no building within 400m of these sites and also any development within 10Km requires a formal Habitats Protection Assessment with favourable conclusions. EDDC, however, accepts a funding levy from developers to get around having to do this individually, effectively taking on the responsibility for mitigation delivery themselves.

Though money might do a lot of things, it can’t create more land.

Your correspondent recalls a time when CDE were talking of using the old industrial site to enhance the existing recreation experience of the Heath. And now it wishes to develop an industrial site.

Do they think the prohibition on building within 400m doesn’t apply to them?

East Devon in bottom ten percent for electric vehicle charging points

“East Devon

Has 202 electric vehicles, and 0 public charging points.

This equates to <0.01 public charging points per electric vehicle, ranking it 328/380 in the country.

Electric vehicles make up 0.22% of all cars and vans in East Devon.”