Hinkley C French twin having problems

No worries – our Local Enterprise Partnership will sort it out … won’t they …?

“EDF Energy has warned that a flagship nuclear power station it is building in France could run further behind schedule and over budget, after it detected faults at the €10.5bn ( £9.2bn) plant.

The French state-owned firm said inspections last month had uncovered problems with welding on pipes at the Flamanville plant in north-west France.

Flamanville’s reactor design is the same as the one being used at a delayed plant in Finland and at Hinkley Point in Somerset, where EDF is building the UK’s first new nuclear power station in decades.

The company said that it had discovered “quality deviations” on 150 welds in a system used to transport steam to turbines used for electricity generation.

EDF said it was performing further checks to see what works would be needed to satisfy the safety requirements of the French nuclear regulator, ASN, and would report back in May.

In a statement, the firm said: “Following the current checks and the licensing process by the ASN, EDF will be able to specify whether the project requires an adjustment to its timetable and its costs.”

The plant is already three times over its original estimates and several years late.

Nuclear industry experts said the announcement cast doubt over whether Flamanville unit three would be operational by the end of 2019, as planned.

Stephen Thomas, professor of energy policy at the University of Greenwich said: “If remedial work is needed, this puts in further doubt whether Flamanville can be in commercial operation [as previously planned].”

ASN warned earlier this year that the start-up schedule for Flamanville was tight.

Paul Dorfman, of the Energy Institute at University College London, said the problems did not bode well for Hinkley Point C, which is due to come online in 2025.

“If they can’t build their own reactor in France, where can they build it? This seems counter to their claims that they are learning from their mistakes and Hinkley won’t be a repeat.”


Honiton Town Council slated for poor financial management

“Grant Thornton, who were appointed by the Audit Commission as auditor of the council, found that there have been a number of serious failings in governance and procedures at Honiton Town Council.

The internal audit report revealed that financial systems had not been updated between November 2016 and March 2017, no financial information had been provide to the council for scrutiny since September 2016 and that reserve levels were not being reported to the council.

The report of Mr Morris says that the internal audit report noted that:

The financial systems had not been updated between November 2016 and March 2017 and that only the clerk had the login details of the new finance system

The council did not have adequate contingency plans for key staff being absent, result in the council failing to maintain proper records

At the point of the internal audit review in March 2017 it was noted that due to the financial system not being kept up to date, there had not been any bank reconcillliations completed since September 2016

No financial information had been provided to the council for scrutiny since the October 2016 finance committee meeting

Insufficient information was provided on the assets and liabilities of the council

No amount had been input for the budgeted precept, resulting in the accounts showing the council was budgeting for a £236,000 deficit

Reserve levels were not being report to the council
There was little detail of how the council set its budget and that progress against the budget was not regularly monitored. …”


Sidmouth Plastic Warriors lead the way in East Devon

“Sidmouth Plastic Warriors, a group started in January 2018 with the purpose of reducing plastic waste in Sidmouth, clearing up what is already here and helping to push forward change locally, nationally and globally.

Do please visit our Facebook page and join us in whatever way suits you – clearing up with a group (see our events page) or posting results of your own clear ups, let us know about what you’re doing to reduce plastic waste, become a keyboard warrior (use the hashtag #plasticpollution to make your posts searchable by other keyboard warriors who will like and share your posts about plastic waste) or just send us some cash! Anything raised will be poured back in to schemes to reduce plastic waste in the town. Email us with anything to contribute or any questions.


“DCC cabinet decides tomorrow if to back Health Scrutiny resolution over controversial health plans”

Claire Wright’s blog, as she ploughs (with EDA DCC Councillor Martin Shaw) the lonely furrow of integrity and common sense – both sadly lacking in the DCC Health and Social Care Scrutiny Committee:

“Devon County Council’s cabinet will decide tomorrow whether to back the Health and Adult Scrutiny Committee’s resolution on deferring the implementation of the controversial Integrated Care System, which many local people have huge concerns over.

At the last Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee on 22 March, I proposed the following which was supported by the majority of the committee.

An additional line on a public engagement, was voted down by Conservative councillors:

Here’s what the cabinet will be considering. If it supports the resolution, it will be implemented with immediate effect…..

I will be speaking in support of the resolution tomorrow…… If you are keen to know the outcome or hear the discussion, the meeting is webcast live here – https://devoncc.public-i.tv/core/portal/home

(a) record the Committee’s concerns over the emerging Devon Integrated Care System being a single Integrated Strategic Commissioner, a number of Local Care Partnerships, Mental Health Care Partnership and shared NHS corporate services;

(b) defer the implementation of the Integrated Care System process until assurances are provided on governance, funding, the future of social care from a democratic perspective;

(c) recommend Councillor Ackland’s paper and proposals on the reformation of the Health and Wellbeing Board as a sound democratic way forward to provide the necessary governance on a new integrated system;

(d) give assurance that the proposals will not lead to deeper cuts in any part of Devon as a result of the ‘equalisation of funding’; and

(e) provide a copy of the business plan being developed and a summary of views from staff consultations.

For more background on Integrated Care Systems see my blog
post –


Bank of England and Big Business take over productivity drive from the amateurs – where does this leave our Local Enterprise Partnership?

Our LEP members are pretty much one-trick ponies representing primarily the interests of their companies or their councils. Are they now quietly being frozen out?

“British business leaders announce further plans to boost firm-level productivity at Bank of England

The governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, has chaired a meeting of UK business leaders who have announced a new set of commitments to help UK firms improve their productivity.

As the countdown to Brexit begins, Be the Business – the campaign organisation formed to tackle the UK’s longstanding productivity challenge – met with the governor to set out plans to make the UK more productive and competitive.

Attendees included the leaders of Amazon, BAE Systems, the British Museum, BT, CBI, Cisco, EY, KPMG, the John Lewis Partnership, McKinsey & Co, Rolls-Royce and Siemens UK.
UK productivity grew by 0.9 per cent in Q3 and 0.7 per cent in Q4 of 2017.

While positive, this follows a decade of under-performance and Britain remains 25 per cent less productive than Germany. In its latest inflation report, the Bank of England highlighted poor productivity growth as a key factor limiting the UK’s capacity to grow to around 1.5 per cent per year.

That’s why some of the UK’s leading businesses have committed to bringing world-class management and technology practices to thousands of British businesses in their communities and supply chains. This includes:

Support for a national digital platform, launched today, giving businesses best in class advice on how to improve.

A new mentoring programme, launching nationwide later this year, to help SMEs build essential management skills – supported by senior staff from companies including GSK, the John Lewis Partnership and Siemens

The national roll-out of Productivity through People – an executive education programme for SME leaders

A new business productivity index and a series of tailored programmes targeted specifically at SME productivity

The Bank of England has been at the forefront of highlighting the need for UK firms to improve their productivity. In March 2017, the organisation’s chief economist Andy Haldane warned that technological diffusion from business “leaders to laggards” has slowed. This message was echoed by chancellor Philip Hammond, who announced a call for evidence in the Spring Statement to understand how to best help the UK’s least productive businesses to learn from, and catch-up with, the most productive.

At the meeting, held on 9 April 2018, Carney said: “UK productivity has severely under-performed since the financial crisis, resulting in a lost decade for real incomes and a lower speed limit for the economy. Reviving productivity growth is critical for the UK’s long-term economic prosperity, and part of the answer lies in spreading best practice across a much wider range of firms. Be the Business are playing a key role in achieving that, helping businesses to identify and implement ways to improve their productivity.”

Also attending the meeting was Charlie Mayfield, chairman of the John Lewis Partnership and Be the Business, who commented: “Getting our businesses to improve their performance to the same level as our international competitors is the biggest economic challenge we face as a country. The UK’s businesses have the solution in their grasp. That’s why we’re building a movement that will recruit tens of thousands of companies across the UK to ensure we’re match fit to compete post-Brexit.”


Be the Business is a new business-led organisation created to close the UK’s productivity gap. Chaired by Charlie Mayfield, chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, Be the Business is spearheading a business-led drive to help companies across the UK improve their performance.

It is supported by some of the UK’s most senior business leaders including Tera Allas (McKinsey & Co), Olly Benzecry (Accenture), Sir Roger Carr (BAE Systems), Roger Connor (GSK), Ian Davis (Rolls-Royce), Carolyn Fairbairn (CBI), Doug Gurr (Amazon), Dame Fiona Kendrick (Nestle), Sir Richard Lambert (British Museum), Prof Juergen Maier (Siemens UK), Sir Charlie Mayfield (John Lewis Partnership), Gavin Patterson (BT Group), Phil Smith (Cisco), James Stewart (KPMG), Steve Varley (EY) and Nigel Whitehead (BAE Systems).

Be the Business’s advisory board members have committed the first 100 mentors to a leading nationwide mentoring programme. Be the Business will report on the programme roll-out at its next advisory board meeting, to be hosted by the chancellor, in September 2018.

Productivity through People is a 12-month regional productivity programme for SME leaders. Initially launched by BAE Systems and the University of Lancaster in January 2017, participants undertake a series of masterclasses, led by the leading business school faculty and industrial visits to some of the UK’s leading businesses, alongside tailored mentoring. Programmes are currently underway in Lancaster, Bath and Glasgow, and a national roll-out is in development for 2019.

Office for National Statistics, Labour productivity, UK: October to December 2017:

Productivity puzzles, speech given by Andrew Haldane, chief economist at the Bank of England, at the London School of Economics on 20 March 2017:


EDDC car parking permit charges “survey”

Nore this is not a formal consultation and, as you might expect, is about raising and extending charges, not reducing them – specifically for car parking permits.

“Anyone interested in learning more about the changes and who wants to have their say, should visit:

http://eastdevon.gov.uk/consultation-and-surveys/car-park-review. Alternatively, anyone who would like a paper copy of the consultation posted to them, or who needs the consultation in another format, then please call the council on 01395 517569.”


Chances of your comments making any difference – zero. But do it anyway and let them know how you feel.

And maybe don’t vote for Tory councillors next time round?

Do declining police numbers increase violent crime?

Owl is sure Tory Police and [Increasing] Crime Commissioner Hernandez will have an interesting theory!

“Police chiefs have hit back at claims a massive 90% rise in violent crime across Cornwall and Devon in the last nine years might be linked to ever decreasing officer numbers.

In Devon and Cornwall there were 32,509 violent crimes reported in the year to September 2017 (the latest figures), a 91% rise from the 17,058 reports received in the year ending September 2009.

However, over the same period the full-time equivalent number of police officers at the force has fallen by 18%, from 3,562 in September 2009 to 2,921 in September 2017, a loss of 641 officers.”


Devon County Council has largest gender pay gap in South-West

“Devon County Council has the biggest gender pay gap of all the councils in the South West.

A woman’s average hourly rate is 17% lower than men’s. This means they earn 83p for every £1 that men earn.

In contrast, women working for Plymouth City Council earn 3% more than men on average.

Devon County Council said that it had a high number of female part-time workers and six out of eight of its senior leadership team were women. …”