George Osborne courts controversy – cash for brand placement allegations

“Former Chancellor George Osborne was embroiled in a row on Thursday over claims that London’s Evening Standard promised ‘money-can’t-buy’ coverage to big businesses for £3million.

The newspaper faced accusations it had effectively sold positive news coverage to brands including Google and the controversial taxi app Uber, in return for sponsorship of a planned campaign.

The two were among six firms to each pay £500,000 to be part of the paper’s ‘London 2020’ project which will highlight issues including air pollution and housing.

The Evening Standard said it had agreed partnerships to support its campaign but denied the deals threatened its editorial integrity and independence. It said any commercial content would be ‘clearly identifiable’.

Mr Osborne became the newspaper’s editor last year and was said to have directed the London 2020 project, pitched to potential commercial sponsors as offering ‘money-can’t-buy’ coverage.

A sales presentation to businesses said: ‘We expect every campaign to generate numerous news stories, comment pieces and high-profile backers.’

Details of the deal were revealed on the news website open-Democracy, which claimed the Standard offered ‘favourable’ editorial comment and news coverage as part of its sales presentation. …

Blurring the line between journalism and advertising, or allowing commercial pressures to influence editorial content is generally seen as a breach of Britain’s robust tradition of Press freedom and independence.

Mr Osborne’s appointment as editor attracted criticism after it emerged that he had a £650,000-a-year part-time advisory job with City firm BlackRock, which holds a £500million stake in Uber.

The Cameron-Osborne government also came under fire for its close links to Uber. Black cab drivers brought Westminster to a standstill in a protest over claims that former prime minister David Cameron and Mr Osborne told aides to lobby against a planned crackdown on the online firm in 2015.

Rachel Whetstone – a friend of Mr Cameron who is married to his former strategist Steve Hilton – quit her job as Uber’s policy chief as it emerged the information watchdog had begun an investigation into the affair. Critics had raised concerns about the extent of her influence over the Cameron government, both in her role at Uber and in her previous job at Google. …

The Evening Standard was owned by the Daily Mail’s parent company but was sold to Russian-born businessman Alexander Lebedev and his son Evgeny in 2009. …”

“Judge quashes grant of planning permission for watersports hub”

“The Administrative Court has quashed Cheshire West & Chester Borough Council’s grant of planning permission for a watersports centre after finding that this changed from a facility for members to one for the public without proper notice to objectors.

HHJ Raeside said Clive Sykes, who lives next door to the site concerned, argued that the council failed to consult on a submission of last-minute information altering the nature of the application from members only use to that of the general public.

In Sykes v Cheshire West & Chester Borough Council [2018] EWHC 3655 (Admin) Mr Sykes argued there was no opportunity for the public to make representations on this late information and the failure to consult was contrary to rules of natural justice.

The judge said: “Any fair reading of a combination of one or more salient planning documents published…prior to the day of the planning hearing make it palpably clear that it was their intention…that the Watersports Hub was to be for use of a private club mainly the boathouse and that had existed for many years before, well-known for its members only [policy].”

He rejected the council’s claim that the change from this to an application for a facility for public use could be reasonably called “a clarification”.
“It is difficult to imagine how a change of use of facility from members only to those of the public can possibly be described as a ‘clarification’,” he said.

“In the ordinary use of the English language this is best described as a volte-face (of course allowing the introduction of French into the English language).”

The judge though dismissed two other grounds argued by Mr Sykes, that the council failed to heed environmental protection team advice that a full assessment was needed of the noise impact, and that planning committees were misled into believing that consultees had been aware the wider public would have access to the facility.”

“8,900 checks on NHS ‘health tourists’ find just 50 liable to pay”

It almost certainly cost more to find the 50 than to leave this alone.

So, knock on the head – it is underfunding to speed privatisation that is bringing our NHS to its knees NOT health tourism!!!

Buying votes – Tories in the lead

The Conservative Party accepted £4.7 million of donations in the first three months of 2018, new data shows.

Theresa May’s party received more than three times as much as Labour between January 1 and March 31.

Labour accepted £1.49 million in donations.

The Liberal Democrats received £564,135 and the Green Party just £1,800.

This is £2.4 million less than what was accepted during the same period last year (£9.3 million). …”

Swire and his investment in “emerging economies”

Our MP Hugo Swire is investing in “emerging economies” with his controversial pal, Lord Barker:

But what is an “emerging economy”? Fortunately, a business publication has an explanation:

” … Top of the list of emerging markets is China, according to Ross Teverson, co-manager of Jupiter Emerging & Frontier Income Trust. China’s economy is predicted to grow by 6.6 per cent in 2018, compared to 1.6 per cent for the UK economy, as stated by the International Monetary Fund.

“China is the obvious example of an emerging market country making rapid and dramatic economic progress; today, a number of Chinese companies rank among the largest and most innovative globally.”

Another region to consider is sub-Saharan Africa, according to Teverson, where a growing middle class, as well as improved infrastructure, communications, and technology, is creating several attractive long-term investment opportunities.

“Gradually increasing penetration of financial products, combined with remarkable demographics – the median age in Kenya is just 20 years – should create a backdrop that, for well-placed financial institutions operating in the region, should prove conducive to strong and sustained earnings growth for a long time to come.”

While some savers might be sceptical of putting their money at risk in these markets, it’s worth remembering that the emerging economies of today may likely grow into leading, developed ones in the future.

After all, the world’s largest economy, the US, was actually considered an emerging market 150 years ago. …”

Source: City AM

So, no investment in East Devon then!

What can a National Park do for East Devon?

“Following Michael Gove’s announcement that the Government will look at creating new National Parks – what will it mean to East Devon if a Dorset East Devon National Park were to become a reality?

A National Park is an exciting vision for our countryside, communities and economy and it can become a reality. It would work in partnership to:

• Conserve and enhance our great landscapes and heritage
• Boost our economy and attract new funding, investment and jobs
• Make the new National Park a global brand and destination; adding opportunity and value to our tourism businesses and local producers
• Help farmers and land managers to access funding and other support
• Work with communities for appropriate development, affordable homes for local people and a thriving, successful location
• As the planning authority for its area, partner with Councils and help deliver what our communities need


The Dorset landscapes and heritage are very special. They have been judged to be amongst the top 4 percent in the country.

The environment is Dorset’s and East Devon’s greatest economic asset and the National Park would have a duty to look after and promote our environment and heritage.


The National Park would work with communities, councils and businesses to meet local needs, including housing and affordable homes for local people. National Parks are not against development, and they build on neighbourhood
plans to support thriving local communities.

The National Park would be a one-stop-shop for co-ordinated planning advice and would work in partnership with other local authorities.


A National Park would boost the rural economy and attract investment and jobs. Tourism is the area’s largest economic sector, and a National Park brand would put the area on the world map and encourage visitors to stay longer and spend

It would help develop an area wide marketing strategy, manage tourism pressures and could attract funding for sustainable transport.


A National Park would help farmers and landowners to access funding and other support, and help them diversify and thrive as well as pursue conservation and recreational opportunities.


National Parks are separately funded by Government and not by residents or businesses. They also bid for extra funds which are invested in the local economy, in partnership with communities, not-for-profit and commercial businesses, farmers and landowners.

A National Park will be an asset and a close, efficient partner for the Councils and complement their work. It would bring additional resources and free up some council funding to help support local services and communities.

The South Downs NPA has secured over £100m in core and project funding since 20115.


National Parks have a responsibility to:

• Conserve and enhance the environment.
• Promote recreation, health, and the enjoyment and understanding of the special qualities of their area.
• Foster the economic and social wellbeing of their communities.

Let’s hope East Devon District Council make the right decision!

Boundary problems and a headache for EDDC’s new leader

What is fascinating about this spat is that a park and ride scheme can be deemed a harmful impact in an AONB.

Owl wonders if this will therefore similarly be a material consideration for a new industrial park planned in Sidford?

“A park and ride service which operated to the West of Lyme Regis has been halted.

East Devon District Council last week refused planning permission for a further temporary consent for the site, off the A3052, in Uplyme.

The application, from Lyme Town Council, was rejected on the basis of a lack of evidence provided to justify a need for the facility and that, as a result, this would have a harmful impact upon the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

East Devon’s planning department had previously granted temporary consents for the park and ride use to support businesses in Lyme Regis and visitors to the town, but despite ample time being given to Lyme Regis Town Council to justify the park and ride’s continued use, the required information had not been received, say officials.

Since 2014, the district’s planning authority says it has consistently asked Lyme Regis Town Council to gather evidence to justify the need for a park and ride in the location in Sidmouth Road.

Despite the town council having four years in which to do this, the work has still not been carried out, says EDDC.

In addition, East Devon is not convinced that the proposed site is the best location for a park and ride facility, or that a further park and ride site is required, given that the majority of the traffic does not enter the town from the West on the A3052 where the site is located, and that the park and ride on Charmouth Road, to the East of Lyme Regis, has very recently been granted planning permission to operate 400 spaces over a longer seasonal period.

EDDC says it is happy to entertain a future planning application for the site, but it needs to be supported by justification for the use of the site. In addition, robust evidence of the need for the facility and justification that the proposed site is the most appropriate location to serve visitors to the town must be provided.

Cllr Ian Thomas, Leader of East Devon District Council and ward member for Trinity, which includes Uplyme, said: “East Devon planners, Uplyme Parish Council and I have worked for several years, in the interest of Lyme Regis traders, residents and visitors, in what has become a uniquely frustrating process.

“Last Summer, contrary to planning guidelines, I was able to secure a further last minute temporary consent.

“I was only able to do so: ‘….to allow the newly formed working group, including representatives from Devon and Dorset County Councils, East Devon and West Dorset District Councils. Lyme Regis Town Council and Uplyme Parish Council, to use such information in the development of a strategic approach to the management of traffic and parking requirements…”

“Sadly, this group has never met…

“It is disappointing that another planning application (validated on 19 March 2018) was submitted by Lyme Regis Town Council, seeking further temporary consent from 30 March 2018. The application is essentially a copy of that submitted in 2017, so it again neither offers supporting evidence requested following the 2014 application, nor demonstrates any significant progress in that direction.

“This lack of progress makes it impossible for me to intervene again on the grounds I used in 2017.

“Despite several instances of ‘factual inaccuracy’ by the applicant, I commend both East Devon planners and Uplyme Parish Council on their rigorous adherence to dealing professionally with each successive application, according to planning policy and guidelines.

“Notwithstanding difficulties experienced to date, I am confident that East Devon District Council, Uplyme Parish Council, other local authority neighbours and I, remain willing to work with Lyme Regis Town Council to develop the best possible long-term solution to the management of traffic and associated parking requirements in and around Lyme Regis and Uplyme.”

Lyme Regis deputy mayor, Cllr Steve Miller, said: “Lyme Regis Town Council was extremely disappointed to learn, immediately prior to a busy bank holiday and the school half term, that East Devon District Council refused the application for continued temporary use of the Sidmouth Road park and ride site.

“We are surprised by the tone and content of the press release issued by East Devon District Council, a copy of which was not supplied to the town council. We believe such a release is not normal practice on refusal of a planning application.

“The town council will obviously review available options before deciding how to proceed, which may involve appealing the planning authority’s decision.

“In the meantime, the work to obtain the evidence previously requested by East Devon District Council has already been commissioned via independent experts Hydrock and will continue. However, this has been made more difficult by the refusal of the Sidmouth Road application.

“This work will ascertain the best parking, transport and signage strategies for the town and will be pursued by the town council in the best long-term interests of the residents and businesses of Lyme Regis and those visiting the town we all love.

“The 400-space Charmouth Road Park and ride site will continue to operate throughout the peak summer periods. In addition, the town council has just agreed to extend the bus service to include all June weekends.

“The town council is grateful for the help and support it received from West Dorset District Council, its local representative and the landowner in achieving the permanent permission for the use of the Charmouth Road facility, which is also in an area of outstanding natural beauty.” …

Sidford Industrial park: planning meeting 30 May, 6.30 pm, Sidford Social Hall

It will be interesting to see which side Councillor Hughes backs …

Press release:

“While many of us were hoping it wouldn’t happen, it’s not a huge surprise that Tim and Mike Ford have submitted a new application to build a business park in Sidford. If you haven’t already heard about it you can read this article from last Friday’s Herald:

The council is holding a public planning meeting on

Wednesday 30 May 2018
at 6.30pm
at Sidford Social Hall
in Byes Lane

Please come along and have your say. And please tell your friends about it.

If you want to keep up with the campaign as it develops please like the Say NO Facebook page:

Has East Devon missed out already on a joint East Devon/Dorset National Park?


Dorset National Park Welcomes Michael Gove’s Announcement

A press release Monday 29 May 2018 x the Dorset National Park Team

The Dorset National Park Team welcomes the statement by Michael Gove, Secretary of State for DEFRA, that the Government’s review of designated areas to be led by Julian Glover will consider whether more national parks are needed. A Dorset National Park was first proposed along with others which have subsequently gone ahead in a Government report of 1945. For reasons specific to the time it was not then progressed. But now there is cross-county and cross-party support for conserving and enhancing a landscape that includes the World Heritage Jurassic Coast, inland Ridgeways and the area of Thomas Hardy’s novels.

A Dorset National Park would be at the heart of southern England, next to the largest non-industrial conurbation in the country – Poole/Bournemouth – and within easy public transport reach of London, the South East, Midlands and Bristol. The Purbeck area of Dorset has the greatest biodiversity of any area in the country. But Dorset’s landscape, heritage and wildlife need to be safeguarded and enhanced.

A Dorset National Park would work in partnership with its communities, councils, landowners, farmers and businesses to ensure its communities thrive and are sustainable.

We look forward to working closely with Julian Glover in his review.
For more information see”

The key arguments East Devon District Council had in 2015 to reject a joint National Park were:

1. Loss of planning powers
however South Downs NP uses the Local Authority to administer the Parks Planning Process.

2. Prevention of ‘good growth’ in areas of low skill, low wages, economic weakness and housing shortage, especially affordable.
It has been shown that growth can be achieved in National Parks and provision of housing especially affordable is achievable with grants and government support.

3. Restriction and concentration of jobs and housing growth in the west of the District with minimal benefit deriving eastwards.
The GESP and the Local Plan are already doing this anyway!

4. Sensitive but non- National Park or AONB designated areas of the District may come under increasing and concentrated pressure of development.
As 3 above. Look at Cranbrook, Ottery St Mary, and Clyst St Mary!

There is a danger that the East Devon areas outside the already designated AONBs will be the major growth point as Dorset and other Devon Councils lobby and possibly achieve special status for their own areas.

EDDC must work with the National Parks/AONBs together with Greater Exeter to provide the best possible outcome.

“May’s £2bn housing pledge not enough, say Tory council leaders”

“The survey of 121 Tory council leaders and heads of housing from across the country, funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, found an overwhelming majority – 96% – wanted low-cost rented homes to form part of the solution.. …”

“Government’s Help to Buy housing scheme increasingly benefiting higher earners”

“The government’s flagship, multibillion pound scheme for helping people to buy a home is increasingly giving taxpayer-funded loans to higher earners, The Independent can reveal.

The Help to Buy initiative was designed to help cash-strapped buyers, but analysis reveals the average salary of people receiving equity loans has shot up since it was introduced.

Official government data reveals the average household income of people benefiting from the £8.3bn scheme is continuing to rise, and now stands at just under £50,000.

London, the figure is even higher, with the average recipient of a Help to Buy loan having a household income of almost £72,000….

Almost one in five Help to Buy beneficiaries are already homeowners, and on average these recipients are wealthier than first-time buyers, with an income £8,500 higher.

The Independent has previously revealed how millions of pounds of public funds are being loaned to people with an income of more than £100,000.

The latest figures reveal that more than 6,200 households with an income of more than £100,000 have benefited from taxpayer-funded loans.

The Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government has been contacted for comment.”


Have Cranbrook’s roads been adopted yet? Hope so, because, if not …

It’s not just Cranbrook – this could happen in any new development anywhere.

But it WAS a problem in Cranbrook in March this year:

The undated letters addressed to “The Occupier”, were pushed through doors along a cul-de-sac in Aldershot, Hampshire, on a Thursday in November. Those who bothered to open what looked like junk mail discovered that part of the road had been sold to a private company and they would have to buy a £2.50-a-week permit to leave their cars outside their homes where free parking had been available for 50 years. They also had to pay a £75 deposit or face a £60 further charge. …”

KPMG stops providing MPs with free researchers

“KPMG has quietly abandoned a longstanding practice of making donations in kind to MPs and political parties by providing researchers to help in formulating policy and legislation.

The decision by the accounting giant, which has been criticised for its role as auditor to the collapsed construction giant Carillion, comes after figures released by the Electoral Commission in March showed that donations by the big four auditors tumbled by 91% during the 2017 election campaign compared to that of 2015. …

Donations in kind from KPMG, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Deloitte were widespread in the 15 years running up to the 2015 election, with KPMG making £198,093 worth of donations in kind in 2015, falling to £40,575in 2017.

The practice has been criticised by outsiders, who argue that it helps secure long-term political influence, although the firms say they are politically neutral. Prem Sikka, a professor of accounting at the University of Sheffield, said: “The firms don’t make donations. The money is an investment to secure desirable outcomes.”

He cited as an example the abolition of the Audit Commission under the coalition government, which allowed the big four firms into the £100m-a-year local government market for the first time from 2015.

However, such political donations have tumbled after the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, decided to abandon them. Secondments have traditionally been provided to opposition parties, sometimes in considerable numbers, because they do not have the same access to the civil service as government.

… Instead, political donations by the big four firms have become increasingly concentrated on paying former ministers to speak at corporate events. George Osborne, the former chancellor who now edits the Evening Standard, reported in April 2017 that he expected to be paid £65,901 for giving a speech to PwC in Ireland; Nick Clegg, the former deputy prime minister, received £18,000 in December 2016 for giving a speech to PwC. Ken Clarke received £11,500 in fees for giving speeches to KPMG in Leeds and Manchester in May 2016 while Michael Gove collected £5,000 from PwC in December 2016 and £4,000 from Ernst & Young in May 2017, again for speeches.

The big four came under fire earlier this month as part of a highly critical report by MPs on the business and work and pensions committees on the collapse of the construction giant Carillion. Rachel Reeves, the business select chair, said they had a “parasitical relationship” with companies, getting paid even if they went under and called for the Competition and Markets Authority to look at breaking them up “to increase competition and deal with conflicts of interest”. …”

Swire and Eaglesham Investments … still not on his register of interests

Eaglesham Investments incorporated on 12 December 2016 and shown as live’

Swire and Lord Barker only two directors, shown as active.

Described by Lord Barker in HIS register of interests as “developer of clean energy projects overseas, focussed on emerging economies”

Barker is very controversial – involved in a company with a Russian oligarch (Oleg Deripaska) who is allegedly linked to a “dirty money” scandal:


The company is still not on Swire’s register of interests on 18 May 2018:

“Swire: Time has come for international community to name and shame all guilty of influencing ballots” – no, of course he isn’t talking about East Devon!

No, this isn’t East Devon he’s talking about. Yet again, it’s the Maldives, of which Swire can never seem get enough:

“… Former Foreign and Commonwealth Office minister and Conservative MP for East Devon, Hugo Swire has said that politically influenced and controlled Elections Commission of the Maldives is seen attempting to freeze out opposition parties as Presidential election slated for September approaches.

In a tweet posted on his official twitter account on Wednesday, Swire wrote that the time has come for the international community to “name and shame all those guilty” of attempting to influence the ballots.

Swire also wrote that to date, adequate reaction from the international community has not been uttered, pointing out that “more robust action is desperately needed”.

The former minister further wrote that time may now be approaching when celebrities and tourists start to boycott the Maldives. …”

Oh dear – poor celebrities and tourists!!!

And, meanwhile, in your own backyard, Mr Swire … ?

Guess there will be no “emerging energy market” in the Maldives for Swire and Lord Barker’s company: