Tories nationalise East Coast Main Line Railway

Virgin wasn’t making enough money so they decided they didn’t want to play any more:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-44142258

Labour comment was priceless:

“Good to see Grayling implementing first stage of Labour’s Manifesto promise to renationalise the railways. I think I’m right in saying that he’s now nationalised more railways than any Labour minister in 6 decades. Come on Chris, East Coast line today, the whole system tomorrow.”

CCG somewhat opaque on future of Honiton and Seaton hospital closures

Owl says: This is the sort of Press Release the CCG excels at. Telling us what the situation is at present but giving no guarantees that there will not be future cuts to current services (some of which, such as dermatology in Seaton, have already been closed.

Owl would also like to know how many of the extra 20,000 deaths noted in the first quarter of this year were in East Devon.

From EDA DCC Councillor Martin Shaw:

“NEW Devon CCG have issued the attached statement criticising ‘inaccurate information’ about Honiton and Seaton hospitals, after Dr Simon Kerr, Chair of the CCG’s Eastern Locality, was credibly reported as saying that these two hsopitals are ‘at risk’ in their Local Estates Strategy due this summer.

I welcome the CCG’s statement that it has no plans to close either hospital. However it has not denied that Dr Kerr said that they were at risk.

The CCG could end this controversy today if it gave an unequivocal assurance that both hospitals will continue for the foreseeable future with the present or enhanced levels of service. People in Honiton and Seaton were badly let down by the CCG over hospital beds and they won’t trust them now without a clear statement that our hospitals are safe in the coming Local Estates Strategy.”

The statement from the CCG reads:

“There have been reports today that the future of Honiton and Seaton Hospitals is under question.

NHS Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group wishes to make clear that there are no plans to close Honiton and Seaton hospitals.

In March 2017, the Governing Body of NHS Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning voted to implement a number of changes following a 13 week public consultation. This included the decision to close inpatient beds at both Honiton and Seaton hospitals.

Beds were closed in both hospitals in August 2017 as more care was introduced to look after people at home. Both hospitals are still open, thriving buildings providing more than 50 day services and clinics combined.”

Wind trumps nuclear in first 3 months of 2018 (one nuclear station offline due to wrong kind of seaweed!)

Maybe Hinkley C – in which our Local Enterprise Partnership is investing so much of our money – should be surrounded by wind turbines as back up!

“Britain’s windfarms provided more electricity than its eight nuclear power stations in the first three months of 2018, marking the first time wind has overtaken nuclear across a quarter.

The renewable energy industry hailed the milestone as a sign the UK was well on its way to an electricity system powered by cheap, domestic green energy.

Across the first quarter, wind power produced 18.8% of electricity, second only to gas, said a report by researchers at Imperial College London.

Two nuclear plants were temporarily offline for routine maintenance, while another was shut because of seaweed in the cooling system. …”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/may/16/wind-power-overtakes-nuclear-for-first-time-in-uk-across-a-quarter

Still time to register for the East Devon Alliance conference on Saturday 26 May

EAST DEVON ALLIANCE PEOPLE’S CONFERENCE
“TIME FOR A CHANGE”
SATURDAY 26TH MAY 10am-1.30pm
BEEHIVE, HONITON

All across East Devon people are worried about their HEALTH, their HOMES and their JOBS. Never has it been more important to involve yourself with local democracy in your district.. YOU CAN MAKE THE DIFFERENCE.

The EAST DEVON ALLIANCE is trying to help with all of this, an umbrella group of Independent people, who since 2015 have won 7 district council seats and 1 county seat. The EDA is free from the negative influence of national parties who – at East Devon District Council – have acquired the arrogant habits of a Conservative one-party state.

This conference is for YOU. Speakers will include County Councillors CLAIRE WRIGHT and MARTIN SHAW, and PAM BARRETT, Chair of the Independent Buckfastleigh Town Council and regional expert on transforming democracy from the bottom up.

In two sessions you will be able to hear our experience and then CONTRIBUTE your own personal views:

a) how did the democratic deficit in East Devon happen? Or – the problem.

b) what can we do about it through democracy in our parishes, towns and district. Or – the solution.

Please come. We are all volunteers but if we band together now to fight for hospitals, homes and jobs we have a chance to change how our local area is run.

Parking: nearest is Lace Walk. 2 minute walk. If full, New Street, 5 mins

Reserve a free place now!
https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/east-devons-time-for-a-change-peoples-conference-tickets-45482525458

Privatisation and outsourcing: beware ‘delusional’ directors, blind auditors and absent regulators

“Frank Field, chairman of the Work and Pensions Committee, said: “A board of directors too busy stuffing their mouths with gold to show any concern for the welfare of their workforce or their pensioners.”

For a longer and even more critical report published after this article, see:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-44129678

“The directors of Carillion should be formally investigated after overseeing a “rotten corporate culture” and may warrant disqualification from holding boardoom roles in the future, a House of Commons inquiry has concluded.

A damning 101-page report into the collapse of the public services contractor, undertaken by the joint business and work and pensions select committees, has identified failings by regulators, the accountancy firms KMPG and Deloitte and the government, as well as the company’s directors.

The government called the Official Receiver into Carillion four months ago after banks and investors refused to support the group, which had annual turnover of £5 billion and 43,000 employees. It collapsed with £2.6 billion of pension liabilities and about £2 billion of debts with suppliers and lenders. Its demise left serious issues over the delivery of maintenance, catering and cleaning contracts in schools, hospitals and military bases.

The company blamed its financial crisis on failing construction contracts, including those to build hospitals in the West Midlands and on Merseyside, a new motorway in Scotland and developments in Doha ahead of the 2022 World Cup finals in Qatar.

The MPs’ report recommends that:

•The Insolvency Service investigate “potential breaches of duties under the Companies Act” and claims of “wrongful trading” that could lead to “action for disqualification as a director”;

•The intervention powers of the Financial Reporting Council should be beefed up and its remit be extended to company directors that are not accountants;

•The Competition and Markets Authority should investigate the Big Four accountancy firms and consider that they be broken up;

•The Prompt Payment Code for suppliers should be reviewed after Carillion’s flagrant abuse of it;

•The “Crown representative” system used to oversee large public services contractors should be reviewed after it appeared to pick up no warning signals about Carillion’s financial crisis;

•The leadership of The Pensions Regulator should be is shaken up to make sure that it takes “harsher sanctions” against companies such as Carillion that fail to properly fund their retirement schemes.

The damning report will cast a shadow on the careers of the grandees on the Carillion board: Philip Green, the former United Utilities and P&O boss who was chairman; and Keith Cochrane, the former chief executive of Weir Group who was Carillion’s senior independent director.

There were criticisms, too, of Alison Horner, Tesco’s head of personnel, over her role as chairwoman of Carillion’s executive pay committee. Senior executives Richard Howson, Richard Adam and Zafar Khan were all sharply criticised.

Mr Green, who is called “delusional” in the report, criticised the MPs’ inquiry. “The report fails to understand and accurately reflect the true, more complex picture of events,” he said.”

Source: The Times (pay wall)

“Don’t make developers pay for social housing” … says BIG developer!

“One of the country’s top property developers has described the UK’s system of funding social housing as “nuts” and called for higher taxes to speed up building.

Roger Madelin, a member of the executive committee at British Land, told the Guardian the decades-old system of getting private developers to pay for affordable homes was “a stupid way of meeting this social need” and that the government should directly fund them.

“All companies should pay higher corporation tax,” he said. “This country needs to have more tax paid. If we did it like that we could get on and do it. It can’t work in the long term, you can’t expect developers to continue to produce for the population’s social needs at this level. It should come from general taxation.”

Madelin’s suggestion will raise eyebrows in the notoriously profit-driven property industry as it implies increased taxes on its profits. But he is a respected figure who led the regeneration of King’s Cross in London as well as Brindley place in Birmingham and his remarks reflect growing frustration that the system is not only failing to deliver enough cheap housing, it is also a drag on development.

He made his proposal as British Land submitted one of the UK’s largest planning applications for a £3bn regeneration of Surrey Quays in east London, with 3,000 homes, up to six skyscrapers and several new corporate headquarters on a site stretching across 53 acres – similar in size to the regeneration of King’s Cross. It is located about a 20 minutes’ tube journey from the City of London, between Shoreditch and Peckham, two rapidly gentrifying areas, on the London overground line. Some 35,000 people already live in the Rotherhithe peninsula, where the development will take place. …

Madelin believes that by avoiding the current haggling between council officers and developers about how much they should contribute to affordable homes, the government could regain control of how much and when much-needed affordable housing could be built.

“I find it nonsensical that we go through these viability assessments,” he said. ‘If you have a shortage of cars then you wouldn’t get motor manufacturers to subsidise people who can’t afford a decent car.” …”

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/may/14/social-housing-funding-system-is-nuts-says-top-property-developer

Civic Voice submission on new planning rules

PRESS RELEASE

“Civic Voice – the authoritative voice of the civic movement – has submitted its final response to the draft National Planning Policy Framework consultation. The response is available here:

http://www.civicvoice.org.uk/uploads/files/Civic_Voice_NPPF_response_FINAL.pdf

Ian Harvey, Executive Director said: “If the report in Planning Magazine over the weekend is true and the Government’s Chief Planner did confirm that the Government has received over 27,000 responses to the draft consultation, we believe that this shows the breadth of feeling across the country about the importance of our planning system.”

Responding to the draft NPPF, Civic Voice is calling for:

1. Given our membership and reach nationwide, we are concerned by the London and South East-centric nature of the NPPF; a greater level of ambition for economic development to is vital to address the viability challenges in some parts of the country.

2. The draft NPPF says much about the importance of design, however, it is our fear that as drafted, high quality design could be seen as a ‘nice to have’ but ‘easy to ignore’ rather than as an essential dimension of good planning.

3. Civic Voice supports the emphasis on early and meaningful engagement with communities within the draft NPPF and we would welcome working with MCHLG to develop the accompanying Planning Practice Guidance on this.

Harvey added: “We agree with the Government that finding a solution to the housing crisis is essential and we really hope that this was not a tokenistic consultation. We must ask, if the Government intends to publish the final document before the end of July, can it realistically be expected to review the thousands of responses comprehensively within a matter of weeks? We look forward to seeing the final document when it is released as it is important that the Government gets this right, because the consequences of getting it wrong will be felt for many years to come.”

Civic Voice President, Griff Rhys Jones finished by saying: “Whilst the Government wants to see the ‘right homes in the right places’, if it doesn’t get this right, it is very likely to end up with the ‘wrong homes in the wrong places. We hope they listen to the voices of communities across England.”