EDDC Planning: One rule for the businesses, one rule for residents?

How very differently EDDC planners seem to have treated an Ottery St Mary resident with a basic and simple planning question, demanding £40 to start a conversation, compared to an out of Devon business person who may be seen as saving their hide over the Exmouth Seafront debacle!

The Sidmouth Herald reports how EDDC planners tried to get £40 out of Ottery local Adrian Forster who just wanted to know if he needed to go through building regulations to renew his roof.

http://www.sidmouthherald.co.uk/news/fees-for-planning-advice-virtually-a-scam-says-householder-1-5580051

He is apparently not the first to be charged for the privilege of speaking to a planner. (Tip – ask a decent builder not EDDC or, if you can wait for an answer, put in a Freedom of Information request (FOI)!).

Contrast this with how a planning inquiry and subsequent requests for information were dealt with concerning the “Exmouth Eye” business.

In a January 2018 an FOI request was made to EDDC about a planning inquiry submitted by EDDC staff member Alison Hayward (to her planning colleagues) concerning some possible irregularities in the application form for this business.

Investigation showed that the form categorically stated that a named planner had given pre-planning assistance or prior advice (17/2944/FUL). EDDC was asked by FOI for information about that advice. EDDC stated that the pre-application advice was purely verbal advice given to the agent about what needed to be submitted with the application and was not recorded in any format, so presumably the advice was given free of charge and no receipt was issued for any payment.

A business appears to get free advice, a resident has to pay.

By amazing coincidence, WhatdoTheyKnow.com published a response into two further Exmouth Ferris Wheel FOI enquiries (https://bit.ly/2tCGwX4) The answers suggest that EDDC was somewhat economical with the truth about fees being charged – originally stating that fees charged by EDDC for the wheel to take up a great chunk of Exmouth Seafront were exempt from disclosure.

When pressed, however, they did say: “We are charging £151.80 per operational day and no charge on non-operational days”. Earlier, they suggested free non-operational days were not unique to this Ferris Wheel operator and gave a link to their charging regime.

It seems the operator may be in a unique pisition – as their scheme and rates actually appear to make no mention of free days.

The denial of special treatment for their Ferris Wheel friends looks rather hollow now and the ducking, diving and avoiding providing proper answers to FOI’s might be of interest to the Information Commissioner yet again?

“‘Britain’s fearless and independent Press is one of the foundations of democracy and must be protected’: Minister’s call to save print media as 300 local papers shut”

Owl says: Well, some local papers might be fearless and independent- but others are fearful and political toadies – naming no names …!

“Britain’s ‘fearless and independent’ Press is one of the ‘foundations’ of democracy and must be protected, the Culture Secretary has warned.

Matt Hancock has spoken out in defence of journalism as figures released today reveal that more than 300 local and regional titles have closed since 2007 – meaning some large towns are left without a local newspaper.

There are also 25 per cent fewer full-time journalism jobs than there were in 2007, while a quarter of all regional and local publications have closed. …

… The figures released today are part of a report conducted by research group Mediatique and commissioned by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

It found that the newspaper industry has been under ‘sustained threat’ for the past decade – with print advertising slashed in half since 2007.

The Mediatique report found that the ‘dramatic changes’ in revenue and number of publications had been fuelled by shifts in consumer behaviour – and the reliance on devices such as phones and tablets.

Figures by Mediatique revealed that there were 1,303 regional and local newspapers in 2007 compared with 982 in 2017.”

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5893993/Minister-calls-save-print-media-300-local-papers-shut.html

Celebrate 70 years of OUR NHS at Respect Festival Saturday 30 June, Exeter

KEEP OUR NHS PUBLIC (KONP)

The NHS is 70: celebrate and protest to preserve it

Saturday 30th June 2018
In Exeter

KONP will have a stall at the Respect festival (Belmont park, Exeter) to celebrate the NHS and spread the word about KONP campaigns.

This includes information on accountable care organisations, the Friends of the Sidwell Street Walk-in Centre, and others.

Community has 6 months to bid for Sidmouth’s Drill Hall

“Community groups have been given six months to make their submissions by January 11, 2019.

Exeter-based JLL, have been appointed by East Devon District Council as property marketing advisor, and will be offering advice and taking bids from non-commercial organisations immediately.

In the autumn, the company will open the bidding up to commercial property sector who will have only three months to put forward a bid.

Councillor Jeff Turner, of Sidmouth Town Council, said: “I’m pleased to see that the six month period has now started for the local community in Sidmouth to come forward with any ideas they may have.

“This commences the next stage of the process in finding a way forward for this area of the seafront which is of significant interest to a great many people in Sidmouth.”

It follows 18 months of consultation, which included a scoping study around the town’s Port Royal area to find out what the community would like to see there.

EDDC also carried out a marketing exercise to see about the possibility of adding attractions such as a high quality restaurant/bar development or something similar.

An EDDC spokeswoman said: “As a result of hearing what local people wanted and also acknowledging the constraints of the site including increased risk of flooding, a lack of financial viability in relation to large scale mixed use development and existing covenants, it was agreed that the original proposals should be ruled out.”

Cllr Philip Skinner, Deputy Leader of East Devon District Council and its economy portfolio holder, said: “I’m delighted that we are now able to offer this opportunity for the local community in Sidmouth to come forward during the next six months with their ideas for the site.

“Our property advisor will be available to offer guidance to interested parties and I look forward to seeing a range of proposals when the marketing period concludes in January next year.”

http://www.sidmouthherald.co.uk/news/bids-now-open-to-redevelop-sidmouth-s-drill-hall-1-5580801

Textbooks or tanks?

“Trade unions have said they estimate an additional £2.7bn a year is needed to take funding per pupil back to the level of 2015-16.

The NHS has been given a financial settlement, and there has been noisy lobbying within government for more defence spending.

Perhaps Mr Hinds had in mind the reproach from Treasury Minister Liz Truss to colleagues demanding extra money.

The Conservative chair of the committee, Robert Halfon, told the BBC: “After we got a wonderful settlement for the NHS, I believe we also need a ten-year plan for education and a five-year funding settlement too.”

Three teaching unions, the GMB, Unison and Unite have claimed the government is breaking a promise to maintain funding at the same level per pupil, after rising costs are taken into account.

They argue schools have been allocated an average of £4,630 per pupil, which is roughly £59 less in real terms than 2015-16.

The government says these calculations omit a large part of overall education spending, the central schools services block, which funds support services for schools.

“The claim that real terms per pupil funding has decreased in the last year is completely false,” a spokesperson for the Department for Education said.
“These figures fail to take into account that in 2018-19, we have provided an additional £450m of funding – making this comparison factually incorrect.”

Independent economists might think the government has a point, as it has previously been included in calculations.

Luke Sibieta, from the Institute for Fiscal Studies, said: “Changes were made to the school funding system for 2018-19 and funding for central services was separated out. Previously it was part of overall school funding.”

Mary Bousted, the joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said: “It is no wonder that schools are increasingly struggling to provide pupils with basic essentials and having to ask parents to fill the gap.” …

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-44633831

“Half of council staff considering quitting their job, survey finds” (What! only half!)

“Half of council workers are thinking of leaving their job for less stressful work elsewhere, according to a new survey by trade union Unison.

Six out of ten council workers surveyed said they don’t feel secure in their job, with over half (53%) saying their workload is unmanageable.

The survey also found eight in ten (79%) council workers have no confidence in the future of local services due to spending cuts, with 83% saying cuts have had a negative impact on their ability to do the job as well as they can.

Over half of those surveyed (53%) believe their council no longer delivers quality services, with 48% saying their employer doesn’t make the right decisions for the public, according to the survey results.

Unison general secretary, Dave Prentis, said: ‘Local services are collapsing and council workers are being left to pick up the pieces and do the best they can amid the chaos. This disturbing survey should ring alarm bells in Whitehall and also alert ministers to the crisis happening in councils up and down the country.

‘Local authorities have had to cut so many vital services that they have now reached a point where vulnerable children and the elderly struggle to get the help that they need, entire communities are suffering, and the public are being put at risk.’ “

https://www.localgov.co.uk/Half-of-council-staff-considering-quitting-their-job-survey-finds/45490

Mostly Tory county councils moan about Tory cuts

“England’s mainly Conservative-run county councils have warned ministers that the “worst is yet come” over cuts to local services and that several authorities risk going bust unless steps are taken to shore up crumbling budgets.

Only an emergency injection of funds next year to counter a growing financial “black hole” would head off severe cuts to services and potential unrest among local MPs, the County Councils Network said.

It said councils faced having to make “truly unpalatable” cuts to key services such as social care, refuse disposal, libraries, Sure Start centres and roads maintenance while putting up council tax bills and introducing new charges.

There is growing concern about the financial resilience of county councils, which are struggling to meet rising demand for high-cost, high-volume services such as adult and children’s social care.

This year the Tory-run Northamptonshire county council effectively went bankrupt after failing to balance its budget, and the National Audit Office said one in 10 councils with social care responsibilities could follow suit.

A survey carried out by the County Councils Network, which represents 36 councils delivering services to 27 million people, found that a third would struggle to balance their budgets for 2019-20 without extra funding, rising to two-thirds by 2020-21.

A budget analysis estimates that county councils face a £3.2bn gap between income and costs over the next two years, caused in part by projected extra demand for social care services and in part by government cuts.

Paul Carter, the County Councils Network chairman and Tory leader of Kent county council, said: “We will work hard to deliver the savings required this year, but the scope for making deliverable savings has dramatically reduced and decisions for next year will be truly unpalatable if we are to fulfil our statutory duties. Without additional resource, the worst is yet to come.”

Nick Rushton, the leader of Leicestershire county council, said savings of £200m locally since 2010 had cut services to the bone. “Without extra money the consequences could be dire,” he said.

The recent announcement of £20bn of extra funding for the NHS has left local authorities frustrated at the government’s lack of urgency in addressing the simmering financial crisis in town halls and the growing crisis in adult social care and child protection services.

The government recently announced that the social care funding green paper, expected before the summer recess, would not now appear until the autumn.”

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/jun/27/english-councils-warn-worst-is-yet-to-come-on-cuts

NHS and taxes – it doesn’t need special taxation

Gower Institute for Money:

“Yet again we have politicians saying that taxes need to be increased to “pay for” spending; this time it’s for social care.

In the UK, as many other nations, Government spending comes before taxation. The UK Government creates new money every time it spends and deletes it by taxation. We can spend the necessary money NOW, we do not have to tax first to pay for the spending.

As for borrowing, that is not borrowing at all, it is providing investment vehicles called gilts to investors. These defend the desired interest rate, the money saved in gilts does not pay for anything either. The interest paid on these accounts is a matter of choice too.

The Government should spend the money necessary to provide the service. Taxes collected will increase anyway as the people who do the work providing the service will pay tax and NI on their wages and taxes on their spending.

Of course the tax system needs sorting out; avoidance needs to be tackled. But we can do the spending needed now; the tax issue is an important, but separate, fight.”

Village Development Plan Approved by EDDC Strategic Planning Committee

The long-suffering residents of Farringdon and Woodbury Salterton are now one step closer from being a little more confidant with their fears of further growth from the Industrial Business Parks on their doorsteps from Hill Barton and Greendale Business Parks.

These 2 business parks have been growing at a considerable rate over the last 20 years which has provided important business opportunities and employment. However, it has been felt that further growth would be inappropriate in the open countryside some distance away from any major towns.

East Devon Local Plan proposals in the Local Plan approved in 2016 supported planned commercial growth would be at Cranbrook and areas close to Exeter together with other major towns in the district.

However there has been a number of challenges made to these policies with a number of Planning Inspectors hearings and High Court cases to these particular policies.

It was always known that the Local Plan would be challenged for development at these Business Parks and some villages. Therefore, the Local Authority proposed an additional planning document known as the “Villages Development Plan” which is an additional planning document drawn up by the Strategic Planning Department at East Devon which will provide further guidance and clarity to the largest villages in the district and the two business parks.

Finally, after 3 years of deliberation and public consultations, East Devon`s Strategic Planning Committee meeting this week, agreed to recommend to the East Devon`s Full Council meeting on the 25th of July that the “Villages Plan” be adopted.

The Villages Plan has been through several rounds of public consultation and the plan text has been refined to reflect the comments made.

Then followed a Planning Inspectors hearing plus an examination and recently returned by the Planning Inspector with an agreed approval following further changes and amendments.

The result of the Strategic Planning Committees approval and recommendation to the next Full Council meeting to adopt the new policy document will provide clarity and guidance on planning matters to the Villages and to the two Business Parks.

In the case of the Business Parks new planning policies are to be adopted.

Policy VP04 and VP05 which include a map that shows the extent of authorised uses at the Business Parks. Beyond the “Employment Area” shown on the map, any further planning applications will be considered to be in the “open countryside” and will be subject to stringent countryside protection policies.

It is therefore hoped by the rural villages of Farringdon and Woodbury Salterton that this endorsement of restricting further expansion at these Business Parks will provide clarity and certainty for the community for many years.

Sidford Business Park: owner tries to justify it

Says there are not enough spaces on his other business park in Sidmouth (remember that if an application to build housing there ever comes up!) so he has no choice but to build in the AONB with access on a narrow road:

http://www.sidmouthherald.co.uk/news/no-development-possible-on-alexandria-industrial-estate-says-owner-1-5576933

But … but … but ANOTHER businessman hoping to build similar units on a brownfield site with direct access to the A3052 nearer to Sidmouth:

http://www.sidmouthherald.co.uk/news/sidmouth-businessman-s-plans-to-make-town-s-garden-centre-special-again-1-5576929