New Facebook page: AvoidPersimmonHomes

A new Facebook page called “AvoidPersimmonHomes” has been overwhelmed with stories and pictures of homes which occupants are finding impossible to live in. At the time of writing it has 269 members.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/316825475386299/about/

This follows on from a similar page for Bovis homes which has 3,113 members
https://www.facebook.com/groups/BovisVictimsGroup/

The shame: UN to investigate Tory record on poverty and human rights

The sound of Charles Dickens as he turns in his grave.

“The United Nations has launched an investigation into poverty and human rights in the UK which will examine the impact of the austerity policies of Theresa May and David Cameron over the past eight years.

The inquiry will be led by Prof Philip Alston, the UN’s special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, who angered the Donald Trump administration this month when he concluded after a similar visit to the US that the White House’s contempt for the poor was driving “cruel policies”.

The fact-finding trip is scheduled for this autumn and will be the first visit to a western European country by a representative of the UN’s rapporteur’s office since a trip to Ireland in 2011. Alston’s most recent inquiries into extreme poverty have taken him to the US, China, Saudi Arabia and Ghana.

“The UK has gone through a period of pretty deep budget cuts first under the coalition and then the Conservatives and I am interested to see what the outcome of that has been,” Alston told the Guardian. “I am also interested to look at what seems to be a renewed debate on all sides about the need to increase spending at least for some of the key programmes.”

He said the challenges facing the UK were different to the US, where he has concluded Trump’s policies were “tailor-made to maximise inequality and to plunge millions of working Americans, and those unable to work, into penury”.

Alston said: “In the UK, things are at a different place where there is no great budget surplus to be mobilised. Welfare cuts have taken place but there is now an interesting debate on whether they have gone too far and what measures need to be taken to shore up the NHS and other programmes.”

Alston has not yet determined exactly what he will focus on and will shortly invite submissions from groups who want to suggest matters for him to consider. They could include housing squalour, insecurity at work, in-work poverty, mental health and political disenfranchisement. …”

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/jun/28/united-nations-tory-record-poverty-human-rights

Should local party members elect council leaders?

So says a writer (Labour) in a Huffington Post blog. No problem in East Devon – most of the dwindling local Tory party membership are already councillors!

Some of the comments seem quite pertinent to East Devon:

” … a council leader who oversees a large budget and thousands of local government workers, is only selected by the party members who live in their individual ward to be a candidate for councillor, from there a vote of councillor colleagues takes place behind closed doors. There is no mechanism for members to have a say on who should be the Labour [or other political party] group leader or to debate the principles, priorities and policies they will lead before they are in place. In practice, there is no recourse for members if the leader chooses to act in a way that undermines the values our party is founded upon – other than to deselect them as a candidate to be councillor when they are next up for election, which may be four years away. …

[Ah, yes, who can forget Diviani being told to save community hospitals at EDDC and voting to close them at DCC]

… Too often we see Council Cabinet members dependent on the grace and patronage of their leader for their income and livelihood – no Cabinet position means no job, and as such very little dissent. In some places even scrutiny chairs – the name should give away what they’re there for – are put in place by the very leadership they are supposed to scrutinise. …”

[Scrutiny – we never did manage to get to the bottom (or even very slightly below the surface) of the relationship between disgraced Councillor Graham Brown, the council and their relationship with the East Devon Business Forum]

Source: Huffington Post

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