How much land does EDDC own? Answer: 2,302 acres

Answer to a Freedom of Information request:

1. The total amount of land (in acres) currently owned by your Council – 2302 acres

2. The total amount of land (in acres) currently owned by your Council that has been identified as surplus to requirements – 0 acres

3. The total amount of land (in acres) currently owned by your Council that is scheduled to be sold – 0.3 acres

4. The total amount of land (in acres) currently owned by your Council scheduled for joint venture housing development or where such development is already taking place – 0 acres

Date responded: 20 June 2018

“Company co-founded by Jeremy Hunt broke [tax] law”

A company co-founded by Jeremy Hunt breached company law before carrying out a restructuring designed to reduce the health secretary’s tax bill by about £100,000, it has emerged.

Hotcourses, which was at the time majority-owned by Hunt, failed to file crucial documents with Companies House for over three years, when the law says they must be filed within 15 days.

It was reported in 2012 that Hunt reduced his potential tax bill by around £100,000 by moving an office building out of the company before a change to the dividend rate.

The Hotcourses’ mistake is a further embarrassment for the health secretary, who recently had to apologise after being investigated by the standards commissioner for failing to report ownership of seven flats in Southampton through a company.

Hunt has admitted breaching money-laundering rules brought in by his government, having failed to declare his 50% interest in the property firm to Companies House.

Hunt’s accountant, Grunberg & Co, said their failure to file the documents was “regrettable” and an “administrative error”, but not Hunt’s error as at the time he was a shareholder and not a director. Hunt referred inquiries to his accountant.

As has been previously reported, Hunt and his business partner, Mike Elms, transferred an office building in 2010 worth £1.8m out of Hotcourses and into their own names. They then immediately started renting the building back to the company.

The two men had to pay dividend tax on this “dividend in specie”, which at the time was 32.5%.

The March 2010 transfer took place just before the tax rate for the transaction rose to 42.5% at the beginning of April 2010. By paying themselves the building as a dividend before the change in tax rules, the two men saved themselves an income tax bill of around £200,000 on the deal.

According to documents filed at Companies House, Hunt and other shareholders signed documents to vary the rules of the company in February 2010. However, it was not until May 2013 that the “articles of association” were sent to Companies House.

Hunt’s accountants said that the dividend in specie could have been paid under the old articles of association, so the tax position would not have been affected by the changes.

Hunt stopped being a director of Hotcourses in 2009 but remained the largest shareholder in the company. Grunberg said it was the responsibility of the directors to file the documents.

Hunt co-founded the educational listings company in 1990. In 2017, the company was sold for £30.1m to IDP Education, a Melbourne-based student placement company that co-owns the popular IELTS English language proficiency test. The sale netted Hunt around £14.5m, which made him one of the richest Conservative MPs. In the MPs’ register of interests, Hunt also declares a half-ownership of a house in Italy.

Hunt’s shares have been held in a blind trust since he became a cabinet minister in 2010.

Hotcourses runs a variety of education-search websites including Whatuni, Postgraduate Search and the Complete University Guide. It also operates sites under its own name.

Hunt, who recently became the longest serving health secretary in history, has said previously that the success of Hotcourses came only after he and Elms had pursued a string of failed ventures, including a scheme to export marmalade to Japan and building children’s playgrounds.

East Devon could get a (small?) slice of new homes pie

“The government has confirmed 23,000 new affordable homes will be delivered across England through a £1.7bn investment deal.

That will include at least 12,500 social rent homes in high-cost areas.

Communities Secretary James Brokenshire also confirmed councils could bid for a share of £1bn of extra borrowing to build houses.

The money will be allocated to areas with the greatest pressure on affordability.

Included in that list are: Cornwall; North, West, East and mid Devon, Plymouth, Exeter, the South Hams and Teignbridge.”

“The UK’s Urban Parks Could Store As Much Carbon As A Tropical Rainforest”

“London’s Hampstead Heath isn’t just a great place to hang out in during the summer, it’s also a vital tool for preventing global warming.

According to a new study by University College London, the UK’s urban forests such as Hampstead Heath can actually store the same amount of carbon as a tropical rainforest.

The remarkable findings will be vital for city planners who are hoping to create the next generation of sustainable cities.

The study was carried out using airborne LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) data collected by the UK Environment Agency, combined with ground-based LiDAR measurements.

Together the University was able to generate a map of the carbon stored in an estimated 85,000 trees in the London Borough of Camden.

Using that data they found that green areas such as Hampstead Heath were able to store up to 178 tonnes of carbon per hectare. This is in comparison to the median value for rainforests which can store up to 190 tonnes of carbon per hectare.

“Urban trees are a vital resource for our cities that people walk past every day. We were able to map the size and shape of every tree in Camden, from forests in large parks to individual trees in back gardens.” Explained lead author of the study, Dr. Phil Wilkes….”

“UK democracy under threat and reform is urgent, says electoral regulator”

“The Electoral Commission has called for urgent reforms to electoral law after a series of online political campaign scandals, acknowledging concerns that British democracy “may be under threat”.

Following a series of revelations involving the likes of Cambridge Analytica, the elections regulator has asked Westminster and the devolved governments to change the law in order to combat misinformation, misuse of personal data and overseas interference in elections.

Among other recommendations, the Electoral Commission has called for:

A change in the law to require all digital political campaign material to state who paid for it, bringing online adverts in line with physical leaflets and adverts.

New legislation to make it clear that spending in UK elections and referendums by foreign organisations and individuals is not allowed.
An increase in the maximum fine, currently £20,000 per offence, that the Electoral Commission can impose on organisations and individuals who break the rules.

Tougher requirements for political campaigns to declare their spending soon after or during a campaign, rather than months later.

A requirement for all campaigners to provide more detailed paperwork on how they spent money online.

The intervention follows years of debate about the largely unregulated world of online political campaigning in the aftermath of the 2016 EU referendum and Donald Trump’s election as US president.

“Urgent action must be taken by the UK’s governments to ensure that the tools used to regulate political campaigning online continue to be fit for purpose in a digital age,” said Sir John Holmes, chair of the Electoral Commission.

“Implementing our package of recommendations will significantly increase transparency about who is seeking to influence voters online, and the money spent on this at UK elections and referendums.”

His organisation also backed proposals to publish a database of political advertisements that will enable the public “to see what adverts a campaigner has taken out and how much they paid”. Facebook is already due to launch such a facility for UK political adverts within the coming months.

The regulator, alluding to foreign governments such as Russia, also raised concerns that there is currently no explicit ban on overseas organisations buying online political ads aimed at a British audience. …

… A Cabinet Office spokesperson said: “The government is committed to increasing transparency in digital campaigning in order to maintain a fair and proportionate democratic process, and we will be consulting on proposals for new imprint requirements on electronic campaigning in due course.”

The Electoral Commission has also asked for the power to investigate individual political candidates if they have broken constituency spending limits in general elections. At the moment only the police can investigate such allegations, resulting in the long-running investigation into Tory candidates’ spending on battle buses, which was dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service due to insufficient evidence.

Other proposals include pushing political parties to count online advertising targeted at local constituencies within individual candidate spending limits – which can be as low as £10,000 – rather than as part of national campaigns which are allowed to spend up to £19.5m. During the 2017 general election the Conservatives were able to target Facebook ads regarding local issues at individuals in specific constituencies and count it as national spending – just so long as they didn’t mention the name of the local Tory candidate.

Both Labour and the Conservatives spent substantial sums of money on online promotions during the last general election, with digital spending accounting for more than 40% of all advertising spending by political parties in 2017. …”

EDDC current planning policy encapsulated in one planning application

Monopoly planning:

No affordable housing? Check
Too many houses? Check
Primary school which may never get built and in wrong location? Check

You have 3 ticks – do pass Go and don’t go to jail!

“Controversial plans that would see 350 new homes and a new primary school built on land at the edge of Exmouth are being recommended for approval – despite concerns about a lack of affordable housing and whether a new school is even needed.

The outline plans, for land at Goodmores Farm, off Dinan Way, also seeks outline permission for employment, commercial, and community uses.

The plans, which will be considered by East Devon Council’s development management committee on 3 July, are recommended for approval despite considerable concerns by Exmouth and Lympstone councils, local ward councillors, Devon County Council and residents.

Some objectors question whether there is a need for future housing and a new primary school in the town. Others accept the principle of the development but question if the primary school is in the best location, and they fear that the development will not provide adequate funding of about £2.5m toward the school.

But the council’s officers say the application from Eagle Investments Ltd has been viability-tested and the proposal was “considered to comply with existing planning policies”.”

Violence in Cranbrook – two attacks, including one in park

“A teenage girl has spoke of the moment a grown mum swore at and attacked her and her 14-year-old friend – while a group of children watch on.

The shocking clash, filmed by an eyewitness and shared publicly to Facebook, happened at a park next to St Martin’s Primary School, Cranbrook, just before 10pm on Friday.

The heavily-built woman and her friends loudly challenge a group of teenagers, snapping selfies against that evening’s striking sunset, in front of what appears to be their own children.

A row breaks out and the woman, wearing a flower-patterned dress, walks toward the group and shoves a 14-year-old girl before appearing to slap Angel Robinson, 17, in her face.

The force of the blow sees her knees buckle, as the park erupts with shouting and swearing.

Angel’s mum Sheena Robinson is fuming over the assault on a daughter who “would not hurt a fly” and weighs only six stone.

Speaking with Devon Live, Angel and her mum spoke of their anger and upset over the shocking incident – filmed by her friend Dayna, also confronted in the footage.

Angel said: “Basically, we were up the park and there was a family drinking vodka and wine and getting really, really drunk. “While we were stood taking selfies one of them started shouting at us.

“Another woman then gobbed off and started on Dayna. Then she whacks the 14-year-old. I went in and then she hits me.”

Angel says that, luckily, the swipe did not leave a mark on her.

For Angel, it proves that teenagers aren’t necessarily the cause of anti-social behaviour in the East Devon town.

“You see all over [Facebook community page] Belonging To Cranbrook complaints about teenagers and that we are the problem.

“But these were grown women. The parents are just as bad as the teenagers.”

Angel and her mum say the family at the table are not known to them, and it had been the first time Angel had encountered them at the park.

She says the incident won’t put her off returning with her mates.

Sheena says Devon & Cornwall Police have been made aware of the footage and are looking into the incident.

It wasn’t the only fight to break out in Cranbrook that evening.

Police were called to an altercation between two men at Great Meadow at 6.45pm.

A row led to one of them being shoved into a bush.

Police are using CCTV to help their enquiries.”

Plan unveiled to achieve HotSW Local Enterprise Partnership productivity target!

No – it’s not a Heart of the South West plan. They are still searching for suitable levers of power to grasp.

It’s not a detailed plan following up the Government’s White Paper:“Industrial Strategy – Building a Britain fit for the future”, Nov 2017, with its five foundations of productivity (Ideas, People, Infrastructure, Business Environment and Places) either.

Last week John McDonnell, shadow chancellor, unveiled plans for an investment revolution. He proposed all new governments should be obliged to set productivity targets with a revamped Bank of England, and act on them.

McDonnell commissioned Graham Turner, a City economist who advises hedge funds and investment banks, to produce a report. In an interim report, published in December, Turner found our financial system was taking money from sectors such as manufacturing and lending it to invest in property.

Promising growth in new tech sectors was overwhelmingly concentrated in and around London. Politicians and regulators have not ensured that banks play their part in supporting the growth of new businesses. Instead, banks have entrenched their focus on unproductive lending. Turner’s team recommended fundamental transformation of our financial system. Alongside the Bank of England’s (BoE) existing inflation target it should set a 3% target for annual productivity growth, backed by new powers that steer the financial system towards investment to maximise productivity growth.

Most comment of this idea was critical. As David Smith, Sunday Times economic editor, pointed out: by decade, productivity growth averaged 2.2% in the 1970s, 2.4% in the 1980s, 2.3% in the 1990s, 1.4% in the 2000s, and just 0.5% since 2010. It is not impossible: there have been 11 years in the past 45 when productivity has grown by 3% or more, years of strong economic growth or falling employment.

Monetary policy and financial stability, the Bank’s responsibilities, have no direct links to productivity and adding to its targets merely makes it more likely that it will miss its central one, controlling inflation.
Last autumn, Mark Carney, BoE governor, criticised those who wanted the central bank to solve problems such as productivity. The BoE “cannot deliver lasting prosperity and it cannot solve broader societal challenges,” he said, adding that calls for it to solve poor UK productivity “confuse independence with omnipotence”.

Philip Aldrick, economics editor of The Times, however, took a different view:

“The thing is, though, the closer you look at the powers the central bank has, the more Mr Turner’s proposals seem like common sense. Since the 2008 crisis, the Bank has been given a vast array of tools. It can ration household or business lending, it can drain or flood an economy with finance, it can direct banks how to behave, it can deploy £750 billion of cheap liquidity to grease the financial system, it can inject billions of pounds into the economy through quantitative easing and it can change interest rates.”

“Despite Mr Carney’s claim, the Bank is almost omnipotent but chooses voluntary impotence because using its power would be to stray into politics. For Mr Turner, the Bank’s “deliberate passivity” is contemptible when “credit guidance” could help to fix the nation’s productivity woes. What’s the point of all that power if the Bank doesn’t use it, especially since 2013, when its mandate was updated to “support the economic policy objectives” of the government? If nothing else, his paper asks the question.”

When our Council Leaders accepted HotSW’s ambition, without any detailed action plan, to double economic growth in 18 years, primarily by elevating productivity growth to levels never before sustained, did they realise just how radical a plan might be needed? And will they now be backing Labour’s or something equally tranformative?

John McDonnell’s Guardian article:

Interim Report (good source of financial data):

Click to access Financing-Investment-Interim-Report.pdf

Final Report:

Click to access Financing-investment-final-report-combined.pdf

Letwin’s report on “build out” (aka developers dribbling properties on to market to keep prices up)

Letwin interestingly does NOT blame planners. After this interinpm report he will further investigate and issue a fuller report at some point in the future x no doubt guided by whether what else he finds is vote-losing due to problems caused by his own government. He will further focus on:

lack of transport infrastructure,

difficulties of land remediation,

delayed installations by utility companies, constrained site logistics,

limited availability of capital,

limited supplies of building materials, and limited availability of skilled labour

alleged intentional “land banking” on the part of major house builders


Click to access Build_Out_Review_Draft_Analysis.pdf


Click to access Build_Out_Review_Annexes.pdf

Torbay-based Police and Crime Commissioner increases policing – in Torbay

Hernandez was a Tory local politician for many years in Torbay, before becoming Police and Crime Commissioner. Not long ago she attempted to appoint a pal from those days as her Deputy but was over-ruled:

Now she’s appointing a new senior officer just to cover the area. Is she planning a return to local politics there after her current “job”?

“A chief superintendent is being appointed for Torbay and South Devon, rather than a superintendent, to reflect “an increase in demand for policing” and help deal with “significant problems relating to crime in the bay”, Devon’s police commissioner has confirmed.

Commissioner Alison Hernandez said the new arrangement, due to be in place by September, was part of setting up a new basic command unit (BCU) for the area.

The force currently has BUCs for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, Devon and Plymouth.

Ms Hernandez told a meeting last week of the plans, saying she “had become increasingly concerned about homelessness and crime in the area, as well as the increasing complexity of crime”.

She added that a “more senior officer for South Devon” would be part of a “renewed focus on issues there”. Continue reading

“Down £3.6bn in TWO WEEKS: The roof falls in on housebuilders”

“Britain’s ten biggest builders have seen the value of their shares drop by a combined £3.6 billion in the last two weeks as fears grow that the housing market is heading for a downturn.

Fears of a rise in interest rates – and mortgage costs – are growing after three members of the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee voted in favour of a hike.

Bosses at housebuilding firms have cashed in over the past 12 months, with payouts to senior executives running into tens of millions of pounds.

A downturn in share prices in the sector would provoke fresh criticism of managers who have already been accused of making hay due to low interest rates and taxpayer subsidies for the industry, rather than their own skill and merit.

‘There is a fear that interest rate rises could be on the way,’ said Clyde Lewis, an analyst at broker Peel Hunt.

He added that estate agents had flagged a slowdown in the market. ‘With the housebuilders it looks like we are fairly close to the top of the cycle,’ he said. …”

Buy-to-let has skewed housing market and community-led development is the answer says Tory think tank

“Private landlords have put home ownership beyond the reach of at least 2 million families, research shows, while Britain has built only half as many new homes as France over the same period.

The radical report from the new Conservative thinktank Onward recommends ending or severely curtailing tax breaks for buy-to-let and private landlords, a stronger role for local councils and major reform of the planning system to allow communities rather than developers to lead the process.

The report, which was written by Neil O’Brien, a former aide to George Osborne who also worked for Theresa May at No 10, calls for government intervention in the housing market, including giving London councils the power to limit foreign ownership.

“We need to change the balance between the rented sector and home ownership,” O’Brien said. “We should protect existing landlords but discourage more people from investing in rental property, because the buy-to-let boom has bid up prices and reduced homeownership among younger people.”

Previous governments have already acted to curb tax relief on mortgage repayments and maintenance for landlords, but the thinktank says it is still a privileged form of investment that reduces the number of homes available for owner-occupiers while reducing the amount of capital available for more productive investment.

“The UK is one of the cheapest countries for investors involved in residential rental investments,” the report finds.

Emphasising the link between shortage of supply and rising home prices, the report offers radical ideas for increasing the number of new homes.

It argues that planning permission for a hectare of agricultural land can add as much as £2.5m to its value. If the community could benefit from some of the increase, the report argues, it could be used to pay for the kind of services and infrastructure that new developments sometimes lack.

Instead of piecemeal development, it recommends that councils should have the power to put together land and create new settlements with services. It looks across Europe, where most local authorities have strong powers to initiate and shape development and link it to public transport.

It proposes better support to help councils plan new developments drawing on expertise from across the sector, as well as abroad. It also recommends much higher density urban occupation, where the UK lags behind most other comparable countries. …”

“Estate rent charges” – another warning on new-builds such as those in Cranbrook

Already covered by Owl as regards Cranbrook here:

and what had to be done here:

Greendale: yet another retrospective planning application

Yet another retrospective planning application from FWS Carter and Sons! It appears this planning application is yet another example (of many) of the company jumping the gun as the new building already seems to have been built!

“FWS Carter and Sons wish to expand the existing farm shop as well as build a new dedicated classroom facility at the site on the A3052, between the Greendale Business Park and Crealy.

They say they would be making a significant investment in the farm shop, that already makes sales of around £100,000 a week, would create 30 new jobs, and expand on the shop which is a focal point to the rural community which it serves.

The farm shop already employs 68 people (56 full time and 12 part time), but the company says the new proposals would directly create 30 new jobs (8 full time and 22 part time) in documents submitted with a planning application to East Devon District Council.”

Owl wonder why they need a classroom at a farm shop?

Maybe for the training of the Greendale and Ladram Bay management of how to correctly apply for planning permission? Not build it then submit a planning application again, again and again!

Quote from Cllr Geoff Jung the EDA District Councillor.

“I am totally exasperated by their total lack of conformity to the planning system!

However this application will be treated by East Devon District Council in the normal manner as required by the National Planning Policy”

Perhaps new planning guidance should bring in hefty fines for retrospective planning applications?

Swire’s mate and co-director continues to court the wrong kind of controversy

Swire is a co-director with Barker in a company (Eaglesham Investments) set up to do business in “emerging energy markets”:

Now Barker is dealing with a lobbying firm with close links to Trump:

“Tory peer Lord Barker hires Trump aide to fight Oleg Deripaska sanctions

The Tory peer who chairs Oleg Deripaska’s EN+ has hired a lobby firm with close links to President Donald Trump at a cost of £82,000 a month, as the Russian aluminium giant races to avoid US sanctions.

Lord Barker, an energy minister under David Cameron, has appointed Mercury Public Affairs to engage in “executive branch and legislative branch outreach” on his behalf, according to documents filed with the US Department of Justice. Mercury is charging the London-listed EN+ $109,000 a month for its services. Mercury has approached the French, German, Australian and Irish ambassadors to the US, urging them to lobby the American government in support of a plan put forward by Barker to reduce Deripaska’s influence and therefore avoid sanctions. …”

Source: Sunday Times (pay wall)

Letwin on housing: no bricklayers, no infrastructure, developers slow to release (wrong kind of) housing to keep prices up

As reported in “Decisions, Decisions, Decisions – original article from today’s Sunday Telegraph.

Owl says Well, we could have written this, couldn’t we! And where is the Magic Money Tree for infrastructure?

It is two years since Sir Oliver Letwin formally left the government, and yet in recent months he has found himself relied on by Theresa May almost as much as if he had retained his role in the Cabinet Office.

The former Conservative policy chief has been credited with averting at least two major Tory rebellions over Brexit by developing compromise amendments to the Government’s EU (Withdrawal) Bill.

In November he was asked by Philip Hammond to tackle another thorny issue for the Prime Minister, who has pledged to increase the number of new homes to 300,000 per year: the vast gap between the number of properties given planning permission, and those that have actually been built.

Sir Oliver’s inquiry began amid claims developers were deliberately “banking” land. The only “land banking” that does exist, he has concluded, is as a result of the “absorption rate”, which sees builders sell new properties over a longer period of time because putting a large number of similar homes on to the market at the same time was depressing prices.

Sir Oliver’s analysis found that firms were taking an average of 15.5 years to complete large developments, with work progressing at a rate of 6.5 per cent of the development per year. At the extreme end of the scale the buildout rate of a development was almost 44 years. “It is an extraordinary fact,” he says. The larger the site, Sir Oliver’s team found, the smaller the percentage of the development that would be built each year.

The problem, he has concluded, is that homes on the largest sites were too alike, both in terms of the buildings themselves and their surroundings, and the “tenure” of the properties – whether, for example, they were ultimately aimed at private purchasers or renters, or those who would be renting through local authorities or housing associations.

‘Co-ordination across the various layers of government… is not good enough’

“When you go to these estates they will sometimes tell you, ‘we have three or four different flags’, as they put it, or ‘outlets’, or even ‘brands’,” he says.

“We have wandered up and down these sites and looked for the differences. I assure you, it’s very difficult to tell which is which.”

He adds: “There are people who want retirement living, people who want student accommodation, people who want homes that look and feel completely different from the sorts of things builders are building on these sites. They will find them in the second hand market very possibly, but they won’t find them on these sites, because these sites are being built like these builders build them – that’s what’s on offer. Any car you want as long as it’s black.”

The exact “policy levers” that Sir Oliver will recommend to tackle the problem will be the subject of the next six months of his review, on which he will report ahead of the November budget. But he now knows what he is aiming to achieve.

“The outcome we need is an outcome which somehow varies in lots of different modes and ways what’s on offer. Just as important that they should be varied in soft ways to do with architecture, urban design, ecology and style as in the hard ways of tenure and size.

“If you can have different markets that you’re addressing… you will end up with more homes.”

Sir Oliver has been careful to keep his focus on the time period between planning consent being gained and a site being completed, in line with his formal brief. But he will also make recommendations for tackling problems that he has discovered are delaying – by an average of more than four years – the point at which full consent is provided.

“We discovered en route that the provision of major infrastructure, particularly major transport infrastructure… has a huge effect,” he said.

“Barking Riverside [in east London] for years and years didn’t happen to speak of because everyone was discussing how not to provide an extension of the Docklands Light Railway. They eventually decided it wasn’t going to be provided and they would instead extend the London Overground. Then Barking could proceed.

“It would be much better if our country were one in which once someone’s decided that there’s a large area of post-industrial land which it would be really useful to build, somebody got their act together and got the infrastructure in place.”

He added: “There are lots of government schemes and money and so on available… but I have noted that co-ordination across the various layers of government – departments, agencies, Highways England and National Grid and all these others – is not good enough to create the energy to get rapid decisions made.”

Another problem is a shortage of bricklayers – which will only get worse if the Government’s efforts lead to a rapid expansion in the number of homes being built, he warns.

He calls for a five-year “flash” programme of on-the-job training to increase the number of bricklayers by around 15,000 – adding almost a quarter to the current workforce.

Sir Oliver understands the scale of the task on his hands. Housing, as Mrs May has realised, could make or break the Conservatives at the next election.

“I think there’s absolutely no doubt that any political party that doesn’t take really, really seriously the need to provide sufficient homes for our population… is going to suffer.”

Torbay unitary runs out of money – wants to be returned as a district to DCC

So the elected mayor experiment failed and Torquay is attempting to rejoin DCC with its tail between its legs.

The mayor caused major controversies, here are a few highlights:

The Tory council majority split and split again:

The mayor bought up a shopping centre in Bournemouth, an office building in Exeter, a business park in Torquay:

He lost a no confidence vote but refused to resign:

A referendum decided that the mayoral system was not wanted so the council was going to revert to a cabinet system:

and now he says the council has run out of money:

“Torbay went it alone in 1998 but it has now taken the first steps back to Devon County Council being responsible for running the threatened services.

Mr Oliver said: “We cannot survive as we are beyond this next financial year. There is no money. …

“We have got two years. Whoever wins the election in May 2019, this has to be an all-party solution. “The lack of money will drive economies of scale. Local authorities will have to work in partnership. “Some of them are just too small as they are. “There are 10 chief executives in Devon and 10 financial officers. …

Greater Exeter – will city living take some of the pressure off East Devon?

It seems that, after years of decline, living in cities has become more and more popular for all age groups, but particularly you g professionals. Given the decline in rural services such as loss of transport, infrastructure, sixth forms, community hospitals and shops, this is not too surprising.

However, when it comes to living in Exeter it seems less popular with its city council (headed as CEO by former EDDC Head of Regeneration Karim Hassan) which appears to favour student housing and leisure centres and cinemas over homes.

And our developer-led Local Enterprise Partnership sees housing growth in areas which its developers favour for very high house prices – pretty towns and commutable rural villages, the coast – including AONBs.

There is no data for Exeter in the article but Plymouth’s city centre population has increased by 34%.

Here is what a BBC article has to say:

“The growth in city centre living is down to young people – older generations have not returned from the suburbs in significant numbers.
Some are students, whose numbers grew with the expansion of university education.

For example, the student population in Sheffield city centre grew by more than 300% between 2001 and 2011, according to census data. By 2011 there were 18,500 students, accounting for about half the population.
Similarly, Liverpool’s city centre student population grew by 208% (6,300 more people), and Leeds 151% (7,700 more people).

But the popularity of big city centres among young, single professionals is the main factor.

The number of 20 to 29-year-olds in the centre of large cities (those with 550,000 people or more) tripled in the first decade of the 21st Century, to a point where they made up half of the population. There is no reason to think that this trend has eased since the census.

Only one in five city centre residents were married or in a civil partnership, while three-quarters were renting flats and apartments.
More than a third had a degree, compared with 27% in the suburbs and outskirts of cities. …”

Will the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan (now held over until after local elections in May 2019] recognise this new trend? It would certainly take a lot of pressure off East(ern) East Devon.

Exeter or Cranbrook … Exeter or Honiton … hhhmmmm.

SWIPE – South West Independent Party for England! A pipe dream …?

A post from East Devon Watch August 2015 is recently seeing revived interest from readers. Here it is again – the points it makes no less relevant now:

“Following on from our post about how much the South-West loses out to other areas of Britain, particularly the South-East, we have been considering the suggestion that we should create in this region a party similar to (but definitely not the same as) the Scottish National Party – a party representing an area which finds itself time and again the poor relation to other areas.

One should recall that the South-West has had a long tradition of non-conformity. Indeed, search on the words “south west england” and “nonconformity” and a whole host of links will turn up. Devon County Council even has web pages for it:

Admittedly, this refers specifically to religious non-conformity. But the South-West showed its independent thinking by being a hotbed of liberalism when liberalism was something more than Nick Clegg getting into bed with the Tories. From Yeovil to Cornwall, this area steadfastly refused to be buttonholed into conformity to the pendulum swings between Labour and Conservative.

So, given that the area is now so definitely politically blue, are we getting a better deal? The post from earlier this week shows very definitely that we are not:

So, Owl thinks it is time we started thinking about alternatives.

Firstly, what is the South-West? Officially (for political and statistical purposes) it consists of nine official regions of England: Gloucestershire, Bristol, Wiltshire, Somerset, Dorset, Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. The Owl thinks that we can discount Gloucestershire (hunting, shooting, fishing, the residences of Prince Charles and the Princes Royal and MI5 keep them firmly blue!) and Wiltshire seems just a little too close to the Home Counties and includes Swindon – definitely out. Dorset we dismiss too – they are totally conformist (see Letwin, Oliver and Grand Designs)!

That leaves Bristol, Somerset, Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. Bristol has gone extremely green over recent years and are likely to remain so (hopefully) and the Isles of Scilly have always done their own thing and have never considered themselves part of mainland life, but they can have the option of joining us within Cornwall (as at present). This leaves Devon, Cornwall (including the Isles of Scilly if they so wish) and Somerset. These three counties have so much in common. Long sea coasts, poor infrastructure and transport links, large retirement communities, large number of second homes, tourism forming an important part of economic life, a history of being overlooked when the honey pot is being shared out.

Imagine a specific party for Devon, Somerset and Cornwall! Imagine what a group of people from this area who held the balance of power in Parliament could achieve. Imagine just how powerful that could be.

And the acronym: South West Independence Party England – SWIPE!

Take a SWIPE at London-centric politics – devolution for the Cornwall, Devon and Somerset region!

Alas, just a pipe dream – for now …”