“Earl of Devon elected to the Lords in a poll of his hereditary peers” (he got a majority – 12 votes)

Aka Charlie Courtney c/o Powderham Castle.

Wonder what he will do for us? Still, the £300 per day just for signing in will buy a few cushions from Harrods!


Sidford Business Park – this IS just a coincidence isn’t it?

“More than £100k in funding earmark for pothole repairs in Sidmouth and Otter Valley … “


Devon schools lose more than 700 teachers and teaching assistants in one year

“In just one year, Devon’s schools have lost more than 700 teachers and teaching assistants.

The worrying figures, revealed in an annual school workforce census published by the government this week?, have been blamed on government cuts by unions.

The data has shown in the Devon County Council authority area there were 11,599 full-time equivalent (FTE) staff in the county’s schools at the end of last year – compared to 12,229 just a year before, meaning schools lost 630 teachers.

The biggest cut was in teaching assistants, with FTE numbers falling by more than 300 from 3,623 to 3,322.

The number of FTE classroom teachers was down by 170, while the number of all teachers – including those in leadership roles – was down by 204. Support and auxiliary staff accounted for most of the rest of the fall. …

The census shows that as a result of the loss of staff – and ever-growing pupil numbers – the pupil: teacher ratio in Devon grew from 17.3 pupils for each teacher in 2016 to 18.2 pupils for each teacher by the end of 2017. …”


“Spike in homelessness in East Devon prompt council chiefs to take urgent action”

Just what did EDDC expect when it didn’t challenge developers’ affordable housing viability figures? And good luck with getting either of our MPs to do anything other than mouth well-rehearsed platitudes.

“… Last year, a dramatic rise in the cost of temporary accommodation meant the authority spent £296,000 on short-term accommodation against a budget of £20,000. …

The council has agreed to a number of proposed measures, including the creation of a new ‘homeless accommodation officer’, a move to increase the amount of temporary accommodation and to hold an urgent meeting with local MPs, ahead of the Government’s green paper on housing. …”


Government has “shaky grasp” of local government finance

“The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has only a “shaky grasp” of the issues facing local authority finances, the Public Accounts Committee has claimed.

A report published by the committee today noted a significant reduction in councils’ spending power had been imposed at the same time as increases in demand pressure.

Local authority spending power, comprising government funding and council tax, has fallen by 28.6% since 2010-11, while key services have come under increased pressure, the PAC said.

In the same timeframe there has been a 14.3% growth in the estimated population aged 65 and over in need of social care, while authorities have endured a 10.9% increase in the number of children being looked after.

PAC chair Meg Hillier said: “It is no secret that councils are under the cosh.

“The mystery is how central government expects their finances to improve when it has such an apparently shaky grasp of the issues.”

The committee criticised MHCLG’s lack of an agreed measure of sustainability for local government finance or a clear definition of ‘unsustainable’.

The PAC suggested that MHCLG is holding out for a favourable spending review, but noted that the review is now under greater pressure given the announcement of long-term NHS funding.

The committee report also pointed to the first year of the 2015 spending review (2016-17) in which councils with social care responsibilities overspent their service budget by over £1bn and used £858m in reserves.

Hillier said: “Central government’s view is, in effect, that it expects everything to work out in the end. We beg to differ.” …”


“A protest opposing the plans for a multi-million pound business park at Sidford will be held next month”

“Campaigners have also launched a petition and have called on residents to join forces and back their efforts.

So far, more than 200 objections have been lodged against the application to create 8,445sqm of employment floor space on the Two Bridges site.

The plans, which could create 250 jobs, represents 37 per cent of what was previously proposed and submitted to East Devon District Council (EDDC) in 2016.

When the Herald went to press, a total of 232 comments had been submitted to EDDC – this included 211 objections and 20 supporters.

From Monday, July 9, Say No to Sidford Business Park campaigners have said they will be going door-to-door in Sidford and Sidbury in order to obtain signatures for their petition, in the first instance.

Volunteers then plan to submit the signatures to EDDC before the authority’s Development Management Committee makes a decision on the application.

Anyone who would be interested in volunteering on one or more of the days between July 9 and 12, from 6pm until 8pm, has been asked to come forward to help collect signatures.

Campaigners will also have street stalls in the centre of Sidmouth on Saturday, July 14 and Saturday, July 21.

Volunteers will be collecting signatures for the petition and will be seeking help from anyone who would like to help with the Say No to Sidford Business Park drive.

A campaign spokesperson said they would be running a number of initiatives throughout July.

A protest will be held on Monday, July 23, between 4pm and 5.30pm. Further details will be released closer to the time.

A spokesperson said: “We would like to thank everyone who has so far put a ‘NO Sidford Business Park’ poster in their window.

“This is an easy way of showing your opposition to the planning application.

“Please print and display the poster and give copies to friends and neighbours to put up.

“If you know of someone who you want to receive our emails then let us have their email address and we will add it to the extensive contact list.

“Thank you for the many messages of support that we have received.”

For more information email nosidfordbusinesspark@yahoo.com.”


“Rural areas at risk of terminal decline warn council chiefs”

Owl says: is EDDC paying too mych attention to Cranbrook and the Greater Exeter Growth Area p, leaving the rest of the district to wither on the vine?

“Unaffordable housing, an ageing population unable to access health services, slow broadband and poorly skilled workers make for a deepening divide between town and country.

The threat is exposed in the interim report of the Post-Brexit England Commission set up by the Local Government Association to examine challenges faced by non-metropolitan England.

Young people are struggling to stay in rural communities where the average house price is £320,700 – £87,000 higher than the £233,600 average of urban areas, excluding London, the report said.

Rural firms grapple with patchy mobile and broadband connections which cuts off access to new markets.

Councillor Mark Hawthorne, chairman of the LGA’s People and Places Board, said: “Rural areas face a perfect storm.

“It is increasingly difficult for people to buy a home in their local community, mobile and broadband connectivity can be patchy.

“People living within rural and deeply rural communities face increasing isolation from health services. If Britain is to make the most of a successful future outside the EU, it’s essential our future success is not confined to our cities. Unless the Government can give non-metropolitan England the powers and resources it needs, it will be left behind.”

Tom Fyans, of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said: “Affordable housing, public transport, high speed broadband and thriving rural economies are all interdependent.

“If our market towns and villages are to thrive once again we must make sure that rural communities are attractive places to live and prosper for people of all ages.”