Exeter Masonic Lodge prints Conservative Party literature

“Did you know that the newsletters and fliers posted through your letter box by Exeter Conservatives are printed inside Exeter’s mysterious Masonic Lodge?

It’s just one of the unusual and illuminating facts about the establishment tucked away on the historic Gandy Street. …

In the past year, the building has also become home to Exeter Conservative Party’s printing office.

Despite its reputation over its exclusion of women, female Tory party members now regularly enter the building – easily missed by the eye – to print off fliers, newsletters and other paperwork. …

Devon has around 50 halls and around 137 lodges or clubs.

A £2m fund, set up by former Exeter grand master William Alexander Kneel, donates around £40,000 a year in Devon.”


Urgent action needed on political advertising

“Following a request by the Culture Media and Sport committee, Facebook released the adverts Vote Leave ran during the EU referendum.

The series of adverts targeted specific Facebook users – but in many it was not clear who had paid for them.

We know who sends us leaflets during elections – we should know who’s paying for online adverts too.

Openness and transparency should be the standard during election and referendum campaigns, not the exception.

Will you sign our petition for online imprints and to release all the official adverts from the EU referendum?”

Sign the petition:

80+ people protest against proposed Sidford business park

“Protestors made their feelings clear as part of a march saying ‘no’ to the proposed multi-million pound business park development in Sidford.

In excess of 80 people turned up to the ‘Say No to Sidford Business Park’ campaign event on Monday.

Residents were armed with homemade placards voicing their opposition to the application, which is looking to create 8,445 sq m of employment floor space on the Two Bridges site.

Councillor Marianne Rixson said that there was more than 1.6million sq ft of commercial property available in Exeter and Honiton catering for B1, B2, and B8 business use.

The plans also did not ‘conserve and enhance’ the area under the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) guidelines.

She told the crowd: “This development is going to be within our AONB which is precious.

“The height of these buildings are going to be raised by 1.5m for them to flood proof the site, which with the 7.5m on top is going to be 9m high – that is twice the height of a normal bungalow.

“There is a duty to conserve and enhance, this is not going to do either.

“Also it says it should be in exceptional circumstances; we have very low unemployment and there is plenty of property elsewhere, where is the exceptional need?”

The youngest protester at the event was just two years old, with many children joining adults to raise their concerns about developing in the AONB.

Sidbury pupil Billy Bonfield, aged six, said: “I do not want people to build a big industrial estate.”

His mum Becky added: “He goes to Sidbury School, there’s always gnarl ups on the road – it’s just not big enough.”

Concerned cyclist Sue Dyson said: “I’m in fear for my life going up School Lane. If there is more traffic, I think I wouldn’t be able to do it, it’s bad enough as it is in.”

Graham Cooper added: “The best idea is to redistribute the employment space across the area and develop brown field sites first.

“You mustn’t go and develop AONB land unless there’s proven to be a need.”

Campaigners are currently taking to the streets of Sidford and Sidbury with a petition which they will look to present to East Devon District Council.

The campaign has raised £750 so far to spend on signs and posters and urged people to keep donating.”


“Government proposes shake-up of Local Enterprise Partnerships”

More to folliw …

On 24 July 2018, with little or no publicity, the government brought out a review of Local Enterprise Partnerships:


“The review proposes a number of changes to boost the performance of LEPs, increase their diversity and ensure they’re operating in an open and transparent way. These include:

up to £20 million of additional funding between 2018 to 2019 and 2019 to 2020 to support the implementation of these changes and embed evidence in Local Industrial Strategies

supporting LEPs to consult widely and transparently on appointing new Chairs and improve board diversity

an aim for women to make up at least one third of LEP boards by 2020 with the expectation of equal representation by 2023

a mandate for LEPs to submit proposals for revised geographies including removing situations in which 2 LEP geographies overlap … “


Local Government Association news – too much (bad) news to choose from

Opinion: Last-minute ministerial statements

Polly Toynbee discusses the raft of ministerial statements issued on the last day of Parliament, including a change to planning laws, under which communities lose the right to have their say on developments if they fail to meet government-imposed targets. She questions whether this will be “a gift for developers” and references LGA Chairman Lord Porter’s view that it “punishes local communities”.
Guardian (Journal p4)

UK’s bus routes at a 28-year low

The UK bus network has shrunk by 8 per cent in a decade with bus routes at a 28-year low in terms of miles travelled, according to government figures. Councils subsidise nearly half of all bus routes in England but a total of 3,347 routes have been stopped or reduced since 2010. The LGA says councils face an overall funding gap of almost £8 billion by 2025 that could see 5,000 bus routes gone by 2022.
Mirror p8

Councils seek £50,000 care home cap to help rural areas

No one should have to pay more than £50,000 for a place in a care home, the County Councils Network has said. Its report, published in advance of the Government’s delayed green paper on reform of the care system, said: “For more people in rural areas to benefit from a cap on care, it needs to be set at a lower level, potentially as low as £50,000. It is estimated that only one in 10 people would benefit from a £72,000 cap.” It said the cap must be fully funded.
Mail p19

School holiday hunger cash

The Government will put £2 million towards a series of projects across the country providing activities including free football classes, play sessions and cooking classes. These projects will also provide free meals for the most disadvantaged families who may rely on the free school meals they receive during term time.
BBC Online, Mirror p17

Wheelchair shortage

Millions of people are being left without wheelchairs as they recover from illness and risk being “trapped” in their own homes, the British Red Cross has warned. The charity said a lack of information about services, stigma around wheelchair use and a “postcode lottery” are among the reasons people are not getting the right support.
BBC Online, i p9

UK heatwave

The London Fire Brigade has called for councils in the capital to introduce a ban on barbecues in parks and drivers are being urged not to throw rubbish from their cars after a string of grassland fires during the heatwave.
BBC Online, Sky News Online, ITV Online, all papers

Flat owners have to pay £3m recladding cost of two Manchester blocks

The owners of 345 flats in two Manchester apartment blocks built with flammable cladding will have to pay an estimated £3 million to have their homes made fire-safe, following a ruling by a tribunal. The tribunal ruled in favour of the freeholder who argued that the flat owners, as leaseholders, should pay for the replacement of the cladding at a cost of £10,000 each through their service charge.
Guardian Online

“Chairman and vice-chairman of Somerset County Council audit committee resigns”

“[Somerset] COUNTY Hall has been rocked by the resignation of the top two councillors in charge of overseeing its finances amid claims it will run out of money later this year.

Audit committee chairman Cllr Dean Ruddle and his deputy Cllr Neil Bloomfield both stood down yesterday (Wednesday). Fellow committee member Cllr Mike Rigby said he believes they have quit to avoid being “left holding the baby”.

The move comes in the week that council leader Cllr David Fothergill denied claims Conservative-led Somerset County Council was on the brink of bankruptcy. He told the County Gazette the authority faces huge financial pressures but was not about to issue a 114 notice, which warns of insufficient funds to pay its bills.

Mr Rigby said: “I’ve been concerned for some time that our budgets are being continually slashed by central government to the point where we can no longer meet our legal duties. “I had thought that we could make it into next year as a council without running out of money. “But after recent developments, I’m not now convinced we can make it that far, despite the emergency spending measures put in place at County Hall. “I’m not surprised that the chairman and vice-chairman have decided to go. Who wants to be left holding this baby?

“It’s about time that our Conservative administration stops supporting the government until the government undertakes a proper review of government finance.”

Cllr Claire Aparicio Paul and Cllr Gemma Verdon have been appointed as chairman and vice-chairman of the audit committee respectively.”