Evo-North: 11 business-led Local Enterprise Partnerships unite to hijack funding formerly controlled by local authorities

Coming soon to a group of Local Enterprise Partnerships on your doorstep.

On 9 July 2018 it was announced that 11 Northern Local Enterprise Partnerships would join together as “Evo-North”:

“Christine Gaskell, chair of the Cheshire and Warrington LEP and vice-chair of NP11, said: “To translate the Northern Powerhouse concept into increasing impact requires new types of conversations across the region and at the heart of this collaboration are common goals which transcend local interests.”

Gaskell noted that the The NP11 will serve as a “strong coherent regional voice” with national government about the potential of an innovation-led economy for the North.”


Now we see the full take-over of former local authority funding by this new business-led UNELECTED group as a press release publicising one of its forthcoming events makes clear:

“Following last month’s announcement from Northern Powerhouse minister Jake Berry that 11 LEPs will form the government-funded body ‘NP11’ to act as a modern-day ‘Council for the North’, last week, a cross-party group of MPs called for £100bn investment to transform the north of England’s transport by 2050 and for the date of Northern Powerhouse Rail to be brought forward to 2032.

This makes EvoNorth the perfect opportunity to put your products and services in front of the budget-holders who are actively seeking them. You get the opportunity to ask questions and network with the people responsible for delivering the Northern Powerhouse by attending this exclusive event. You can benefit from branding and exhibition opportunities by contacting the events team on 0161 833 6320, and you can also submit an enquiry or click here to contact us by email.

EvoNorth is an important event and platform where the Northern Powerhouse is discussed and debated across a wide range of topics including skills, employment & apprenticeships; digital revolution and innovation; health and social care; wellbeing & fulfilment; and infrastructure, business and inward investment.

It stands out from the crowd with its immersive series of lively and engaging Q&As, roundtable discussions, workshops and exhibitions. You can be a part of this exciting opportunity by attending, exhibiting or sponsoring: just contact the events team on 0161 833 6320, submit an enquiry or click here to contact us by email.”


So, very, very soon our district, our county and our region will almost certainly be in the grip of these unelected business people who have already shown their conflicts of interest countless times.

And we can do nothing to stop them …. unless the Conservative government which has enthusiastically x nay zealously – driven this initiative is removed from power.

A useful critique on new planning regulations (local councils stay silent on their views)

Why CPRE thinks it is a developers’ charter (again):


£ 100m to eradicate homelessness – don’t believe the hype

£50m already allocated in the past
£50m taken from other budgets within the Dept of Housing and Local Government

Thus i5 ever was ….

Add a massive shortage of mental health and addiction practitioners and you get …

not a lot.


Claire Wright sets up support group for people struggling with Dept of Work and Pensions

What sort of support group might Swire or Parish set up? “Help the Maldives Travel Fund” (Swire) or maybe “Rich farmers who might get slightly poorer” (Parish)? Or possibly: “We both started out as Remainers and are now Brexiteers who have no idea what is going on but desperately trying to look like we know what we are doing” support group?

“Hi, I have set up a support group for people who are struggling with the Department of Work and Pensions, such as those on working tax credits or who are trying to claim PIP or carers allowance, for example.

The first meeting is on Tuesday 21 August at 7pm, in the Institute, Yonder Street, Ottery.

The meeting is primarily for people living in my council ward, however, I won’t turn anyone away.

Please help get the message out there by liking and sharing this post. Many thanks:

Claire Wright
Devon County Councillor
Otter Valley Ward”


Taylor Wimpey, Archant, EDDC and red dust in Littleham, Exmouth : “fake news”?

Below is information from an Exmouth resident sent to an Archant local reporter regarding development at Littleham, Exmouth, the “red dust” it is creating and its effect on a large number of frustrated residents.

The resident has received no reply to either email and the newspaper has not balanced its original mild article to reflect the information in these emails:

11 August 2018:

Ms Brainwood [Archant reporter who wrote original article]:

Further to my email from last week I write to inform you of the following. It has been noted by the way that you did not pay me the courtesy of a reply.

Local residents are quite rightly annoyed that your article gave false impressions.

You reported the following :

1. The only residents to be affected were two elderly people in Buckingham Close.
2. The only area affected was indeed Buckingham Close.
3. Taylor Wimpey were doing everything they could to minimise the red dust site vehicles generated.
4. EDDC were happy that the red dust was “ within limits “.
5. Environmental Health Officers from EDDC were quite happy with the overall situation.

The real situation could not be further from the truth.

If you had asked local residents they would have informed you the red dust was experienced in Littleham Road, Midway, The Crescent, Jarvis Close, The Broadway, Douglas Road and Cranford Road just to name a few areas.

Local resident who I have spoken to agree your article is at best sloppy journalism and at worst, fake news.

I read on the Exmouth Journal website your Group Editor Philip Griffin tells us the paper is “ respected for it`s balanced reporting “. We all had a good laugh at that.

For you information the cycle path in Jarvis Close north of Plumb Park is being currently dug up by South West Water to lay pipes. The work will last for 5 weeks. More excessive noise, more disruption and even more dust just a couple of metres from residences in Littleham Road.

Finally, it is your prerogative not to reply to my emails, it is our prerogative not to purchase your paper. “

and the resident’s earlier email to which the resident also had no reply:

“2 August 2018

To: laura.brainwood@archant.co.uk
Subject: Red dust causes misery for residents near Plumb Park development

I would like to make you aware of a few facts regarding the current red dust problem that you reported on in the 1st August 2018 edition of the Exmouth Journal.

“ Taylor Wimpey have taken measures to reduce the impact “. This is not correct.

When I have contacted their Exeter call centre ( 01392 442617 ) they say dust suppression is taking place, but it is not. We are told a water bowser “ damp down” every day. As the site is visible from my bedroom window in Littleham Road, 30 meters from the north fence, I can inform you it never takes place. We are also told a street sweeper is used to suppress the dust. We have never seen the vehicle.

A resident who lives in Jarvis Close (his wife has a very serious case of COPD), confronted the Site Manger face to face recently and was told “damping down“ takes place in certain areas every 20 minutes. This is a lie.

I have contacted Environmental Health to complain about the red dust. I am not the only Littleham Road resident to have done this.

Alice Gill EHO did call back to inform me that Taylor Wimpy is taking action to reduce the dust. She is telling me what Taylor Wimpey is telling her. It is just not happening. Recent emails informing them again, that there is still a big problem have been ignored.

Food has to be covered to stop contamination from the dust in the kitchen. As windows are left open due to the warm weather we even have dust on tooth brushes in the bathroom. It has permeated into closed cupboards. Yes. It is inside the house!!!

In the meantime elderly resident who have COPD have to inhale red dust, along with everybody else, just because Taylor Wimpey can`t be bothered to do anything.

EDDC Development Management Committee was informed in June 2013 by many local residents that this development would blight the lives of local people. They were not interested.

Perhaps your readers would like to know a few facts regarding this issue, plus the current disinterest.”

“These [Tory] councils smashed themselves to bits. Who will pick up the pieces?”

“The people running an arm of the British state confessed last week that they can no longer do their job. That is not how the collapse of Northamptonshire county council has been presented, but it is what’s happened. From now on it will provide only the legal minimum of services. From children in care to bin collection, all are in line for “radical reductions”. Normal service will not be resumed for years, if ever.

Nor is Northants alone. East Sussex says it will follow suit. Soon will come a third. Then a fourth. Make no mistake, this is a hinge point in British politics.

The obituaries for local government are already being written, and come in two flavours. For ministers, the calamity is local bungling; critics snort that town halls have been pulverised by the cuts imposed by David Cameron and Theresa May. Neither argument is wholly inaccurate, yet both miss the truth. What is happening in Corby and other well-to-do authorities is the collapse of an entire ideology.

Call it pulverism, the idea that councils should use financial crises not merely to make savings but to smash up and reshape the public sector. Tried out here and there for decades, in the past few years pulverism has gone nationwide. Aiding and abetting and cheering it on have been the biggest beasts in Conservatism. Under this regime, financial mismanagement isn’t opposed to austerity – but feeds upon it, as local officials hand over taxpayer cash to “project managers” on eye-watering day rates and any passing huckster in pinstripes. It leads to town halls being looted by multinationals for millions, even while adults with learning disabilities are turfed out of their homes to save pennies. If this sounds familiar that’s because what is playing out in local government is an extreme version of the story still unfolding in Whitehall. And one of the best places to see it is on the northern outskirts of the capital.

The London borough of Barnet is the alpha and omega of pulverism. It was a role model for Northamptonshire, and the two are eerily similar. Both true blue Tory; both preaching the need for sound finances while raiding their contingency funds and refusing to raise council taxes; both happy to chuck millions at consultants and build themselves swanky headquarters. And, crucially, both adamant that their council’s future lies in smashing itself up and handing out the shards to big companies to provide the bulk of public services.

Budget crisis takes Northamptonshire council into uncharted territory
Barnet’s plan was to slash direct employees from 3,200 to just 332, while Northamptonshire wanted to outsource 95% of its staff. It was cartoonish, it was reckless, it was grotesque. Most of all, it was meant to serve as an example to the rest of the country of how the right can mobilise austerity for its own brutish ends. Northamptonshire is now a front-page scandal, but Barnet is one to watch. I’ve been writing about it on these pages almost since the start of the great contracting out. Largely unnoticed by the newspapers, this summer the council confessed that it faces a giant financial black hole – precisely the fate that their masterplan was meant to safeguard against. The council will now have to cut services even more drastically. To heap on the humiliation, it must also rip up its outsourcing strategy.

Barnet’s Tories raced down this road even before the 2008 financial crash, eventually unveiling the “easyCouncil” model. Just as Cameron’s big alibi was that wretched note from Labour’s Liam Byrne, saying “there’s no money left”, so Barnet brandished a “graph of doom” showing its budgetary crunch. Bringing in the private sector – in particular the FTSE giant Capita, which snared two vast 10-year contracts worth about £500m – was meant to be the fix. It would ensure better public services for less money.

Wrong on both counts. Under outsourcing, basic bits of local administration are now a bad joke. Barnet’s pensions are in such a state that last year the regulator fined Capita for not filing essential information on time. Roads, also managed by Capita, are so potholed that they became a big issue in the May elections. Recently a Capita employee working for Barnet was jailed for 62 instances of fraud worth a total of £2m. He had violated financial controls for well over a year, yet the council admitted to me that the crimes were spotted neither by it nor by Capita, but by the employee’s own bank.

All of this is costing not less money, but more. Just how much more not even the council’s leaders are clear. The Tories went into the May elections boasting of the borough’s financial stability; the next month they confessed to a black hole of £62m by the middle of next decade. To stave off ruin, the axe will be wielded again.

Both Barnet and Capita claim that outsourcing has delivered “significant financial savings”. That is doubtless true on the core work contracted out – but outsourcing companies always make their money by charging for extras. Resident and blogger John Dix reviews the invoices submitted by Capita under the outsourcing contracts (256 for the last financial year alone) and can tell you what those extras typically include. A parent phoning the library to check if a Harry Potter is in stock? Capita used to charge £8 a call. Training for senior officers? Capita pockets £1,200 for just one session.

Just as I and others warned at the outset, having handed over so much to Capita, councillors have effectively lost control of their own council. Last month the council admitted to “significant issues” with Capita’s new system to manage social care – including the failure to “efficiently bill clients and pay invoices” – making it impossible to keep tabs on costs. Not that Barnet isn’t trying to monitor its outsourcing contracts. It’s created an entire parallel administration to do so, costing £7.8m each year in pay and perks. Jorge Luis Borges wrote a story about a map matching precisely in size and detail the territory it depicted. Today, in the entrails of a suburban bureaucracy, his dream has at last come true.

All this cash could have been spent on something other than ideology. Take the £24m spent on management consultants primarily to draw up the plans for outsourcing, or the running total of £90m that Barnet has since shelled out on agency and temp workers: how many school dinners, carers for older residents or council houses could that have paid for?

Instead, that money has been spent on projects that served as a launchpad for a handful of careers, such as Mike Freer who as Barnet leader came up with the easyCouncil model and is today a Tory whip in the Commons. Or Nick Walkley, the former Barnet chief executive who was responsible for implementing that model and who now heads a Whitehall quango. Plum jobs for them, worsening public services for the residents left behind.

All this is directly linked to another issue stalking Britain: the rise of aggressively racist politics. Under austerity, Cameron and his ministers took migrants’ taxes – then, with devastating cynicism, blamed migrants for putting pressure on the NHS, schools and other services that they themselves were starving of money. To further their own careers they fanned the embers of race hate. In places like Northants and Barnet, residents who have already seen their child’s youth centre shut, their nan lose her care visits or their buses stop running will now see even sharper cuts to their services – purely to keep their councils alive. It will not be the councillors who cop the blame for that, nor the predatory outsourcing firms.

It will be the buggy-pushing mum in a headscarf, the teenager in a wheelchair trying to get on a crowded bus, the Polish guy on minimum wage. They’ll be the handy targets when frustrations rise and tempers blow. Because the point about pulverism is that it is never the originators who get pulverised.”