Exmouth: dunes to disappear to replenish beach sand 2020-2025?

Fascinating that one of EDDC’s “old guard” councillors, Ray Franklin, got it SO wrong!

“… Cllr Ray Franklin, the portfolio holder for environment at East Devon District Council back in 2004, said: “The dunes will recover – it’s the way of nature. Sand has been lost, but it’s likely that the next storm will come from a different direction and bring more sand with it.”

And implications for the water sports centre?

“… Exmouth Beach is expected to be depleted over time, with the 2015 Beach Management Plan anticipating that beach recharge (importing new sand onto the beach) may be required between 2020 – 2025. The Beach Management Plan recommends that consideration is given to recycling of the material comprising the dunes to reinforce the beach between the new lifeboat station and Orcombe Point. …”


No development “at the whim of others” says Diviani – but doesn’t make clear who “others” are!

Possible list of “others” who might whim:

Us (likely – those of us living in a constantly concrete East Devon with no services and no infrastructure);

Those desperate for social housing and/or truly-affordable homes (unlikely – never been a consideration for EDDC, unlikely to change now);

Developers (unlikely given EDCC’s highly developer-friendly reputation);

Other members of the “Greater Exeter” consortium (where we and others have to take Exeter overspill whether we lime it or not);

Former members of the East Devon Business Forum (unlikely, mostly developers, they all remain in EDDC’s very good books).

“The government’s latest forecast for the minimum number of new homes to be built in East Devon every year is to be considered by district council planners.

The implications of the requirement for 844 homes to be constructed annually will be discussed by the Strategic Planning Committee at its meeting on Tuesday, September 4.

Members will consider how this growth will impact on jobs, infrastructure and community facilities.

A report explains to the committee that the government’s latest housing needs calculation should be taken as a baseline figure only and is likely to increase as a further strategy for growth emerges in the future.

It says the latest forecast doesn’t take into account wider changes in East Devon over the last few years such as higher than normal economic growth which led to an increase in housing need in the current Local Plan.

The report identifies key themes to be considered by the committee to ensure future growth in the district is ‘positive and sustainable’. The themes include healthy and prosperous communities, environmental protection and enhancement, resource consumption and climate change and economic growth, education and employment.

A number of key issues are identified under each of these themes with set principles for a future growth strategy. These include delivering housing to meet the needs of all areas of the community, limiting growth within Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, protecting areas at greatest risk of flooding and ensuring adequate employment space is provided to meet the needs of businesses.

The report also considers locations in the district and how they are able to accommodate growth that meets the principles. Many of East Devon’s existing towns are heavily constrained while some have clear opportunities to grow and expand. It considers opportunities around existing villages and for new communities to accommodate the levels of growth required by government.

Committee chairman Paul Diviani said: “Planning for the future of our outstanding place will ensure we put the right developments in the right place and are not subject to the whims of others. The government is setting out its requirements of all local authorities and we now need to ensure we respond in a way that works for us.”


“Councils in crisis – consult more, not less”

“Lessons from the Northants County Libraries judicial review.

Rumour has it that there are several councils in danger of following Northamptonshire towards a similar financial plight. If so, they need to pay attention for the High Court has ruled against Northants’ decision to make cuts in its Libraries provision. A cash crisis evidently does not excuse councils of their duties under the Law of Consultation.

What happened here is that the County Council prepared options for rationalising its Libraries at the end of 2017. Its consultation was, according to the Court, perfectly acceptable, as was a decision taken by the Cabinet to support a ‘least worst’ option subject to further studies. What went wrong is that a few days afterwards there came a S. 114(3) notice under the Local Government and Finance Act 1988. It meant that the full Council meeting a week later reversed the decision and adopted a different option that might save more money.

Unfortunately, at that point the Council had no clear view of the true implications of the switch to the second option. Neither had it been able to consider the outcome of the further work that the Cabinet had identified as being necessary when it took its first decision. Part of this was because some of the Libraries were co-located with grant-aided children’s centres and closures involved potential grant claw back. Subsequently promising to hold a further consultation on those children’s centres did not correct the mistake of having been unaware of the impacts when the decision to close was actually taken.

A similar conclusion arises in respect of the challenge claimants issued in respect of Section 7 of the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964. This prescribes the statutory requirements for the service, and councils everywhere should heed the words of Mrs Justice Yip, as follows: –

“The result was that the executive decision to close libraries appears to have been taken without balancing the statutory duty against the financial pressures. The Cabinet cannot be criticised for being motivated by financial concerns. However, finances could not be the sole consideration. The Cabinet still had to be satisfied that they were complying with their legal duties. On the evidence before me, I am not satisfied that they appreciated what they had to decide.” (at Paragraph 88)

Irrespective of the legal niceties, the practical issues raised by this are serious:

Under what circumstances can public bodies amend their decisions following a consultation and what are the processes they should follow when they do so?
If you agree that further study is required following consideration of consultation responses, are there consequences were you not to be able to undertake those studies?

During the consideration period, what steps need to be taken to demonstrate that, in addition to taking account of consultee responses, there is also a proper assessment of statutory requirements?

This is the second important case affecting local government budget consultations within days. The other is the judgment on 3rd August in the in the Bristol City Council case where the Special Educational Needs (SEN) budget reductions were ruled unlawful.

Is it maybe time for Councils everywhere to re-think their Budget consultation practices and ensure they will not fall into some of the traps which ensnared Northamptonshire and Bristol. The upshot will almost certainly be that Councils facing financial turbulence may have to consult more – not less.”