Somerset is ‘more developed’ than ‘transitional’ Devon

The Government is offering various grants from the European Union (probably amongst our last ones) channeled through Local Enterprise Councils.

Here in the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership area ALL three types of grants are offering less money to the “more developed areas of Somerset” and more to the (presumably less developed areas of) ‘Transition’ areas of Devon.

So should Devon be putting less into the LEP than more well-off Somerset? Or is ut just that Hinkley C is sucking up all the dosh now?


The session will particularly focus on the following live ESF calls for project proposals in the Heart of the South West:

Young Opportunities (OC16S18P1151) –
A £1.98 million (£0.98 million for the ‘More Developed’ area of Somerset and £1 million for the ‘Transition’ area of Devon, Plymouth and Torbay) ESF call for projects to support young people to access good quality careers and employment thereby avoiding Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET) status in Heart of the South West LEP area.

Skills in Employment (OC16S18P1152) –
A £7 million (c. £2.33 million for the ‘More Developed’ area of Somerset and c. £4.67 million for the ‘transition’ area of Devon, Plymouth and Torbay) ESF call for projects offering employed individuals the opportunity to progress their skills, with a particular focus on intermediate / technical and higher-level skills (e.g. NVQ Level 3 and 4), as well as high demand skills at lower levels which enable growth (e.g. NVQ Level 2 qualifications within transformational / opportunity sectors).

Shaping Future Skills Provision (OC16S18P1153) –
A £1.15 million (£0.15 million for the ‘More Developed’ area of Somerset and £1 million for the ‘Transition’ area of Devon, Plymouth and Torbay) ESF call for projects to enhance the labour market relevance of skills provision in Heart of the South West LEP area

Next domino down: UK’s geographically largest council (one-third of Scotland, no overall control)

And guess what – they just bought an expensive building!

“The geographically largest local authority in the UK will be forced to defer non-essential spending, accelerate savings and cut back further on staff recruitment in order to tackle an urgent projected deficit.

In papers submitted to its Corporate Resources Committee this week, Highland Council—which serves a third of the land area of Scotland—revealed a plan to reduce expenditure in face of an expected overspend of £5.1m.

To make matters worse, the council’s reserves, at around £8m, are “well below the minimum level” recommended by Audit Scotland. Budget leader Cllr Alister Mackinnon stressed that it is vital this money isn’t depleted further by a year-end deficit.

“Services need to work within their budgets and the measures set out are designed to ensure that this happens,” she added. “I am confident however that we can deliver an improved situation by addressing the issues thoroughly now.

“We must remember that, although this is a serious issue which must be corrected urgently, this is 1% variance on our budget and it is common to expect a small deviation early in the financial year. We are not alone – all Scottish councils are facing financial problems.”

The local authority’s leader, Margaret Davidson, said the biggest area of concern is around children’s services, particularly looked-after children accommodated out of Highland. “A plan to bring some of the children back to the Highlands and to improve the outcomes for these children needs to be accelerated,” she urged. “We need to simultaneously be more efficient and make the best decisions for some of our most vulnerable children.” …”

“60% of public sector finance professionals have come under pressure to act unethically at least once in their career”

“Almost 60% of public sector finance professionals have come under pressure to act unethically at least once in their career, a CIPFA survey has found.

The institute surveyed members and other public sector accountants about ethical matters over the summer.

The results, revealed exclusively in PF, found that 57% of the 487 respondents said they had been put under pressure or felt under pressure to act in a professionally unethical way.

Of those who felt under pressure, 8% said they had fully carried out an unethical action, and 28% had done so partially.

The three most commonly cited unethical actions were supporting excessively optimistic budgets and business cases, dodging policies, standing orders and other regulations, and unreasonably downplaying risks.

Line managers and chief finance officers, chief executives and other directors were the two most commonly cited source of pressure in all sectors.

For respondents in local government, the council’s political leadership provided a third source of pressure, while those in the NHS cited pressure from regulators. …”

Source: CIPFA

Big rival for Seaton Jurassic Centre planned for Portland by Eden Project founder

“Plans for a £20m underground visitor attraction on Dorset’s Jurassic Coast are due to be submitted at the end of this year, project directors have said.

The proposals, supported by Cornwall’s Eden Project, bring together previously shelved plans for an observatory and dinosaur-themed park on Portland.

The new scheme will make use of a stone mine on the peninsula which is due to close at the end of the year.

Directors say it will create 130 jobs and attract 320,000 visitors a year. …”

Metropolitan Police has run out of properties to sell

The ‘crown jewels’ of property sold off by the Metropolitan Police have been revealed today as the force admits it has “run out of things to sell”.

Britain’s largest police force has been at “breaking point,” according to bosses at the Metropolitan Police Federation. They have sold off their headquarters at New Scotland Yard, police stations and hundreds of flats in its portfolio to make hundreds of millions in savings.

The sell-off has earned the Met £1bn in the past six years, but opponents said the force had “sold the crown jewels.”

Ken Marsh, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, said: “We’ve sold the Crown Jewels, so to speak. We’ve run out of things to sell. This is really, really, worrying for society.

“At the end of the day they have all been sold so that we don’t have to cut police officers. That is shocking. The government talk a good talk, always praising us and saying how brilliant we are.

“But when it actually comes to it, you know, there’s officers around the country using food banks.”

Hundreds of flats and buildings have been bought from the force since 2012, with many owned by the force since the 19th Century, and New Scotland Yard went for £370m to investors from Abu Dhabi for luxury flats two years ago.… .

“Berkeley calls affordable housing targets ‘unviable’ as chairman earns £174m”

“… Excluding developments where planning consents were gained by a previous owner and the student accommodation projects, in 93% of Berkeley’s 57 London developments the company told local authorities that their affordable housing targets were unviable.

In one example, Land Registry data indicates Berkeley Group sold 71 homes in its Ebury Square development in Belgravia, central London, for a total of £358m.

The company told Westminster council that as the development was refurbishing an existing building that contained 60 units, only 11 additional homes would be generated. This meant, under Westminster planning rules, that Berkeley was obliged to build only one affordable home. But instead of building it on site, Berkeley made a payment to the council of £1.6m towards low-cost housing elsewhere in the borough.

Freedom of information disclosures show that Berkeley bought the Ebury Square site – a former police house – from the Metropolitan Police for £23.6m in 2009. The profit on this single development is thought to be in excess of £200m.

At Kew Bridge in west London, Hounslow council accepted that Berkeley could only build 20% of a 308-unit scheme as affordable – half the local authority’s affordable target.

Building those units, Berkeley stated in a planning agreement, would mean the scheme would be £24.6m in deficit. Berkeley told Hounslow that house sales would generate £132m. Berkeley did agree to make an extra payment to Hounslow capped at £8.3m in the event of the scheme performing well. Land Registry data suggest that the scheme generated close to £250m, with one apartment selling for £4.55m.

A spokesman for the company said: “Berkeley has a sustainable, successful business model that enables it to perform well throughout the economic cycle, as demonstrated by its results of recent years and creation of fantastic new communities and long term value. We are justly proud of our track record in building 10% of London’s much-needed private and affordable homes.

“Last year alone, Berkeley contributed more than £400m of subsidy for affordable housing and wider community and infrastructure projects, which has helped us be recognised as London and the south-east’s leading place-maker. Sales utilising Help to Buy are a very small part of Berkeley’s sales.” …

“Document detailing Cranbrook’s 8,000 home expansion to be published by end of 2018”

The statement that building Cranbrook town centre is now set fair because Exeter City Council refused one out-of-town shopping centre development close to the town recently is naive and misleading. That planning application could go to appeal and be won or, if lost, there are three further sites earmarked for similar developments in a cluster in the same area – the B and Q site, another site adjacent to B and Q and the current police HQ at Middlemoor.

….”More details about the proposed town centre for Cranbrook are also expected to be revealed in the plan as well.

Recently, Exeter City Council planners, contrary to the recommendation of officers, rejected plans for a retail park at the Moor Exchange at the east of Exeter.

Concerns had been raised about the impact that a new retail park at the East of Exeter would have had on the proposed Cranbrook Town Centre, with both East Devon New Community Partners, the Cranbrook developers, and East Devon District Council objecting to the scheme.

The town centre will be built on land next to Cranberry Farm, which will eventually be in the middle of the town.