“Bombshell No Deal Brexit documents show councils fear billions in lost funding and soaring poverty”

Remember, EDDC has confirmed it has done NO Brexit planning:

https://eastdevonwatch.org/2018/09/06/eddc-has-done-no-brexit-planning/

“Councils have compiled a dossier of No Deal Brexit documents which warn that thousands could be left destitute in communities across the country.

Local authorities fear they may be left “unable to effectively support local communities” but they warn that the Government is failing to heed the warnings.

They say that a post Brexit downturn could see businesses up and down the country go bust.

While a series of major investment proposals have been put on hold due to Brexit.

A number of councils suggested Brexit will make desperately needed regeneration projects “unviable”.

Strikingly some of the most stark warnings come from areas which voted to Leave.

Fenland District Council rank the risk associated with a no deal Brexit on the same level as that of a natural disaster.

The area in the East of England depends on unskilled labour from Eastern Europe and 70% of people living there voted to Leave.

It produced a corporate risk register in June which gave the risk of failing to take action to prepare for Brexit a score of 25/25.

That rating is reserved for items with the potential for “catastrophic impact” and equal to the threat posed by a natural disaster.

Hackney Council raised concerns over the impact of Brexit on local job growth, with one local business claiming Brexit had “traumatised our office and the sector we cover”.

Hackney also echoed other local councils in reporting a spike in hate crimes since the 2016 referendum.

Harrow Council in London also predicted an increases in levels of poverty, homelessness and health inequalities in the Borough.

Lancashire County Council highlighted the importance of EU trade, with 62% of Lancashire’s exports (£1,876 million per year) destined for the EU market.

Around 300 councils replied to the Freedom of Information requests which were put in by campaigning group Best for Britain- making the project one of the largest bodies of research into Brexit planning undertaken so far.

Commenting on the findings, Best for Britain champion Layla Moran MP said: “These internal council documents are devastating. They show Brexit will cause tremendous damage to their ability to provide the quality public services towns and cities up and down the country so desperately need.

“The only thing scarier than these documents is the fact that some councils haven’t done them – effectively they’re walking off a cliff blindfolded.

“The finger should point directly at those extremist Brexiteers in the Tory party with a gun to the country’s head. We cannot let this sinister gang of hucksters usurp common decency and sensible politics.

“Thankfully, the fight isn’t over. We can still put a stop to this madness through a people’s vote with the option to stay in the EU. Only then will the people of this country be able to compare the devastation of Brexit – as shown in these documents – with the bespoke deal we’ve been building up over the past four decades.”

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/bombshell-no-deal-brexit-documents-13238369

“Ireland sets up land agency as anger grows at housing shortage”

“… Despite being left with a surplus of houses after a 2008 property crash cut values in half, Ireland has been falling far short of the 35,000 new builds analysts say are needed annually just to keep up with demand from an economy and population growing faster than any other in the European Union.

Modelled on similar bodies in Germany and the Netherlands, the Land Development Agency (LDA) will be tasked with opening up land owned by local authorities, state departments, semi state bodies or in some cases the private sector to build 150,000 new homes over the next 20 years.

“We are acknowledging the reality that some of the sites that are causing this issue are in the ownership of public bodies,” Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe told a news conference.

“The adoption of a more pro-active land management role by the state is critical to solving the current housing crisis and creating downward pressure on land prices.”

Land for 3,000 units has already been secured from state bodies by the LDA, the government said, including, for example, by moving the country’s central mental health facility out of a Dublin suburb more suited to the construction of houses.

“Ireland has a poor history of managing its land in a sustainable way. This has resulted in inefficient use, sprawl and volatile price cycles,” Dermot O’Leary, chief economist at Goodbody Stockbrokers wrote in a note.

“While the impact from such an agency will not be felt immediately, it will be a welcome addition to the housing policy toolkit to aid in preventing some of the mistakes of the past.”

https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-ireland-housing/ireland-sets-up-land-agency-as-anger-grows-at-housing-shortage-idUKKCN1LT2GM

“Ombudsman offers practical guidance to planners when recording decisions”

It then neglects to post a link to the guidance on its website ….. anywhere ….. including using the search facility …..

“The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has issued new guidance for planners when recording the decisions they make.

The Ombudsman receives more than 2,000 complaints and enquiries each year about English local authorities’ planning functions.

Common areas in which the Ombudsman finds fault with the decision-making process include failing to explain properly the reasons for decisions, or overlooking material considerations.

Based on real casework examples, the learning points in the report offer clear, practical steps planners can take to ensure the decisions they make are evidenced and recorded properly.

Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, Michael King, said:

“Communities can only have confidence in the planning process if councils fully and accurately record the reasons for their decisions, including the information they have taken into account to make them.

“We have created this new guidance to share the learning from our investigations with professionals about this aspect of the planning process, and to help councils improve their procedures, and services for the public, to ensure the decisions they make are as transparent as possible.”

The guidance also includes a number of good practice suggestions, along with links to relevant legislation and resources, including the framework Ombudsman investigators use to publish their own investigation decisions.”

https://www.lgo.org.uk/information-centre/news/2018/sep/ombudsman-offers-practical-guidance-to-planners-when-recording-decisions

Otterton residents worried about holiday park expansion take note

“Plans to expand a holiday park near Ashford have been refused by North Devon councillors.

Park Holidays UK’s plan to accommodate as many as 116 caravans and build a clubhouse complete with a swimming pool, amusement arcade, shop and entertainment room at Tarka Holiday Park was discussed by North Devon Council’s planning committee on Wednesday.

Councillors unanimously refused the application, which would have included a new roundabout to serve the entrance at Braunton Road, and the decision was met by a round of applause from a group of around 30 Ashford residents who attended the meeting at Barnstaple Rugby Club.

They cited an adverse impact on the landscape and countryside, the scale of development and the impact on the village of Ashford and other amenities as reasons for refusal.

Councillor Joe Tucker said: “I’ve had quite big concerns about this site in many ways, and we have got grave concerns as a planning committee with the site.

“We are driven so much by national planning policy guidelines made by people sitting in London, it’s a different kettle of fish for people in North Devon.

There are so many fundamental issues with this site. I think it’s dangerous for us as a planning committee to pass through an application with so many issues.”

The committee heard from six village residents, who expressed concerns about the level of noise, the generation of traffic and the impact on a nearby supported living accommodation.

Parish Councillor John Bleech said it was ‘hard to overstate’ the level opposition to the application, noting 138 letters of objection sent to the council.

Ashford resident Dale Hall said: “Ashford strongly objects to the application and all residents fear for their life in the village. The development is too large, too commercial and too close.

“The change from a quiet caravan site into a large entertainment complex should bring noise.

“Tarka say this is a tranquil site but they threaten that tranquility with that application. Ashford will feel betrayed by the local authority if the application is approved.”

The Gazette has approached Park Holidays UK for a response.

A statement from Park Holidays UK said: “Park Holidays UK will be studying the reasons for the council’s decision with a view to determining the best course of action which will enable us to take the matter forward.”

https://www.northdevongazette.co.uk/news/tarka-holiday-park-expansion-1-5694176

“Business council ‘worried’ European grant won’t be spent”

Thought our Local Enterprise Partnership had this all under control …..

“The people in charge of giving out European grants across the South West have not yet managed to find takers for around £330m worth of available funding.

In the past, European grant schemes have funded major improvements across the region.

It’s thought the prospect of Brexit is leading potential grant applicants to assume there’s no longer any point in coming forward.

There’s a risk that unless suitable grant applicants can be found soon, some of the money will be sent to other parts of Britain or even go back to Brussels.

Robin Daniels from the South West Business Council is worried a significant proportion of the money won’t be spent in the region…

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/uk-england-devon-45445757

“Home builders’ lobbyist pushed council leader to ‘sort’ and speed planning”

Is this any different to having a (Tory) COUNCILLOR in charge of planning running his own planning consultancy AND chairing an influential business forum? And if this expose came about from a Freedom of I formation request about events in Wandsworth in 2011 and 2013 …..

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9920971/If-I-cant-get-planning-nobody-will-says-Devon-councillor-and-planning-consultant.html

“A lobbyist for some of the UK’s biggest property developers used a direct communication channel to the leader of a flagship Conservative council to help push through planning applications for luxury apartment developments.

Peter Bingle used his longstanding relationship with Ravi Govindia, the leader of the London borough of Wandsworth, in attempts to circumvent council officials he believed were being obstructive to his clients, including over the size of payments due to public projects.

Bingle’s access has been revealed in a cache of emails released under the Freedom of Information Act that show him asking Govindia, a former flatmate, to smooth the passage of planning applications for hundreds of luxury homes between 2011 and 2013. Govindia responded in some cases by promising to chase officials and fix meetings.

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

Bingle is a former Conservative councillor at Wandsworth and was chairman of Bell Pottinger Public Affairs, once one of the country’s biggest lobbying firms. He set up Terrapin Communications, whose clients have included Ballymore and Bellway, the housebuilders, and Royal Mail when it was selling off its land for housing.

When Royal Mail complained about the junior rank of the planning officer assigned to its application and having to repeat details of its plans to officials, Bingle emailed Govindia: “This wouldn’t have happened under the old regime. Your help would be appreciated in sorting things out.”

Bingle later forwarded the Royal Mail’s plan for its presentation to the Wandsworth planning committee to Govindia asking “What’s your advice?” Govindia replied two minutes later: “Will call as soon as I finish this meeting”.

Nearly 100 London councillors have links to property industry

There is no suggestion of wrongdoing, but the correspondence provides a rare window on the methods developers use to apply pressure to politicians behind the scenes to speed up high-stakes planning decisions and to reduce infrastructure payments. An investigation last week revealed how Berkeley Homes, one of London’s largest developers of luxury homes, routinely told local authorities that their affordable housing targets were unviable.

In April, the Guardian revealed planning lobbyists regularly entertained Robert Davis, Westminster city council’s former planning committee chairman. Davis received hospitality or gifts 893 times over six years, frequently from developers and their agents, including Bingle. He has since resigned as deputy leader.

The emails relate to when Bingle was working as a lobbyist for the Royal Mail, which had submitted plans for a 1,800-home development on its site close to Battersea Power Station. In one email to Govindia he lambasted the council’s handling of a negotiation about how much his client should pay to the public purse as “chaotic and shambolic”. He told Govindia it “does nothing for Wandsworth’s reputation in the property world … Something has gone seriously wrong.”

The planning application was eventually approved. Royal Mail last year sold part of the site to US investors for £101m.

Bingle chased Govindia for updates on progress of another 252-home application at Battersea for another client, complaining about “non-committal” planning officials. He applauded the leader when a separate application for 104 private flats in Putney by Berkeley Homes was approved, signing off an email: “Many thanks for a great result.” It had no social housing.

Bingle has denied exerting any undue influence and Govindia said he made no apology for delivering more homes for Wandsworth.

Public records show Bingle has entertained at least 31 councillors in different London boroughs in recent years, taking some out for lunch or dinner more than a dozen times. When Govindia, who was among those he entertained, was awarded a CBE in 2017 Bingle said: “Never has an award for services to local government been more deserved.”

Govindia did not sit on Wandsworth’s planning committee, but Bingle repeatedly urged him to help, often simply forwarding on complaints from property developers.

In January 2012, Royal Mail was concerned about what the council wanted in terms of payments for schools and education. Bingle forwarded an email about that directly to Govindia saying “Ravi, Views?”

Govindia replied later that day: “I will chase the education chaps”.

By March, the development consultant on the scheme asked Bingle to “prod Ravi that we need to get on with this”. Bingle forwarded the email to Govinidia saying “I thought it simplest just to forward this to you”.

When Bingle sent an email asking: “Leader, Can we get a meeting with you in the diary for next week? This scheme is now stuck,” Govinida replied: “I have asked for an update from planners next week.”

Asked about the relationship Bingle said: “The fact that this information came from a freedom of information request shows that it was always available for scrutiny in the public domain. And rightly so. Having been a long-standing friend of Ravi I know it is impossible for anybody to have undue influence over him. Since his earliest days on Wandsworth as a backbench councillor he has always resolutely defended his own viewpoint even if it meant voting against the Conservative group.”

Govinidia said: “It is first and foremost the job of any council leader to press those on all sides to deliver improvements to their borough and improve the lives of their residents. To do the job effectively you need to listen to all voices and make sure that when problems or snags arise that you are on top of them and that you can secure solutions to drive forward and deliver these improvements. I make no apology whatsoever for fulfilling my role as a council leader to deliver more homes, more jobs and more opportunities for our residents.”

He said the Royal Mail development will deliver 318 new affordable homes, a higher number than the developers were originally offering.”

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/sep/13/home-builders-lobbyist-pushed-council-leader-to-sort-and-speed-planning

“Councils in England spend £4bn on 220,000 redundancies since 2010 (and Tory Somerset County Council Leader blames Tories”

“English councils have spent almost £4bn making over 220,000 staff redundant since 2010, according to research which highlights the impact of austerity cuts on local government funding.

The north-west of England has seen the largest number of municipal jobs lost – over 41,190, followed by London (34,804), and the West Midlands (33,904), according to data obtained by the Local Government Chronicle (LGC).

Birmingham city council, the UK’s largest local authority, made by far the highest number of redundancies over the period – 8,769 – halving its workforce. As a consequence it spent the most on compensation packages (£184.8m). …

Many councils are preparing for a fresh round of cuts in a bid to stave off insolvency. Somerset county council yesterday announced it would make up to 130 staff redundant and make big cuts to children’s social care services as part of a two-year programme aimed at saving £28m.

The council, which was warned in May that its deteriorating finances put it at risk of going bust, said it was shifting to what it called a “core service offer”, meaning that it would look to deliver only those services it was legally obliged to provide.

David Fothergill, Somerset’s Tory leader, blamed the council’s position on a “broken” system of local government funding. The council had made £130m of savings over the past eight years. English councils have experienced government grant funding cut by around half since 2010.”

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/sep/13/councils-in-england-spend-4bn-on-220000-redundancies-since-2010