Exmouth has too much employment land says retirement developer*

* How odd – Sidmouth doesn’t have enough employment land and Exmouth has too much – maybe Exmouth could take the companies that want to occupy the Sidford Business Park!

“The planning inspectorate has now set a date of February 5, 2019, to hear arguments for and against a 59-apartment retirement community on land near Tesco, in Salterton Road originally refused by East Devon District Council as the land has been earmarked for commercial use.

In its appeal statement, developer YourLife Management Services – a joint venture between Somerset Care and McCarthy and Stone – argues that the employment allocation is ‘surplus to requirements’ and not a ‘viable’ proposition ‘now or in the near future’.

Ian Cann, vice chairman of the emerging neighbourhood plan – currently being assessed by independent examiners ahead of a public referendum – has urged the planning inspectorate to consider the need for employment land in Exmouth.

He said: “One of the focuses of the neighbourhood plan is for Exmouth to be ‘demographically balanced’ and at the moment it’s out of sync and we need to retain our younger people in the town.

“It’s all well and good giving them a house but they need to have job.

“If you want to retain this people in the town you need to create as many jobs as possible. To do that, we have to identify as much commercial land as possible.

“We have to defend against other uses of land identified for commercial use – we have to defend that to the hilt.”

If the planning inspector agrees with developers, the application, which includes self-contained flats for those over 70 years old, would be approved.

Exmouth Town Council’s planning committee has twice opposed the application, despite the developer putting its case forward.

All previous representations made about the proposal have been forwarded to the planning inspectorate and people have an opportunity to either change or add their comments by Monday, November 12.

Visit https://acp.planninginspectorate.gov.uk or emailing west2@pins.gsi.gov.uk to comment on the plans.


Persimmon: yet another horror story

(The photographs accompanying this article are truly shocking)

“A STRESSED-out dad is suing over his “shoddy” brand new home which has brick walls looking like a wavy patchwork quilt.

When Darren Harris collected the keys to his freshly constructed £210,000 four-bedroom house, he was shocked to find more than 80 defects.

The 53-year-old was also stunned to learn the bumpy brickwork on his house wall had become a laughing stock of the neighbourhood.

The civil engineer has shared pictures of the poor workmanship and plans to take legal action against Persimmon Homes, which built the house on the Martello Park estate in Pembroke, West Wales.

Harris said: “We got the keys to our house and I drove down to the property with my wife.

“The neighbours came over and asked me if I had seen the brickwork on the back of the house.

“They said to me ‘We have been having a bit of a laugh and a giggle’. It looks unstable, the brickwork is wavy and looks unsafe.”

He and his wife, an area manager for Greggs bakery, then decided to take a look inside their property, but struggled to open the door.

The engineer said: “We put the key in but the door wouldn’t budge. We couldn’t get in.

“I thought there must be a problem and went back to the site office. A Persimmon agent came back with me and in the end he had to shoulder-barge the door to get it open.”

They discovered later that the door frame was fitted incorrectly.

As time went on the list of problems expanded with Harris finding that “drain covers weren’t fitted properly, paving was laid on top of rubble, the guttering doesn’t reach the end of the house and water cascades down the sides when it rains.

“The doors inside all had to be rehung and I’ve done so much work myself just to get it liveable.

“Everything is appallingly built – the workmanship is just shoddy. The problems are unbelievable.”

Mr Harris bought the house before it was built, after seeing a show home on the site.

He said: “It looked like a nice spot, with views of Pembroke Castle. We put a deposit down in February and planned to rent it out.

“But ever since we got the keys, the reality has been far from perfect.

“It’s caused my wife and I no end of worry and stress. She has been in tears. If my marriage wasn’t so strong this could have finished us.”

Now Harris, from Sutton Coldfield in the Midlands, says he has no option but to take Persimmon Homes to court.

He said: “I have been on to head office. I have been brave enough to take them on and take them to the small claims court.

“The rectification work they attempted was not acceptable. I have given them the opportunity to put it right.

“I have had to put off getting my tenants in, which has resulted in losses of £1,600.

“We have been forced to get on with the retrospective work ourselves and it has cost us thousands. That’s the only way I could get the house finished and ready for our tenants.”

A spokesman for Persimmon Homes West Wales said: “We are aware of Mr Harris’s concerns and we are working to reach a satisfactory conclusion.

“We have many happy customers across South Wales and we take customer service seriously.”

In October, Persimmon’s boss Jeff Fairburn walked off in the middle of a BBC interview after he was grilled about his whopping £75million bonus.

When questioned over any regrets about last year’s payout – cut from £100million after a public outcry – Fairburn replied: “I’d rather not talk about that”.

The payout is believed to be the largest by a listed UK firm, the BBC said.”


MPs who accepted hospitality from the betting industry

A reduction from £100 per bet to £2 per bet, agreed by the government, has been postponed and the Minister for Sport has resigned saying vested interests were allowed to influence the decision. The current high rate is reckoned to lead to many suicides. It is thought the decision has been postponed to raise revenue for the government to assist with post-Brexit issues.

Sixteen MPs have declared hospitality received from the betting industry. Nine were Labour MPs, six Conservative and one SNP:


Call for independents spreads to Bournemouth

Where East Devon (Alliance) leads the “Alliance for Local Living” in Bournemouth follows!

“A NEW political party is planning to contest next year’s election to the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole combined authority.

However ALL, or the Alliance for Local Living, is being set up in contrast to the traditional party system, as its members will all be independents standing under one banner.

They will not be forced to follow the party line via the whip.

The organisers, a group of residents, have now put out a call for candidates.

“We want ordinary members of the public, passionate people who are doing valuable things in their community to think about possibly stepping up and bringing local politics back into that community,” said Felicity Rice (above), one of the founders. “We are happy to have anyone in our group, they can even be a member of an existing party, but they must make their own decisions based on their personal opinion.”

ALL, also known as Three Towns Together in its earlier stages, was inspired by the similarly organised Independents for Frome group, which took total control of the Somerset town’s council in 2015.

The reduction from 120 to 76 councillors covering the three boroughs in the new unitary has led to concern that it will be dominated by one political party. Independents and members of current opposition parties are known to have spoken with ALL as a way to unite a disparate opposition against the Conservative Party.

Current Poole People Party councillor Andy Hadley said he was liaising with the group on behalf of his party, and he thought them “well-matched”.

“We have been passing on advice on what we have had to go through to get elected as independents, the vision of getting 72 seats is is very extreme. But to get enough to make a significant impact on decision-making would be really good.

“I know quite a few people have expressed an interest, but it needs people to stand up and say ‘we want to be part of this’.”

ALL’s first selection day for candidates will be November 24. Visit voteforall.org.uk to get involved.”


Affordable housing: with this government there is ALWAYS a catch!

“Government’s new council house building drive will come at expense of housing associations”

The Government’s council house building drive will come at the expense of fewer new units constructed by housing associations, The Independent has learned.

The revelation that housing associations will be partially crowded out casts doubt on the Government’s claims to be fully committed to a surge of new housing for people on low incomes.

In her Conservative conference speech in October Theresa May announced the borrowing cap on local councils would be lifted in order to allow authorities to start building houses for low-income families again in serious volumes for the first time in thirty years.

It was a reform that housing campaigners and many council bosses had long pressed for as a vital element of solving the shortage of social housing.

In the Budget on Monday, Philip Hammond followed up on the pledge, with official Treasury estimates suggesting the removal of the cap would lead to extra borrowing to build by councils of £4.6bn over the next six years.

The independent Office for Budget Responsibility said it expected new council house construction of 20,000 units over the period as a result of the lifting of the cap.

However, the OBR, also added that it expected this to crowd out private house building, with every two new council houses resulting in roughly one less new private house, meaning the net impact on new housing supply as result of lifting the cap would be only 9,000.

And The Independent has learned that the basis for this assumption is that councils, as well as funding new council building from borrowing, will also partly fund the new supply by tapping funds from the Affordable Housing Programme (AHP).

This is a pot of government grant money currently mainly drawn on by housing associations (charities and third sector organisations that provide housing at below-market rates) to fund their own construction of social housing

The upshot is that the OBR thinks housing associations’ available government grants will effectively be squeezed to accommodate councils. …”


More on that unitary council “sunset clause”

(See post below also)

Looks like, after March 2019 there will be no chance of a Devon unitary council as ALL councils to be subsumed will have to agree.

To many vested interests (particularly in the area of planning!) even if there were financial savings to be had. Developers trump savings!


Another county goes unitary – despite local district council opposition

Owl says: the “sunset clause” (see below) is a new one to me!

“John Fuller, chair of the District Councils’ Network umbrella group, said: “This unwelcome decision has not secured the local consent amongst the elected local councils that was called for in March.”

He blamed the decision on “ill-conceived legislation” – the Cities and Local Government Devolution Act. This act contains a sunset clause, which expires next March, permitting the secretary of state to fast track structural and boundary changes with the consent of only one local authority.

Brokenshire said that “the great majority” of local public sector partners backed the plans including the police, ambulance service, clinical commissioning group and NHS trusts.

He also said it would improve local government and establish a “credible geography”, thus meeting the criteria needed for structural change.

Brokenshire did acknowledge there were concerns that a single unitary might weaken democratic engagement at the most local level.

“To help reassure any who might be concerned on this, I intend to speak with five councils to determine whether I should modify the proposal before implementing it,” he said.

Martin Tett, leader of Buckinghamshire County Council, hailed the decision as “historic” and called for unity among local leaders.

“The announcement paves the way for a brand new council, fit for the future, created by combining the best of both county and district councils,” he said.

“This new council will be simpler, better value and more local to our residents. It will also have more clout to face head-on the great strategic challenges facing the county over the coming decades.”

Brokenshire said he would also consult on whether to delay local elections due to take place in May 2019, to avoid councillors being elected for only one year.”


Hernandez says police have no social responsibilities – NHS and councils should take them off police forces

Owl says: this would mean the NHS and local authorities would need to create a full 24-hour, 7 day a week totally responsive crisis service!

“Police officers are not social workers or mental health workers, yet spend far too much of their time dealing with issues that would be better handled by the NHS or local authorities. I don’t think policing should be the main point of contact for people having mental health crises, and our officers shouldn’t be the lead negotiators for suicidal people. It was refreshing to hear similar sentiments aired by a senior and well-regarded police officer.”

Alison Hernandez
Devon and Cornwall Police Commissioner