“Laybys in Cranbrook are being used by lorry drivers to ‘entertain’ women”

Owl LOVES the comment from the DCC officer: ““I know this is not a popular thing to suggest, but the people who bought the houses bought them in full knowledge of the layby” but Owl thinks they expected the LORRIES to be laid by, not ladies being laid by lorry drivers!

“Two laybys that lorry drivers are using to ‘entertain’ female companions will be closed.

The laybys, right in the middle of Cranbrook, are also being used a public toilet, for boy racers to congregate and play loud music and swear, and the proximity to houses mean that lorry drivers can see into homes from their cabs.

Unanimous agreement was given by councillors to close the laybys and for Devon County Council’s Highways officers to come up with a solution.

Cllr Ray Bloxham, who brought the proposal to Friday’s East Devon Highways and Traffic Orders Committee, said that the laybys used to be in a rural location but now are right in the middle of Cranbrook, and homes are now located immediately adjacent to the laybys.

He said: “The two laybys in question are now principally used by HGVs for overnight parking as a free car park. This results in considerable disturbance to adjacent households and there have been a series of complaints about noise disturbance especially overnight from refrigerated units and from engines being started and left running during the early hours. There have been ancillary complaints about anti-social behaviour by drivers using the hedgerow as a toilet and other unpleasant behaviours.

“The complaints by local residents have been referred to both Environmental Health at East Devon District Council and to Highways, and the only solution that was put forward and supported by highways department was to close the laybys.”

He added that there was organised lorry parking less than a mile away in Clyst Honiton, but there is a fee for it, so they prefer to park for free.

A resident of Roman Way, which is just 15m away over a hedge from the layby, said that they are facing anti-social behaviour ‘night and day’.

She said: “There are privacy issues as from their cabs, they can see into our residences, while the anti-social behaviour is disturbing out sleep. One lorry driver ‘entertained’ a female companion in his cab overnight and she left at 5.30am in the morning – this is the kind of behaviour we want to end.

“Some of the drivers urinate and use the hedge as a toilet, and they leave litter there which attracts vermin, and at night you get boy racers there and they play music and swear loudly.

“It is a real nuisance and causes health risks to us and our children. It doesn’t support the healthy town concept and for us as residents, the issues are very real. If you lived in our home and had this every day and night, you would realise the issues that we are facing at the moment.”

Mike Jones, Senior Devon County Council Traffic Officer, said that the laybys were on the road so lorry drivers do have a place to stop. He added that the road is a diversion route for the A30 and the road does need marshalling facilities and laybys are a useful thing to have, before saying: “I know this is not a popular thing to suggest, but the people who bought the houses bought them in full knowledge of the layby.”

But Cllr Richard Scott said that was an inappropriate argument to make, as it would be the same as saying if you bought a house next to a field, then it could never be built on. He said that if that argument was used, then Cranbrook itself would never have been built.

Cllr Phil Twiss said that he fully supported the laybys being closed to vehicles, but said that as a cyclist who used the road, those laybys are a handy little refuge to stop and have a drink or check tyres. He said: “I agree that we should close them, but officers need to go away and come up with a practical solution.”

The East Devon HATOC unanimously agreed that the two laybys, located on opposite sides of the highway alongside the B3174 at Cranbrook, approximately 100m west of Parsons Lane, be closed to vehicular use, either by the introduction of a Traffic Regulation Order, or a different solution that the highways department could identify which meant moving the kerb line.”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/laybys-cranbrook-being-used-lorry-2303961

“Children in charge of the council for a day at takeover event”

Owl was under the impression that children have been in charge of EDDC for some considerable time …

“Year 6 children from Exeter Road Community Primary School were among the region’s schools to take part in a takeover day at the East Devon District Council Offices – getting a sense of life in local government, making decisions which impact on people’s everyday lives

In a mock council meeting, the children put on their best acting performances as they pretended to be adults in professions from butcher through to builder and debated what to do with a new plot of land. …”

https://www.exmouthjournal.co.uk/news/children-east-devon-takeover-1-5810494

“Developers Have Used A Legal Loophole To Dodge Building 10,000 Affordable Homes”

“Developers have dodged providing more than 10,000 affordable homes due to the government’s failure to close a loophole in the law, HuffPost UK can reveal.

Using ‘permitted development rights’, builders have sidestepped their duty to provide affordable homes when they convert non-residential buildings like office blocks.

The rules were designed to speed up the planning process, as they allow developers to transform a property without having to apply for town halls’ planning permission – something which could see council chiefs demand social housing as part of planning conditions.

Housing charity Shelter handed an analysis to HuffPost which shows that 10,340 affordable homes have been lost over the last three years in England as a result.

Polly Neate, chief executive, said: “With hundreds of thousands of people homeless today, it’s obvious that we need as many social homes as we can get. But despite this, the government is now considering new plans that could supercharge a social housing get out clause for developers.

“Developers shouldn’t have a license to dodge social housing when so many are without a home they can afford. Instead of creating a social housing black hole, the government should halt these plans and bring down the cost of land to build the social homes we need.”

The government says the rules simplify the planning process, but for every 10 homes built using the conversion rules, three affordable homes have been lost.

As the housing crisis deepens, ministers are now considering a new plan which could allow developers to further exploit the rules.

Using the same legal mechanism, developers may be able to demolish and replace commercial buildings.

Labour’s shadow housing secretary, John Healey said the government must act.

“We can’t make housing more affordable if we don’t build more affordable homes, but Conservative ministers are letting developers cash in without making any contribution to the community,” he said.

We can’t make housing more affordable if we don’t build more affordable homes Labour shadow housing minister, John Healey
“These changes have given developers a free hand to dodge their duty to build homes that are affordable to local people.”

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government underlined that more than 32,000 homes had been provided using permitted development rights.

“We’re committed to speeding up the planning system to help deliver the homes the country needs,” she said.

“By introducing additional permitted development rules we’re providing flexibility, reducing bureaucracy and making the most effective use of existing buildings.

“Our £9bn affordable homes programme is set to deliver 250,000 affordable homes by March 2022 and we’re scrapping councils’ borrowing caps, setting them free to build a new generation of council housing.”

https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/exclusive-legal-loophole-let-developers-dodge-building-10000-affordable-homes_uk_5c0a5b6ee4b0de79357bc719

“Motability firm boss quits after news of £2.2m bonus”

Owl says: Bet May and her cronies HATE the National Audit Office!

“The boss of the business that leases cars to people with disabilities on behalf of the Motability charity is stepping down after it emerged he is set to receive a £2.2m bonus on top of his seven-figure salary.

Mike Betts, the chief executive of Motability Operations, came under fire earlier this year after MPs called his annual £1.7m pay package “totally unacceptable”.

A report by the government spending watchdog, the National Audit Office (NAO), published on Friday says as well as his “generous” remuneration, Betts is in line for a previously undisclosed performance bonus worth about £2.2m.

Following the report, Motability Operations announced that Betts would stand down from his position by May 2020, while the group’s chairman, Neil Johnson, would retire in April 2019.

In a statement, Motability Operations said: “After 16 years in the business, Motability Operations chief executive Mike Betts and the board of Motability Operations Group plc have agreed that, following the implementation of actions agreed as an outcome of the NAO review, and working to help the new chairman settle in, a suitable successor will be found, and Mike will step down from the board, no later than May 2020.

“The board is clear that recommendations made by the NAO will benefit from Mr Betts’ experience and skills to see them through.”

The Motability scheme enables disabled people to lease adapted cars using their enhanced mobility disability benefits – either disability living allowance or its successor, the personal independence payment. It currently helps about 614,000 people, many of whom would otherwise struggle to afford a vehicle.

The NAO is critical of the performance plan put in place for Betts and his fellow directors in 2008, saying that the targets meant to incentivise “excellent performance” were set at levels below what the company was achieving when the scheme was introduced.

The targets were “easily exceeded” and in the first seven years of the plan, five executive directors received “generous” remuneration of £15.3m in total, a near fourfold increase for what the NAO suggests was unexceptional performance. …”

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/dec/07/motability-firm-boss-to-get-22m-bonus-on-top-of-17m-salary

Swire: “state-sanctioned dissident”!

Owl loves the description of Swire!

“The plain fact is that the Brexiteers and the DUP are unbiddable, unshakeable and unpersuadeable. The usual tricks of last minute concessions just aren’t working. Last night was a case in point, as the new amendment to give Stormont and MPs a say over the customs ‘backstop’ was tabled by state-sanctioned dissidents Hugo Swire, Richard Graham and Bob Neill. …”

Source: WUgh Zone, Huffington Post

Chaos mounts on best way to save Ottery hospital – together or apart

Owl says: what a dreadful thing to make this issue an area for political point-scoring and petty feuds!

“Fighting for the future of Ottery Hospital should be ‘top priority’ says residents as they called for more support and transparency from town councillors.

The council chamber was filled to capacity for an extraordinary meeting re-examining a decision by the town council to support or rescind a motion to set up a hospital working group.

The proposal was passed at the start of the month, with many councillors abstaining as they said they did not have enough information.

Residents speaking at the meeting last Thursday said they felt there was lack of support from the council and were baffled to revisit the decision due to the weight and transparency a working group could show.

Stewart Lucas told members the council contributed hugely to the community but needed to listen to concerns as the town’s population continued to grow.

He said: “I for one believe the protection and the support of our local community hospital is an issue that should be right at the very top of the priorities of the council, and I feel the people of this town deserve to know that is a priority and that their feelings and opinions are valued and taken into consideration and that there is full transparency.”

Last week, health ministers gave firm reassurances the hospital has 
a ‘sustainable future’ but resident Ian Dowler said there needed 
to be more than a ‘glimmer of hope’.

Mr Dowler said: “Ottery does need to retain, not just the hospital services that it has at the moment but it needs to expand and utilise the space that’s there.

“With people living longer, Coleridge (Medical Centre) is bursting at the seams. Surely common sense would dictate that an overspill surgery be created at the hospital among other health departments, which would take some of the pressure off the RD&E?

“We need to take affirmative and positive action and no longer rely or applaud these sad and pathetic reasonings that all shall be well. It’s not acceptable.”

Councillors voted to defer making a decision until February to allow organisations involved in saving the hospital to meet and gather information.

Cllr Glyn Dobson said: “We all want to save the hospital, perhaps we want to do it in different ways. The health and care forum is doing a good job, there are five councillors on there and the results have come out this week in the Houses of Parliament that Ottery St Mary Hospital has a good chance of staying open.”

https://www.sidmouthherald.co.uk/news/calls-to-make-ottery-hospital-top-priority-following-debate-for-need-for-working-group-1-5808858

EDDC Independents call for action on poverty

Owl says: prediction – watch all these motions get watered down or struck out by block+voting Tories!

“Pressure to provide more help to struggling families, affected by benefit changes and low wages, is mounting on council bosses.

A motion calling for action will be put forward to East Devon District Council (EDDC) at a meeting on Wednesday (December 12).

The move looks to bring two reports before the authority, from the UK Equalities and Human Rights Commission and the UN Special Rapporteur, which put a spotlight on the impact of benefits changes and spending cuts on people in the UK.

The motion has been proposed by Councillor Cathy Gardner, of East Devon Alliance.

She said EDDC was due to receive a report on the potential impact on residents in East Devon and the need for further support, helping those affected by the roll-out of Universal Credit (UC) and supporting homelessness prevention and food banks.

Cllr Gardner added: “Residents in East Devon are not immune from these effects and in fact the rollout of Universal Credit is already having an effect.

“We have seen two homeless people die since 2015, both in Sidmouth.

“An increasing number of people, some with children are relying on foodbanks in all our towns, including Sidmouth, Honiton, Axminster, Seaton Ottery and Exmouth.”

The news comes in the same week that organisers of the Sid Valley Food Bank said that more people were needing help every week. And the numbers of people needing help were higher than they had ever been.

Co-ordinator Andie Milne said the top five reasons were:

• Delays in benefit changing transferring to UC, which could be up to 5 weeks.
• Repayment of loan provided in the case of delayed UC payment.
• Low wages and difficulties paying private rent over the housing benefit cap.
• Zero hour contracts – reduction in hours/sickness.
• Low wage unable to have contingency funds for unexpected expenditure – very noticeable with families needing to but school uniform, coping with school holidays, car repairs, winter bills and household repairs.

Cllr Garnder said: “I’m calling for the council to review whether more support is needed by people in East Devon and whether it can be provided.

“If the council does not have sufficient resources, then we must call on Government to review funding and make changes to Universal Credit. EDDC have statutory obligations, especially for housing, and it’s likely that increased demand will not be met.

“There is an urgent need to provide more social housing as well as support families who are at risk of homelessness.”

Cllr Gardner said there currently were five verified rough sleepers in East Devon – including the gentleman on Sidmouth seafront.

She added there were 27 households in temporary accommodation via EDDC – made up of 16 singles and 11 families, eight single people and two families in supported accommodation in Honiton, eight singles and two families in B and B accommodation, one family in a private sector lease property and six families in the council’s own housing stock that is being used as temporary accommodation.

Cllr Gardner said EDDC was required to help families and individuals in need of housing and was doing so, but Government cuts would likely mean it would not able to provide all the support it does or would want to in the coming years.

An EDDC spokesperson said: “This is one of three motions that are on the council agenda and officers of the council will take any necessary action arising from the council’s consideration of the motions and the decisions that are taken.”

https://www.sidmouthherald.co.uk/news/calls-for-help-for-struggling-families-1-5809034