Swire puffs

No, it’s not a recipe.

Swire has sent out a puff job about what he has “achieved” for East Devon over the last year, despite barely ever being here and getting himself knee-deep in Brexit machinations, about which we still have no idea who he supports and exactly what he supports.

His only interest currently seems to be helping to prop up the DUP in Ireland and keeping an eye out for which May successor might get him off the back benches.

Oh, and his “work” with the Conservative Middle East Council and being Deputy Chairman of the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council ( see next post for more on that) and being provider of strategic investment advice for the Latin American market (Register of Interests). Not forgetting that little company he co-owns with controversial Lord Barker (Eaglesham Investments).

Owl will not be linking to the puff job.

Rural high-speed broadband? Better move to Spain or Portugal!

“… Ofcom said fullfibre internet is now available to 1.8m premises, a rise from 3% to 6% of homes and businesses, but the UK is still far behind countries such as Portugal, at 89%, and Spain, at 71%.

The regulator’s report also found that rural areas also face issues with mobile coverage. While 83% of urban homes and offices have so-called “complete” 4G coverage – services from all four major operators, Vodafone, EE, O2 and Three UK – it is a different story in rural areas. Just 41% of rural premises get complete mobile coverage, while Ofcom said that “in some remote parts of the country there is no coverage at all”.l …”

https://www.theguardian.com/money/2018/dec/18/uk-homes-slow-broadband-netflix-youtube-ofcom

After health “hubs” come rough sleeper “hubs”

Definition “hub”: a pseudo-service that is put in place when a full service is withdrawn, often with privatised funding and/or staff, usually resulting in an inferior service.

“Ministers have announced that 11 new “rough sleeping hubs” will be established next year through a £4.8m project aimed at tackling rising levels of people in England sleeping on the streets.

Unveiling plans for the centres, the government said thousands of vulnerable people will be able to receive specialist support to address mental health problems and provide immediate shelter and rapid assessment for rough sleepers.

It will form part of the already announced £100m rough sleeping strategy and will be launched in 11 areas in the spring across England, including Derby, Liverpool, Preston, Bristol, Lincoln and Nottingham City.

The measures coincide with an announcement from Labour, who have also pledged £100m to give every rough sleeper a place to stay in the winter months – funded through a levy on second homes announced at the party conference in September. …”

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/rough-sleeping-hubs-homeless-uk-statistics-government-shelter-labour-party-england-a8687971.html

Times says 7 more privatised companies may be under threat

“As the country wonders which big name in the construction and services industry will follow Carillion into bankruptcy, Stephen Rawlinson may have hit upon the answer — and it’s one that offers little reassurance to any of the leading players.

According to the respected independent analyst: “We are asked continually, ‘Who is the next Carillion?’ There are individual candidates, of course, but the sense we have now is that it could be the whole UK-based construction and services sector.”

That view will ring alarm bells in corporate boardrooms and public sector committee rooms nationwide, but it rings true with investors. Shares of the industry’s heavyweights, government contractors providing public services, looking after public buildings and estates and/or building them, have plummeted. The reasons why — and why recovery, if at all, has been slow — are troubling enough on their own, but added together they sum up the huge challenge facing the outsourcing industry. …”

[The article goes on to name G4S, Babcock, Mitie, Kier, Interserve, Capita and Serco]

Source: The Times, paywall

New Dorset unitary council may not be able to balance the books

“… In today’s report, the programme director for the council Keith Cheesman revealed that, whilst most of the transitional costs have been around what was expected, the cost of taking on interim staff to carry out projects related to changing to the new council have been far higher than anticipated and need extra funding.

Cheesman’s report said that the ongoing dispute between the shadow Dorset Council and Bournemouth Christchurch and Poole Council over the transfer of debts and reserves is yet to be resolved, and also warned that years of reducing employee numbers has left internal employee resources “very limited.”

The merger between Dorset County, East Dorset, North Dorset, Purbeck, Weymouth & Portland, and West Dorset councils was given the green light back in May, followed by a lengthy legal battle with Christchurch Borough Council.

Last week, Christchurch BC, which will be part of the second new council, said it was still split over the need to contribute £420,000 towards merger costs.”

http://www.publicsectorexecutive.com/Public-Sector-News/new-dorset-council-faces-unbalanced-budget-as-dispute-over-transfer-of-debts-remains-unresolved

Local authority settlement fails to address major funding issues and shortfalls

AND government has said if councils need more money they should hold referendums which might, or might not, agree to further council tax rises to make up for the shortfall.

“Last week’s provisional settlement for local government was predictably disappointing, says Richard Harbord, while the big issues of funding social care and council tax reform wait unaddressed in the political long grass.

The delayed settlement was eventually published last week, leaving local authorities little time to do any detailed work on it before Christmas.

It has to be said it was never going to be earth-shattering, being the last year of an agreed multi-year settlement negotiated four years ago.

The actual settlement says that the government are planning to increase resources by £1.3bn next year, but this seems to include a number of separate issues such as Winter Pressures Funding for social care, the bulk of which comes with conditions, and the removal of the threat of negative grant.

The Local Government Association in a somewhat low-key response says that this settlement will still leave local authorities some £3.2bn short of the resources they require to maintain a reasonable standard of service.

Other announcements were expected at the same time but a number of these did not appear. The amount of time and energy spent on leaving the European Community has left a large void in moving forward to resolve the many problems local government faces.

There was a consultation paper on business rate retention, but this has been so long discussed in the joint working parties between central government and the LGA that it is hardly new. It is now set at 75%, this is somewhat less than Eric Pickles’ 100% and the various other figures talked about over the last few years, and is perhaps a disappointing increase on the 50% which has been the scheme for the last few years.

The announcement says that the government continues to work on the Fair Funding Formula which was also expected to go out to consultation. This was never intended to take effect next year, but local authorities need to know if there are to be major changes to distribution and to account and allow for them in their medium-term financial plans.

We had already been warned that perhaps the most important of all – the options for dealing with the increasing expenditure on social care – had been put back until next Summer. This was, it will be remembered the subject of a bungled announcement during the last general election campaign which had to be withdrawn with a Green Paper promised for immediately after the vote.

This has been delayed several times. It is just too difficult to find options that are acceptable to the majority. If there is to be a central funding solution rather than an insurance solution, it will have to come from additional taxation. Politicians continue to believe that increases in taxation are to be avoided at all costs but a relatively small increase in taxation could produce workable options.

The LGA urges the government to reconsider and to improve the offer by the time of the final settlement early next year. This is extremely unlikely to happen.

The fact is that this settlement does nothing to help local authorities become sustainable and to save them from having to make even more serious cuts in services going forward.

Business rates retention may have been sorted, but the government really needs to address the issue of council tax. Hopelessly outdated and not understandable to owners of properties, it is in desperate need of reform.

The government argue that it is open to local authorities to run referendums to increase council tax by over 3 % , indeed they have encouraged local authorities to do so but the limited gains and negative publicity have put authorities off.

At the very least the values used need to be current values and the banding system needs drastic revision to reflect the fact that so many properties are valued at over £1m and should be contributing more to local services.

We do now look forward to the spending review, but there cannot be widespread optimism that all will be well.”

http://www.room151.co.uk/blogs/provisional-settlement-does-nothing-to-help-local-authorities/

“Dickensian’ poverty increasingly prevalent in schools”

“Increasing levels of child poverty are affecting children and young people’s education, with schools dealing with ‘Dickensian’ levels of squalor, a major teaching union has warned.

A survey of members by the National Education Union found more than half (53%) believe children in their school will go hungry over Christmas, putting the blame on welfare cuts as well as those to schools and children’s services.

The poll of 1,026 NEU teachers in England revealed that 46% believe holiday hunger – a lack of access to food in the absence of free school meals – has got worse in the last three years.

The NEU’s report, published today, highlighted the “stark” impact of poverty on children’s education. Poverty-related problems include: absence from school (83%); behavioural issues (85%); concentration (81%); health (59%); and lateness (79%).

The survey heard from teachers who were buying or washing clothes for students who could not afford them. Some teachers said their students had been sleeping in their school uniforms because they don’t have pyjamas, and other children had food delivered to their home by the school.

Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the NEU, said: “This is a Dickensian picture of the poverty that far too many children and their families are having to endure.

“The government has failed to recognise the human cost of its cuts to schools and other children’s services and to the social security system, and its failure to address the in-work poverty faced by one in five workers.

“The government must stop hiding from the facts. Children can’t escape the poverty trap without an urgent change to national policies.”

The poll also found 46% of teachers believe that poor quality and overcrowded housing conditions are affecting the education of children and young people more than they were.

Many schools are now offering free breakfast clubs for children and also running foodbanks, giving hampers to families and providing meals during the holidays, the survey found.

But union members said that school funding cuts were restricting the help that can be given.

A government spokesperson said: “Teachers shouldn’t have to step in to tackle the issues highlighted by this survey, and we’re already taking action to make sure that they don’t have to.”

https://www.publicfinance.co.uk/news/2018/12/dickensian-poverty-increasingly-prevalent-schools

“Food bank opens AT SCHOOL after famished children start stealing from lunchboxes”

“A primary school has set up a food bank for hungry kids whose parents are struggling under austerity.

Head Debbie Whiting launched it after seeing pupils so famished they were stealing from other children’s packed lunches.

“You can’t learn if you’re hungry,” she said. “Children need to be fed, clothed and warm.”

The food bank at North Denes juniors in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, is thought to be the first at a British school.

Staff and some parents donate extra items from their shopping and a charity has given £1,500.

Mum Sadie Carter, who has two children at the school, said she fell to “rock bottom” after running out of money and was “crying for days”.

She said: “I didn’t know what to do. Then the school came to help.” ….

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/food-bank-primary-school-hungry-13741828

Top police chiefs cream off cash

“Police chiefs are enjoying a pay and pensions bonanza as council tax is hiked to give their forces an extra £1billion, a Daily Mail investigation reveals today.

Almost two thirds of chief constables from the 39 English police forces earned more than the Prime Minister’s annual pay of £150,402 last year.

They also received an additional total of at least £1.37million in pension contributions in the last two years – with some getting more than £40,000 a year.

This is despite only half receiving a contribution last year, with many of the others’ pension pots thought to have reached the maximum threshold. ”

Tens of thousands of pounds more of public money was also spent on private healthcare, housing and car allowances for senior officers – with one police chief’s package worth nearly £300,000. …..

Police pension schemes include a taxpayer-funded employer contribution of 21.3 per cent of their pay, on top of an officer’s contribution. Ian Hopkins, chief constable of Greater Manchester Police, who has received £92,000 pension contributions over the past two years – as well as a £200,000 salary – claimed the squeeze would force him to cut his officer numbers to the lowest level since 1975. …..

A Home Office spokesman said: ‘It is for the independent Police Remuneration Review Body to consider the appropriate levels of police pay and make recommendations to ministers.’”

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6498233/Police-chiefs-enjoy-pay-pensions-bonanza-council-tax-bills-rise.html

EDDC HQ builder deeper in the mire – just who does privatisation work for?

With a government paralysed by Brexit does anyone care what is happening to yet another privatised company that will cost tax payers dear if (or rather when) it goes under? Imagine how many local companies could have built that HQ!

“… Interserve is one of the UK’s biggest private sector employers in areas such as office-cleaning, while it also provides support to Britain’s armed forces in Cyprus, Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands.”

https://news.sky.com/story/struggling-interserve-may-hand-construction-unit-to-lenders-11581667

Positive ageing

“At the Centre for Ageing Better, we often say that the UK is experiencing a social revolution. People now live much longer than their parents and grandparents did. A child born today has a one in three chance of living to the age of 100 – the advances we’ve seen in longevity are truly incredible.

The problem is, when we talk about the ‘challenges’ of an ageing population, we make it easy to fall in to the trap of focusing on just the problems – such as rising pension and health care costs – and forgetting about the immense opportunity of living longer lives.

For me, it’s important to remember that people in later life contribute massively to the economy – in the UK, there are over 10m over-50s in the workplace. The gross income of households with an individual aged 50+ amounted to 47% of total UK household income in 2014/15. Older people also contribute hugely to society; one in five people aged 50–64 in the UK are carers and around two-thirds of this age cohort make some form of contribution to their communities.

However, too many people are missing out on a good later life. Around 1.8 million households headed by someone aged 50 to State Pension Age are struggling to maintain their living standards and save for retirement. Many people would like to move to a more age-friendly home, but find there isn’t anything suitable near to where they live and are connected to their communities. And while we are living longer, the number of years we can expect to have good health as we age varies greatly depending on where in the country we live.

We need action to respond to and plan for this demographic change across public and private sectors.

Housing – We need more affordable and attractive ways of adapting and improving our homes. Every new home built should be ‘age-proof’ – adaptable and accessible, whatever people’s ages or abilities.

Work – We need to explore how new technologies can support people to manage health conditions in the workplace. Employers need to offer flexible working, training and development or older workers, and change recruitment processes to be inclusive.

Communities – We need good transport links, opportunities to get involved in civic life and places and outdoor spaces to meet people’s needs. We need more places to become Age-friendly Communities and commit to supporting residents to age well.

Health – We need to focus on preventing people from developing the health conditions and disabilities which reduce their quality of life. If we can help people to remain physically active for longer and support them to adopt healthier lifestyles, we can make great strides.

I think that the real challenge is to seize the opportunity of a good later life – and stop thinking about ageing as challenge to overcome.”

https://apolitical.co/question/how-do-we-confront-the-challenges-associated-with-ageing-populations/

“Brexit deadlock ‘is blocking vital domestic policy reforms’ ” says cross-party group of MPs

“A powerful cross-party group of MPs today warns Theresa May that Brexit is “sucking the life” out of her government – as cabinet sources admit that the crisis is forcing vital domestic business off the government’s timetable.

With the deadlock over May’s Brexit deal unresolved, and a key vote in parliament postponed until mid-January, the chairpersons of six all-party select committees have signed a statement saying long-drawn-out arguments over Brexit are having a “serious detrimental effect” on wider domestic policy.

The MPs, who include the Tory chairs of the treasury and education select committees, Nicky Morgan and Robert Halfon, add that: “Rather than continuing to drag out the Brexit process for months more, we must bring it to a close if we are to prevent serious damage to our country”.

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Others who signed off on the statement are the chair of the work and pensions select committee, Frank Field; the Tory chair of the digital culture media and sport committee, Damian Collins; the Labour chair of the environmental audit select committee, Mary Creagh; and Norman Lamb, the Liberal Democrat chair of the science and technology committee.

While the six have very different views on Brexit they agree that the government is letting people down with its near-total preoccupation with the issue at a time of crisis in the NHS and social care, rising knife crime, failing public transport, chronic homelessness and environmental challenges. Labour members including Creagh say government austerity has made neglect of poorer communities by government even more shocking.

Their intervention follows news on Friday that chaos over Brexit has forced NHS leaders to postpone a new long-term plan for the NHS and put back, yet again, a long-awaited green paper on the future of social care until January. Both decisions dismayed MPs and organisations across the health and social care sectors.

Asked why the social care green paper had been delayed, a government source told the Observer the crisis over Brexit had “wiped the grid clean and meant we have had to push stuff back. So social care won’t be until January.”

Underlining the sense of national crisis, Church of England bishops said yesterday that they would pray this weekend for national unity and “courage, integrity and clarity for our politicians” after a week of turmoil.

Nadra Ahmed, chair of the National Care Association, which represents small and medium-sized care providers, said: “If the matter wasn’t serious it could be farcical. Clearly, the government recognised in 2017 that there was an ‘urgent’ need to review the funding of long-term care to ensure we can predict a sustainable service which will meet the needs of some of the most vulnerable members of our society. We have become used to the fact that creating solutions in the growing crisis in social care is not really that urgent after all.”

Field told the Observer he had been urging May for months to allow legislation to be brought forward by select committees or through private members bills if the government could not find the time itself. But he had had no response to his idea.

Other areas of policy that MPs say have been subject to Brexit-related delays include the fair funding review, intended to reform and improve how local government financing is organised, and a government strategy on internet safety. Labour says the results of government consultations on housing issues such as longer tenancies and consumer rights – which concluded months ago – have not materialised. The domestic abuse bill, championed personally by May, also has yet to be introduced. The Missing Persons Guardianship Act, which was meant to allow the families of people who have gone missing to take control of their affairs, has not yet come into force even though it became law over a year ago.

In their statement the six select committee chairs say: “Long-drawn-out arguments over Brexit and delays in reaching an agreement on our future relationship with the EU are having a serious detrimental effect on the conduct of wider domestic policy. MPs of all parties and ministers should be addressing the most urgent challenges facing our country: safeguarding our NHS, improving social care for the elderly; stepping up the fight against crime and knife crime; sorting out our benefits system; improving our public transport and safeguarding the environment for future generations. The Prime Minister should return to addressing burning social injustices which she insisted, on entering Downing Street, would be her main priority. Instead, Brexit is sucking the life out of government at a time when our towns, cities and citizens face serious spending restraints. Rather than continuing to drag out the Brexit process for months more, we must bring it to a close if we are to prevent serious damage to our country.”

Charities, too, expressed exasperation at the government’s failure to address domestic issues, pointing to the housing crisis and chaotic rollout of universal credit. Campbell Robb, chief executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, says that low-income families that backed Leave in 2016 have since been hit by price rises, spiralling housing costs and tax credit reductions. He called on the government to “get a grip and deliver for people on low incomes”. “Failing to meet their expectations of a better life after Brexit would be costly for the political parties. We need a bold package of domestic reforms, not just favourable trade terms.”

Greg Beales, who campaign director at the housing charity Shelter, said vital reforms were still needed to tackle the housing crisis and bolster renters’ rights. “But too much is currently stuck in the mire while Brexit crowds out everything else.”

Yet another policy area that has been neglected is transport, as the government has struggled to address months of timetabling chaos and pushed back the electrification of railways in the north. Darren Shirley, who heads the Campaign for Better Transport, said that there was “a bandwidth problem across government” with key domestic issues “dropping down the agenda” because of Brexit.”

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/dec/15/mps-warn-brexit-deadlock-sucking-life-out-of-government

Irish local authorities prepare for Brexit – ours lag behind

“Local authorities face a number of uncertainties due to Brexit but are focussed on building resilience in their areas to prepare.

Addressing the recent conference ‘Local Authorities – Implications for Local Authorities and their Areas,’ Jackie Maguire, Chair of the County and City Management Association (CCMA) said Brexit has been to the forefront of local authority considerations since the UK vote to leave the EU.

‘Preparing for the unknown is a huge challenge. In the local authority sector, our approach has been to consider all our plans and actions through the lens of Brexit, while maintaining close contact with Government and relevant departments throughout the negotiation period,’ she said.

The conference heard that as well as the potential impact on local business and economic development, there are a number of practical implications for local authorities, particularly in border regions.

Citing the current arrangement, where the Northern Irish Fire Service provides first response to call outs in parts of Donegal and giving the further example of an ongoing cross-border greenway project, she said:

‘While both the Republic and Northern Ireland have been members of the EU, we have been able to work collaboratively on shared infrastructure development and shared service provision. We now face into an unknown situation as to whether that can continue.’

The CCMA Chair also highlighted the impact Brexit may have on environmental standards, ‘Currently we apply relatively consistent environmental policies north and south; this is the best way to achieve results. The Water Framework Directive, for example, is implemented in both jurisdictions to manage river basins and improve water quality but rivers don’t stop at borders.’

‘Local authorities will do what we can to proactively mitigate against the worst impacts of Brexit and capitalise on any opportunities.’

‘This will involve not only our economic development and tourism teams but teams across our organisations – in planning, roads, housing, infrastructure and other areas. We will ensure efficient, responsive services and ambitious plans that will encourage enterprise, entice visitors and allow our areas to thrive.'”

https://www.independent.ie/regionals/argus/news/local-authorities-prepare-for-brexit-uncertainty-37611830.html

Hotel development planned adjacent to Hill Barton Business Park

Owl says: Seems Crealy and Greendale want lots of development. And what happened to plans for a hotel at the site of the Cat and Fiddle pub? And if this site so close to Exeter DOESN’T need another business park, why does Sidford?

“Hill Pond Caravan and Camping Park have applied to build a new L-shaped hotel on the site of the existing park just off the A3052.

The site is adjacent to the Hill Barton Business Park, and is across the A3052 from Exeter City’s training ground and Crealy Adventure Park.

The application, submitted to East Devon District Council planners says there is a need for the hotel in the area and that will provide new jobs and boost the economy.

It adds: “The proposal seeks to recognise the evolving needs of the area and the site’s location in a developed, mixed use zone of East Devon that sits close to Exeter, the M5, and the rapidly enlarging tranches of development in the area.”

East Devon District Council planners will debate the application at a later date.”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/uk-england-devon-46453951

“Average UK workers earning a third less than in 2008 – report”

“Research by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) found that the average worker has lost £11,800 in real earnings since 2008.

The UK has suffered the worst real wage slump among leading economies, said the union organisation.

The biggest losses have been in areas including the London borough of Redbridge, Epsom and Waverley in Surrey, Selby in North Yorkshire and Anglesey in north Wales, the studyfound.

Workers have suffered real wage losses ranging from just under £5,000 in the north-east to more than £20,000 in London, said the report.

The TUC general secretary, Frances O’Grady, said: “The government has failed to tackle Britain’s cost-of-living crisis. As a result, millions of families will be worse off this Christmas than a decade ago.

“While pay packets have recovered in most leading economies, wage growth in the UK is stuck in the slow lane.

“Ministers need to wake up and get wages rising faster. This means cranking up the pressure on businesses to pay staff more, especially at a time when many companies are sitting on large profits.”

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/dec/14/average-uk-worker-earn-third-less-than-2008-tuc-real-wage-report

East Devon Alliance councillors spur council to decry poverty in East Devon

“The number of people using food banks in the Sid Valley has more than doubled in the last six months.

The Sid Valley Food Bank’s co-ordinator Andie Milne told East Devon councillors on Wednesday night of the alarming numbers of people and the stark rise in numbers of people they are seeing.

She said that six months ago, they were dealing with 15 families a week, but last week, more than 30 families came through their doors, with 36 children being helped.

And she added that last week they helped a family from Axminster as there was no help available in the East of the county for them, and raised concern over what would happen to the emergency food bags located at the council’s Knowle HQ, that sometimes are refilled four times a week, when the council offices move to Honiton early in 2019.

Her comments came prior to the full council unanimously supporting a motion brought forward by Cllr Cathy Gardner, of East Devon Alliance, calling for a report on the potential impacts of benefits changes and spending cuts on people in East Devon and whether there was a need for further support from the council in supporting the roll-out of Universal Credit, homelessness prevention or for local food banks.

Proposing her motion, Cllr Gardner said: “Most of us are doing okay and are comfortable, some are doing extremely well, but some are struggling, and we have a civic duty to see if we can do more. I would be horrified to learn if a child suffered as we failed to something in some way to help.

“I am not criticising the council or the hard work that our officers do to help people but simply to ask if there is anything more that we could do, as we know that people are struggling with Universal Credit.

“If the report says it is all perfect, then we can rest easy, but I want the report to come forward so we can be seen as outstanding, caring and vigilant.”

Cllr Marianne Rixson, supporting the motion, added that some people are being forced to use food banks just to make ends meet, even though they are in employment.

Cllr Eleanor Rylance said that the national picture showed there were 2.5m people living just 10 per cent above the poverty line. She added: “A small reversal of the economy could put 2.5m people below the poverty line in weeks. We all know of people who are struggling and other who could very soon be struggling.”

The motion received unanimous support from across the council chamber, with Conservative councillor Mike Allen said that he really liked the motion and thanked Cllr Gardner for bringing it forward.

He said: “If you work in a food bank, you get to understand how little accidents or small things can trip someone into a poverty – be it a divorce or splitting up with a partner, or a jobs loss, which leads to a massive hole in your income and you cannot afford what you used to take for granted.”

Cllr Jill Elson, portfolio holder for sustainable homes and communities, said that the council worked very closely with food banks across the district and that council staff were currently co-located in the job centres in Exmouth and Honiton to get the 1,013 people in East Devon claiming Universal Credit and were going the extra mile to help them, be it by helping them fill in the forms or giving them food bank credits.”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/number-using-food-banks-part-2323249

Brexit worries hit housing market and developers

Owl says: you can see why penalising local authorities for not getting enough new houses built just doesn’t work.

“… Simon Rubinsohn, Rics’ chief economist, said: “It is evident … that the ongoing uncertainties surrounding how the Brexit process plays out is taking its toll on the housing market. I can’t recall a previous survey when a single issue has been highlighted by quite so many contributors.

“Caution is visible among both buyers and vendors and where deals are being done they are taking longer to get over the line. The forward-looking indicators reflect the suspicion that the political machinations are unlikely to be resolved anytime soon.”

He said a weakening property market could prompt a slowdown in housebuilding: “The bigger risk is that this now spills over into development plans, making it even harder to secure the uplift in the building pipeline to address the housing crisis.” …”

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/dec/13/uk-property-market-at-weakest-since-2012-as-brexit-takes-toll-rics

Will we ever be sure how some Tory MPs voted on May?

Take, say, Hugo Swire. He has not said how he would vote. Say Mrs May wins – he can say he voted for her but could have voted against her as the ballot is secret.

Or, if she loses he can say he voted against her to be in with a chance with a new Leader.

Although Parish says he voted for her, he can’t prove that either – he might have secretly voted against her!

Doesn’t matter what those declared and undeclared voters voted for – it can never be proved.

Transparent? Of course not!

Axminster masterplan – still searching for a useable website !

THIS time managed to track down at EDDC a Powerpoint presentation of a public information session – to add to the hazy schematic and cartoons in local media! Though note it takes a LONG time to load! Getting there slowly.

Click to access 181206-december-public-exhibition-1_revised.pdf