“Say NO to Sidford Business Park” campaign newsletter and fundraising event

“We hope that you had a good Christmas and wish you a very Happy New Year!

In this newsletter –
v Approaching any potential planning appeal
v A fundraising event on 23 February
v Opening a Campaign bank account

Approaching any potential planning appeal
We still don’t know whether the applicants who submitted the planning application to build the Business Park in Sidford intend to appeal against the District Council’s decision to refuse planning permission for this site, the second application in as many years. Should the applicants want to appeal they have up to 6 months from when the District Council made its decision to do so.

The applicants therefore have until 18 April to lodge any appeal. Should the applicants decide not to appeal it would be nice to think that they would announce this so that local residents can be put out of their misery as otherwise this matter sits uneasily over us all.

We have had to assume that without any evidence to the contrary, the applicants will at some point submit an appeal. We are therefore preparing ourselves should an appeal happen.

At an appeal the District Council will have to defend its decision to refuse the planning application. As its grounds for refusing planning permission were restricted to the narrow issue of the highway not being suitable for the anticipated size and volume of traffic that the Business Park could be expected to generate, we have decided that we would want the Campaign to be a party to the appeal process.

The Campaign, and many of you who have supported it, have cited broader reasons, than those put forward by the District Council, for opposing the proposed Business Park. Therefore, the Campaign would want to become a formally registered party which could fully participate at an appeal. We believe that the District Council was wrong to only rely upon highways arguments for its refusal, hence the reason why we feel the need to be a party to any appeal hearing.

However, if the Campaign is going to do all of this effectively, we believe that we are going to have to employ a planning professional to make the arguments and to cross examine the applicants’ representatives and witnesses for us. As you can imagine to do this won’t come cheaply. Potentially, we would need to raise several tens of thousands of pounds to be professionally represented. We are in the process of contacting various people with the intention of identifying such a professional and a likely cost.

It is also our hope that other organisations who submitted objections to the planning application would also want to be a party to any appeal process. In particular, we would encourage the Town Council, which submitted a broad set of objections, would make its arguments at any appeal hearing. Indeed, there is no reason why other organisations such as the County Council couldn’t do likewise.

As we say, we are having to assume that we will need to be professionally represented at an appeal if one is held. That means that we have to think about how we might raise many thousands of pounds. One way will be to seek pledges of funds from our supporters. This is something that we will return to in a future newsletter.

A fundraising event on 23 February
In the meantime we are holding a fundraising ceilidh on the evening of Saturday 23 February in Sidford Hall. Tickets will be £5.00 and you will be able to bring your own drink. We will be holding a raffle and inviting donations of prizes for it. Further information about this event will be circulated soon and, in the meantime, we are approaching several businesses in Sidford and Sidbury to see whether they would agree to sell tickets.

If you are willing to donate a prize for the raffle please let us know! Please put this date in your diary!

Opening a Campaign bank account
So far, we have managed to run this Campaign on the basis of raising cash from you, our supporters. At our last public meeting we explained how much we had raised and what we had spent it on. On several occasions we have been asked whether we have a bank account to allow supporters to give donations by cheque. We have resisted opening a bank account as frankly it’s a time-consuming process.

But as we may now have to possibly raise a significant amount of money to pay for professional representation at an appeal, we have started the process of opening a Lloyds Bank account. Once this process has been finalised, we will circulate its details.

As we said at the beginning of this newsletter, we wish you a Happy New Year. Let’s hope that our wishes for this matter to come to a quick conclusion come to fruition.

Best wishes

Campaign Team”

Luxury properties snapped up by foreign buyers after pound fell

“The global super-rich have taken advantage of the Brexit-induced decline in the value of sterling to buy up three times as many £10m-plus luxury homes as before the referendum vote.

Some 300 homes sold for more than £10m each in the tax year to April 2017 (the latest for which figures are available), an increase from 100 sold during the preceding 12-month period. The figures, released by HM Revenue and Customs on Wednesday following a freedom of information request, were rounded to the nearest 10 by HMRC. …”

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/jan/02/uk-housing-market-is-a-goldmine-for-wealthy-foreign-buyers

Christmas catch-up

Owl didn’t want to spoil Christmas but here are a few of the stories that would have done so over the ‘festive’ season:

Hedge funds win even if retailers fail:
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/number-people-spending-christmas-day-13772221

France to overtake UK as world’s sixth largest economy:
https://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/france-to-overtake-uk-as-world-s-sixth-biggest-economy-post-brexit-a4025411.html

UK is institutionally ageist:
https://www.theguardian.com/science/2018/dec/26/uk-is-completely-and-institutionally-ageist

Scrap the parliamentary lobby:
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/dec/26/scrap-parliamentary-lobby-westminster-journalists

Richest 1% will have two-thirds of the world’s wealth by 2030:
https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/apr/07/global-inequality-tipping-point-2030

Minister tells councils to put CLOSED libraries in failing high streets:
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/tory-minister-slammed-telling-councils-13777880

Universal credit is damaging mental health:
https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/8069484/universal-credit-making-brits-ill-mental-health/

Tory MP wants legal aid reintroduced now he needs it:
https://www.theguardian.com/law/2018/dec/27/its-completely-wrong-falsely-accused-tory-mp-attacks-legal-aid-cuts

90 people die each DAY waiting for social care:
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/shocking-nhs-figures-reveal-90-13791144

NHS cuts halt 70,000 operations:
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/tory-nhs-cuts-staff-beds-13795124

Councils ripped-off by private landlords:
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/jan/01/councils-ripped-off-by-private-landlords-experts-warn

and

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/homeless-accommodation-now-costs-1billion-13802618

EDDC says community hospitals do not contribute to social well-being

“Here is my letter, about Ottery Hospital, which was published in the Sidmouth Herald about ten days ago [from Ottery Hospital campaigner Philip Algar]:

Last August, I asked the Ottery Town Council to request the East Devon District Council to declare the Ottery Hospital to be an asset of community value. Such a designation would have delayed any decision by NHS Properties to sell the hospital.

The request was rejected by EDDC because the hospital was not a community asset.

Unlike swimming pools and pubs, it did not contribute to “social wellbeing”! This is manifest nonsense but there is a more disturbing aspect to this EDDC decision which challenges common sense and justice.

Apparently, there is no precise definition of social wellbeing so any determination must be subjective. This is demonstrated by the fact that three district councils in Devon have granted the status to hospitals in their areas.

This raises some serious questions.

What was different about the request to give the Ottery hospital this designation? EDDC admit that they gave more weight to an NHS objection than they did to the wishes of the people of Ottery and district whom they are supposed to represent.

Why did NHS Properties oppose this proposal whilst other councils granted the desired status to hospitals serving their electors? Who should we blame for having our hospital treated in this way? Is it EDDC for cravenly giving in to the NHS or should it be the NHS itself which may plan to close the hospital entirely and sell the site and so opposes any action that could delay implementing such a decision?”