Why do we “need” Sidford Business Park when we have the Science Park Enterprise Zone down the road?

Enterprise Zones give favourable start-up arrangements such as business rate relief to businesses that take space in them – Sidford is not in an Enterprise Zone.

“East Devon District Council’s Cabinet last night agreed to invest £1.1m in the development of a new Open Innovation Building at Exeter Science Park, in the Exeter and East Devon Enterprise Zone.

The investment will bring forward 20,000 square feet of space under one roof for growing small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) sectors.

Funding has been raised against future business rates income from the growing list of businesses seeking to establish offices and laboratories alongside leading regional science and tech companies already based at Exeter Science Park.

Councillor Ian Thomas, Leader of East Devon District Council said: “The Exeter and East Devon Enterprise Zone is a significant and strategically important development site for the area, with the potential to create over 10,000 jobs.

“This investment will bring forward the opportunity for up to 158 high value jobs in the Open Innovation Building for local people as well as boosting the local economy.

“The £1.1m grant is 15% of the total cost of the building, providing an additional 20,000 square feet of employment space at the Science Park. It means the Open Innovation Building can be ready for occupation in the second half of 2020.”

The Enterprise Zone investment will help fund the building, including the fitting-out.

Dr Sally Basker, Chief Executive of Exeter Science Park Limited said: “Exeter Science Park is growing rapidly and is on-track to become a community of around 700 people by 2021.

“The Science Park helps innovative STEMM companies to deliver extraordinary growth and this Enterprise Zone grant will help us meet accommodation needs of STEMM businesses – both those already located at the Science Park and new firms wishing to take the next step in their growth journey and create a sustainable business.”

Steve Hindley CBE DL, Chair of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “Exeter and East Devon Enterprise Zone is part of the Heart of the South West’s multi-site enterprise zones offering economic opportunities in the area’s key sectors. These enterprise zones, with other sites at Oceansgate in Plymouth and at Gravity in Somerset, enable the local areas to retain a greater share of business rates to re-invest and attract new jobs and growth.”

Councillor Rufus Gilbert, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Economy and Skills, said: “This is another welcome investment in the Exeter and East Devon Enterprise Zone. The site is key to economic growth in Devon and the Open Innovation Building will add to the portfolio of excellent facilities being developed within the Zone. New infrastructure will attract new businesses and help create high value job opportunities in the area.”

The Exeter and East Devon Enterprise Zone is in its second year of operation, with businesses benefiting from Government-funded business rate relief.

In April 2018 the Council agreed in principle to borrow up to £8m, with detailed approval for £3.4m of expenditure. Projects include the launch in September 2018 of an enhanced ConnEXions bus service with free wifi, a park and change site near Exeter Science Park which will be delivered this year, and design work for an upgrade to Long Lane adjacent to Exeter Airport.”

https://heartofswlep.co.uk/news/east-devon-district-council-agrees-1-1m-enterprise-zone-investment-exeter-science-park/

40% of London’s right-to-buy council houses now privately rented

“Ministers are facing calls to shelve Margaret Thatcher’s totemic right-to-buy scheme after a devastating analysis revealed that more than 40% of council houses sold under its terms in London are now privately rented.

The damning findings of an analysis of Freedom of Information data also show that:

• Tens of millions of pounds are being paid by local authorities to rent former council homes in order to house growing numbers of homeless families;

• Some councils have bought back their former homes at more than six times the amount they sold them for;

• Hundreds of private landlords now own five or more right-to-buy properties. There are several London boroughs where more than half the houses sold through the policy are now in the hands of private landlords. Private renters have to pay more than people living in council-owned properties.

Labour London assembly member Tom Copley, who released the report containing the new data, said the findings provided fresh evidence for why right-to-buy should be scrapped in the capital.

“Something has gone very wrong when tens of thousands of homes built to be let at social rents for the public good are now being rented out at market rates for private profit, sometimes back to the very councils that were forced to sell them,” he said.

Right-to-buy, which offers discounts to council tenants who buy their home, has been in place since 1980 and was boosted in 2012 under the Tory-Lib Dem coalition government. The latest analysis found that 42% of homes sold under the scheme in London are now rented out by private landlords, up from 36% in 2014.

Around 466 individuals or companies have the leasehold for at least five former council homes each, while there are 2,333 right-to-buy properties where the local authority pays private landlords to house homeless families across London. Councils have spent £22m a year on renting back properties they once owned to use as temporary accommodation. …”

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/jan/19/ministers-urged-halt-right-buy-council-homes-rented

Blossom Hill holiday park near Honiton enters administration

“… As well as offering lodges to holidaymakers, the luxury sites – which boasted facilities such as indoor swimming pools and spas – were open to investors, who were promised “guaranteed returns”.

Lodges cost about £200,000 to buy but part-ownership schemes were available, which Ms Day said were “a bit like a time-share”. …”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-46912555

Workplace parking charges -will EDDC officers and councillors finally have to cave in

Just about every year, Ottery independent councillor Roger Giles – whose environmental credentials are strong – has petitioned for EDDC councillors and officers to introduce parking charges to encourage them to think more about the need to use their cars. Every year, the Conservative majority has voted him down.

Maybe this will change – though with rural public transport so poor, it seems likely that they may have to stump up the cost! Particularly when what is left of it often stops so early!

Buses from the new Honiton HQ to Sidmouth will end at 8 pm, to Axminster they will end at 6.10 pm and to Seaton at 3.40 pm (yes, that’s right 15.40!).

Owl’s guess – allowances and salaries will be raised to cover the extra cost.

“The AA says plans to charge drivers up to £1,000 a year to park at work could become a “poll tax on wheels”.

Under plans to cut congestion, reduce pollution and raise money for public transport, a workplace parking levy is being considered by at least 10 councils.

The charges would affect businesses with more than 10 parking spaces and the AA said the costs would be passed on to workers.

The levy has already been rolled out in Nottingham where four in 10 companies pass on the costs to staff.

Since it was introduced in 2012, the charge has raised £53.7m which has been used to improve Nottingham’s tram network.

Hounslow Council in west London is proposing to charge between £500 and £1,000 a year for every parking space and at least nine other councils are considering imposing the levy.

Other cash-strapped authorities are likely to consider the measure because of a shortage of funding for road improvements and public transport.”

https://news.sky.com/story/drivers-could-be-charged-up-to-1000-a-year-to-park-at-work-11611486

Deposit-free renting – another government scam to benefit its donors!

The government is touting the information that it is going to make it easier for renters to begin a tenancy without a big deposit.

What the small print does NOT tell people is that they will need to pay the equivalent if (at least) a week’s rent for a NON-REFUNDABLE insurance policy to cover potential damage!

“… Groups representing tenants say they cannot see the benefits for most of their members.

Dan Wilson Craw from Generation Rent says zero-deposit schemes are an unnecessary expense for tenants.

“This is money that you will never see again, whereas with a standard deposit if you take care of the property you should get all that money back,” he says. “People need to realise that it’s not taking away their responsibility for keeping the home in good condition and paying the rent. If there are problems you will have to pay what they ask for.”

Even landlord groups are concerned. John Stewart, policy manager at the Residential Landlords Association, says he can see the potential for a loss-loss situation with this type of scheme.

For tenants, he says “it might cut the upfront fees but it is an absolute cost at the end of the day”, while for landlords it was unclear how long claims would take to be paid and what would happen if a scheme went bust.”

https://www.theguardian.com/money/2019/jan/19/could-renting-without-huge-deposits-become-the-norm

Knowle Flog It – yes, it IS public property, officers and councillors

Sidmouth Herald has finally put up the story about the Knowle Flog it scandal on its website:

https://www.sidmouthherald.co.uk/news/public-property-auction-rumours-quashed-1-5855743

Yes, it is PUBLIC property – NOT councillors’ and officers’ property!

And Owl wonders what is going to happen (or has happened) to public property such as the rather lovely globe lights in the Council Chamber, the beautiful fireplaces and the MANY square metres of still very serviceable Axminster carpets, for example …

Austerity – carries on after you die with “funeral poverty” thanks to your local authority

Owl says: EDDC expects to make £150,000 from crematoria fees next year – up from £105,000 last year – a 50% increase.

http://eastdevon.gov.uk/papers/cabinet/020119bpcabinetcapitalestimatesbook2019-20.pdf
(page 40]

“Inflation-busting rises in cremation and burial fees meant council profits from funerals leapt to almost £100 million last year.

Fee increases have been so steep that local authorities’ cremation, burial and mortuary services are operating on an average profit margin of more than 43 per cent. If these services were collectively listed as a single publicly traded company, they would make the FTSE 250 index of leading businesses.

Critics have described the level of charges as immoral and accused local authorities of pushing residents into “funeral poverty”.

Source: Times (paywall)