Exeter and Devon County Council debate climate change – EDDC CEO refuses to allow debate

Press release from Transition Exeter below. EDDC CEO Mark Williams has refused a similar request for debate from an independent councillor.

“Green Councillor Chris Musgrave is bringing a motion to Exeter City Council on Tuesday February 26th calling on it to

Declare a ‘Climate Emergency’;

Pledge to make the city of Exeter carbon neutral by 2030 or sooner, taking into account both production and consumption emissions;

Call on Westminster to provide the powers and resources to make the 2030 target possible;

Continue to work with partners across the city and region, including Devon County Council, to deliver this new goal through all relevant strategies and plans;

To support the motion letters to city councillors would be very welcome; and supporters plan to gather outside the Guildhall before the motion is heard, at 5 pm on 26th February.

Devon County Council will also discuss a similar motion on Thursday February 21st.

Our Facebook page shows the {minority of} councillors who have pledged to support the motion. https://www.facebook.com/transition.exeter/ .

Cabinet has recommended changing the motion to aim for 2050. This is not much of an emergency! Please to your county councillor asking them to support the motion with the original target date for being carbon neutral of 2030. They will not be able to do this with their present budget and powers but the motion would be a strong call to Westminster to make realistic action possible!

Find your county councillor here

The motion is here https://democracy.devon.gov.uk/mgAi.aspx?ID=17450


East Devon District Council is controversially set to borrow £200 million to purchase property. The Council Cabinet agreed its Commercial Investment Framework, which would allow it to do so, on 6 February.

However many EDDC councillors have great concerns about this strategy. As a result, a Notice of Motion (NoM) was tabled by Councillor Roger Giles (Independent – Ottery Town) to be debated at the EDDC full council meeting on 27 February. The NoM was submitted in time, and was supported by more than the required number of other councillors.

However the EDDC Chief Executive Mark Williams struck the NoM off the agenda, on the grounds that the matter had already been discussed at the Cabinet meeting on 6 February.

“The EDDC Cabinet consists of just 10 councillors, and is Conservative controlled” said Roger Giles.

“The investment strategy would massively increase the council`s indebtedness, and is inherently risky. I therefore considered it essential that the whole council should be able to have a full-scale debate, and vote on the strategy.”

“However the Chief Executive has intervened to ban my NoM from being included on the agenda paper. By doing so I believe he has damaged our democratic processes – an action which is deeply regrettable.”

Another developer pleads poverty – can’t afford to build affordable housing (lol)!

Councillors said they were horrified they were being asked to ‘give away poor people’s right to a house’.

Last month, Teignbridge District Council’s planning committee approved a scheme that will see 10 new two and three-bed apartments built on the site of the Neilston Retirement Hotel in Woodway Road, but only if an affordable housing contribution of £86,431 was provided.

But an independent viability appraisal confirmed that a contribution that large would mean that the development would not be viable and that they would not be able to proceed.

The application went back before planners on Tuesday morning and they voted to accept the recommendation of the planning officer that an affordable housing contribution of £37,500 was requested.

Had the application been totally policy compliant in terms of a 25 per cent affordable homes or off-site contributions for Teignmouth, then developers would have been asked for a total liability of £172,863.

Cllr Alistair Dewhirst said: “I am horrified that we could just give away poor people’s right to a house and I couldn’t possibly support it. I don’t think what is there now is special but what they are proposing looks like Colditz to me.”

Cllr Jackie Hook added: “Last time we were content with the application and were happy to see these new apartments built and we compromised in favour of a contribution of one affordable unit.

“The applicant’s appraisal identifies a developer’s profit of £228,280, so we should ask for £50,000, not the £37,500, and they will hardly notice the difference.”

Cllr Dave Rollason added: “A £228,000 profit is a lot of money. The need for affordable housing is massive and it is unfair that we are taking money from the pockets who need it most and giving it to developers.”

She added: “You either have to accept the independent advice over viability, or refuse the application.”

Cllr Phil Bullivant said it would be very difficult to go against the professional advice given and he could not see the evidence to go against it.

Cllr Dennis Smith, chairman of the committee, added: “We asked for this report and now seem to want to just be ignoring what it says. The viability statement says that £37,500 is fair, so I don’t see how we can argue about it.”

The proposal of Cllr Hook to increase the contribution required to £50,000 was lost, and then councillors voted by 14 votes to three to approve the application with an affordable housing contribution of £37,500.

The scheme would see the demolition of the existing building and the construction of a three storey apartment building containing 10 new two and three-bed apartments, plus 18 car parking spaces and two double garages.

Councillors had previously been on a site visit and raised no objections to the principle of the application, with Cllr Charlie Dennis said that the building has deteriorated, is past its best and at present it is a ‘sad thing to see’.


Lib Dems will not contest seats of Independents who have left other parties – so what about Claire Wright?

Sir Vince Cable has said that Lib Dems will NOT contest seats of the (so far 11) MPs who have broken from their parties to become independent in the last few days

Owl assumes that Sir Vince includes Claire Wright – the most popular independent in the country – in this sensible decision, especially as polling shows she could unseat Hugo Swire this time round.

Looking forward to Sir Vince’s confirmation.

“Persimmon Homes slammed over new homes plan and accused of being unreliable”

Coming soon to a HUGE development near you, Axminster!

“Calls for a £1m performance bond to be placed against housing developers Persimmon Homes were made by councillors who said ‘we cannot rely on them to deliver what they promise’.

Cllr Phil Bullivant launched a stinging criticism of the company when their plans for 99 new homes on green space at Ogwell Mill Road, Newton Abbot, were being discussed by Teignbridge District Council’s planning committee.

He outlined his concerns with the planning application that they have submitted, but added that he had an issue with the developer because of the fact they have created so much trouble at the Hele Park development they have been building.

Cllr Bullivant said: “At Hele Park they have just ignored the conditions that we put down and they still haven’t put in the green space and allotments, seven years down the line. There are still unadopted roads in the estate and they have ignored the advice of a planning inspector.

“We cannot rely on this developer to deliver what they say they will and any performance that we give to them has to come with a caveat that they will deliver what they say they will deliver.”

He said that the faults of Persimmon Homes led to the council being ordered by the Local Government Ombudsman to apologise to a member of the public and pay him £300 in recognition of the frustration and inconvenience he has experienced because the council had failed to deal with a breach of planning control at the Hele Park site.

Larkspur Drive, between Thistle Close and Mile End Road, was being used as an access road, contrary to the planning permission granted to Persimmon Homes.

At the Hele Park development of 650 new homes off Ashburton Road, to the west of Newton Abbot, councillors had previously been told of a ‘catalogue of errors’ from Persimmon Homes, with pavements not linked, no allotments coming forward, the road not being adopted, a close being called a close when it is a through road, roundabouts in use that shouldn’t be, and a lack of bus services.

Cllr Bullivant added: “There should be a £1m performance bond attached to them that means if they don’t deliver what they say they will in a reasonable time then we can do it for them.”

But Nick Hill, the council’s planning solicitor, said that even though the committee may have a concern about a developer, their previous reputation isn’t a material consideration that can be considered during the planning process, they have to look at the application, not the applicant, and the council does have enforcement mechanism they can use.

The committee though raised a litany of other issues that they had with the development, which is included in the Local Plan for at least 70 homes.

Cllr John Nutley said: “I have concerns over the amount of houses being built and the design of them, as it is atrocious. This will be a complete blot on the landscape.”

Cllr Richard Keeling said that the design looked very similar to the ‘horrible box houses’ being built at the Penns Mount estate in Kingsteignton, Cllr Mary Colclough said the designs were abysmal, while Cllr Alistair Dewhirst said: “The designs look like children’s drawings.”

Cllr Bullivant added: “I called this in to the committee as I considered this was overdevelopment, and when I look at the detail, this is overdevelopment so much so they cannot even design space for bins to be stored.”

A whole range of problems were raised by Cllr Jackie Hook, who said that some of the houses that were being built were so small that housing associations won’t take them on as ‘they cannot even fit a bed in a bedroom’. She said that the committee couldn’t approve this and should either refuse it or defer it for more discussions to take place.

But Cllr Mike Hocking said that the application was much improved from the initial one that they proposed. He said that the originally proposed 109 homes had been reduced down to 99, the location of the houses had been moved further down the hill, and that the access to the site was now going to be from Emblett Drive and not from Ogwell Mill Road, next to Bradley Barton Primary School, and originally proposed.

He said: “I think 99 homes is too many so something closer to 70 would be more realistic, but then we start to lose some of the affordable homes. We have done a good job in persuading them to tone down the development, but this will be built on at some point.

“If we turn this down then Persimmon will go to appeal and we may well lose all the benefits that officers have worked hard to try and get.”

Planning officers had recommended that full planning permission for the development be granted, but Cllr Hook said that as there were still a lot of outstanding matters and that councillors were unhappy about parts of it of the plans, a decision should be deferred so further discussions between the council and the developers to address the concerns could take place.

Councillors voted by 11 votes to 1 to defer the application until April’s meeting for further discussions.”


Flybe rejects second bid as too late

“Troubled Exeter-based regional airline Flybe has snubbed a rival rescue proposal from investors including US airline Mesa Air Group and backed by former Stobart boss Andrew Tinkler.

Shares in Flybe more than doubled to 2.9p as it confirmed the “highly conditional” approach from a consortium including Mesa Airlines of Arizona and South African hedge fund Bateleur Capital.

But Flybe said it “does not believe that the indicative proposal is executable in the timeframe required to enable Flybe to continue to trade”.

It added it continues to back the existing takeover by the Connect Airways consortium – which consists of Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic, Stobart Group and investment firm Cyrus Capital – as the “only viable option available to the company which provides the security that the business needs to continue to trade successfully”.


“Housing developer forced to scrap ‘misleading’ ads targeting first-time buyers”

“One of Britain’s largest housing associations has been forced to scrap an advertising campaign that implied its shared ownership scheme was equivalent to home ownership.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled Notting Hill Genesis – which owns 55,000 properties in London and the south-east – misled consumers by comparing its scheme in contrast with renting.

A slogan on its ad said: “I own a two-bedroom apartment and pay less per month than my friends pay to rent a room in a flatshare.”

But the ads were promoting the group’s shared ownership scheme, where homeowners only technically own a slice of the property and pay rent to Notting Hill in respect of the rest. …”