Planning troubles in Torbay ….

“Interesting news from Torbay – a private investigator has been hired to look into the planning decisions of Torbay Council. A fat file of evidence has been passed to the investigator based on dozens of interviews of local residents, existing and former council employees.

The investigator who has taken charge is a journalist with twenty plus years of experience with national newspapers, including the Daily Mail. She has a passion for local history and has thwarted numerous campaigns in the past relating to listed buildings and parks. Her connections across Westminster and the media are extensive.

The plan – sponsored by local residents and not by any particular organisation or body – is to publish all the evidence that is collected in a safe place online. Mainstream media outlets are already interested in documentary production and stories emanating from this body of evidence. The investigation is not solely directed against Torbay Council, as other entities have been found wanting, notably the local press.

An email address to send evidence to the investigator has been published. It is If you have information that you think might help them then please feel free to email it across to them.

So far £900 has been raised privately to help pay for the investigator who has travelled down to Torbay from London. A GoFundMe campaign was launched yesterday and can be accessed at the following URL:

An independent investigation by this respected and renowned investigator and journalist must surely be welcomed.”

The Torbay Investigation

“Social care ‘near collapse’ as 1 million denied vital help”

Theresa May has been warned that social care is “on the brink of collapse” with more than one million older people denied help with basic tasks.

Increasing numbers are being left without support to get out of bed, dress, wash or go to the lavatory, according to the letter to the Prime Minister signed by a coalition of leading NHS and health leaders, with millions more relying on unpaid care from relatives and friends.

The four-page letter, seen by The Sunday Times, is the first time such groups have united to raise concerns over social care and states that the “perilous state” of the sector had become a “national disgrace”.

The Government is being urged to act after promising a solution to the crisis, with a green paper setting out how to fund social care delayed several times.

Signatories include leaders of the Royal College of Physicians, the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and the Royal College of General Practitioners.”

Source: Times page 2

“At last we are turning away from our mania for hiving off public services”

Owl says: Do not be mislead into thinking, when reading this article, that the NHS has stopped privatisation. In fact, it simply makes it cheaper and easier for private companies to compete with the NHS.

“… In the wave after wave of attacks on the NHS launched by the right, the issue of values is brushed aside. The monopoly of the NHS must be broken. Forget the principles of the co-operative: in practice, runs the argument, it becomes an inefficient monopoly of production and delivery that must be challenged by private sector competition. The NHS can still be free at the point of use, but the structures that provide health must be the closest simulacrum to a market as possible. The NHS can be reduced to a brand that houses a hyperefficient network of private sector deliverers competing for contracts.

Hence the Andrew Lansley health “reforms” in 2012 that compelled the NHS to outsource delivery. But the same thinking informed the Tories’ engagement across the public sector. Thus justice secretary Chris Grayling’s probation service “reforms” in 2013 and the normally sane Philip Hammond, as defence secretary, agreeing that army recruitment could be contracted out to Capita in 2012. Tory antipathy to the public sector was given free rein, the lush public outsourcing industry was turbo-boosted – and the public sector fragmented.

Last week saw the death knell of all three “reforms” and with it a pillar of thinking that sustains the current Tory party. Thursday’s call by NHS England to repeal section 75 of Lansley’s Health and Social Care Act, which requires every significant contract worth cumulatively more than £600K to be outsourced in any circumstance, replacing them with a best value test, is a watershed. It will empower commissioners to weigh up whether the loss of an integrated, co-operative service by outsourcing offsets any short-term financial gain. A health system is a structure of interconnected moving parts that requires co-ordination, backed by the overriding principle that the alpha and omega of decision making is care, not maximum profit. …”

“Excessive” housing in a Local Plan allowed to go to appeal

“CAMPAIGNERS battling the impact of Waverley’s “excessive” housing targets are celebrating a landmark legal decision giving them the green light to appeal.

In a fresh twist threatening to undermine the borough council’s adopted Local Plan, which calculates 11,200 houses must be built by 2032, the Court of Appeal agreed last Thursday it would hear the joint challenge by Surrey Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) and Protect Our Waverley (POW).
The challenge centres on whether Waverley had to increase its housing target by 1,600 homes in order to accept Woking’s “unmet need”.

If the joint appeal succeeds – due to be heard later this year – it will anger residents forced to accept unpopular housing schemes driven by Waverley’s determination to meet its housing target, such as a controversial scheme for up to 200 houses agreed last week in Milford (see page three).
Last week’s Court of Appeal decision reverses a High Court decision in October 2018 rejecting POW and CPRE’s case that Waverley should not be obliged to take half of Woking’s unmet need.

Celebrating CPRE’s successful appeal against October’s verdict, Andy Smith, CPRE Surrey branch director, said: “We are pleased that the Court of Appeal wish to see the matter of Woking’s so-called unmet need properly addressed, as there are big question marks over it.

“In the housing requirement numbers for both the Waverley and Guildford Local Plans, this issue of Woking’s unmet need, lurks in the background. It will be good to bring this issue out in the appeal court, as it has profound consequences – not just for Waverley and not even just for West Surrey, but also county wide and nation wide.

“Our countryside is at risk from excessive, arbitrary and unsustainabule housebuilding targets, and that is why we needed to challenge the housing calculations.”

POW chairman Bob Lees highlighted that the appeal coincides with Woking Borough Council declaring it now has no unmet need, and new demographic figures released by the Office for National Statistics implying a much reduced need for new housing.

Welcoming last week’s decision, Mr Lees said: “This is great news. It provides Waverley Borough Council with a golden opportunity to significantly reduce the mandatory number of new houses to be built in the borough over the next 14 years.

“POW fought against the housing requirement at the examination of the Local Plan. POW fought again in the High Court. POW will fight in the Court of Appeal. POW is fighting to protect our Waverley against unneeded development of our towns, of our villages and in our beautiful countryside.”

Waverley has set aside a “fighting fund” of £300,000 to defend its Local Plan. Responding, borough council leader and Farnham councillor Julia Potts, said: “This news is obviously extremely disappointing for us, but we will, of course, be vigorously defending our adopted Local Plan; the plan we believe represents the best possible vision for the borough’s future.
“It means we can work in partnership with the borough’s towns and parishes to develop Neighbourhood Plans, so communities can mould new development where they live. It means we can safeguard our borough against inappropriate development.

“It should be remembered that Waverley did not bring this legal action, but we have to defend both the borough and town and parish councils, whose Neighbourhood Plans are now threatened by this action. We all want appropriate plan-led development and we did everything possible at the inspection to defend a lower housing number.

“It is extremely disappointing that a few determined individuals continue to raise these legal challenges, despite the High Court upholding the Local Plan following the hearing in October 2018 and despite it having been approved by a government inspector.

“We are committed to preserving and protecting the adopted Local Plan. It will remain our principal planning document and continue to guide our planning decisions.”