“Half of England is owned by less than 1% of the population”

“Half of England is owned by less than 1% of its population, according to new data shared with the Guardian which seeks to penetrate the secrecy that has traditionally surrounded land ownership.

The findings, described as “astonishingly unequal”, suggest that about 25,000 landowners – typically members of the aristocracy and corporations – have control of half of the country.

The figures show that if the land were distributed evenly across the entire population, each person would have almost an acre – an area roughly the size of Parliament Square in central London.

Major owners include the Duke of Buccleuch, the Queen, several large grouse moor estates, and the entrepreneur James Dyson.

While land has long been concentrated in the hands of a small number of owners, precise information about property ownership has been notoriously hard to access. But a combination of the development of digital maps and data as well as pressure from campaigners has made it possible to assemble the shocking statistics.

Jon Trickett, Labour MP and shadow minister for the Cabinet Office, hailed the significance of the findings and called for a full debate on the issue, adding: “The dramatic concentration of land ownership is an inescapable reminder that ours is a country for the few and not the many.”

“It’s simply not right that aristocrats, whose families have owned the same areas of land for centuries, and large corporations exercise more influence over local neighbourhoods – in both urban and rural areas – than the people who live there.”

“Land is a source of wealth, it impacts on house prices, it is a source of food and it can provide enjoyment for millions of people.”

Guy Shrubsole, author of the book in which the figures are revealed, Who Owns England?, argues that the findings show a picture that has not changed for centuries.

“Most people remain unaware of quite how much land is owned by so few,” he writes, adding: “A few thousand dukes, baronets and country squires own far more land than all of middle England put together.”

“Land ownership in England is astonishingly unequal, heavily concentrated in the hands of a tiny elite.” …”


“HMRC reveal Devon workers rank among lowest paid in UK”

Owl asks: Who is “growth” FOR? Developers definitely, privatised company bosses too – but ‘the workers’ – hhmmmm.

“The figures from HMRC show the average employee in East Devon took home £19,100 before tax in the 2016-17 financial year, £100 more than their counterparts in North Devon who made £19,000 before tax.

That’s significantly lower than the £23,600 median income across the UK.

Workers in the City of London have the highest median salary in the UK at £54,300, while employees in Boston, Lincolnshire, have the lowest, at just £17,600.

HMRC uses the median, the middle number in a series, instead of the mean average, so the figures are not distorted by extreme highs and lows. The data does not cover people who are self-employed. …

East Devon workers also faired lower than others across the South West, with Stroud, Gloucestshire, recording the highest income in the region at £22,800. West Somerset employees have the lowest at just £18,000. The median is £20,800.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation, a poverty and social mobility charity, urged the Government to focus on strengthening the economies of poorer areas in the UK. …”


Why vote Independent in local elections?

A response to today’s post on retiring EDDC Councillor Roger Giles:

“When I first moved to OSM and had a leaflet from Roger through the letterbox, I could tell immediately that he was the best councillor you needed no money to buy. I voted for him without any hesitation, and I have never been disappointed in the decision.

(Ditto for Claire Wright but that is another story.)

More importantly it was also the beginning of a journey for me, to understand what genuinely Independent councillors do that makes them so different from the Party clones, and to understand the depths of the dodgy behaviour perpetrated by EDDC’s Conservative / Liberal Democrat regime.

Unfortunately I have now moved away, but I do hope that Roger’s shoes are filled by a new crop of fiercely independent-minded Independent councillors who will fight for the rights and needs of local residents against the elite powers-that-be and who will continue Roger’s fight to shine a spotlight and hold the council leadership to account on both the decisions made by them and the process by which those decisions are reached.

To anyone considering standing as a genuine Independent in any of the roles Roger has until now held, I urge you to take the plunge – the last thing East Devon / Devon needs is yet another Conservative / Liberal Democrat clone who will vote as directed in a totally non-critical brain-dead manner.

To anyone voting, equally I urge you to AVOID candidates from the national parties (or indeed any candidates who until recently were associated with national parties and who have decided to stand as Independents even though we can see through this ploy) and to support your genuinely INDEPENDENT candidate.”

14 days to local elections – today’s picture

Today, something a little different. Above is a photo of Ottery St Mary Independent councillor (town, district and county at different times) Roger Giles.

Roger is a role model for what a good independent councillor must be – passionate about his community, principled, straightforward, eco-friendly, green, living and working in it all his life. He has been a councillor for 24 years and he has put his community first for all that time.

He claims almost no expenses (probably less than £ 100 in those 24 years), he cycles or walks as much as possible, tends his allotment and is approachable, available and active for EVERY member of his community who seeks his help.

Roger does not suffer political fools gladly! His firm but fair chairmanship of EDDC’s Scrutiny Committee and his forensic investigation of its planning omnishambles that helped to lead to the downfall of the much-maligned East Devon Business Forum and its disgraced chief, the notorious Councillor Graham Brown (more about him later in this series) have been recent highlights of his many achievements.

And why is he standing down? Because he believes the younger people of East Devon should have their chance to fill his (not inconsiderable) shoes and make their mark on the district.

Roger nurtured potential MP and councillor-warrior Independent Claire Wright and wants to see more like her in positions of influence in East Devon.

Enjoy your well-deserved retirement Mr Giles – local independents have a hard act to follow but will benefit from your great example.

Luckily, Mr Giles will remain a town councillor for Ottery St Mary if enough (sensible) people vote for him on 2 May 2019.

VERY IMPORTANT update on Sidmouth Business Park appeal

NOTE: a planning inquiry is much more formal than a hearing and usually involves lawywers, examination of evidence and cross-examination:

Public Inquiries & Hearings

We have now been advised by the District Council that the Planning Inspector has determined that instead of holding a Hearing into the planning appeal as we previously had been told, the Inspector has now decided to hold an Inquiry which could last up to three days. The first of these days is due to start on 16 July. We are assuming that the Inspector will therefore have penciled in the Inquiry to be held on

16, 17 and 18 July

The Inquiry will be held in public and will be held locally. If you have any interest in attending then put these dates in your diary now!

In our last Update we asked you to consider submitting additional evidence to the Planning Inspector and we know that a number have done so, and thank you to those who have.

The District Council’s latest communication advises that the Inspector has put back the date by which additional submissions can be made. The new deadline by which any additional comments have to be received by the Inspector is now

17 May 2019

We again would encourage as many of you as possible who wish to, to submit comments even at this late stage. As the District Council refused planning permission solely on grounds related to highways matters you should only submit highways related comments. In doing so you might want to address matters that include –

Evidence or statements regarding the effect of noise, vibration, damage and pollution on your properties (and vehicles) due to HGV or other traffic

Effect on the health of residents attributable to air quality

Effect of pollution on children walking to school and in the playground of the primary school

Road safety issues – lack of pavements or narrow pavements, plus no lollipop lady, crossing nor traffic lights to help you cross safely with your children

Traffic delays due to congestion at the various pinch points on the A375 in both Sidford and Sidbury

Evidence of vehicles mounting and/or diving on pavements

Where possible your comments should be supported by photographic evidence.

We believe that it is important for as many photographs and/or videos are submitted to the Planning Inspector showing images of traffic congestion/difficulties along the A375 at any point between Sidford and Cotford in Sidbury.

Attached, once again, is a brief guide as to how to present any submission that you make.

Best wishes

Campaign Team


Guidance on submitting additional evidence to the Planning Inspector

All comments and evidence must –

• be received by the Planning Inspector by no later than 22 April 2019. Anything received after this date will not be considered by the Inspector.

• quote the planning appeal reference for in order for it to be considered by the Inspector. The reference is – APP/U1105/W/19/3221978.

• quote the address of the appeal site i.e. the Business Park. The address to be quoted is – Land East of Two Bridges, Two Bridges Road, Sidford.

• your name and address

• state “I am against the appeal proposals” and explain whether it is for the same reasons as given by the District Council or, if not, explain your own reasons

The reasons given by the District Council in refusing the planning application were –

“1. The proposed development, by virtue of the proposed B8 uses, would result in an increase of HGV traffic on the surrounding road network, both in the vicinity of the site and through Sidbury which both suffer from inadequate road widths and a lack of footways. As such increased HGV movements within this area will result in conflicts between vehicles, and between vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians, to the detriment of highway safety. The proposed development is therefore considered contrary to paragraph 32 of the National Planning Policy Framework and Strategies 26 (Development at Sidmouth), and Policies TC7 (Adequacy of Road Network and Site Access) of the adopted East Devon Local Plan 2013 – 2031.”

The Planning Inspector asks that any additional submissions are –

• in a font such as Arial or Verdana in a size of 11 point or larger

• use A4 paper wherever possible

• number the pages of the documents

• make sure photocopied and scanned documents are clear and legible

• use black and white for documents unless colour is essential

• put any photographs (both originals and photocopies should be in colour),
maps, plans, etc, in a separate appendix and cross reference them within the main body of the document

• print documents on both sides of a page. You should use paper of good enough quality that something printed on one side of the page does not show through to the other side

• do not send original documents

• if possible, send 3 copies

You should send your written submission and/or photographs/videos –
By post to:

The Planning Inspectorate, Room 3/C Eagle Wing, Temple Quay House, 2 The Square, Bristol BS1 6PN

By email to: west2@pins.gsi.gov.uk
Planning Portal: https://acp.planninginspectorate.gov.uk

Remember all evidence must be received by the Planning Inspector by no later than

17 May 2019