Could EDDC Tiggers not find ONE “independent” to chair the Development Management Committee?

OK, we now refer to the ruling group at EDDC as


a coalition of a mix of western-side “Independents” with western-side Tories.

And the Tiggers couldn’t even find ONE of their “independents” to chair the Development Management Committee!

Tory Mike Howe now holds the casting vote if the committee splits 50/50 on anything …


The new council at EDDC – “Independent Group” stitches up Independent East Devon Alliance, opting for cosy relationship with old-style Tories!!!

No representation at all for East Devon Alliance members, except Val Ranger for symbolic appountment as Deputy Chairman. Lib Dems totally excluded too.

Stuart Hughes (Tory) voted in as new Chairman – unopposed and nominated by Independent Ben Ingham and seconded by Tory Phil Twiss!

Says it all really …

Vice-Chairman Val Ranger – EDA

New Leader – Ben Ingham – Independent Group, Exmouth

New deputy leader – Susie Bond – Independent Group, Feniton

Committee chairmen:

Overview – Nick Hookway – Independent Group, Exmouth
Scrutiny – Alan Dent – Tory, Budleigh
Housing Review Board – Tony McCollum – Independent Group, Honiton
Strategic Planning Committee – Susie Bond – Independent Group, Feniton
Development Management Committee – Mike Howe – Tory, Clyst Valley
Audit and Governance – Sam Hawkins, IndeGroyp, Cranbrook
Standards – Stuart Hughes – Tory, Sidmouth Sidford
Interviewing (chief officers) – Ben Ingham, Independent Group, Exmouth
Employment Appeals – Susie Bond – Independent Group, Feniton
Licensing and Enforcement – Paul Jarvis – Independent Group, Budleigh

So, first day – sold out.

Owl knew it had to keep an eye on this lot …

A bad, bad day for East Devon.

Surprise, surprise: the business people running Local Enterprise Partnerships are not attracting funding – from business people!

As Owl has been saying for YEARS – THESE EMPERORS HAVE NO CLOTHES!!!!! Neither do they have transparency or accountability.

It’s verging on the corrupt, definitely a conflict of interest and is certainly unethical – it means a very, very few business people, taking no risks for themselves or their businesses, divvying up OUR money for their own pet projects, with almost no oversight from the councils they have robbed of funds and no loss for them if projects fail or over-run in time or cost.

A national scandal.

“Private sector firms are not matching public sector funding for local regeneration, senior civil servants have admitted.

Two senior civil servants at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government told MPs on Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that cash from the EU, public sector and higher education are still the main sources for funding regional development projects.

The department’s permanent secretary Melanie Dawes and director general Simon Ridley said match funding for the £9.1bn Local Growth Fund is largely dependent on match funding from councils and other public bodies.

Ridley also admitted there were still challenges over transparency and the boundaries of some Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs).

The LEPs were set up following the abolition of regional development agencies with the idea that they would be a partnership between business and local government – with an expectation that firms would help funding regional regeneration.

Ridley told the committee that the main private sector input into the LEPs is the time and expertise of board members who work for free.

Committee member Anne Marie Morris said: “Clearly, you are having the private sector involved, so how come you haven’t got a significant financial commitment from them?”

Ridley responded: “The capacity funding we give requires match from the LEP in different ways.

“A large number of business people on the boards do it without renumeration. A lot of the capacity support around the accountable body that the local authority provides is paid for by the LEP.

“Our core expectation was to set up partnerships between the private sector and local government to think about local area development.

“Some of those funding streams are matched by private sector funding schemes.”

Committee chair Meg Hillier asked if developers and construction firms were giving over and above Section 106 contributions to enable projects.

She said: “There is a danger that without having any skin in the game, businesses can walk away and local taxpayers end up picking up the bill.”

Ridley replied: “What the LEP is seeking to do is bring forward projects in the local area that wouldn’t otherwise be coming forward.

“They are often funded by more than one funding stream from the public sector.”

The committee also challenged the pair over a claim that LEPs tended to go to the top-five local employers and as a result, other firms were being left out of key decisions.

Oxford University has become a major decision-maker for its LEP, the committee heard.

Committee member Layla Moran asked: “How do we know that everyone who is a stakeholder in this money is actually involved in the decision?”

Hillier also questioned if the LEPs were accountable, citing Oxfordshire, where meetings were not being held in public.

Dawes said the use of scores in the LEPs annual performance review were conditional for funding being released and this had impacted on responses.

She said: “The real test is how it feels for local communities and I think that’s something that’s very difficult for us to judge in central government. We are on a bit of a journey here. It’s going to take a while.”

Ridley said local authorities had a crucial role in oversight, specifically through Section 151 officers who are ideally placed to deal with complaints.

He said: “All LEPs have got their complaints procedures. We have a clearer role realisation with the accountable body and the 151 officer, so they [the public] might write to them.

“The section 151 officer does have to get all the information that goes to the LEP board. I can’t personally here guarantee that absolutely all of that is in front of every scrutiny committee.”

Dawes confirmed the department has no metrics for assessing complaints being made about the LEPs.

MPs also raised concern about territorial battles between LEPs and combined authorities.

Decisions have still yet to be made about the boundaries in nine LEPs.

Dawes told the committee: “There are legitimate reasons why these geography questions are there. We are working actively with them.

“What ministers will have to work through is whether to impose a decision centrally.

“That would be a matter of last resort.”

Businesses failing on LEP match funding, MPs told

So you think climate crisis is new?

Few people will recall Tom Lehrer – mathematician, singer-songwriter and satirist, best known for the pithy, humorous songs that he recorded in the 1950s and 1960s. This is what he had to say about pollution all those years ago:

He is still alive (now 93) and has no worries about people reproducing any of his songs and has no interest in copyright.

These are the lyrics of the above song:

Time was when an American about to go abroad would be warned
by his friends or the guidebooks not to drink the water.
But times have changed, and now a foreigner coming to
this country might be offered the following advice:
If you visit American city,
You will find it very pretty.
Just two things of which you must beware:
Don’t drink the water and don’t breathe the air!
Pollution, pollution!
They got smog and sewage and mud.
Turn on your tap
And get hot and cold running crud!
See the halibuts and the sturgeons
Being wiped out by detergeons.
Fish gotta swim and birds gotta fly,
But they don’t last long if they try.
Pollution, pollution!
You can use the latest toothpaste,
And then rinse your mouth
With industrial waste.
Just go out for a breath of air
And you’ll

Our new independent-led council meets for the first time …

Dear Independents,

We have put our trust in you to be radically different to how local politics has been done for the last 45 years.

You have promised – and we expect: honesty, transparency and accountability.

We expect new, better ways of doing things. We expect residents to be put first – since you have no party politics to drag you, and us, down.

We expect to see a council that is in firm but fair control of its officers as they show them these new ways and insist on them being tried out.
No doubt sonetimes you will fail. If so, be honest, own up to it and fix it.

You can make the transformation we crave.

Make it work – for us as East Devonians and for you as individuals.

Stick with the Nolan principles of public life:

Nothing less.

We know you can do it, now show us we are right to put our trust in you.


“UN report compares Tory welfare policies to creation of workhouses”

“A leading United Nations poverty expert has compared Conservative welfare policies to the creation of 19th-century workhouses and warned that unless austerity is ended, the UK’s poorest people face lives that are “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short”.

In his final report on the impact of austerity on human rights in the UK, Philip Alston, the UN rapporteur on extreme poverty, accused ministers of being in a state of denial about the impact of policies, including the rollout of universal credit, since 2010. He accused them of the “systematic immiseration of a significant part of the British population” and warned that worse could be yet to come for the most vulnerable, who face “a major adverse impact” if Brexit proceeds. He said leaving the EU was “a tragic distraction from the social and economic policies shaping a Britain that it’s hard to believe any political parties really want”.

The New York-based lawyer’s findings, published on Wednesday, follows a two-week fact-finding mission in November after which he angered ministers by calling child poverty in Britain “not just a disgrace but a social calamity and an economic disaster”. Now he has accused them of refusing to debate the issues he raised and instead deploying “window dressing to minimise political fallout” by insisting the country is enjoying record lows in absolute poverty, children in workless households and low unemployment.

The “endlessly repeated” mantra about rising employment overlooks that “close to 40% of children are predicted to be living in poverty two years from now, 16% of people over 65 live in relative poverty and millions of those who are in work are dependent upon various forms of charity to cope”, he said. …

In his most barbed swipe at Rudd and her predecessors in charge of welfare, he said: “It might seem to some observers that the department of work and pensions has been tasked with designing a digital and sanitised version of the 19th-century workhouse, made infamous by Charles Dickens.”

He said he had met people who had sold sex for money and joined gangs to avoid destitution.

[Owl won’t bother wirh the Tory responses …. predictable … everyone happy … no problems … only we can …. the usual drivel …]

Alston will present his report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva next month and will argue that successive Conservative-led governments persisted with austerity and welfare cuts amid high levels of employment and a growing economy despite evidence that large-scale poverty was persisting. In doing so, “much of the glue that has held British society together since the second world war has been deliberately removed and replaced with a harsh and uncaring ethos … British compassion has been replaced by a punitive, mean-spirited and often callous approach apparently designed to impose a rigid order on the lives of those least capable of coping.”

The report slams the government’s austerity programme, with criticisms of “shocking” rises in the use of food banks and rough sleeping, falling life expectancy for some, the “decimation” of legal aid, the denial of benefits to the severely disabled, falling teachers’ salaries in real terms and the impoverishment of single mothers and people with mental illness.

Alston said austerity had “deliberately gutted” local authorities, shrinking library, youth, police and park services to the extent that it was not surprising there were “unheard-of levels of loneliness and isolation”.

There was some praise for ministers for increases in work allowances under the universal credit welfare system and supporting the national minimum wage, but Alston said these measures had had not stopped the “dramatic decline in the fortunes of the least well-off”.

He recommended ministers reverse local government funding cuts, scrap the benefits cap, eliminate the five-week delay in receiving initial universal credit benefits and rethink the privatisation of services including rural transport.

“Thomas Hobbes observed long ago, such an approach condemns the least well-off to lives that are ‘solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short’,” he said. “As the British social contract slowly evaporates, Hobbes’ prediction risks becoming the new reality.”

“MPs call for national bus strategy and wider franchising powers”

Owl says: When will politicians discover common sense?

“Ministers must set out a national strategy for buses and extend franchising powers to all local authorities to halt an alarming decline in usage, MPs have said.

A lack of clear policy and a funding squeeze have contributed to the loss of thousands of local buses, worsening congestion, air quality and access to jobs, according to the transport select committee.

The committee has called on the government to draw up a long-term plan by the end of 2020 to support a sector that provides the majority of public transport. It said it should set out clear funding commitments and targets for a “modal shift” to bring car drivers and passengers back on to buses.

Public subsidy accounts for more than 40% of income for buses. Despite the scale of investment, the committee said a “fairer deal for the bus user” was needed that would demonstrate value for money for taxpayers and farepayers and reflect passengers’ needs.

More than 3,000 bus routes in England have been axed or reduced since 2010, according to the Campaign for Better Transport, while Department for Transport figures have shown a recent decline in passenger numbers after years of growth.

The committee chair, Lilian Greenwood, said the decline in services had “direct consequences”, affecting journeys to work, education and social events. “It narrows our transport options and pushes us towards less environmentally friendly choices. And yet our inquiry found no real evidence that the government was determined to take action to stop this.”

Passengers’ groups told the committee that simple, accurate information on ticketing and fares and service timings would increase take-up. The committee called for more concessionary fares to encourage younger people to use buses.

The report questioned why reforms that opened the way for some cities to control bus services had not been extended universally. London was exempt from deregulation of buses in the 1980s, and now metro mayors have been given powers to re-establish regulation. The report said the government should make all operating models, including franchising and the ability to create new municipal bus companies, available to every local authority.

Campaigners welcomed the report. Pascale Robinson, of Better Buses for Greater Manchester, said: “Everywhere should be able to have a franchised system. One place where the policy is in place to get a London-style bus network is in Greater Manchester, and we’re urging Andy Burnham to take up this opportunity now to get buses that work for our communities, not bus company shareholders.”

The Campaign to Protect Rural England said it strongly supported the committee’s call for a national bus strategy to help reduce carbon emissions and tackle rural isolation.

A DfT spokeswoman said the government recognised “the importance of the bus industry in connecting local communities, reducing congestion and improving air quality”. She said funding for councils had increased by £1bn and passengers would have better access to real-time information on fares, routes and services.

Labour said the Conservatives had neglected buses, damaging communities. The shadow transport secretary, Andy McDonald, said: “Labour would end austerity for bus services, delivering the funding to reverse over 3,000 route cuts and invest in new services … and give all local authorities the power to bring services under public control.”