The trough …

“BORIS JOHNSON earns £23,000 a month for just ten hours of work writing a weekly newspaper column, which he often uses to attack Theresa May and her Brexit plans.”

‘Boris Johnson promises tax cut for 3m higher earners’

Drug-taking MPs can be compromised (would only a handful be left?)

“… The whole issue has actually laid bare just how MPs and ministers (paid for by taxpayers) are treated differently than other public sector workers (paid for by taxpayers) on drugs.

While civil servants are required to be vetted formally (especially those working with access to intelligence), MPs do not have to fill in any forms on drug use. If the spooks are unaware of any such conduct, they are powerless to advise a PM on the blackmail risk or otherwise of someone in line for promotion. …”

Source: The Waugh Zone (Huffington Post)

Sidford Business Park: latest from campaigners and public inquiry details

“Documents submitted to the Planning Inspector by 17 local residents, this Campaign and Sidford Ward District Councillors Marianne Rixson and Dawn Manley have now been uploaded to the District Council’s planning portal.

Those of you who read the Sidmouth Herald will also have noted its two-page reporting this week on the submissions.

In order to allow you to quickly access the submissions we set out below the clinks to the various documents –
The planning portal page which allows you to click on each of the latest documents that have been submitted is here –

These two links take you to the two sets of documents that this Campaign has submitted. In addition to various letters from Sidbury Primary school and local residents, there are photographs, links to various traffic videos and you can also read the two consultants reports that we commissioned –

Click to access obj.pdf;jsessionid=289A6B113EB8BADEB476C20911E3A5DB

Click to access obj.pdf;jsessionid=289A6B113EB8BADEB476C20911E3A5DB

The detailed submission submitted by Sidford Ward District Councillors Marianne Rixson and Dawn Manley can be viewed via this link –

Click to access obj.pdf;jsessionid=74B5DE4639EC037FD1BD2ABDE4C0EF69

When you open any of these links you may find it is slow in downloading, so you may have to be patient!
You should by now be aware that the Planning Inspector, Luke Fleming, will open the Inquiry on 16 July and he has allowed up to three days for it. The inquiry will be held in the District Council’s new offices in Honiton – Blackdown House, Border Road, Heathpark Industrial Estate Honiton EX14 1EJ.

Members of the public are welcome to attend the Inquiry, and we anticipate that we will be encouraging all those who oppose the proposed Business Park to show their opposition to it prior to the Inquiry opening on 16 July. We will let you have further details about this nearer the time.

We would also encourage members of the public to speak at the Inquiry as you are entitled to do. In order to obtain speaking rights, you just advise the Inspector at the start of the Inquiry. This Campaign will be speaking at it.

Best wishes
Campaign Team”

Bellway homes: “Barking fire: residents claim safety fears about flats were downplayed”

” …Peter Mason, chair of the Barking Reach residents’ association, told the Guardian that in early May he contacted the builder Bellway Homes to ask for the fire risk to be investigated after BBC Watchdog broadcast claims of fire safety problems at two other developments by the same builder.

In an email seen by the Guardian from the firm’s fire safety helpline last month, Bellway told him not to worry. In a section headed Your Home it said the construction method used on the development in Scotland examined by Watchdog was different and so the Barking homes were not affected in the same way.

It concluded: “We understand that these news articles are highly alarming for all residents of new homes and I hope that the above statement has allayed any fears you may have over the safety and construction of your Bellway home.”

Mason said he felt “gut-wrenched” by the fire, adding that people had lost their homes and possessions and were in severe distress. The fire appeared to rip through the wooden cladding around the balconies of the building and may have been caused by a barbecue being lit on one of the balconies, Mason said.

Twenty flats were destroyed by the flames and a further 10 were damaged by heat and smoke. …”

Council reserves go up as spending goes down

“English councils have amassed huge cash reserves while blaming budget cuts for reduced spending on services, official figures suggest.

Local authorities, excluding police or fire and rescue authorities, were sitting on £21.8 billion of non-ringfenced reserves last year, £5 billion more than they had in 2017 and £11 billion more than they had at the start of the decade.

Spending on local services, including libraries, parks, bus services and bin collections, has fallen by about 21 per cent since 2010, when the government began slashing the central grant it gives to local authorities. Many councils have also been raising council tax bills.

The Taxpayers’ Alliance, which campaigns for lower tax, said that some authorities were making questionable decisions with their budgets that meant residents “paying more for less”.

Some local authorities, particularly county councils with social care responsibilities, have struggled with chronic shortages and have been dipping into their reserves but others have fared better. District councils, which benefit from business rates and provide less resource-intensive services such as leisure centres or bin collections that can be scaled back or made chargeable, have found their reserves swelling as a proportion of spending.

Since 2010 district councils have grown their non-ringfenced reserves from 50 per cent of service expenditure to 130 per cent. By comparison the savings ratio for county councils has risen from 20 per cent to 30 per cent. This does not include spending on education and public health, which have ringfenced corresponding reserves.

Last year Coventry city council said it could no longer afford to provide free school buses for disabled children, yet it is holding £97.6 million in usable reserves, up 76 per cent on 2017. It is planning another £11 million of cuts.

In its annual accounts the council accepted that it was difficult to explain the need for such high levels of reserves but said that the financial challenges it faced and projects it had established provided a “strong justification”.

David Phillips, of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, said that councils could be taking precautionary measures because they expected more acute funding shortages in future and business rate receipts were volatile. Richard Watts, of the Local Government Association, said: “Reserves are vital to help councils manage growing financial risks to local services . . . They are also used to make long-term investments.”

Source: Times (pay wall)