“Police recruitment delays as Home Office silent over funding”

“The government promise to recruit thousands of police officers within months is being jeopardised by delays in the Home Office telling forces how much extra money will be allocated to fund the scheme.

In early September the Conservatives reversed years of cuts and announced 20,000 new officers at a cost of £750m over three years.

But the 43 forces in England and Wales who are supposed to recruit 6,000 officers by the end of March still do not know how much money they will receive and how many officers they can afford to recruit.

Government sources expect it may take until December for each police force to learn how much money they will receive. Those trying to recruit fear it will delay providing enough officers to tackle the rising level of serious crime. …”

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/sep/29/police-recruitment-delays-as-home-office-silent-over-funding?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

The Seaton cycle path – a DCC officer responds

Owl has received information from an interested organisation that:

“Devon County Council is proceeding with compulsory purchase of land for the Seaton to Axminster cycle project.”

Ok – but there is still no National Cycle Path AND discussing compulsory purchase of the land between Seaton and Axminster has been going on (at length) since AT LEAST 2011:

Click to access pdf-PTE-11-20.pdf

with, so far, no progress whatsoever.

Is East Devon Watch anti-Tory? Yes … and No

Given the current hot-headed political debates and the likelihood of a General Election, it is not surprising that the question is being asked. So, for the record:

EDW is pro electing an independent in East Devon (Claire Wright) and almost anyone else in Neil Parish’s Tiverton and Honiton constituency – EVEN another Tory. Incumbent MPs who have been too long in their jobs and not working hard enough for their constituents, or who much prefer jobs outside their constituency or climbing greasy poles, become lazy towards those constituents and should be replaced. Time for change.

EDW is anti-Brexit but tries not to let this influence the blog too much – except for the changes that will need to happen in East Devon because of it, which are becoming quite scary, so the subject features more and is definitely worrying.

EDW has a predisposition to sticking up for underdogs so, in these modern times, that implies a left-leaning bias. But not ultra-left and Owl is more likely to feel empathy with a moderate Tory or Labour politician than an ultra left or right politician of any party.

EDW is impressed by the work Independents and Greens are doing at Devon County Council and in other parts of Devon, particularly in respect of health matters, climate change and the environment.

Sadly, Owl remembers too well the times that Liberal Democrats have let us down locally and nationally (the support for the Health and Social Care Act particularly rankles) and the views of that party’s leader still do not chime with Owl’s.

HOWEVER:

EDW heavily criticised the last EDDC EDDC Tory-led council and continues to criticise the current Independent council to the same level. Very disappointed to see “same old” policies and even “same old” behaviour.

Whatever the reader’s prediliction is, EDW urges EVERYONE IN ANY PARTY OR NONE to vote – it is OUR sovereignty.

There is no denying that all the major problems we face in East Devon – health, education, environment, etc – have taken place under a Tory government, with only a Tory government to blame – so EDW will not duck blaming them.

REST ASSURED THAT SHOULD THERE BE CHANGES IN LOCAL GOVERNMENT IN EAST DEVON, DEVON OR NATIONALLY, EDW WILL GIVE THE SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE OR PARTIES EXACTLY THE SAME SCRUTINY IT HAS GIVEN TO PAST AND PRESENT INCUMBENTS, WITHOUT FEAR OR FAVOUR!

“Best places for a car-free commute in Britain: from Bristol to Liverpool, Newcastle and Nottingham”

Can you ride your bike SAFELY from Exmouth or Cranbrook to Exeter? And whatever happened to that National Cycle Route From Seaton to … somewhere that can’t even take you to Axminster!

And whatever happened (we know what happened) to the dedicated cycle officer at Devon County Council?

Warm words butter no parsnips, as they say!

“Congested roads and environmental concerns are leading many of us to get on our bikes — or the buses. Tim Palmer reveals the best spots in Britain for a car-free commute

Today is World Car-Free Day, that annual reminder of how much we would gain if we all spent a bit less time in those metal boxes on wheels.

We’d have more time — drivers in London spend 227 hours a year stuck in traffic jams, according to a survey by the data analyst Inrix — and money. A report by Kwik Fit found that the average motorist spends nearly £400 a month on their car.

We might be happier and healthier, too, according to Xavier Brice, chief executive of the charity Sustrans, which runs the National Cycle Network: “It sounds silly, but some of the biggest crises facing the country — climate change, air quality, obesity, mental health, loneliness — could be eased if we were less dependent on our cars.”

Nagging people isn’t the answer, he adds. Instead, the key is to make it easier for people to do the right thing and harder to do the wrong thing. The reason Cambridge is the most popular place in the UK for cyclists — more than half of adults there get on their bike every week — is that its narrow one-way streets are simpler to negotiate on two wheels than on four.

Yet ditching the car is easier said than done. Try going to the supermarket without one, taking the kids to football practice or, if you live in the country, going anywhere at all.

The long-term solution, Brice says, is to stop building cul-de-sacs miles from anywhere. Instead, we need to create “20-minute neighbourhoods”, where everything you need is within walking distance. For now, though, the simplest answer is to get on your bike. In some places that means taking your life in your hands, especially in London (despite that, 15% of commuters in Hackney still cycle to work), but if you look carefully, you should be able to find somewhere to live where getting around is easy.

For drivers, Bristol can be a pain — it’s the fifth most congested city in the UK — but it is Britain’s first official “cycling city”. Four National Cycle Routes converge here, at providing easy access to suburbs and satellite towns such as Easton and Portishead. The star attraction is the traffic-free Bristol & Bath Railway Path, which celebrates its 40th birthday this year. A 13-mile route used by more than 2.5m people every year, it’s a big draw for househunters.

Sara Ladkani-Knowles and her husband, Leif, spent a long time looking for the perfect base when they left London two years ago. They picked the suburb of Staple Hill because of its proximity to the path. “Leif uses it every day,” Sara says. “He can get from home to work at the university, in the city centre, in 30 minutes. On the bus, it would take him an hour. He loves it and it puts him in a good mood when he gets there — although it probably helps that it’s mostly downhill.”

They still have a car for longer trips, but Sara, 36, an environmental tutor, doesn’t drive. She uses the cycle path nearly every day, usually with their 16-month-old daughter, Noula, in tow. “It’s an amazing place to take her, because it’s away from busy roads and she’s not breathing in polluted air. There are three supermarkets on the route, so it’s really handy when I need to buy food. I don’t even have to see a car.”

Other places well served by traffic-free cycle paths include the up-and-coming Manchester suburb of Levenshulme, which has easy links to the rest of the city via the Fallowfield Loop bike path, good buses, a six-minute train service to Piccadilly station and affordable houses: three-bedroom terraces start at £150,000.

Glasgow has 36 miles of traffic-free cycle path to go with its excellent public transport — buses, local trains and the “Clockwork Orange” underground — as well as 400 public bikes for hire through its Nextbike scheme.

About 196,000 cyclists a year use the Nidderdale Greenway, in Harrogate, to get to work, the shops and the beautiful Yorkshire Dales countryside. In Wales, the Aberystwyth-Llanilar route provides an easy two-wheeled route between the lively seaside town and the surrounding villages. There’s a public bicycle repair station near the university in case of any mishaps.

Staying in Wales, Cardiff is setting an example to the UK’s other capital cities. The number of people commuting to work by bike more than doubled between 2005 and 2015, to 9.2%. It has a Nextbike hire scheme and a good network of cycle paths, including a route to Castell Coch that follows the River Taff and links neatly with Cardiff Central, Cardiff Bay and Radyr stations.

The trainee accountant Christopher Freestone, 24, pedals along the riverbank every day to get to work from his home in the city centre. “Cycling is the quickest, cheapest, easiest and most environmentally friendly way to get around,” he says. “And you don’t need all the gear — I never wear Lycra and my bike is worth about £80.”

Not everyone can get on a bike, though, which means relying on public transport. According to the Campaign for Better Transport, the best cities for this are Liverpool, thanks to the Tube-style Merseyrail network; Newcastle, which has the Metro system and good bus services; and, leading the pack, Nottingham.

Forty per cent of journeys here are by public transport, the highest figure outside London. The East Midlands city has a 20-mile tram network and fast and reliable buses, both of which have good links to rail services at the revamped station, paid for by the UK’s first workplace parking charge, levied on companies that provide parking spaces for their staff. It has raised £61m since 2012.

“Transport here is getting slicker and slicker,” says Emily Haslam-Jones, a yoga teacher who lives in Carrington, a suburb north of the city centre, with her husband, David, and their two young children. “There’s no need to look at a timetable — buses and trams are so frequent, you don’t have to plan anything.

David cycles to work, and she uses the buses and trams to get out and about. “It’s not a big city, and you can get around it easily. The children love travelling by bus and tram, and it means you get to meet other people who live locally, which you wouldn’t if you were travelling by car.”

Electric car hotspots

Sunderland, Orkney, Newcastle and Milton Keynes are all well stocked with charging points for electric cars, but if you don’t want to risk running out of juice, consider moving to Dundee. We picked the vibrant, creative city as our Best Place to Live in Scotland this year, and it has just invested £3m in pop-up electric chargers — vital if you don’t have a driveway — and a network of petrol station-style “charging hubs”.

Dundee is also pioneering a 350-strong sharing scheme for electric bikes to encourage people to cycle in an area where the topography is unforgiving.”

Source: Sunday Times (pay wall)

The curious case of the missing houses

Many council officers are honourable, many are not. Owl had hoped to to write “most officers are honourable, a few are not” but that hasn’t been Owl’s experience, sadly.

Now, all eyes are on a planning application in Salcombe, for two houses in an exceptionally good location were deleted from plans shown to a “planning workshop” for councillors.

Why? That old chestnut “commercial confidentiallity”.

“A council has been forced to reveal plans for two luxury homes on a beauty spot which were withheld from councillors during a meeting.

Above: original plan and plan shown to councillors and plans shown to councillors

South Hams District Council in Devon cited “commercial confidentiality” in keeping the Salcombe plans under wraps, but a watchdog rejected that excuse.

Environment group South Hams Society urged “more transparency in planning matters” by the council.

The authority said it “did not want the meeting to be sidetracked”.

Drawings of the homes had formed part of draft plans for the hill-top development off Shadycombe Road in the seaside town.

But a council officer told architects in an email on 11 October last year that “at this point” the scale of the four-bed detached houses should be left out of the plans.

He said the scale “concerns me” and added: “It would be a mistake to present this detail.”

In an email response, the architect sent back revised plans with circles instead of drawings of the houses “without being too prescriptive on their size and design”.

The email:

The revised plans were then put before a planning workshop of councillors and local businesses on 17 October.

The council initially refused South Hams Society’s request to reveal the original plans.

However, it appealed and the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) ordered the authority to divulge the omitted details.

In a statement, the council said it had “sought legal advice” and “we were of the view that we were entitled to withhold them”.

“It was clear to us that the plans as they were, would not be recommended for approval by the council.

“We felt that the size of the properties on the plan were inappropriate.”

The workshop had been arranged to talk to key stakeholders about a masterplan for the whole area and we did not want the meeting to be side-tracked by a proposal which we were sure would never come forward in its current state.”

It added it now “fully respects” the demand to release the full plans.”

Above: plans presented to workshop

Didi Alayli, chair of the society, said she hoped the ICO ruling “will lead to real change” in how council planners deal with draft plans.

“The huge profits to be made by landowners and developers in our beautiful area make it all the more important that our planning system is fit for purpose and we are not there yet,” she said.

It is understood landowner Jason Smith, who has not yet responded to a BBC request for comment, has not taken the proposals forward.”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-devon-49812449