EDDC Annual Meeting scheduled for 6.00pm tomorrow 13 May has been cancelled

Owl sees that the EDDC calendar is now showing the Annual Meeting scheduled for tomorrow as “cancelled”.

Owl also sees that there has been more realignments in EDDC politics, helpfully listed by EDDC here.

Current state of play is as follows, though Owl thinks this could be still be a bit “fluid”:

 

Democratic Alliance                    24

Conservatives                              19

Independent Group                     10

(Ingham followers)

Independent Progressives           7

 

Ben Ingham’s Independent group has continued to fracture since Paul Millar was the first to leave in September last year. (Paul joined the newly formed Democratic Alliance group in February). 

Seven of Ingham’s original Indys have now formed a new group calling themselves the Independent Progressive Group.

It’s all in their name – they have also rumbled that Ben Ingham wasn’t going to be either progressive or introduce any discernible change. Yet change was what the electorate voted for last May when the Conservatives lost their overall majority for the first time in East Devon.

Unlikely that anyone labelling themselves “Progressive” could vote with the Tories to keep them in power (because that what the de facto situation is in EDDC with Ben Ingham as leader).

And – if progressives are NOT Tories, DON’T want to be lumped in with Ingham and WON’T throw themselves in with the Democratic Alliance to form a fully-working majority – what IS their unique selling point?

Question now is whether Ben Ingham will show his true (original) colours and revert to the Tories and whether his nine remaining supporters will do the same, despite having presented themselves to the electorate as “Independent”.

Looks to Owl as if some changes are in the wind.

Summer ‘cancelled’ despite plan to re-open some pubs and restaurants

Summer is ‘likely’ to be cancelled – despite plans to reopen ‘some’ of the hospitality industry in early July – Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said today.

“Asked whether people could rent self-catering holiday homes for “staycation” holidays in this period, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “No, the rules allow for you to make visits to enjoy parks or something with pleasure status but you can’t stay overnight.”

Max Channon www.devonlive.com 

It comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson told people who have holiday or second homes in Devon and Cornwall that they must not travel to them – but revealed a 14 day quarantine period would not apply to visitors to and from France.

The latter has potential ramifications for Plymouth’s international ferry port and its Brittany Ferries sailings between the city and Roscoff. The Brittany Ferries website appears to be taking bookings on the route from June 15 onwards.

Meanwhile, Isles of Scilly Travel says it intends to resume bookings for sailings on the Scillonian III to the islands off the coast of Cornwall from the July 1 2020, but will “keep this under review in line with Government advice”.

And Dartmoor National Park has said it is “reviewing how we are able to safely welcome visitors back to Dartmoor”, after the PM announced that people can from Wednesday drive to other destinations to undertake exercise, with Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab adding on Monday morning that people will be able to drive as far as they want to exercise when the legal regulations are changed.

However, senior politicians in Devon have renewed their appeal to holidaymakers and second homeowners to stay away from the region despite the easing of lockdown restrictions, while Cornwall’s tourism chief said he does not want people to needlessly travel to the county.

Locally, the message to visitors unequivocally remains Come Back Later – and now Mr Hancoock has said people are also unlikely to be able to go on foreign summer holidays this year.

Asked whether “summer was cancelled”, he told ITV’s This Morning: “I think that’s likely to be the case.

“We haven’t made a final decision on that yet but it is clear that we will seek to reopen hospitality, some hospitality, from early July if we keep successfully reducing the spread of this virus.

“But social distancing of some kind is going to continue.

“The conclusion from that is it is unlikely that big, lavish international holidays are going to possible for this summer.

“I just think that’s a reality of life.”

It comes after Ryanair announced a plan to restore 40% of its flight schedule from July 1. The airline said the measure is subject to government restrictions on flights within the EU being lifted and “effective public health measures” being put in place at airports.

The Government has announced that anyone coming into the UK on a flight is likely to face 14 days in self-isolation quarantine.

But Mr Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron have agreed quarantine measures would not apply between France and the UK “at this stage”, according to a joint statement.

Plymouth Live understands Brittany Ferries – which operates ferries between Plymouth and Roscoff – is currently working through the detail on the Anglo-French agreement announced on Sunday evening.

Airports are requiring all passengers to wear masks and gloves and airlines are imposing the same rules along with temperature checks.

It comes after the Government said UK holidays are still banned despite coronavirus lockdown restrictions being eased.

A document published by the Cabinet Office said staying overnight at a location other than the place you live “for a holiday or other purpose is not allowed”. This includes visiting second homes.

Boris Johnson told the daily Downing Street press conference on Monday that people should not travel to UK beauty spots to stay for long periods of time.

Asked by Alex from the Lake District if there would be a limit on how far people could travel for their daily exercise, the Prime Minister, said: “What we’re saying is we want people to be able to use the outdoors, to be able to exercise in an unlimited way outdoors, but they’ve got to obey social distancing.

“So there can’t be any question of people just going off for holidays for staying in places like the Lake District.”

Locals living in Cumbria have raised concerns about the area being inundated with tourists as people take advantage of the “unlimited daily exercise” announcement.

The area, home to the Lake District National Park, saw 47 million visitors in 2018, according to Cumbria Tourism.

From Wednesday, people in England have permission to travel to “outdoor open space irrespective of distance”.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have all so far remained with the previous, stricter, advice – which also banned holiday travel.

But the Cabinet Office said “premises such as hotels and bed and breakfasts will remain closed” unless they are being used for special circumstances such as providing accommodation for critical workers.

Asked whether people could rent self-catering holiday homes for “staycation” holidays in this period, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “No, the rules allow for you to make visits to enjoy parks or something with pleasure status but you can’t stay overnight.”

Places of accommodation will reopen as part of step three of England’s recovery strategy, which will not begin earlier than July 4.

Premises will be required to meet “Covid-19 secure” guidelines to minimise the risk of infection.

 

Cornwall, Cumbria and the Cotswolds tell tourists to ‘stay away’ after lockdown is eased

Major tourist destinations in England are telling visitors to “stay away” and “stay home” following the easing of travel restrictions by the prime minister.

But not, as yet, Devon. Where is everyone going to go to the loo, hedgerows or the sea? . – Owl

Sunita Patel-Carstairs  news.sky.com 

On Sunday night, Boris Johnson outlined his “first sketch of a roadmap” for the gradual lifting of coronavirus lockdown measures.

The prime minister said that from Wednesday people would be allowed to drive to the countryside and beaches, as long as they maintain a safe social distance from others.

Tourism chiefs in Cornwall and Cumbria, which includes the popular destination of the Lake District, have reacted with dismay and trepidation to the changes, including the PM’s decision to relax his “stay home” slogan to “stay alert”.

They have instead urged clarity and caution, asking people not to visit the counties for day trips or staycations until it is safe to do so, for fear of crowds flocking to tourist hotspots and triggering a second wave of COVID-19 cases.

Jim Walker, chairman of Cumbria Tourism, told Sky News: “We have been very surprised by Prime Minister Johnson’s statement regarding the easing of travel restrictions.

“We believe this could have severe implications for Cumbria, for our NHS and for those who live in the county.

“Cumbria has one of the highest infection rates for coronavirus in the UK.

“The arrival of many day visitors could easily compromise all the really good work that has been done to date to manage the current situation.

“We are therefore continuing to promote the message that Cumbria is closed to visitors, although we really look forward to the time that our businesses will reopen and we can welcome people back to our beautiful county.”

Shortly after the PM’s national address, Cumbria’s tourism board tweeted: “We are shocked by the timing and short notice of tonight’s announcement.

“We are awaiting further details but the safety of residents must come first.

“For now, tourism businesses in Cumbria remain closed and we urge everyone to continue to #StayHome.”

Mr Walker’s sentiments were echoed by Malcolm Bell, chief executive of Visit Cornwall, who said his message to residents in England remains: “Stay home”.

He told Sky News: “We do not believe the government announcement means carte blanche – total freedom – for anyone travelling from outside the county for a day visit.

“There is nowhere to stay. There are very limited places to eat, other than takeaways.

“We do not believe that this is staying alert – to undertake a long, unnecessary journey.”

He said he would be seeking clarity and further guidance from the government on what the changes to the lockdown actually mean.

“It is vital to evaluate the plan and its impact on tourism, but also the residents of Cornwall and our communities,” he said.

“We are totally committed to play our part in protecting local residents and communities in Cornwall – alongside protecting the future of the industry.

“At this time we ask you to stay away, and in the comfort of your own home, plan a future break to Cornwall when it is safe to do so.”

Cotswolds Tourism told Sky News: “We hope that this week’s ministerial briefings will clarify the situation. We assume that the prime minister meant (and the briefings will make clear) that people are free to enjoy any parks and beaches near to them: where social distancing should be possible.

“However, with hospitality businesses closed until at least July – along with many car parks and public toilets – it is hard to see how or why anyone could/should travel far from home.

“We certainly won’t be encouraging anyone to visit the Cotswolds before hospitality businesses are open to welcome them.”

People are not allowed to cross the borders to Wales or Scotland for leisure activities where similar changes to the lockdown have not been agreed by the devolved administrations.

Holiday resorts across England remain closed, and have no idea what the summer holds for them, with Mr Johnson’s blueprint for the future currently running up to the beginning of July, when it is being considered non-essential business such as pubs, cafes and restaurants could reopen.

 

If we follow Boris Johnson’s advice, coronavirus will spread 

“…’The key words in Boris Johnson’s speech on Sunday were “you should go to work if you can’t work from home”. He made no mention of preparations for tracing and testing contacts of people who test positive for Covid-19. ….”

Author, David Hunter is the Richard Doll professor of epidemiology and medicine in the Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford www.theguardian.com 

For over two months now, Britain’s public health specialists have been asking why the government abandoned the basic infection-control practice of “test, trace, isolate”. Most of us have suggested that a system to do this was a precondition of easing the lockdown. The key words in Boris Johnson’s speech on Sunday were “you should go to work if you can’t work from home”. He made no mention of preparations for tracing and testing contacts of people who test positive for Covid-19. In the plan published today, a newly appointed test and trace taskforce will begin to develop such a system.

The countries that have succeeded in taming their coronavirus epidemics – such as South Korea, Taiwan, China, Australia and New Zealand – differ from the UK in many ways. But they all have in common “test, trace, isolate” as the centrepiece of their strategy.

The UK government claims to be “following the science”, but it seems the science now needs to catch up with a government that is prioritising concerns about economic damage over epidemic control. The economic damage is clear, and the lockdown will also have knock-on health effects due to unemployment, domestic abuse, and postponed diagnoses and treatments. But if science is the rationale, why not level with the public and show the data that suggests the return to work is now the lesser evil? If there is evidence from modelling that social distancing while at work or commuting – rather than sheltering at home – is sufficient for virus control, let us see it.

The government may have reasons to lift the lockdown before a “test, trace, isolate” system is in place but we do not know what they are. Some will see an ongoing commitment to “herd immunity” behind the lack of public health actions in the speech. However, I believe no UK government would select this as the preferred scenario. And emerging antibody data from hard-hit cities such as New York show that, with less than a quarter of the population affected, it would take at least another wave of devastation to get close to the herd immunity threshold.

It is possible that the data shows that there is still too much virus circulating in Britain and that a tracing system would be overwhelmed. Johnson hinted at this when he said that the quarantining of arriving travellers would be imposed only “with transmission significantly lower” – in other words, imported virus is still just a fraction of domestic virus transmission. If that is the case, however, telling people to go back to work is very risky advice.

It is also probable that the testing system does not yet have the required capacity, or that not enough contact tracers have been hired. However, there is unused capacity in local councils that the government is choosing not to tap.

The mantra for the past seven weeks has been to “protect the NHS” by staying at home. Surely the intent was also to use this time to prepare for the calibrated end to the lockdown. What we got in the prime minister’s speech was advice to go back to work this week without using public transport (unless we can work from home), and a promise to reimpose the lockdown if Covid-19 flared up again. What we did not get was any list of the actions in place to pursue and contain the virus.

All this is reminiscent of another government soundbite, “the right steps at the right time”. That idea did not work out so well at the start of the epidemic – when mixed messages and a stuttering set of interventions resulted in the virus spreading. On Sunday Johnson said: “We have been through the initial peak.” He is quite right that coming down the mountain is “often more dangerous” – particularly if the peak was higher than it needed to be – but why make the descent even more perilous by refusing to deploy all the tools to hand. No mountaineer would do so without the right equipment.

What many public health specialists hoped to hear was a commitment not only to scaling up testing but to deploying it in a more targeted manner. A commitment to work in partnership with the devolved governments and the regional and local authorities. And a commitment to use the tests to reduce virus transmission. If the government has decided these actions are premature then, at the very least, the piloting of these strategies needs to take place.

Those defending the government’s Covid-19 response have reasonably pointed out that policy mistakes are always clearer in retrospect. So let me make a prediction. If we take the prime minister’s advice and return to work in large numbers now – and without the ability to test, trace and isolate – then virus spread will increase, there will be super-spreader events and local or regional lockdowns will have to be reconsidered. The prime minister implied in his speech that relapse will somehow be our fault – we were not sufficiently “alert”. The responsibility will lie, however, with a government that has encouraged a premature return to work before the epidemiologic conditions and interventions were in place to make it safe to do so.

 

Coronavirus guidance to government ‘one of biggest failures of scientific advice in our lifetime,’ Jeremy Hunt says

What about the role of politicians, especially previous Health Secretaries in contributing to failure? Owl

Kate Devlin Whitehall Editor www.independent.co.uk 

The former health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has said lives could have been saved if the UK had ramped up coronavirus testing sooner, as he attacked “one of the biggest failures of scientific advice to ministers in our lifetimes”.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Hunt said it was clear there had been a “major blindspot” in the approach taken in Europe and America.

Both continents prepared for and focused on pandemic flu, not pandemic coronaviruses such as Sars or Mers, he said.

Asian countries that did the opposite have seen lower death tolls since the pandemic began.

They include South Korea, which has had fewer than 10 deaths on any single day, and Singapore which has had fewer than two dozen deaths.

By contrast more than 30,000 people have now died from Covid-19 in the UK.

Mr Hunt told MPs: “The failure to look at what these countries were doing at the outset will rank, I am afraid, as one of the biggest failures of scientific advice to ministers in our lifetimes.”

He warned the lack of transparency around the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), which advises ministers, hindered the UK’s response.

There was a “systemic failure caused by the secrecy that shrouds everything Sage does. Because its advice is not published it cannot be subjected to scientific challenge”.

Had Sage’s advice been published in January, he said, “an army of scientists from our universities could have challenged why testing and contact tracing was not being modelled. They could have demanded a ramp up of testing and challenged the behavioural assumptions that delayed lockdown”.

The result could have been “many lives saved” he said.

Ministers insist they have followed the science amid signs of increasing tension between ministers and advisers over how to fight the global pandemic and protect the economy.

 

Britons want quality of life indicators to take priority over economy

Owl thinks that these changes in priority have been happening for some time and may be part of the reason voters voted for change in EDDC in last year’s local elections. A change Leader Ben Ingham has failed to deliver.

Fiona Harvey www.theguardian.com 

Measures of the UK’s quality of life should replace the publication of purely economic indicators, campaigners and politicians have urged, as polling has found a substantial majority of the public want ministers to focus on improving health and wellbeing over economic growth.

The UK’s latest GDP figures will be published this week, covering the period from January to the end of March, and they are expected to show a dramatic fall, as the first quarterly estimate to reflect the initial impact of the coronavirus and lockdown measures.

A YouGov poll has found eight out of 10 people would prefer the government to prioritise health and wellbeing over economic growth during the coronavirus crisis, and six in 10 would still want the government to pursue health and wellbeing ahead of growth after the pandemic has subsided, though nearly a third would prioritise the economy instead at that point.

The finding comes as millions of people face economic hardship because of coronavirus and the lockdown, while some measures of the quality of life – such as air pollution and the natural environment – are showing signs of improvement.

Positive Money, the campaigning group that commissioned the research, said the poll showed that the government should publish statistics on social indicators, health, the environment and quality of life to give a truer picture of the UK’s status and help policymakers better target what the public wants.

“It’s clear the vast majority of the public think we should worry more about people’s health and wellbeing than economic growth,” said Fran Boait, the executive director of Positive Money. “The government must not be tempted to pursue policies that would boost GDP at the expense of lives, wellbeing and the environment.”

In a report entitled The Tragedy of Growth, backed by politicians from several parties, including Clive Lewis of Labour, the Green party MP Caroline Lucas, and the former Conservative environment minister Lord Deben, who chairs the committee on climate change, campaigners call for a shift away from GDP as the government’s core measure of success.

The focus on GDP means economic growth can take place at the expense of the environment, and people’s quality of life, without any of the resulting damages ever being taken into account, the report argues. That in turn encourages ministers and officials to seek ways of raising the GDP figures, even if rising nominal growth is accompanied by environmental degradation, worsening health, poor educational attainment and increasing poverty.

Leading economists have called for governments to look beyond GDP, and some countries have begun to publish a broader suite of wellbeing indicators as a result.

The report calls for the Office of National Statistics, which collates the UK’s quarterly GDP statistics, to publish instead a “dashboard” of wellbeing indicators, which the Treasury would then be required to target for improvement.

 

Daisymount McDonalds plans set for approval again at virtual DMC on Monday

At last EDDC are holding their first virtual meeting of the all important Development Management Committee (DMC) via Zoom on Monday. Owl welcomes this re-opening of democratic scrutiny. The controversial Daisymount application is on the agenda (item 11). There are a number of site images on the honiton nub site below.

The virtual DMC will have public participation and the details can be found here:

https://eastdevon.gov.uk/council-and-democracy/have-your-say-at-meetings/development-management-committee-virtual-meeting/

Agenda here:

https://democracy.eastdevon.gov.uk//documents/g1415/Agenda%20frontsheet%2018th-May-2020%2010.00%20Development%20Management%20Committee.pdf?T=0

Full committee paper here with the detailed report on Daisymount page 156 :

https://democracy.eastdevon.gov.uk//documents/g1415/Public%20reports%20pack%2018th-May-2020%2010.00%20Development%20Management%20Committee.pdf?T=10

Daniel Clark – Local Democracy Reporter honiton.nub.news 

Plans for a new drive-thru McDonalds as part of a massive new service station right next to the A30 are once again set for approval – despite planning officers slamming the proposed design.

The fast food giant hopes to open as part of a scheme that would also see a roadside service and petrol station built for the site at Straightway Head Junction, next to the Daisymount roundabout, just outside Ottery St Mary.

The scheme includes:

  • A petrol filling station with five pumps
  • A forecourt shop/sales building measuring 500 sqm located in the centre of the site comprising a sales area, a hot food and coffee outlet.
  • A total of 103 car parking spaces, including 81 light vehicle spaces, • 4 disabled spaces, 10 motorcycle spaces, 8 HGV/coach spaces and two electric vehicle charging points
  • A two-storey building with accompanying drive-thru and associated outdoor play area.

The applicant has stated that McDonalds is the intended operator

Councillors back in December 2019 agreed to defer a decision until a future meeting over concerns they had about the proposed design of the scheme and to allow for CGI images to be produced.

Such images have since been submitted, but East Devon District Council’s Landscape Architect has said ‘they are very disappointing and misleading’.

The report to next Monday’s development management committee meeting, which is to be held by Zoom and will be the first virtual meeting that East Devon has conducted, added: “It is disappointing that the montages produced are not of a form or accuracy which can support officers in determining the impact that the proposal will have.

“Officers cannot be sure that the CGI’s are 100 per cent accurate and as such do not recommend that Members given them full weight when determining the application.”

Planning permission for a much larger service station that also included a hotel had previously been granted and implemented due to the construction of the vehicular access to the site, planning officers said, saying that the principle of a service station in the area has already been agreed.

As a result, the report says that planning officers are left in the same place they were in December, and again recommend that the proposal would be acceptable in terms of its visual impact on the landscape, albeit recognising that from close range the proposal will be highly visible, and thus are again recommending approval.

The report adds: “Notwithstanding the localised impact, it is considered that the proposed roadside services scheme has been sited, designed and landscaped to minimise its impact on the character and appearance of the wider landscape.

“In addition, the proposal would meet an established need and perform an important road safety function by providing opportunities for the travelling public to stop and take a break by closing the existing gap in the provision of roadside facilities along this section of the A30.

“The benefit from the additional roadside service facility and associated road safety function, when weighed alongside other benefits such as job creation during construction, longer term employment opportunities within the petrol filling station, shop and the drive-thru building, and the contribution to the local economy that would be derived from this scheme, are considered to be significant social and economic benefits that outweigh the limited and localised visual impact and landscape harm.”

But local councillors are in opposition to the scheme and have said that their preliminary view is that it should be refused.

Cllr Kathy McLauchlan, who represents the Whimple ward, said: “The CGI images that were requested by the Development Management Committee are misleading and not representative of how the service station would appear on the landscape.

“I am still of the opinion that the plans as they stand would cause significant harm to the countryside and I have driven the length of the A30 from Ilminster to Daisymount and still feel that this service station is neither desired nor required at this point on the A30.”

Cllr Vicky Johns, who represents the Ottery St Mary ward added: “I also have concerns that the shop is quite large and not a farm shop, as I believe it should be within the policy on retail within the open countryside.”

Cllr Jess Bailey, who represents the West Hill and Aylesbeare ward, said: “It is a highly sensitive and prominent site and I believe that the very urbanising appearance of the two storey McDonalds and service station will be severely detrimental.

“The retail element is likely to cause significant harm to existing retailers in surrounding towns and villages and approval of this application would directly contradict the climate change emergency declared by EDDC.”

The application will be discussed by councillors on Monday morning with officers recommending approval.

When the committee debating the scheme in December, votes for approval and a site visit were lost, while councillors struggled to put forward a reason for refusal, before deferring to allow CGI images to be produced.