Aide Memoire to the Political re-alignments in EDDC in 2019 and 2020

Owl has received a number of requests from those newly interested in EDDC politics and from those watching from further afield to add more explanation of the political re-alignments in EDDC over the past year.  A Correspondent has gone to a great deal of trouble to summarise this and so Owl is posting it with a few clarifications.

Owl thanks the Correspondent for doing all the hard work and prompting this post.

From a correspondent

I have only recently started to take a closer interest in politics (local and national) so have been struggling to understand the intricate Gavotte that seems to have been conducted within the virtual EDDC council chamber. I have trawled back through previous reports in order to try to understand. Can you confirm that the account below is broadly correct please? [See Owl comments and additions in square brackets] I would have liked to include the date on which Cllr Ingham ‘resigned’ from the Conservative party but have been unable to track it down. [Not known to Owl]

02/05/2019 Local elections resulted in East Devon District Council apparently slipping out of the control of the Conservatives. Prior to this election, the Conservatives had a majority of 9 seats but this poll left them with only 19 against 20 seats for Independents, 11 for East Devon Alliance, 8 for Liberal Democrats and 2 for the Green party. The Conservatives had been in control of EDDC since it was created in April 1974. Cllr Ingham (who had previously resigned from the Conservative Party and was elected as an Independent) took control of the council by forming a partnership/coalition with the Conservative councillors. Independent councillors were appointed to the cabinet along with Conservatives. [No Conservatives were appointed to the cabinet as such, though one, Cllr Ian Thomas, Leader of EDDC, resigned from the Conservatives on 17 April 2019,  to become Independent just two weeks before the election. Conservative Cllr Stuart Hughes was elected Council Chairman and Conservatives filled many of the key Chairs and roles in influential committees and as representatives to outside bodies, forums etc. For example: as Cllr. Mike Howe as Chair of the Development Management Committee ; and Cllr Philip Skinner had a key role in strategic planning and represented EDDC on the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan. And, for reasons explained below, Chair of the Scrutiny Committee  was also held by the Conservatives – Owl]

[In September 2019 Paul Millar resigned from the cabinet and Ben Ingham’s Group followed by Joe Whibley in January 2020. This left the Independent Group with 18 seats, one fewer than their Conservative partners.  – Owl]

[In March 2020 Members of the Green, Independent East Devon Alliance and Liberal Democrat parties and an Independent combined to form a new group with the title the Democratic Alliance numbering 23. Ironically up until this point the Conservatives had been considered the official opposition and therefore held the important chairmanship of the scrutiny committee. Now the Democratic Alliance  became the Opposition – Owl]

06/04/2020 Letter from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to local authorities explained that The Local Authorities and Police and Crime Panels (Coronavirus) (Flexibility of Local Authority and Police and Crime Panel Meetings) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020 removed the requirement for the annual meeting this year.

Week commencing 11/05/2020, 8 members of the Independent Group resigned from the group. One joined the Democratic Alliance (made up of East Devon Alliance, Liberal Democrats, the Green Party and, after this move, three Independents) and seven joined [they created – Owl] the Independent Progressive Group. The two groups (Democratic Alliance and Independent Progressive Group) signed a Memorandum of Understanding to work together. Given that they had 31 out of a total of 60 EDDC councillors, they held a majority.

13/05/2020 EDDC Annual Meeting scheduled for this date was cancelled

18/05/ 2020 Cllr Ingham allegedly informed the Returning Officer that all cabinet members had resigned. This followed a sequence of events which began, according to Cllr Geoff Jung (Independent) who was a member of the cabinet, with Cllr Ingham saying he ‘would approach the Conservatives to invite them to nominate 3 candidates to be on the ruling “Cabinet” of 10 councillors’. As a result Cllr Jung resigned from Cllr Ingham’s Independent Group but remained as a cabinet member. The resignation was reported in the press. The following day, according to Cllr Jung, he discovered from a press release that he had resigned from the cabinet. He reported that he had been told by the Returning Officer ‘that Cllr Ingham terminated my position and that of 2 other Councillors (which is his gift) and then resigned himself along with the remaining Cabinet [en] block’.

28/05/2020 A council meeting (online) at 5pm voted to hold an EGM at 6pm on 8 June ‘to elect the positions of Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Council’. At 5.30pm an extraordinary full Council meeting was held online to elect a new leader. It was closed down by YouTube before the vote was completed allegedly after Cllr Tom Wright (Conservative) was heard swearing because, as he said in his subsequent apology ‘I was expressing my personal disappointment as the result was unfolding’.

29/05/2020 At a reconvened meeting Paul Arnott, leader of the independent East Devon Alliance was elected as council leader by 32 votes to 20 with 8 abstentions over Andrew Moulding (Conservative). Cllr Arnott appointed his cabinet. Arnott leads a coalition (The Democratic Alliance group which is made up of councillors from the Independent East Devon Alliance, the Liberal Democrat Party, the Green Party and some independents [in partnership with the Progressive Independents – Owl]).

01/06/2020 Cllr Stuart Hughes (Conservative) resigned as EDDC Chairman. [But he is still shown as Chairman of the Council on the  attendance details for the June 8 extraordinary meeting to vote for a new Chairman on EDDC website – Owl]

[04/06/2020 Cllr Ben Ingham is now shown as a Conservative – Owl]

This is the current status of political groupings in council of 60 members:

Democratic Alliance +  31 [including the 7 Independent Progressives]

Conservatives                20

The Independents           5    [Remaining members of Ben Ingham’s original group]

Cranbrook Voice             3

Independent                    1

Watch out Lib Dem and Greens – the Fox might be after the full set!

From a correspondent:

Ben Ingham started life as a Conservative
He became an Independent
He became Leader of (Independent) East Devon Alliance
He became an Independent again
He became Leader of the Independent Group
He is now a Conservative again

So what did he/does he/will he REALLY believe?  What is/was/will be his true  or assumed colour come the next elections?

Was he always perhaps a Conservative fox  in other dens?

But watch out Lib Dems and Greens – maybe he’s hoping to collect a full set!

Can you spot one-time “independent” Leader of East Devon District Council – Ben Ingham

Where do we now find “Independent” Cllr. Ben Ingham? And are we surprised?

Has he now set his eyes on the County Council elections next year?

https://democracy.eastdevon.gov.uk//mgMemberIndex.aspx?FN=GROUPING&VW=LIST&PIC=0

For those unfamiliar with the twists and turns of East Devon local politics, Owl provides a short synopsis.

In May 2019 the Conservatives lost their majority in the East Devon District Council.

Ben Ingham the official Leader of the opposition, prior to the election, and the group of councillors he recruited as “Independents” formed an arrangement, compact, alliance, partnership or whatever (Owl uses the term coalition) with the Conservatives in order to achieve a working majority.

This started to break down last September as, one by one those councillors who felt this compromised the independent line they had used in campaigning for votes, left.

Since then these councillors have organised themselves into a new set of alliances which EDDC Officers describe as political groupings as opposed to parties.

Now you can only find your Councillor alphabetically or by political party or by ward and also by their affiliation to one of these groups.

The following “find your councillor page” of the EDDC website, helpfully lists all Councillors by their “group” affiliation.

Where do you now find “Independent” Cllr. Ben Ingham?

https://democracy.eastdevon.gov.uk//mgMemberIndex.aspx?FN=GROUPING&VW=LIST&PIC=0

More on Dr Cathy Gardner’s Judicial Review Owl has now been sent the Press Release

Owl has now been sent the Press Release.

The story is also being carried by sky news

In order to launch a legal challenge against the Government Cathy will need to raise funds. A crowd funding page has been set up on Crowd Justice. 

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/care-home-deaths/

PRESS RELEASE 

Daughter of deceased care home resident threatens legal action over Government’s polices that exposed residents to serious harm. 

On 3rd April 2020 Michael Gibson died in a care home. He was suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease but died of suspected COVID-19. Shortly before his death another resident had been accepted back into the care home from hospital after having tested positive for COVID-19.

Michael Gibson’s life and those of ten of thousands of other care home residents, as well as care workers and health workers, was put at significant risk because of policies and decisions taken by the Government. Many, like Mr Gibson, tragically lost their lives. Despite expert scientific advice, provided to the Government on 2nd March 2020 that it was “highly likely that there is a sustained transmission of COVID-19 in the UK at present “, care homes were told that there was no risk of transmission and advised to carry on as normal. It was not until 2nd April 2020 that care homes were advised to allow visitors in only exceptional circumstances.

Not only was a casual approach adopted towards protecting care home residents, but on 19th March 2020 NHS England instructed hospitals to discharge patients from hospital into care homes whether or not they had been tested for COVID-19. This brought a fatal disease into the homes of the most vulnerable in our society. In May 2020 the London School of Economics estimated that 22,000 residents of care homes had lost their lives to COVID-19.

Against this backdrop of pain and suffering experienced by the most vulnerable in care homes Matt Hancock, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care stated on 15th May 2020 : “Right from the start its been clear that this horrible virus affects older people most. So right from the start we’ve tried to throw a protective ring around our care homes”.

Dr Cathy Gardner, Michael Gibson’s daughter has decided to take legal action against the Secretary of State for Health, NHS England and Public Health England. She does not believe that the comments of the Secretary of State bear any relation to the reality of Government policies and actions in relation to care homes during the pandemic. Furthermore she is seeking assurance that appropriate policies are put in place to protect residents in care homes and that Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock publicly accept responsibility for the mistakes that have been made. She said :

“ I am appalled that Matt Hancock, the Secretary of State, can give the impression that the Government has sought to cast a protective ring over elderly residents of care homes – and right from the start. The truth is that there has been at best a casual approach to protecting the residents of care homes; at worst the Government have adopted a policy that has caused the death of the most vulnerable in our society. It is completely unacceptable that this happened and that responsibility has been avoided. I have therefore instructed my lawyers to threaten legal proceedings against the Government for the harm that has been suffered by my father. “

Paul Conrathe, Human Rights Solicitor with Sinclairslaw said :

“ The State is under a duty to protect its citizens from harm. It is also under a duty to act fairly and not discriminate against the elderly and those with disabilities. The actions of the Secretary of State, NHS England and Public Health England in putting residents of care homes and care workers at risk of COVID-19 infection seriously violated the human rights of the most vulnerable in our society. I have therefore written to them requesting that they accept responsibility for their unlawful decisions and policies. If they fail to do so then my client will initiate proceedings in the High Court for a judicial review. “

In order to launch a legal challenge against the Government Cathy will need to raise funds. A crowd funding page has been set up on Crowd Justice. 

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/care-home-deaths/

 

Local Councillor, Dr Cathy Gardner, seeks to bring Judicial Review of Care Home Policy

Post amended to include link to crowd funding 11:40

In order to launch a legal challenge against the Government Cathy will need to raise funds. A crowd funding page has been set up on Crowd Justice. 

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/care-home-deaths/

The Government faces the prospect of a judicial review over their care home policy which saw patients with coronavirus removed from hospitals.

Lawyers under instruction from Dr Cathy Gardner have written to Matt Hancock and heads of the NHS as they seek to bring a judicial review over the policy.

Government faces prospect of judicial review into policy to move Covid-19 patients to care homes

By Mason Boycott-Owen and Izzy Lyons www.telegraph.co.uk

Dr Gardner is pursuing the action following the death of her father in a care home in April. She claims that both the Government and the NHS were in breach of four separate articles of the European Convention on Human Rights.

In a legal letter to Matt Hancock, the lawyers say that Dr Gardner will argue that the policies of the Health Secretary, NHS England and Public Health England “manifestly failed to protect the health, well-being and right to life of those residing and working in care homes.”

“Their failings have led to large numbers of unnecessary deaths and serious illnesses,” the letter continued.

“In addition, the failings of Government have been aggravated by the making of wholly disingenuous, misleading and – in some cases – plainly false statements suggesting that everything necessary has been done to protect care homes during the pandemic.”

On 19 March and 2 April the Government told NHS hospitals to transfer any patients who no longer required hospital level treatment, and set out how care homes should accept patients who either have Covid-19, or weren’t even tested.

Analysis by the Telegraph at the time suggested that the rate of coronavirus deaths accelerated more than twice as fast in care homes than in hospitals from 7 April, just over two weeks since the first document was published.

The Government’s decision was branded “unfathomable” by care providers such as Hometouch, saying it showed a “lack of foresight” by officials.

Dr Gardner’s father, Michael Gibson was a resident who died at a care home in Bicester, Oxfordshire, in April this year of suspected Covid-19.

The letter claims that prior to her father’s death, the care home was “pressured” to accept the transfer of a patient who had been admitted to hospital, tested positive for Covid-19 but discharged back to the care home as she had not had a high temperature for 72 hours.

Dr Gardner, who is fundraising her legal fees for the case, said: “I am appalled that Matt Hancock, the Secretary of State, can give the impression that the Government has sought to cast a protective ring over elderly residents of care homes – and right from the start.

“The truth is that there has been at best a casual approach to protecting the residents of care homes; at worst the Government have adopted a policy that has caused the death of the most vulnerable in our society.

“It is completely unacceptable that this happened and that responsibility has been avoided. I have therefore instructed my lawyers to threaten legal proceedings against the Government for the harm that has been suffered by my father. “

Paul Conrathe, Human Rights Solicitor with Sinclairslaw said: “The State is under a duty to protect its citizens from harm. It is also under a duty to act fairly and not discriminate against the elderly and those with disabilities. 

“The actions of the Secretary of State, NHS England and Public Health England in putting residents of care homes and care workers at risk of COVID-19 infection seriously violated the human rights of the most vulnerable in our society. I have therefore written to them requesting that they accept responsibility for their unlawful decisions and policies. If they fail to do so then my client will initiate proceedings in the High Court for a judicial review.”

The Department for Health and Social Care did not provide a comment.

U.K. has more coronavirus deaths in one day than all EU countries combined

The United Kingdom on Wednesday reported that 359 additional people have died after contracting COVID-19. The daily number is higher than the combined total of COVID-19 deaths that the 27 countries in the European Union reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) for its June 3 situation report on the pandemic.

By Meghan Roos www.newsweek.com 
Announcing the U.K.’s latest numbers during a news conference Wednesday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the country was taking steps to keep transmission rates on the decline in the hope of preventing a second wave.

“We need to take steps to manage the flare-ups and stop the virus from re-emerging,” Johnson said.

Of the more than 382,000 people who have died of COVID-19 around the world, 39,728 have been U.K. residents, the Department of Health and Social Care reported Wednesday. The U.K. is second behind the U.S. on the list of countries that have reported the greatest number of COVID-19 deaths since the pandemic began.

In the EU, Italy, France, Spain, Belgium and Germany also rank among the top 10 countries in terms of COVID-19 deaths, according to a Johns Hopkins University tracker. Of the EU countries that sent updated case numbers to the WHO for its June 3 report, France had the highest number of new deaths, with 107 reported by Wednesday morning.

Though the data in the WHO’s report appears to show a stark difference between the number of new deaths U.K. health officials reported Wednesday and the 332 COVID-19 deaths reported by the EU’s 27 countries, the organization warned in the report that the data was not complete and that all countries were operating on different virus-reporting timelines. For the U.K., the number of deaths included in the WHO’s report were from Tuesday, when health officials reported 324 new deaths.

“Differences are to be expected between information products published by WHO, national public health authorities, and other sources using different inclusion criteria and different data cut-off times,” the WHO’s report said. “While steps are taken to ensure accuracy and reliability, all data are subject to continuous verification and change.”

The WHO did not respond to Newsweek’s request for comment before publication.

While the threat from the virus remains high in the U.K., the country has in recent weeks taken steps to lift restrictions imposed during the spring. In mid-May, Johnson outlined his plan to restart the country’s economy, with schools, shops and nurseries first on the reopening docket. Despite the moves to reopen, Johnson and other politicians voiced concern Wednesday over the virus’s likelihood of returning, as other nations similarly began taking steps to reopen.

During an address to the House of Commons Wednesday, U.K. Secretary of State for the Home Department Priti Patel said the country would require individuals traveling into the country to self-isolate for two weeks before engaging with residents.

“We are past the peak, but we are now more vulnerable to infections being brought in from abroad,” Patel said.

Most European countries still have tight restrictions in place to prevent travelers from bringing the virus into their communities, but Italy on Wednesday took a step none of the others have by becoming the first to reopen its borders to international travel.

One in three would rather not go back to the office after lockdown

More than a third of Britons would prefer to work from home for most of the week once the pandemic is over, a survey of changing social attitudes has found.

Behaviour is shifting in ways that could have considerable implications for different industries and the wider economy, the study suggests.

Philip Aldrick, Economics Editor www.thetimes.co.uk 
The lockdown has caused a spike in online gaming, DIY and indoor hobbies, trends that are likely to persist, the survey of 1,500 people by Jefferies, the investment bank, found.

Respondents were wary about mingling in restaurants, pubs and cinemas, which suggests those sectors will continue to struggle even as social restrictions are eased.

Sixty per cent of respondents said they would to return to work immediately if allowed, but 35 per cent would prefer to work from home three to four days a week.

However, Jefferies said the longer-term shift to home working implied by the results was “smaller than we might have expected”.

Restaurants and pubs may struggle because 21 per cent of people said they would not visit such venues even if social-distancing measures were in place. “This points to a slow pace of recovery in the on-trade in the new normal world,” Jefferies analysts said.

Half of respondents planned to dine out less than they did before lockdown. Two-metre social distancing and a vaccine were cited as the main requirements for people to return to restaurants and pubs. Cinemas, theatres and betting shops were also no-go areas for more than half of respondents.

While going overseas was the top priority for discretionary spending once the pandemic is over, with 23 per cent of respondents looking forward to a trip, 41 per cent planned to take fewer holidays. Many were also concerned about staying in hotels, with 75 per cent saying they would wait until at least three months after the lockdown is over.

The winners from these changing social attitudes have been the gaming companies. Not only have people spent more time playing video games, they have increased their in-game purchases. More than half of men, the under-55s, students and the full-time employed reported playing more video games and spending more on them.

Of those who have been doing up their homes, 37 per cent said they planned to continue with DIY after restrictions ease. Just over half of respondents said they had fixed up their home since lockdown began on March 23.

Controversial Honiton restaurant given green light

Plans to turn a vacant shop in Honiton into a restaurant have been given the go-ahead following an appeal upheld by the UK’s Planning Inspectorate.

Hannah Corfield honiton.nub.news

The premises at number 20 New Street, formerly Sparks shoe repairs, was bought by the owners of what was previously the Istanbul Turkish Restaurant opposite.

Plans to repurpose the building for restaurant use were refused by the planning committee at East Devon District Council in July of last year – citing that the proposed development would ‘likely result in harm to the amenity of neighbouring residents’.

Applicant, Mrs Hatice Oflaz, appealed the decision which was officially overruled in an announcement made last Friday (29 May).

The Planning Inspectorate stated: “I have found that there is no conflict with the development plan.

“None of the other matters raised before me, or any other material considerations indicate that a decision should be taken otherwise than in accordance with the development plan.

“The appeal is allowed and planning permission is granted for creation of separate ground floor restaurant unit and separate first and second floor residential unit from shop and living unit.”

Upon hearing news of the appeal decision; neighbouring business owner, Ian Priestley, has made clear that he is ‘unhappy’ with the overruling having objected to the original proposal.

His concerns remain ‘the effect of the development on the living conditions of neighbouring residents with particular regard to noise, disturbance and privacy’.

Speaking on behalf of Honiton Chamber of Commerce, Paul Fudge said: “Honiton has had some challenging times during the last few weeks and we at The Chamber are looking forward to welcoming all our shoppers and visitors back as soon as possible.

“Honiton has a diverse community and to have shops, restaurants and cafés that reflect this and any new business that comes to Honiton, or one that is expanding, can only be seen as a positive move towards keeping Honiton on the map, as a thriving market town that caters for all.”

 

Warning East Devon open spaces could be shut over rubbish behaviour

Open spaces in East Devon could be shut to tackle bad behaviour, groups ignoring social distancing rules and litter-louts, the district council has warned.

 East Devon Reporter eastdevonnews.co.uk
Manor Gardens in Exmouth had to be closed at the weekend after boozy beachgoers – moved on from the seafront by police – headed to the park.
Large amounts of rubbish being left at beauty spots has also prompted a flurry of complaints.

East Devon District Council (EDDC) says its beaches, parks and public spaces are ‘busier than ever’ after lockdown restrictions were eased.

The authority has in turn seen ‘exceptional levels of demand’ on services such as street cleaning, litter bin collections and toilets.

It has asked residents and visitors to help keep areas tidy and stick to the two-metre social distancing rule.

An EDDC spokesperson said: “We have received many reports of rubbish being left on our beaches and in our parks and gardens and we would appeal to visitors to collect their litter as they leave these areas, take it home and recycle it.

“We want everyone to be able to enjoy these beautiful places and not have them blighted by a minority of people who leave their litter behind.

“With no lifeguards on Exmouth beach currently, signage is being displayed to remind visitors to stay safe around the water.

“However, large groups are congregating on beaches across the district, ignoring social distancing restrictions and government guidelines of no more than six people gathering at one time.

“The council is working with the police to educate and advise these groups on how their actions are impacting on others.

“At the weekend, the council had to close Manor Gardens in Exmouth at the request of the police as there were concerns about the antisocial behaviour of people drinking on the beach, being moved on by the police, and settling in the gardens instead.

“The council will continue to work with the police and consider closing open spaces if people are not behaving responsibly.”

Councillor Geoff Jung, portfolio holder for coast, country and environment, said: “We’re finding that levels of demand on our services are equal to the busiest of summer holiday days.

“Currently our staff is reduced by 20 per cent due to coronavirus and our budgets have been severely impacted by the pandemic.”

Exmouth Town ward member Cllr Olly Davey added: “We welcome visitors to our wonderful beach, but ask you to remember that we are still required to comply with government measures to keep everyone safe.

“Please act responsibly and leave our town as you would hope to find it, taking your litter home if need be.”

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