EDDC Strategic Planning Committee’s recommendation to leave the GESP now getting wider publicity

The momentous decision taken by EDDC’s Strategic Planning Committee to recommend not going ahead with planned consultations and leaving the GESP process is now gaining wider media attention as the implications begin to sink in.

The Mid Devon Advertiser carries the story under the headline:

‘Monstrosity’ of Greater Exeter plan that includes parts of Teignbridge put in doubt

Vision for Sidmouth carries it under:

“This defies common sense, this does nothing for East Devon, and we should not be a member of GESP going forward. This document is all about volume house building, is dangerously flawed and contradictory.”

www.radioexe.co.uk carries the most comprehensive new report, reproduced below:

Greater Exeter? No thanks, says East Devon

 

 

Eleanor Rylance has the hump: “It’s a camel” claims Broadclyst councillor

A major blueprint for an area becoming known as Greater Exeter is in doubt after East Devon councillors recommending pulling out of the process. A consultation period expected to start within months is dead in the water as a result.

The Greater Exeter Strategic Plan (GSEP) is intended to provide a development strategy, including level of housing and employment land required across Exeter, East Devon, Mid Devon and Teignbridge up to 2040. But while Exeter and Teignbridge councils had recommended consulting on the document, East Devon District Council’s strategic planning committee’s decided they don’t want to. As the initial decision to take part in GESP was a full council decision, the recommendation is to be referred to full council to make the final decision.

The councillor putting forward the call to pull out, Cllr Eleanor Rylance (Lib Dem, Broadclyst) claimed the plan was not fit to be consulted on. She said: “They say a camel is horse designed by committee and this is what this is. We are being asked to send a camel out to consultation, and instead of putting forward this monstrosity of a dead camel, we should withdraw from GESP. This plan is not a fit plan and there is nothing about we should pass to consultation at this point or any point.

“This has self-contradictory polices clearly written by different people and it is unreasonable to put this before anyone. We are living in a different world from when this was drawn up and our world has changed and I am bemused that we are sticking doggedly to a timetable drawn up last year. This defies common sense, this does nothing for East Devon, and we should not be a member of GESP going forward. This document is all about volume house building, is dangerously flawed and contradictory.”

Cllr Paul Arnott, leader of the council, seconded her recommendation and said that the promises in the plan were an illusion, the analysis of economic growth a dangerous fiction and doubling what was realistic, and that if the council voted for this, it would legitimise all that was come before. He added that it was a “complete myth” that East Devon would get the infrastructure it required from this, like a Whimple passing loop, and that East Devon should head in a different direction and “take back control.”

Cllr Paul Hayward thinks the plans are more equine than ungulate and that his experience in video gaming provide insight. Continuing the animal there, he said: “This is putting the cart before the horse. Anyone who has played Sim City knows that by plonking houses onto your field and hoping people will come and live in them is preposterous.

“The document is deeply flawed and doesn’t cover what is good for the people of East Devon. Some of the reports are ten years old, and the most up to date report is three years out of date, and the way people live, work and shop has completely changed.

“We must not follow blindly because we have spent money and time on this and it sums up the field Marshall Hague approach that we have lost millions of men so need to throw more over the top. It is ludicrous and bound to fail and based on a vision that has profoundly changed. My feeling is we cannot park it and I cannot support moving with a consultation that will scare the bejesus out of people.”

Cllr Jack Rowland added that so many assumptions in the plan that don’t stand up with what will be happening with the world and said: “It is time to hit the pause button on this,” while Cllr John Loudoun added: “It is foolhardy to ask residents to look at something that isn’t a final document, and it is way off. This will cause concerns and confusion, so why waste money, time and energy on proposals that you don’t agree with?”

But Cllr Mike Howe, while saying that he wanted to ‘tear the document to shreds’, said that the council should not withdraw from GESP but instead reshape it. He said: “This document is a diatribe of misinformation, poor information, and no options. I want GESP to be positive as we have to part of GESP, but the document needs some aspirations. The transport structure is unbelievable stupid and I am getting fed up of it I have told you this many times.”

Cllr Ben Ingham though said that pushing the pause button would be a disaster and leave the council in a dangerous position if they take the wrong decision, while Cllr Kevin Blakey added: “Despite my misgivings and that there is nowhere near information and forward thinking in the transport policy, we should go to consultation and deal with the results when they come in.”

Cllr Ian Thomas added that while there were fundamental flaws with the document, there would be a significant implication if East Devon didn’t go forward with it and he would be concerned if the council withdrew. He added: “It is in the interest of East Devon to ensure the correct GESP is delivered in a timely manner.”

After four hours of debate, councillors rejected Cllr Howe’s proposals to adjourn the meeting and then reconvene to go through the wording of the policies one-by-one by nine votes to four, before voting by eight votes to four, with one abstention, to Cllr Rylance’s proposal to withdraw from GESP.

Despite her protestations, the council’s chief executive Mark Williams said that it had to be a recommendation to full council, rather than a decision from the committee, as it was a full council decision to join GESP in the first place. The next full council meeting scheduled to take place is in October. The GESP document did outline policies for how development should take place, as well as 39 sites where major housing or employment land could be allocated, although not all of the sites would have been taken forward to the final version of the GESP.

An eight week consultation on the document was due to take place this autumn, but following the decision of East Devon, that will not be taking place now, with Exeter, Teignbridge and Mid Devon councils now facing discussions over how and if they proceed with the GESP.

 

Robert Jenrick’s cunning planning revolution might just give our moribund towns a new lease of life

This is a tongue in cheek, “Over the top”, outrageous comment on planning  – a complete contrast to Owl’s normally sober reflections. (But there may be grains of truth in Jeremy Clarkson’s entertaining buffoonery).

Jeremy Clarkson www.thetimes.co.uk 

It has recently been announced that the rules governing planning permission are to be simplified. Soon, without any kind of thumbs-up from the local council, Katie Price will be able build a pink Rapunzel-style tower on the side of her mansion. And Ed Sheeran will be able to add a swim-up bar to the diving board and inflatable swans that he’s installed in and around his “garden pond”.

Planning consent has always been annoying, because even if you want to build a train set in your attic, you can be assured there will be objections. It’s just a fact that on every street and in every village, there is always at least one person who spends their mornings commenting online about stories in the Daily Mail and their afternoons objecting to planning applications.

And even if you can get over that hurdle, you’re still nowhere near home free, because before you’re given permission, people in hi-vis jackets will have to visit the site to make sure that no bats will be affected. They will spend the night in your garden, and then they will announce that they have definitely seen a pipistrelle, and that it will have to be rehoused before work can begin.

So how do you rehouse a bat? Well, in theory, the only way is to offer it superior accommodation, which means you must encourage it to move into your rich neighbour’s much larger house. Unfortunately, this is impossible because bats have no powers of reason, so what you must do is shoot it* and then tell the council man that, much to your surprise, it just upped sticks one day and left.

However, as it is extremely difficult to shoot a bat, many people decide instead to join the freemasons. If you do this, there will be no awkward questions about bats, or newts, and any pesky objections from your Daily Mail-reading neighbours will be put in the bin.

Some people think that, to win over a planner, you must take him to your box at Wembley or educate his children, but you really don’t. You simply shake his hand, being careful to press down hard with your thumb on his index-finger knuckle, and immediately he will assume you’re the Duke of Kent and allow you to build the purple guitar-shaped orangery you’ve always dreamt about. Oh, and 16 executive homes in your paddock.

But all that’s due to change, thanks to the housing secretary, Robert Jenrick, who’s obviously been to a fundraising ball of some sort and decided, while sitting next to a property developer, that Britain would get back on its feet quicker if the planners were a bit more supine.

Naturally, people are now running around, waving their arms in the air and screaming blue murder, claiming McDonald’s will soon be opening a drive-through in Bibury and KFC will be allowed to build a takeaway joint in two new storeys on the top of York Minster.

However, the thing that seems to have caused the most froth and spittle is the proposal to let people convert town-centre shops into residential accommodation. “People can’t be expected to live in houses where all the windows face the same way” scream the nation’s architects. But I’m not sure about that. Iron Man lived in a house built into a cliff, and that was amazing. And what about Petra? All the windows face the same way there.

Architects have converted churches into houses and won awards for it. They’ve also converted barns, pig sties, sewage plants, factories, stables and even caves. I know one architect who lives in a yurt, and that has no windows at all. So why the sudden beef about converting a branch of WH Smiths?

Town centres have been dying for some time, and the coronavirus has accelerated that process. When I moved to Chipping Norton, 25 years ago, there were little shops selling hardware, hi-fi kit, car accessories and shoes. There was even a charming department store, and now all of them have gone.

Every day, the planners are giving permission for more and more houses to be built in the surrounding area, seemingly without noticing they’re creating a doughnut. A ring of smart new Barratt boxes all gathered round a big empty hole in the middle.

I don’t doubt for a minute that your town is exactly the same, so it makes sense to turn some of those empty shops into houses. That would bring in people, and when you have people, restaurants and bars will follow, along with all the little boutiques and market stalls that sell stuff you can’t buy at an out-of-town superstore or online.

You therefore end up with a fun place full of families rather than a dusty and vandalised hellhole full of pizza boxes, vomit and charity shops selling nothing but books by Richard Hammond about how he didn’t die in a car accident.

And it’s not just town planning that needs a shake-up. According to the Daily Mail, I’m in a spot of bother with my local planners at the moment because they don’t like the juniper-green steel roof on my new farm shop.

Now, at this point you’re probably expecting me to describe in some detail the size of the traffic cone I’m going to insert into the planning officer responsible for this objection, but I’m not, because I’ve dealt with the planners round these parts for many years and they’re all very sensible. The rules they have to implement, however? That’s a different story.

If I filled my new barn with farming equipment, it’d be an agricultural building, and there’s nothing really the council could do about it. If, however, I fill it with local produce and employ local women to sell it to local customers, the council can do something, and it has.

It’s obviously nuts. But, that said, we can’t have a planning free-for-all. We do need some rules, because, unfortunately, in this country not everyone has very good taste.

*You could eat it, of course, but I really wouldn’t recommend that.

A beacon of excellence among the general coronavirus incompetence

“Being British has been a discomforting experience for the past six months…….

Given this sad background, it has been startling to note recent headlines and comments made across the world about the country’s Covid-19 response. “The Brits are on course to save the world,” claimed the US economist Tyler Cowen in Bloomberg Opinion……”

Observer editorial www.theguardian.com

The Recovery drugs trial is a beacon of excellence among the general coronavirus incompetence

Being British has been a discomforting experience for the past six months. A nation that had prided itself on the strength and resilience of its healthcare system has been laid low by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has claimed nearly 50,000 lives in the UK. Most other western nations have suffered fewer deaths and endured comparatively little national trauma. Not surprisingly, the UK government’s handling of the crisis has been heavily criticised, mostly for its tardiness and incompetence. Britain was too late in going into lockdown and it abandoned its ability to test for the coronavirus when it should have been ramping up capacity. The prime minister has blustered and vacillated over key policies from the wearing of masks to the timing of the easing of lockdown restrictions.

Given this sad background, it has been startling to note recent headlines and comments made across the world about the country’s Covid-19 response. “The Brits are on course to save the world,” claimed the US economist Tyler Cowen in Bloomberg Opinion, while the American journal Science was at pains to quote leading international scientists who have heaped praise on our researchers’ anti-Covid work. “UK megatrial outshines other drug studies,” ran one of its headlines.

The focus of all this attention is the Recovery trial programme set up by Oxford University scientists Martin Landray and Peter Horby. It has taken advantage of the vast numbers of stricken Covid-19 patients who have flooded Britain’s hospital wards in order to carry out careful, randomised trials that have revealed the efficacy of treatments provided by doctors. Thanks to this work, a cheap steroid drug called dexamethasone has been shown to reduce deaths by a third in seriously stricken patients and is now used across the world as standard care for seriously ill patients. At the same time, the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine, heavily promoted by Donald Trump and others, was revealed to have no effect as a treatment of Covid-19. It has now been dropped from clinical use for Covid-19 patients. These successes contrast with the failures of other countries, in particular the US, to assess carefully what treatments will actually improve the health – or save the lives – of patients.

Landray and Horby deserve considerable credit for their pioneering efforts. Their Recovery trial programme was set up in only a few days as hospitals prepared themselves for the waves of seriously sick patients that would soon swamp their wards. Normally, it takes months to organise a large randomised drug trial. But, as both scientists have acknowledged, there have been many other individuals and organisations who deserve acclaim for their involvement in Recovery. For a start, there are the 3,000 doctors and nurses, often sleep-deprived, stressed and anxious, who helped collect precious data in the grim setting of their hospital’s intensive care units while also struggling to save patients’ lives. Around 12,000 individuals with serious Covid-19 infections were recruited to Recovery; many of them have died. Their involvement underlines the tragic impact of Covid-19 and the importance of Recovery in pinpointing drugs that should help to reduce future loss of life.

Britain had one other advantage, of course. It possesses the centralised National Health Service. Many other nations have health services that are fragmented and so cannot launch sufficiently large-scale trials. By contrast, Britain was able to combine data from hospitals that have ranged from the Western Isles to Truro and from Derry to King’s Lynn and so tease out data that will continue to pinpoint life-saving treatments while highlighting those that are worthless. In addition, the National Institute for Health Research, created in 2006 and which provided Landray and Horby with their programme’s £2m funding, has played a critically important role in this affair. If nothing else, Recovery has demonstrated starkly the importance of possessing a strong, well-funded, national programme for treating patients and for assessing their needs on a sound scientific basis.

East Devon will allow outside seating

The law changed this week

Restaurants, cafes and bars in East Devon have been given a boost after the district council backed plans to issue licences to allow tables and chairs to be set up on pavements and council-owned land.

www.radioexe.co.uk

The licensing scheme, which will run until September 2021, was given the go ahead by councillors on Tuesday, the day before the government’s Business and Planning Bill was made law. It will allow customers to maintain social distancing while giving businesses a shot in the arm and allowing them extra space to trade from as they fight to recover from the financially crippling lockdown.

And councillors admitted that had the legislation been in place last weekend, it would have saved them the hassle and stress of having to refuse applications for two Exmouth pubs to use part of the Strand and issue them with a £500 fee for use of the land.

East Devon District Council’s cabinet has backed the recommended approach for dealing with both pavements licences and sitting out licences, for which businesses would be charged £100. Furniture is required to be removable – not a permanent fixed structure, and is able to be moved easily, and stored away in the evenings – and businesses must comply with the existing conditions of their premises licences.

Henry Gordon Lennox, the council’s strategic lead for governance, said that the council can terminate licences, saying: “If they breach the licence then we can just revoke it and remove them from the land if they don’t comply with the requirements.”

The pavements licences would allow businesses to use public highway land, while the sitting out licence would give similar permission for council-owned land and green space. Applications will be considered to have been automatically granted unless the council refuses permission within 14 days, and would have to relate to land that is near their premises.

Cllr Paul Millar welcomed the measures, saying: “Had we had this last week, it would have spared us the problems that two pubs found due to a legislative regime that is no longer fit for purpose.”

The Grapevine and Spoken were both charged £500 for putting tables and chairs in The Strand on the weekend between Friday, July 10 and Sunday, July 12 because neither pub had completed a Temporary Event Notice in time, but under the new legislation, they would have been able to apply and be granted a sitting out licence for the land.

Planning Applications validated by EDDC for week beginning 13 July

Planning Applications validated by EDDC for week beginning 13 July:

Moscow-on-Thames: Soviet-born billionaires and their ties to UK’s political elite

Or: “How to win friends and influence people”

Following a week in which Russia and its links to the UK have been in the news, the Guardian has looked into the impact of Soviet-born men and women on recent UK public life.

Businesspeople born in the Soviet Union play a significant role in British business and politics. Some have given money to political parties. Others have made substantial investments in media and industry. All have homes in London, with several visiting regularly from Moscow.

Following a week in which Russia and its links to the UK have been in the news, the Guardian has looked into the impact of Soviet-born men and women on recent UK public life.

Lobbying and the media

Alexander Lebedev bought the loss-making Evening Standard newspaper in 2009, installing his son Evgeny as proprietor. Lebedev later acquired the Independent and launched a successful spinoff version, the i. The Standard office is around the corner from where Lebedev worked in the 1980s as an undercover spy based at the Soviet embassy.

As he recounts in his memoir, Hunt the Banker, the KGB approached Lebedev in his final year at university in Moscow. He learned espionage at the Red Banner Institute and joined the KGB’s prestigious first directorate, specialising in foreign intelligence work. After the USSR’s collapse, Lebedev went into banking and the media.

Lebedev funded Russia’s independent Novaya Gazeta newspaper. In 2016, however, he wrote a column in the Evening Standard defending Vladimir Putin after the Russian president’s close friend Sergei Roldugin appeared in the Panama Papers. Lebedev supported Russia’s takeover of Crimea and held a conference there in 2017 to counter what he said was western media “bias”. Russia’s foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova went to his Moscow book launch.

In recent years, Lebedev has come under scrutiny over his close personal ties with Boris Johnson.

In spring 2018, Johnson flew to the Lebedevs’ villa in Perugia, Italy. The then foreign secretary left his security detail behind and was spotted at the airport on his way home, dishevelled and hungover. Johnson attended Lebedev’s 60th birthday party the day after winning December’s general election. David Cameron and then Evening Standard editor George Osborne were guests too.

Meanwhile, Lebedev’s billionaire Moscow contemporary Alexander Mamut bought the bookshop chain Waterstones in 2011 for £53.5m. Mamut introduced a Russian-language section to its store in Piccadilly Circus, central London. His then teenage son was educated at a leading British private school.

Mamut owns extensive media assets in Russia, including the news website Lenta.ru. In 2014, he fired its editor, Galina Timchenko, after she published an interview with a Ukrainian nationalist. Mamut replaced her with a pro-Kremlin journalist. In 2018, he sold a majority stake in Waterstones to a hedge fund.

The PR executive and former Ulster Unionist MP David Burnside has introduced several prominent Kremlin figures to senior Conservatives. His communications firm, New Century Media, founded a Positive Russia foundation to improve Moscow’s image in the UK. One of Burnside’s employees is Alex Nekrassov, whose late father Alexander was a Kremlin adviser and hardline Putin apologist.

In 2012, Burnside took a Russian embassy diplomat, Sergei Nalobin, to a Conservative party fundraising dinner. Nalobin, the son of a senior officer in the FSB, the successor to the KGB, founded the Conservative Friends of Russia, a parliamentary group. Its 2012 launch party took place in the Russian ambassador’s Kensington garden.

John Whittingdale MP and Carrie Symonds, then a young Tory party worker and now Johnson’s fiancee, were among the guests. Raffle prizes included a biography of Putin and bottles of vodka.

The following year, Burnside invited Vasily Shestakov, an influential MP in Russia’s Duma, to the same Tory fundraising dinner. He introduced him to the prime minister, David Cameron. Shestakov is an old friend of Putin’s and with him co-authored several books, including Learn Judo With Vladimir Putin and Judo: History, Theory, Practice.

Politics

The Conservatives have received more than £3m from wealthy Soviet-born donors – all of whom can legally give money to the party as British citizens. They include Alexander Temerko, a former Russian junior defence minister, and Lubov Chernukhin, a financier whose husband Vladimir served in Putin’s cabinet as deputy finance minister.

Temerko has funded the constituency associations of several leading Tory MPs, including the business secretary, Alok Sharma, and Mark Pritchard. Pritchard sits on parliament’s intelligence and security committee (ISC), which on Tuesday published its long-awaited Russia report. The Scottish National party has called on Pritchard to resign from the committee or give the money back.

In an interview with the Guardian, Temerko said he was “no friend” of Putin’s, whom he called an “enemy of democracy”. He said he had zero intention of going to Russia. Temerko has given more than £1.3m to the Conservative party. He would not be drawn on whether the Kremlin had interfered in the EU referendum vote in support of Leave, but said that he opposed Brexit.

An investigation by Reuters, based on conversations with Temerko, alleges that he supported Johnson’s campaign to take Britain out of the EU – at least initially. It said the industrialist had funded some of Johnson’s key allies in parliament, including James Wharton, who ran Johnson’s successful prime ministerial campaign. Johnson and Temerko were close, sharing bottles of wine and sometimes calling each other “Sasha”, it added.

In contrast to Temerko, Chernukhin keeps a low public profile. The former banker turns down interview requests and has not publicly explained why she has given the Conservative party more than £1.7m. Born in the Soviet Union, Chernukhin is the biggest female donor in British political history and one of the Tories’ most important cash supporters.

Her largesse seems directed at whoever is the Conservative leader. In 2014, she paid £160,000 at a Tory fundraiser to play tennis with Cameron and Johnson, then the PM and London mayor. She paid £135,000 in April 2019 for a dinner at the luxury Goring hotel with Theresa May, also then the PM, and several female cabinet members.

Other donations have flowed to Brandon Lewis, the former Tory party chairman. He has received £24,500, according to Electoral Commission filings. He defended the donations in media interviews on Thursday. Cash has also gone to Theresa Villiers, who sits on the ISC. In February, Chernukhin spent £45,000 on another game of tennis with Johnson and Ben Elliot, the Tories’ co-chair. The SNP is calling on Villiers to return the money.

Chernukhin’s husband served as a Russian minister in 2000, during Putin’s first presidential term. He was chairman of Vnesheconombank (VEB), a bank and state corporation with reported close ties to the Kremlin security establishment. He later left Moscow and became a British citizen in 2011. The couple have an £8m London mansion, owned by an offshore trust, a jet and two yachts.

Another prominent figure is Andrei Borodin, the former president of the Bank of Moscow. In 2013, Borodin attended the Conservatives’ summer ball with his wife Tatiana Korsakova, a model, four months after receiving political asylum. He spent £40,000 on a portrait of Margaret Thatcher.

The payment was made by Henley Concierge, a firm registered to a cottage on Borodin’s £120m country estate near Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire. Borodin said he did not discuss party policy at the event, nor make a donation. Russian authorities have accused him of a massive fraud. Borodin denies this and says he’s the victim of a politically motivated witch-hunt.

Business and property

Super-wealthy businessmen from former Soviet countries also control a dizzying array of UK assets spanning football clubs, oil and gas and multimillion-pound mansions. Their financial clout affords members of this select group considerable influence and access to Britain’s professional and ruling classes.

Perhaps the most high-profile London-based oligarch, thanks to his £140m purchase of Chelsea Football Club in 2003, is Roman Abramovich. The Israeli-Russian billionaire has limited UK business interests outside football, but his extensive property portfolio includes a 15-bedroom mansion in London’s prestigious Kensington Palace Gardens, bought for £90m in 2011.

The Chelsea owner’s wealth is derived partly from proceeds from the controversial privatisation of the oil giant Sibneft after the fall of the Soviet Union. When Sibneft needed an international communications chief it turned to Greg Barker, who would go on to become Conservative energy minister under David Cameron.

Lord Barker of Battle, as he has been known since his elevation to the House of Lords, has also worked for another Russian businessman with the ear of Britain’s powerful elite, Oleg Deripaska. Deripaska attracted public attention in 2008 over claims that he discussed making a donation to the Tories with George Osborne, during a meeting held aboard his yacht in the Mediterranean.

In 2017, Deripaska listed his En+ energy and metals group on the London Stock Exchange and turned to Lord Barker to serve as its chairman. The Tory peer received a bonus of $4m (£3.14m) after helping Deripaska get the company removed from a list of firms hit by US sanctions.

Barker and Deripaska are not the only peer and oligarch double-act on the UK business scene. The legendary oil dealmaker and former BP boss Lord Browne is executive chair of billionaire Mikhaeil Fridman’s Letter One Energy group, which has a one-third stake in the oil and gas company Wintershall DEA.

Fridman and Browne enjoy a longstanding business relationship that includes the foundation of TNK-BP, a joint venture involving British oil supermajor BP and a group of three billionaires, including Fridman, under the banner AAR. The relationship between BP and AAR often proved acrimonious and TNK-BP boss Bob Dudley was at one stage forced to flee the country fearing for his safety. After a power struggle, AAR eventually sold its half in the venture to Russian state-owned oil giant Rosneft. That deal left BP with a near-20% stake in the Kremlin-backed company, making cordial Russian relations vital for BP. Rival Shell also has interests in Russia via the huge Sakhalin-2 offshore gas project.

One of the other billionaires behind AAR, Sir Leonard (Len) Blavatnik, also wields significant influence in the UK. Blavatnik was born in Odessa, in Soviet Ukraine, but has renounced Russian citizenship and is a dual US-UK citizen. Blavatnik has amassed a vast business empire, including Warner Music. He endowed Oxford University by spending £75m to found the Blavatnik School of Government. He also sponsors the Baillie Gifford literature prize and is the main benefactor of multiple London museums and art galleries. Like Abramovich, he owns a mansion in Kensington Palace Gardens, a property that has been valued at up to £200m.

But that pales in comparison to the estimated price tag on Witanhurst, often referred to as Britain’s most expensive home. The mansion in London’s upmarket Highgate was bought for £50m in 2008 by the family of the Russian fertiliser baron Andrey Guryev, through an offshore company called Safran Holdings, located in the tax haven of the British Virgin Islands. It has been valued at more than £300m after extensive refurbishment.

A few miles across north London lies Arsenal Football Club, in which the Uzbek-born Russian metals, mining and publishing billionaire Alisher Usmanov was a long-time shareholder – even at one time considering a full takeover. Ultimately he sold his shares for £550m in 2018 to the US sports tycoon Stan Kroenke.

One of London’s most successful Russian businessmen is Andrey Andreev. He has made a fortune of close to £1bn by founding dating apps, including the female-focused Bumble and Badoo.

Another small rise in coronavirus cases confirmed in Devon & Cornwall

For the second week running there has been a small rise in the number of coronavirus cases confirmed across Devon and Cornwall.

[The devonlive article online includes interactive information and a  table showing the ranking of lower tier authorities by case per population.]

But how much testing are we doing? – Owl

Daniel Clark www.devonlive.com 

The figures show that 32 new cases have been confirmed across the region in the past seven days in both pillar 1 data from tests carried out by the NHS and pillar 2 data from commercial partners, compared to 29 new cases confirmed last week.

It means the average number of cases being confirmed across the two counties each day has risen to 4.57 from 4.14, although not all of the newly confirmed cases related to recent infections.

July 24 map

July 24 map

Of the 31 new cases, 18 of them had the specimen recorded in the previous seven days (between July 17 and July 23), with the remaining 13 cases having occurred between July 11 and July 16.

In the last seven days, there have been ten cases confirmed in Cornwall, five cases confirmed in Plymouth, and three in Torbay, although two historical duplicates for Torbay have been removed.

Across the rest of Devon, 15 cases have been confirmed, with four in East Devon, five in Exeter, three in Mid Devon and four in Teignbridge. The South Hams saw one new case confirmed, but two historical duplicate cases have been removed, while North Devon, Torridge and West Devon saw no new cases confirmed.

What is happening where you live? Find out by adding your postcode. [interactive on devonlive web site]

By specimen date, five cases were confirmed in Cornwall in the last seven days (last from July 22), two in Plymouth (July 21), and three in Torbay (July 21).

Two cases in East Devon (July 21), three in Exeter (July 21), two in Mid Devon (July 21), one in the South Hams (July 19) occurred by specimen date in the last week, with Teignbridge’s last case being from July 16, with the last case in North Devon from June 18, Torridge July 9 and West Devon June 26.

Across the whole of the South West, 93 new cases have been confirmed in the last seven days by specimen date, down from 102 for the seven days prior, although more cases for this week are likely to be added in the upcoming days.

Of the 29 of the districts in the region, which stretches from Cornwall to Dorset and Gloucestershire, and over a ten day period, only Swindon is reporting an average of more than two new cases a day.

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In terms of cases by specimen between July 13-19 and reported by July 22, Tamerton Foliot of Middle Super Output Areas across Devon and Cornwall had three cases confirmed, with every other areas reporting between 0-2 cases.

Across the South West, the number of people in hospital with COVID-19 has fallen by nearly a quarter in the previous week, with just 19 people in hospital compared to 24 as of July 17 (and 48 as of July 3). There is currently one person currently on a mechanical ventilator.

Torridge remains the district in England with the lowest positive case infection rate of anywhere in England per 100,000 population, with the South Hams 3 rd , North Devon 4 th , West Devon 5 th , East Devon 8 th , Cornwall 9th, Teignbridge 10th, Exeter 15 th , Torbay 21st, Plymouth 37 th , and Mid Devon 40 th out of the 315 English council districts.

Torridge has also had the fewest number of cases of any of the districts, with West Devon 2nd, and the South Hams and North Devon also in the bottom five.

In total, Torridge has had just 53 positive cases, with 72 in West Devon, 98 in the South Hams, 119 in North Devon, 210 in Mid Devon, 213 in Teignbridge, 219 in East Devon, 244 in Exeter, 277 in Torbay, 668 in Plymouth and 909 in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

The COVID-19 cases are identified by taking specimens from people and sending these specimens to laboratories around the UK to be tested. If the test is positive, this is a referred to as a lab-confirmed case.

Confirmed positive cases are matched to ONS geographical area codes using the home postcode of the person tested.

The data is now shown by the date the specimen was taken from the person being tested and while it gives a useful analysis of the progression of cases over time, it does mean that the latest days’ figures may be incomplete.

Cases received from laboratories by 12:30am are included in the counts published that day. While there may have been new cases of coronavirus confirmed or people having tested positive, those test results either yet to reach PHE for adding to the dataset or were not received in time for the latest daily figures to be published.