OPINION: Is Honiton Town Council serving the community?

Compared with other town councils, Honiton Town Council sees a lot of action. Not so much the positive action many would like to see; but more legal action and active disputes, which show little sign of resolve.

Hannah Corfield honiton.nub.news

At just seven members strong, out of a possible 18, with one member unable to participate due to ill health; one might call into question the decision making capabilities of the six remaining councillors.

Another cause for concern is the fact that nine councillors, who appeared to have Honiton’s best interests at heart, were seemingly forced from their positions citing various problems with the current incumbents at HTC.

Added to that, at least two members of staff have been signed off sick amid allegations of bullying in the workplace.

It does not paint a pretty picture, by anyone’s standards. Especially given that we are experiencing the worst crisis in living memory. Strong, proactive, united communities are what will carry us through adversity; is that what Honiton Town Council currently stands for?

Former town councillor, Duncan Sheridan-Shaw commented: “When I first joined Honiton Town Council it was always my intention to understand what the community wanted and needed.

“I feel that if you choose to become a public servant you should choose a life of service – feet to the floor, digging in and sweeping up.

“Honiton Town Council does not currently fulfil this ideal, a professional and proactive organisation should become involved at a grassroots level and get their hands dirty, both metaphorically and physically.

“We do not see a council that is out and about, we do not see a council that holds open meetings just for the sake of doing it, we do not see a council giving up time to sweep up or clean down.

“I feel a productive council should be made of representation FROM community groups and not become representatives TO community groups.

“Our council do not host gala evenings or fund raising events; our council do not join in on fun runs; our council do not hold up the standards of Brand Ambassadors for our community – and for this I am abundantly embarrassed of our town council.”

In response, Mayor John Zarczynski said: “There are a small group of people making false accusations and sharing misinformation on social media.

“An independent investigation is currently underway into complaints made against HTC and I look forward to publishing the results, as this will vindicate the council.

“The councillors who have resigned, making various allegations that are totally untrue, should have stayed on to fight their corner, as they will now cost tax payers £10,000 in by-elections.

“HTC are working on many projects for the community; such as a Neighbourhood Plan, drainage on the High Street, allotments, reopening the market and the proposed Town Park.”


More Lowlights from Sasha Swire’s Diaries – second half packed with local refences

Extracts from the second half – so juicy readers are advised to take a shower to cleanse themselves after reading.

We are indebted to Owl’s correspondent for summoning up the stamina for tackling the second half so soon after the first, in the public interest naturally – read on:

Swire Diaries episode 2 – Lowlights 50-100%

Numbers relate to location in Kindle book

2018 continued

4531 – Constituent asks for steel street furniture to avoid a terrorist attack on Sidmouth prom – says hundreds could be killed as they are too arthritic to do a quick dive into the sea.  Sue [H’s secretary] and I have a laugh – as if ISIS is going to attack East Devon for God’s sake.  The only real threat of an incident happening there is with a trembling pair of hands of the gears of an out-of control mobility scooter [Remember that a young man, under terrorist influence, did plant a bomb at a restaurant in Exeter and it was only luck that meant it did not go off].

4591-  Jacob Rees Mogg “speaks like a plum orchard”.

4729 – West Hill Harvest supper.  People friendly.  H makes a long speech Colonel Peter Morrison very pro-Trump.  Fed up with local anti-Tory press, H asked how many of the 100 or so people have written to the press – 2 hands go up.

4779 – Commons sex scandal “Hugo assures me that he has not partaken in groping himself [!].  Time will tell.  He is at that age where he needs more of it and is getting less.

4791 – SS sets up anon Twitter account@torympwife.  H “understandably nervous”.

4828 – Megan Markle “a mixed-race American divorcee”.

4927 – The Dorchester all-male ball, where waitresses are told to wear skimpy clothes and made to sign non-disclosure agreements. H says he “can’t see what’s wrong with men flinging themselves a scantily-clad young girls (sic) – how else are they  expected to score and keep the human race from going extinct?

5047 – “Rather unimpressive Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon Alison Hernandez gave a radio interview telling people to write to Hugo re parking on pavements.  He tells her that (a) you are the PCC (b) this is a matter for the local authority and (c) not a matter for MPs and is not a good use of their time – his PA amends it before it goes out and she does with many of his letters.

5063 – West Hill branch AGM and dinner.  Usual stuff.  When H thinks he may be dangerously right-wing, “attending the West Hill AGM always cures him of such concerns”.

At the meeting a man asks a question and H replies in his “most oleaginous Sergeant Wilson manner …”

5976 – Budleigh Salterton AGM.  No more than 20 in the hall.  Jeremy asks for apologies, Jill Elson says my sister as she is stuck in Tesco’s.

5096 – H trying to get back to mid-Devon in snow.  Gets to Exeter, plans to walk to home.  SS says it “illustrates how thick he can be .  He is the type of person the emergency services want to kill rather than pick up”.  [a volunteer driver of a 4-wheel drive vehicle picks him and others up and takes them home – driver not impressed that he is an MP].

5107 – H agrees to host 3 lunches a year for “moribund association”.  Amber Rudd [Home Sec at the time] agrees to attend but cries off and so he gets Arlene Foster (DUP).  Tom Wright, a councillor from Budleigh Salterton was accompanying Alison Hernandez and furious it wasn’t going to be Rudd  “It was to be his moment in the sun” and threatens not to attend.  Turns out he thought it was Arlene Phillips of “Strictly Come Dancing” who was expected.

5129 – Much bickering about whether to buy a photocopier locally or online.  Treasurer behaving like Scrooge.  Jill Elson (for local) said she had a friend called Reg who can fix anything in his shed.  H finally bought it and donated the money for it.  “It’s like a war zone in East Devon” says SS.

5147 – H appointed a Commons fire warden.  What if I am not in my office?  “Since he hates his office and is never in it, I doubt his skills will ever be tested.

5239 – [Amber Rudd – currently one of SS’s best friends – although this changes – “misleads Parliament].  SS and HS put out a tweet: “Home office is and always has been a dysfunctional department filled with large numbers of left-leaning anti-Tory civil servants, who are prone to leaning … The Twittersphere goes bananas, particularly the civil service union representatives and Claire Wrong’s cronies, of course”.

[A Rudd resigns]

5269 – SS describes in detail and gynae problem that takes her to hospital.

5313 – “None of H’s deals are coming to fruition – he says he feels that he is ‘just a bed-blocker’ in the Commons”.

5434 – “He feels trapped by the institution that he now loathes and wants to get a Harley-Davidson, get stoned, have an affair and … horrify his constituents”.

5453 – [This entry really needs putting out in full as SS describes in horrifying detail how her husband tries to sabotage Claire Wright]  H has been trying to work out what would really piss off Miss Wrong.  I know, he says, let’s save Ottery St Mary Hospital.  Ottery St Mary is Wrong’s territory – we can’t do anything to Wright there, she has the whole place sewn up. [long rant] … I’m not saying she doesn’t have a point, but she has been telling them the hospital is going for nigh on 10 years.

H invites Matt “Hand on Cock” [her words] to visit, tips off ITV but not CW but ITV tells CW and she rallies her troops.

CW goes into full battle mode with her supporters … eventually Matt has to dive into his car.  Claire is outraged and rushes up to H “Did he give any guarantees Mr Swire” she says.  Sasha is incandescent with rage that she doesn’t call him Sir Hugo and thinks it all went swimmingly until they view the media coverage, very positive to CW so they complain to ITV.  “Are we ever going to be rid of this woman”.

5564 – H calls the East Devon Conservative Association to discuss Brexit.  About 8 turn up.  “Let everyone have their say” says Jill Elson, which always refers back to the fact that she was once, aeons ago, made redundant by Clark’s Shoes in Seaton and blames this on the ERM, John Major, Maastricht, the weather …”  Lovely Lynn, her sister, says “ordinary people at the pub etc.are complaining about the cuts.”  Jill Elson threatens to resign and hisses and fumes at Jacob Reees-Mogg … in the absence of Christine Channon (who has it in for Hugo at the moment) Jeff Tait (Mayor of Exmouth) reads his contribution out slowly.  They then competed about who was saying what about at the pub, no-one any the wiser.  H has come to the conclusion that either they are all mad or he is, and he thinks on balance it is probably him.

Gove and H meet and speculate what might have happened if H had married Jerry Hall [who he dated for a very short time and SS says it was just to make Mick Jagger mad] and they talk about having her over a barrel.

5707 – “H is becoming like Victor Meldrew”


5842 – H has been putting lens cleaner in his mouth and air freshener on his spectacles.

5874 – H speculates why his chickens are not laying.  A [real country person) says it is because only one cock should be with them and there are 3.  H cannot bring himself to wring the cocks’ necks so decides to shoot them.  He misses one and gets a chicken.  “He then goes all Rambo and uses so much lead [to kill the birds] they are inedible.

5913 – Another West Hill AGM [it seems these are popular as this branch produces most money for the coffers] in their “Fuhrerbunker” (the village hall)  Colonel Morrison features again … “Watching them  vote is excruciating – some unable to lift hands, others shaking one using one arm to raise the other – a portrait of our current membership”.

6141 – Phone call with our builder/shooter friend who tells H to do something about not being allowed to kill pests on his land.  “The green blob, led by Chris Packham have finally infiltrated DEFRA”.

6191 – 3 May election – “worst news – Indies have taken control of East Devon.  Claire Wrong is crowing from the rooftops because they are all “her people” – by that I mean of her left-wing persuasion.

6471 – Raab C Brexit (Dominic Raab) made Foreign Secretary and Deputy PM.  H really did help to put him on the map …Matt Hand on Cock still there, probably warming the PM’s loo seat).

6481 – “We all know Cummings is stark raving mad …”

6495 – Dinner at No 10, SS shouted at HS not to drink or use salt on account of his blood pressure which “for the last 2 days has been telling us he is headed for the exit …”

6502 – August 2019 – “Liam Fox is writing a book on pandemics …”.  H tells BJ that he is off at the next election.  BJ knocks back the plonk at an alarming rate.

6562 – Why did Boris and Carrie get a puppy when they have Hancock?

6633 – 12 September – H announces to Association Executive he’s off.  H says not a single person thanked him for his 20 year service.

6641 – C Wrong can’t believe her luck – SS thinks CW should have been nicer to Hugo about his leaving.  SS says:  “I feel elated that we don’t have anything to do with that cow again[Anyone notice a contradiction here with the entry above?]

6697 – “Everyone knows Boris is a sex addict …”

6735 – “Boris treads over the dead bodies of Extinction Rebellion protesters”.

6755 – H has 2 accidents with his new tractor.  “It doesn’t occur to him that it would be highly inconvenient for me to become a widow quite yet. Particularly as the life insurance I took out on him is about to run out.

6931 – Association have selected Simon Jupp.  Jupp – Raab C. Brexit’s media spad – is virtually being given the seat without much of a competition.

6938 – “Jupp comes from a much more humble background …”

6940 – in the past if you had brown sauce with your sausages, you voted Labour; if you holidayed in Tuscany you were New Labour or Conservative, but Brexit has smashed all those certainties.

6944 – H has conversation with John Humphries … H bursts into tears… because he said thank you and H is proud to have made [John and David’s wedding] happen.

6951 – H out doing last Remembrance Sunday [he is no longer an MP at this point just before the election] but it “gives him a chance to wear his KCMG”.

6976 – … we have decided not to go canvassing unless asked by the new candidate.

7022 – “H goes out canvassing in Budleigh Salterton for Jumping Jupp Flash, who tells H that he is having a torrid time with Claire Wrong’s followers.  All his posters are being ripped up and the abuse on his social media has been so bad he has had to shut his Facebook page down”/

… She goes around saying that she is fighting a clean campaign.  Maybe, but not all her supporters are.

7042 – “H flies back from Hong Kong.  He has become a non-executive for a large conglomerate that builds and places large storage facilities around Asia.

7050 – 10 December.  Remainer maniac menace Hugh Grant turns up in East Devon … surrounded by lefties from Claire Wright’s cult [another long rant from Sasha follows – saying he once nuzzled her and told her her perfume was wonderful].

7073 – OMG she’s going to get it … ? because H didn’t pass on his lucky rosette to Jupp (H searches for it).  He is convinced Jupp will lose.

13/12 – 80 Seat victory – amount of publicity CW received was unprecedented.

7132 “Jupp done it, babe”.

“A few days ago we got Twitter private messages from Rylance (Lib Dem) and Wilson (Labour) who admitted they’d rather we won due to her level of abuse and the trolling they had been getting from her supporters.

7139 – “I weirdly feel some sympathy for her … her vanity superseded a rational take on facts.

[Go now and cleanse yourselves with a hot shower] …..

Two massive cliff falls in Sidmouth ‘in just half an hour

Huge plumes of red dust have loomed over Sidmouth today [Thursday – Owl] following two cliff falls in the space of 30 minutes.

[See devonlive for photos and video]

Chloe Parkman www.devonlive.com 

Jenny Pleasants, who captured the natural phenomenon on camera, was stood along the seafront when she noticed the huge dust cloud coming from Jacobs Ladder.

One eye-witness said: ”[There has] been two in half an hour now.”

This appears to be the first significant cliff fall in just over a month after a local resident captured an enormous landslide in the town back in August.

Devon Live has reported on numerous cliff falls within the town over the last few months.

In May, the area saw five separate cliff falls of note, with three taking place within 24-hours.

A spokesperson for East Devon District Council (EDDC) said: ““Cliff falls are a natural and unpredictable occurrence along the East Devon coast, this is because the rock from which the cliffs are formed is soft and therefore prone to rock falls and landslides, which can happen at any time, although periods of heavy rainfall such as the wettest February on record and now a long dry period, can cause an increase rate of falls.

“The Sidmouth and East Beach Management Plan (BMP) scheme aims to reduce the risk of flooding to Sidmouth by maintaining the standard of defences along Sidmouth Beach, and to reduce the rate of erosion to the cliffs to the East of the town (and therefore the rate of exposure of the East side of Sidmouth to coastal conditions).”

Ian Barlow said: “For now the simple message is unchanged from previous years keep off east beach it is dangerous.

“We are lucky to have miles of beaches around with the best water quality available for people to enjoy the seaside safely even with social distancing!”


Robert Jenrick ignored civil servants to spend Towns Fund millions on Tory marginals

Another of “three homes” Jenrick’s achievements – Owl

Ministers ignored the advice of civil servants before ploughing millions into marginal constituencies, a cross-party group of MPs has been told.

George Grylls, Esther Webber www.thetimes.co.uk 

Last September, weeks before the general election, Robert Jenrick, the communities secretary, announced that he would award £25 million each to deprived areas under a regeneration scheme called the Towns Fund.

Mr Jenrick and Jake Berry, a junior housing minister, chose 61 of the 101 towns. Analysis by The Times found that 60 of the areas they selected were in Conservative-held seats or Tory targets. The average majority in those towns was just 3,000. Mr Jenrick also chose his own seat of Newark — one of only two with a majority of more than 10,000 to receive funding.

The government initially refused to publish details of the selection criteria, but was overruled by the National Audit Office (NAO), leading to accusations by the public accounts committee that the government had used “flimsy, cherry-picked evidence” to choose the towns.

Appearing before the committee, Jeremy Pocklington, permanent secretary at the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), said that ministers were given an analysis of the relative deprivation of towns, but had chosen “to apply their own qualitative assessment”. He insisted that the government had adopted a “robust, evidence-based approach” in distributing the total sum of £3.6 billion.

Stephen Jones, director of the Cities and Local Growth Unit, told MPs that ministers were advised to consult with mayors during the selection process, but decided not to, saying that they “wanted to do that themselves”. A source close to the process rejected that assessment, saying that ministers had not refused to consult with mayors, but had simply never replied to the suggestion.

Meg Hillier, the Labour chairwoman of the public accounts committee, said the decision not to consult mayors was “very short-sighted”, adding that there were questions about the funding criteria that “still need answering”.

During the campaign, Mr Jenrick promoted the Towns Fund when visiting marginals including Broxtowe, Ipswich and Penistone & Stocksbridge.

The day before the vote, appearing alongside Darren Henry, now the MP for Broxtowe, in Stapleford — a town deemed low priority by civil servants — Mr Jenrick said that the government would “only” commit £25 million to the area if there was a “Conservative majority government” and Mr Henry was “elected to parliament tomorrow”.

A recent National Audit Office report found that ministers had selected all 40 towns deemed a “high priority” on a range of deprivation measures, but that they had also given money to 12 low-priority towns for which the rationale was “varied”.

An MHCLG spokesman said: “The report showed that the more affluent towns were ruled out, and the 40 most deprived towns were rightly favoured, with the remainder selected from a shortlist that considered a wide range of evidence.”