Planning applications validated by EDDC week beginning 4 Jan

Worst coronavirus hotspots for each part of Devon identified

A further 350 people have tested positive for coronavirus across Devon, the latest figures show.

Remember that, sadly, about 20% of all Covid-19 cases in Devon in the last week have been in care homes. – Owl

Katie Timms 

Government data as of 4pm on Sunday showed the Devon local authority area recorded 180 new positive Covid-19 cases in the last 24-hour reporting period.

The area now has now had 16,116 positive cases.

Torbay saw a further 38 cases recorded, bringing its total cases from when the pandemic began, to 3,038.

Plymouth saw a further 132 cases, bringing its overall total to 7,166.

The whole county has now seen 26,365 positive cases since the pandemic began.

The data is made up of the number of people with at least one positive Covid-19 test result, either lab-reported or from a lateral flow device, by specimen date.

Those who test positive more than once are only counted once, on the date of their first positive test.

The latest cluster data as of January 17, relating to coronavirus cases in the same seven-day-period between January 6 and December 12, shows Exmouth Littleham has the highest case rate in the county.

The area of East Devon has 57 cases in the same seven-day-period, equating to a rate of 758.6 cases per 100,000 people.

We’ve taken the highest cluster case rate from each area.

Torbay’s highest case rate is Babbacombe and Plainmoor, with 32 cases and a rate of 569.4 cases per 100,000 people.

Cullompton in Mid Devon has 568.5 cases per 100,000 people, with 50 cases in the same seven-day-period.

Dartmouth in South Hams has 29 cases for the latest seven-day-period, equating to a rate of 534.4.

Plymouth’s area with the highest case rate is Ernesettle, with 32 cases and a rate of 526.5.

St Thomas West in Exeter has a rate of 508.6 per 100,000 people, with 37 recorded cases.

Newton Abbot, Highweek in Teignbridge has 31 recorded cases, with a rate of 504.1.

Westward Ho! and Northam South in Torridge has 18 recorded cases and a case rate of 282.1.

North Devon’s area with the highest case rate is Lynton and Combe Martin, with 255.3 cases per 100,000 people. It has recorded 14 cases between January 6 and January 12.

No area is cluster free, which means the area has between zero and two positive covid cases recorded in the same seven-day-period.

The cluster figures for each area can be found below.

The local authority is listed in bold, followed by the MSOA (Middle layer Super Output Area), new positive cases between January 6 and January 12 and then the rate per 100,000 people in the same seven-day-period. See  for the full listing for the remaining districts, Exeter and Plymouth.

East Devon




Budleigh Salterton



Clyst, Exton & Lympstone



Cranbrook, Broadclyst & Stoke Canon



Dunkesewell, Upottery & Stockland



Exmouth Brixington



Exmouth Halsdon



Exmouth Littleham



Exmouth Town



Exmouth Withycombe Raleigh



Feniton & Whimple



Honiton North & East



Honiton South & West



Kilmington, Colyton & Uplyme



Ottery St Mary & West Hill



Poppleford, Otterton & Woodbury






Sidbury, Offwell & Beer



Sidmouth Sidford



Sidmouth Town



Exeter set for ‘profound changes’ post-covid

“Coronavirus has revealed structural weaknesses in the economy….”

“There will be more housing in the city centre, higher than we are used to, and at a greater density…..”

Is “build, build, build” GESP now just a bad dream and well and truly dead and buried? – Owl

Daniel Clark, local democracy reporter 

Profound changes in everyone’s behaviour will be needed if Exeter has any chance to meeting an ambitious target to be carbon neutral by 2030.

As the city aims to build back better when the pandemic ends and tackle climate change, a warning has been issued that lives are going to change.

An event organised by a sustainability group called Exeter City Futures heard that that coronavirus has revealed structural weaknesses in the economy. Attendees explored how Exeter could build a vibrant economy as well as address the challenges of the pandemic and the climate emergency.

Through a process called ‘clean growth’, they aim to create high-value jobs, economic growth and an improved quality of life by cutting carbon emissions. 

Karime Hassan, CEO and growth director of Exeter City Council, said that the goal of net zero requires institutions in the city to pull together and to build a stronger city as part of a Net-Zero Exeter 2030 plan. He said: “It positions the city in terms of the issue of clean growth andt the city that we want to create which is more inclusive, sustainable, and healthy as a city, and we have to pull in the same direction.

Cllr Rachel Sutton (Labour), deputy leader and lead councillor for Net Zero Exeter 2030 at Exeter City Council, added: “This is a both exciting and terrifying time for everyone across the globe because as we were starting to get the head around the climate emergency. When we got overwhelmed by the pandemic, the climate emergency hasn’t gone away while we have been trying to get our heads around living in the pandemic.

“There will be more housing in the city centre, higher than we are used to, and at a greater density. When we build, it will be energy efficient and I hope others will follow and we intend to make sure people in council homes have houses fit for purpose.”

Glenn Woodcock, director of Oxygen House, the company behind Exeter City Futures, said that even before covid the area faced profound economic challenges. He said: “The multiple between people’s earnings and the cost of a house has gone beyond what we can tolerate in a modern economy but that being is exacerbated by covid. This is more than just a crisis in the atmosphere but a catastrophe in global warming in every one of the ecosystems and our ecologies.

“The pandemic, like a brutal and relentless hurricane, has stripped back to reveal the structural weaknesses in the economy, and we have to look at how we eat, clothe ourselves, entertain ourselves, our education, our healthcare from scratch.

“Clean growth is not returning to what we did yesterday – it doesn’t mean throwing it away but recognise we have to make some profound changes – but a place like Exeter is well placed to rise up to the challenges, and we can all do something about at least one of them.

“Our lives will change over the next 10 to 20 years and they have to, but this is not something to resist or be afraid of but that we have to embrace. Clean growth is giving power to the elbows of the people here to inspire people to follow in their footsteps, and to bring as much energy and excitement to the challenges as we can.

”Kalkidan Legesse, owner of Exeter sustainable fashion shop Sancho’s, said there is huge demand for change in the city but there needs to be support for businesses to engage in the digitised economy. “But we cannot take a one size fits all approach and when we are imagining the clean jobs, who are we imagining them for? One of the reasons we don’t see more progress in the green economy is that it doesn’t serve everyone’s interest, so do we understand what the opposing fortunes are and how can we address them?”

Off to the Taunton racecourse?

Based on anecdotal evidence, Owl knows many over 80’s in East Devon yet to receive an invitation for locally administered vaccination. In contrast, Owl knows of some 75+ getting the jab in Exeter.

Vaccines to given to over 70s and clinically extremely vulnerable

Annette Belcher 

Millions of people aged 70 and over and those clinically extremely vulnerable to Covid-19 will be next to get the vaccine, it has been announced.

These next two priority groups will be invited to get their vaccinations from Monday, January 18.

The NHS has so far been working to vaccinate the first two priority cohorts recommended by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), which are care home residents and staff, and those aged 80 and over and frontline health and care staff. 

Vaccinating the first two groups will remain the priority, but vaccination sites which have enough supply and capacity for vaccinating further people are allowed to offer vaccinations to the next two cohorts – those aged 70 and over and clinically extremely vulnerable people.

This will allow areas that have already vaccinated the majority of care home residents, frontline health and care staff and people aged 80 and over to keep up the momentum and start vaccinating further at-risk people, helping the NHS to reach the Prime Minister’s commitment of offering vaccinations to the first four priority groups by the middle of February.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “[Monday] is a significant milestone in our vaccination programme as we open it up to millions more people who are most at risk from Covid 19.

“We are now delivering the vaccine at a rate of 140 jabs a minute and I want to thank everyone involved in this national effort.

“We have a long way to go and there will doubtless be challenges ahead – but by working together we are making huge progress in our fight against this virus.”

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock added: “Now that more than half of all over-80s have had their jab, we can begin vaccinating the next most vulnerable groups. Where an area has already reached the vast majority of groups 1-2, they can now start opening up the programme to groups 3-4.

“We are working day and night to make sure everyone who is 70 and over, our health and social care workers and the clinically extremely vulnerable are offered the vaccine by the middle of February and our NHS heroes are making huge strides in making this happen.

“This measure does not mean our focus on getting care homes, healthcare staff and those aged 80 and over vaccinated is wavering – it will remain our utmost priority over the coming weeks to reach the rest of these groups.”

The guidance from the Government and the NHS to local vaccination services remains that they should still offer the vaccine to each of the priority groups in the order set out by the JCVI.

Make May elections in England more Covid-safe, Labour urges

Labour has urged ministers to make May’s elections in England more Covid-secure, after the emergence of a Cabinet Office document that warned the pandemic could severely hamper the process and put millions off voting.

This is not the first post on the problems of the May elections. Most of the discussion has been about the voting process, very little on canvassing. – Owl

Severin Carrell

The paper raises the possibility that even if coronavirus infection levels are relatively low, it could be difficult to attract enough election staff, and that safety fears may “disenfranchise large proportions of [the] community”.

Labour is calling for safeguards such as the possibility of spreading voting over several days, or having an all-postal vote, options that have been prepared for elections to the Scottish parliament, also due to take place on 6 May.

The Cabinet Office said the elections document dated from May 2020, and that the scenarios were part of a planning exercise, rather than predictions.

Election officials have already said that the English elections will be logistically complicated, not least because they comprise two sets of votes – this year’s, and those postponed from May 2020.

There will also be ballots to elect the London mayor and assembly, a series of other mayors, and police and crime commissioners (PCCs), with some voters facing up to seven separate ballots.

Although they will be protected by plastic screens, there are concerns about attracting enough volunteer election staff – especially given that many tend to be older – and about finding venues.

The May 2020 Cabinet Office document, seen by the Guardian, sets out two hypothetical scenarios. In the first, even though the Covid outbreak has been largely contained, the double set of elections causes “significant challenges for administration and supply”.

The other scenario theorises some limited social distancing measures, even as “overall normality is returning”. Under this, the document posits staff shortages due to redeployment of council officers, home working, and health worries for at-risk staff, plus a greatly increased number of postal votes.

It also sets out the idea that social media posts “inciting fear of continued spread of Covid-19 threaten to disenfranchise large proportions of [the] community”.

Cat Smith, the shadow Cabinet Office minister, said it was “deeply concerning that ministers have failed to introduce new voting methods used across the world to ensure polls can go ahead safely”.

She said: “Labour has consistently called for safer voting methods to be introduced, including voting over multiple days and all-postal voting. Ministers have had many months to make the necessary changes to protect our democratic process, but instead they are treating these elections like business as usual.”

While the government has said it will set out its plans for the elections in England soon, there is currently no provision for changes such as spreading the vote over several days.

Each UK nation organises its own elections. Scotland and Wales are holding elections on the same day for their parliaments, and for PCCs in Wales. There are no elections in Northern Ireland this year.

The Scottish parliament passed legislation in late 2020 allowing for May’s Holyrood election to be held over two days, for vote counting to take longer, for an all-postal vote election, or even to delay the election if it seen as too unsafe to stage on 6 May.

Political parties are likely to put heavy emphasis on postal voting to ensure voters are not put off casting ballots in polling stations, but Scotland’s election management board says polling stations will be safe.

A Cabinet Office spokesperson said the elections document set out “hypothetical, made-up scenarios used in a planning exercise by officials back in May 2020. The document clearly states that the scenarios are not predictions.”

They said: “Last week, the government set out its action plan to roll out vaccines at pace. We are working closely with the electoral sector, public health bodies and political parties to identify and resolve challenges in the successful delivery of the polls this May. We will set out this detailed planning in due course.”