Exmouth traders celebrate outdoor furniture U-turn

As the local economy begins to re-open, what we need is a local council that listens and is prepared to adapt to the “New Normal” whatever that maybe, particularly in the town centres.

The new administration at EDDC, in the short time it has been in control, shows promising signs of genuinely listening to residents and businesses, and being prepared to react swiftly.

In contrast, Owl’s view is that Devon County Council is stuck in a rut. This is demonstrated by the ponderous suggestion, in this case, of undertaking a “consultation”.

In a recent post Owl reviewed how, last March,  our politicians in Central Government, in Devon County and East Devon failed to rise to the challenge and show leadership, with a few shining exceptions. Since then the “Old Guard” ar EDDC has been replaced by the “New Guard”. The same needs to happen at County Hall.

Exmouth traders celebrate outdoor furniture U-turn

Anita Merritt www.devonlive.com

With just three days to go before hospitality businesses have been given the go-ahead to reopen outdoors, traders in Exmouth have welcomed a ‘significant’ council U-turn which will enable them to keep up outdoor furniture.

East Devon District Council (EDDC) and Devon County Council (DCC) had told businesses that tables and chairs, and even marquees, would need to be taken down each day.

DevonLive reported today, April 9, how George Nightingale, owner of independent award-winning Exmouth pub and restaurant Spoken, did not know whether it would be financially viable to reopen as from April 12, due to lease restrictions which were said to be affecting businesses across East Devon.

However, Spoken, which is situated in the pedestrianised area of the Strand, has now been told by EDDC that it has listened to feedback relating to its sitting-out consent rules and is now offering businesses in the Strand ‘business tenancies’ which will enable them to place tables, chairs and planters/ barriers and temporary marquees is designated areas which can be left out at night.

The new tenancies will be in force until September 30, 2021.

Delighted by the news, George said: “It’s a wonderful result for all the businesses in Exmouth, in particular, but it has far reaching consequences perhaps for other businesses in East Devon and beyond.

“The final details are yet to be thrashed out, but it’s definitely something to look forward to. It makes the area much more usable for all our businesses and also for the locals and visitors to Exmouth.”

The news is also being welcomed by Spoken’s 17 members of staff.

He said: “They will now be able to have more hours and will be able to get paid and move forward as a result of this.”

George also thanked the council for listening to traders concerns.

Spoken in The Strand without any street furniture outside

Spoken in The Strand without any street furniture outside (Image: Google)

He added: “This judgement is of huge significance not just for me, but also the other businesses within The Strand, in particular, all of who will honour the trust that is being placed in us – and not forgetting Exmouth as a whole.

“The Strand is a focal point and must been seen and used as such.

“This really is a genuine move to support business and I cannot thank the council enough. This is absolutely groundbreaking and I know that businesses in the town will not let them down.”

The Spoken began applying to use the outside space on a temporary basis for post-lockdown trading seven months ago.

It is claimed it was only three weeks ago they were told by DCC the matter was going to ‘consultation’. The problem related to a clause in the lease which dates back to when the area outside the Spoken was previously a road 10 years ago.

In a story published earlier today by Devon Live, both EDDC and DCC said the rules over street furniture have to be observed. However, EDDC confirmed it was considering whether alternative agreements can be made to help traders.

Following the latest development, a spokesperson for East Devon District Council said: “We are in correspondence with owners of premises at The Strand and hope to agree a way in which they can all make a success of the forthcoming summer.”

DCC were approached for a comment.

Straight fight between Libdems and Conservatives in Rockbeare EDDC by election.

Independent Progressive Councillor Kathy McLauchlan, who successfully obtained full council backing last October to end “sexist banter” and ditch a freeze on allowances for representatives on maternity leave, resigned at the end of February. 

Kathy McLauchlan won the Whimple and Rockbeare ward comfortably in May 2019, taking it from the Conservatives (702 votes to 234). 

In the 2011 election Martin Gammell won the seat for the Lib Dems but it was retaken by the Conservatives in 2015. A by-election followed in 2017 and Martin came within 36 votes of re-taking it.

Now it will be a straight contest between Richard Lawrence (Conservatives) and Todd Olive (Liberal Democrats). In EDDC the LibDems are part of the “Democratic Alliance”.

Whimple is the home of “uber” Conservative Sarah Randall-Johnson (see this post and many others) who not only is County Councillor for Broadclyst but is also on the Whimple Parish Council. SRJ epitomises the “Old Guard”, Whimple and Rockbeare deserve better than SRJ and her ilk.

Exeter candidate list for May elections

Daniel Clark www.devonlive.com

The candidates who will stand for election to Exeter City Council – plus several by-elections elsewhere in Devon – have been announced.

Voters will go to the polls on May 6 for the delayed 2020 local elections in Exeter, the full Devon County Council elections, as well as the delayed Police and Crime Commissioner elections, and by-elections in East Devon, South Hams, Mid Devon and Torbay.

Among those who are defending their seats in Exeter are Phil Bialyk, the Labour leader of the council, and Andrew Leadbetter, the leader of the Conservative opposition, and the Green Party and the Liberal Democrats have entered into an electoral arrangement where they will stand aside for each other in six wards.

In Exeter, each elected councillor would normally be appointed for a four year term, with a third of the 39 seats contested each year (one seat per ward), , but the newly elected councillors will instead only serve a three year term to ensure the return to the usual electoral cycle.

The 13 candidates whose seats will be up for grabs are those who gained the most votes in the 2016 elections, with Labour defending 10 seats, the Conservatives two, and Independents one.

Voters in the Mincinglake and Whipton will elected two councillors – with the person receiving the most votes serving a three year term and the runner-up a one year term – with a by-election also taking place following the death of a serving councillor.

The current make-up of the council is Labour (27), Conservative (6), Liberal Democrat (2), Independent (2), Green Party (1), Vacant (1), with Labour needing to win three of the 14 seats up for grabs to retain control of the council.

By-elections will take also place in the Whimple & Rockbeare Ward in East Devon, in the Castle, Taw and Westexe wards in Mid Devon, and in the Ivybridge West ward in the South Hams, with the winning candidates getting a two year term on the council.

Promoted Stories

Below is the list of candidates who are standing, with the * denoting where they are the sitting councillor who is up for re-election.

EXETER CITY COUNCIL

Alphington

Julyan Levy (Green Party)

Katherine New (Conservatives)

Rod Ruffle (Liberal Democrats)

Steve Warwick (Labour) *

Duryard and St James

Will Aczel (Liberal Democrats)

Bea Gare (Women’s Equality Party)

Aric Gilinsky (Conservatives)

Martin Pearce (Labour)

Exwick

Phil Bialyk (Labour) *

Kayleigh Luscombe (Conservatives)

Jamie Lynde (Green Party)

Maya Skelton (Liberal Democrats)

Heavitree

Alfie Carlisle (Conservatives)

Barbara Denning (Labour)

Catherine Rees (Green Party)

Mincinglake and Whipton (2 seats due to one vacancy)

Naima Allcock (Labour)

David Barker-Hahlo (Green Party)

Edward Barradell (Conservatives)

Felix Breet (Liberal Democrats)

Emma Morse (Labour) *

Joseph Straker (Conservatives)

Newton and St Leonard’s

Richard Branston (Labour) *

Dan Grey (Green Party)

George Smith (Conservatives)

Pennsylvania

Samuel Barnett (Conservatives)

Zion Lights (Labour)

Nigel Williams (Liberal Democrats)

Pinhoe

David Harvey (Labour) *

John Harvey (Conservatives)

Henry Mayall (Liberal Democrats)

Lynn Wetenhall (Green Party)

Priory

Alys Martin (Labour) *

Joel Punwani (Liberal Democrats)

Charles Russett (Green Party)

James Taghdissian (Conservatives)

St Thomas

Ashley Carr (Conservatives)

Adrian Fullam (Liberal Democrats)

Rob Hannaford (Labour) *

Paul Mouland (Independent)

Frankie Rufolo (For Britain Movement)

St Davids

Arden Foster-Spink (Conservatives)

Amy Sparling (Green Party)

Carol Whitton (Labour)

St Loye’s

Jack Eade (Green Party)

Olwen Foggin (Labour) *

Debbie Frayne (For Britain Movement)

Anne Jobson (Conservatives)

Kris Mears (Liberal Democrats)

Topsham

Christine Campion (Liberal Democrats)

Ivan Jordan (Labour)

Andrew Leadbetter (Conservatives) *

Jon Mills (Green Party)

EAST DEVON DISTRICT COUNCIL

Whimple and Rockbeare

Richard Lawrence (Conservatives)

Todd Olive (Liberal Democrats)

MID DEVON DISTRICT COUNCIL

Castle

Richard Cornley (Labour)

Jason Lejeune (Independent)

Elizabeth Slade (Conservative)

David Wulff (Liberal Democrats)

Taw

Peter Heal (Conservatives)

Mark Wooding (Liberal Democrats)

Westexe

Stephen Bush (Independent)

Claire Hole (Independent)

Adrian Howell (Independent)

Samuel James (Labour)

Stephen Pugh (Conservatives)

Rosie Wibberley (Green Party)

SOUTH HAMS DISTRICT COUNCIL

Ivybridge West

Louise Jones (Conservatives)

Tony Rea (Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition)

Katie Reville (Green Party)

Government backtracks on raising affordable housing threshold

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has stated that the proposal to raise the site threshold for affordable homes provision has been dropped.

(Good news but slipped out during Easter – Owl)

www.propertyreporter.co.uk 

According to MHCLG, the measure, which would have temporarily lifted the small sites threshold for affordable housing provision to 40 or 50 homes, would not be necessary at this stage due to the industry’s robustness in the face of the pandemic and “the other measures we have available to support SMEs”.

The measure was proposed to support SMEs during the economic upheavals of the coronavirus crisis.

MHCLG said it would continue to closely monitor the market and speak to SME housebuilders about their challenges and the support that could be given, adding that there are no plans to raise the small sites threshold at this stage.

In current policy, a site of ten homes or more is considered a “major development” and will be subject to affordable housing provision.

In December, the government decided to scrap another proposal from the consultation – changes to the standard method for assessing local housing need. MHCLG planned to introduce an algorithm that would have increased housebuilding in the south of England. But the proposals caused consternation among Conservative MPs.

On the proposed change to the affordable homes threshold, MHCLG said: “The government consulted on raising the small sites threshold in order to assess if it was necessary in the economic circumstances to provide additional support to SME builders.

“We have carefully considered the consultation feedback and the situation in the housing market. On balance, we do not consider this measure to be necessary at this stage, particularly in light of the broader way in which the sector has responded to the challenges of the pandemic and the other measures we have available to support SMEs.

“We therefore do not think any change to existing policy is currently needed.”

“Events, dear boy, events”. Boris reverses “irreversible” plan for post-lockdown pint

Boris Johnson has dropped plans to raise a post-lockdown pint today out of respect after the death of Prince Philip.

The Prime Minister had planned to visit a newly-reopened pub as lockdown eases in England, saying he would be “cautiously but irreversibly raising a pint of beer to my lips.”

However, he has axed the trip as the government cancels all routine ministerial press conferences, interviews and visits in the wake of the Duke of Edinburgh’s death aged 99

Town Hall Rich List 2021 and EDDC lack of tranparency

This is the list of Town Hall staff receiving over £100K in FY 2019/2020.

Interesting to see that Mark Wiiliams, seems to be the highest paid District Chief Exec. in Devon, a short snout ahead of Teignbridge. (But this depends on how you count “compensation payments” in Torridge and North Devon. (For example, Jenny Wallace left Torridge in February so these may relate to contact terminations.)

MW is no doubt delighted to beat Karime Hassan of Exeter (former Corporate Director EDDC) despite the latter’s controversial double hat of Chief Executive and Growth Director.

The real interest to Owl is that Mark Williams is not the most highly paid member of staff in EDDC. That accolade goes to a person described as U.N.Disclosed. EDDC also boasts a second member of this family in the £100K+ club.

It’s our money paying their salaries, why the secrecy,?   

In FY 19/20 Mark Williams got £118,164 + 17,725 pension = £135,889, and U.N Disclosed got £152,500. For comparison the PM’s pay was £154,908 (about £4K less than entitlement).    

Town Hall Rich List 2021

Apr 07 2021 www.taxpayersalliance.com

Introduction

Town Hall Rich List 2021 marks the 14th version of this list, first compiled in 2007. For the past 14 years the TaxPayers’ Alliance has assembled the most comprehensive list of council employees in the UK in receipt of over £100,000 in total remuneration.

For the average (band D) property, taxpayers in England will have to pay a council tax rise of 4.4 per cent or an extra £81 per year in 2021-22.[1]  Wales will see an average increase of 3.8 per cent.[2] Scottish councils have frozen 2021-22 council tax rates at 2020-21 levels. This is in exchange for receiving a cash grant from the Scottish government equivalent to a three per cent council tax increase.[3]

Against this background, the number of local authority employees receiving over £100,000 in total remuneration has risen to the highest level since 2013-14.[4]

Click here to read the report.

Click here for council-by-council breakdown of data.

Key findings

  • At least 2,802 people employed by local authorities in 2019-20 received more than £100,000 in total remuneration, an increase of 135 on 2018-19. 693 received over £150,000, 26 more than the previous year.
  • The average number of employees who received over £100,000 in total remuneration per local authority is seven. The average number receiving over £150,000 is 1.7 employees per council.
  • The local authority with the greatest number of employees whose remuneration was in excess of £100,000 was Essex county council with 40 employees, five more than the previous year. Glasgow had the highest number of employees receiving over £150,000 at 14, two more than the previous year.
  • The highest remunerated council employee in 2019-20 was the deputy chief executive at Coventry council, receiving £573,660 in total remuneration. This included a loss of office payment of £395,110, pension payment of £26,559, and salary of £151,991.
  • A total of 31 local authority employees received remuneration in excess of a quarter of a million pounds in 2019-20. This was one fewer than the previous year.
  • The local authority to pay out the highest amount in terms of bonuses and performance related pay to a senior employee was Edinburgh city council, with the general manager of Edinburgh Trams receiving a £48,895 bonus.
  • Total expenses paid to senior employees in the UK amounted to £1,274,497, with the highest amount (£38,043) being claimed by Simon Baker, the now former chief executive of High Peak borough council.
  • A total of 21 local authority employees received a loss of office payment of more than £95,000, the cap on payoffs for public sector employees. This cap was briefly in force between 4 November 2020 and 12 February 2021 and did not cover the period of this year’s Town Hall Rich List. It has since been revoked.[5]

Click here to read the report.

Click here for council-by-council breakdown of data.


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[1] Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, Council Tax levels set by local authorities in England 2021 to 2022, 25 March 2021, http://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/council-tax-levels-set-by-local-authorities-in-england-2021-to-2022, (accessed 25 March 2021).

[2] StatsWales, Annual increase in average band D council tax, by billing authority,  https://statswales.gov.wales/Catalogue/Local-Government/Finance/Council-Tax/Levels/annualpercentageincreaseinaveragebanddcounciltax-by-billingauthority, (accessed 25 March 2021).

[3] BBC, All Scottish councils agree to tax freeze, 11 March 2021,  www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-56320853, (accessed 25 March 2021).

[4] TaxPayers’ Alliance, Town Hall Rich List 2015, 2015.

[5] Sharma, M, Public sector redundancy payment cap scrapped by government, HR Review, 15 February 2021, www.hrreview.co.uk/hr-news/public-sector-redundancy-payment-cap-scrapped-by-government/131756, (accessed 25 March 2021).