This may not be for Sidmouth, but would Exmouth be up for it?

Something to distract from elections – Owl

Monster zip wire plan to rejuvenate Ilfracombe’s fortunes

Ambitious plans for a zip line could bring thousands of visitors to Ilfracombe.

Lewis Clarke www.devonlive.com

Ilfracombe Town Council has agreed to apply for a zip line that would cross from Hillsborough down to the harbour.

The idea was put forward by Councillor Dan Turton at a meeting on Monday, April 12, and given backing by councillors to proceed at their meeting on Tuesday, May 4.

Cllr Turton said: “We’re looking to put a report forward so we can put something down on paper and get a planning application in. It’s to find if it’s for certain or a pipe dream rather than keep talking about it.

“I would favour putting it on the top of Hillsborough down to the pier. I know Hillsborough is an AONB which could be a sticky point, but I have never been told it would be a 100 per cent no and that it can’t be done. I have only been told it would be difficult.

“I have spoken to AONB, who told me it would go down to community consultation; it wasn’t a no.”

He said that the council would apply the more ambitious scheme but that as a plan B, they would also look at the possibility of a zip line from Capstone Hill.

He added: “It ticks every single box that we’ve been talking about for the last six years.

“It brings money to the town, it gives us an attraction, and it markets the town.

“Ilfracombe is going to be rammed this year and next, so we need to take an opportunity and give people visiting here an attraction tying in with the water sports centre and putting ourselves on the map as a destination where you can do this type of thing.”

He said any surplus income generated could be put back into the community.

He added: “The concept that any money raised on this put back in the community to fund things like toilets is a unique selling point, and we could have hundreds of toilets all dotted around Ilfracombe thanks to this attraction.

“I have had lots of businesses contact me telling me they want to do this and franchise it out. It proves it is a serious business proposition, but I would prefer if the council or One Ilfracombe ran it so we could keep any surplus from the attraction.

“If we are going to do it, do it properly and do it big and go for the biggest venue.

“There’s a derelict shelter on Hillsborough which is covered in beer bottles, graffiti and cannabis, and one of the things was to do something to that shelter.”

Councillor Paul Crabb fully supported the proposal.

He said: “I think it’s a marvellous idea,” he said.

“We have discussed it, and it’s been around the block a couple of times. I think it has come to a point where it needs testing.

“I know that when it comes to Historic England if you suggest as much as dropping a fag packet up at Hillsborough, they’ll go nuts. To suggest putting a wire on it, I think they will go double nuts.”

Despite a feeling it may not get approved, Cllr Crabb said they would gain nothing by not acting.

“To put a planning application in as a parish council would cost a few hundred quid,” he said. “It’s not a lot.

“If the first one gets turned down, you get a chance to put in an amended plan.

“For the sake of that money, where we can be in a position where we get a definite no and the reasons, at least Dan will be happy he’s tried.

“Most importantly, if you look at plan B, which is more than possible but less desirable, it may not be our land, but we can submit an application.

“I’ve been talking to the council surveyor about this, who are quite happy to look at proposals that come forward for areas at the back of the swimming baths and the top of Capstone.

“It would be huge turnover on this thing wherever you put it, so there is a deal to be done.”

However, Councillor Netti Pearson said: “Hillsborough is a scheduled ancient monument. You cannot build on it. It’s not the AONB that is the issue; it’s a scheduled ancient monument.

“The other hindrance would be that we have a working harbour.

“With Hillsborough and the harbour, it’s never going to happen in a million years.”

Councillor Rod Donovan added: “There’s no way you’d get it off Hillsborough. It’s an ancient monument, and you imagine if it’s really popular, the number of people who would be trampling over the ancient monument to get to the starting point.

“It’s a non-starter. It’s an absolute waste of time putting an application in for Hillsborough. Let’s put an application in for Capstone down to the back of the Landmark.”

Speaking again at the meeting on May 4, Cllr Turton added: “This proposal would be for Hillsborough as we are never going to find out if that’s possible unless we put a planning application in.

“Plan B would be Capstone, but we need to find out if Hillsborough is possible as it’s a lot more impressive, bigger, and I think it marketing it, it would go global.

“Ilfracombe has been called on a Which? report the worst seaside town in the country for attractions and visits to the seaside, so this would undoubtedly give them a kick in the teeth, and we certainly wouldn’t be bottom of the list then.

“I think we would be viral all around the world if we were to back it.”

Boris Johnson shifts attention to tackling gang and pet crime as ‘sleaze’ row rumbles on

news.sky.com

Boris Johnson is trying to focus attention on tackling crime and recovering from the coronavirus, despite a number of allegations against him that may damage his party’s election chances.

Is Simon Jupp doing the same?

There are many forms of scamming and this type of crime really angers me

Simon Jupp www.devonlive.com 

It seems not a day goes by without another warning to remain vigilant against those who attempt to scam us or commit some act of fraud. This type of crime really angers me as it is often targeted at the vulnerable or more senior members of our community.

Only yesterday, I received a text claiming to be from my bank asking for authorisation for a large payment to a name I don’t recognise. I deleted it straight away.

Sadly, there are many forms of scamming in existence. A most recent example was when the government’s successful vaccination programme had just launched. I know of some who received a call or a text message asking them to register to receive the vaccine.

As part of this process, they were asked to part with private information such as bank account details. Some messages claimed to have been sent by a local GP surgery or the NHS, but this was simply not the case. Nobody should receive a text message or email asking for bank details when arranging an appointment to be vaccinated. If in any doubt, you should check with your local surgery.

Sadly, there are plenty of other scams doing the rounds. These include messages from HMRC stating you are due a tax refund or an email from a delivery company about a mysterious package that could not be delivered. In these cases, you are asked to provide personal information which is another attempt at possible identity fraud or to gain access to your bank account.

The figures are worrying. UK Finance, the organisation that represents the finance industry, state that their members had managed to stop £1.6billion worth of fraud last year though criminals were still able to steal £1.26billion through their unscrupulous activities. The National Crime Agency says there are roughly 3.4million incidents of fraud a year.

Victims do not only face possible financial ruin, but also suffer trust and self-esteem issues if they have been successfully scammed.

These days we are living in a more online and technologically reliant society which I believe can carry an increased risk of fraud. I have previously made representations on behalf of my constituents when their bank has announced permanent branch closures in my constituency, most recently in Exmouth.

One of the solutions always suggested is that online banking could be a possible alternative for these customers, but I know many who find the thought of this technology daunting and possibly frightening. If someone isn’t technically confident and forced into online banking, they could be more vulnerable when it comes to a sophisticated scam.

Thankfully there is plenty of good guidance available when it comes to battling those who wish to scam or commit an act of fraud against us.

Ofcom, the organisation that regulates the telecoms sector, has some very helpful information about the kind of scams to look out for and the tell-tale signs that a message or call is not genuine. Their website is ofcom.org.uk

Age UK also have a comprehensive website detailing the latest scams. Their site also outlines concerns regarding pension, postal, investment and cold calling scams. More can be found at ageuk.org.uk

If you want to report a scam, then you can contact Action Fraud which is the national fraud and cyber-crime reporting centre. Their number is 0300 123 2040 and their website is actionfraud.police.uk

The key to tackling this growing form of crime is to remain vigilant and to always question the information you are being asked to provide. Also, if you do receive something suspicious, then tell your friends and the organisations that I’ve listed.

By doing this we can all work to together to try and reduce cases of this nasty and pernicious criminal activity.

£3million upgrade to Teignbridge Council HQ

How “Future Proof” is Blackdown House?-Owl

Daniel Clark, local democracy reporter www.radioexe.co.uk

Teignbridge Council HQ, Forde House, Newton Abbot (courtesy: Daniel Clark/LDRS)

It will be more energy-efficient

Multi-million pound plans to decarbonise Teignbridge District Council’s headquarters and revamp the building towards more agile working have been backed.

Councillors have voted in favour of a £3m project at the Forde House HQ in Newton Abbot that will help deliver a net-zero local authority.

They’ll spend £672,000 of grant funding, and borrow £2.3 million on ‘Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme’ and ‘Agile Working’ projects, although questions were raised about whether the proposals were the best use of the finances given the state of the building.

Projects backed by the council include replacing the gas fired heating system with air source heat pump (£337,600), replacing the extract ventilation system with mechanical ventilation and heat recovery (£61,226), installing draught-proofing on window boxes to reduce heat loss (£25,955), replacing barrel vaulted skylights with an insulated flat roof structure (£112,605) and increasing capacity of incoming electrical supply (£134,708).

The building has had few upgrades since its construction in the mid-1980s and is largely heated by an inefficient gas boiler, which is due for replacement in the next 12 months at a cost of at least £229,900. The grant-funded projects could  cut deliver carbon emissions by 92 per cent.

Teignbridge will also explore making what they call ‘agile working’ resulting from the coronavirus pandemic more permanent.

Proposals include freeing up the ground floor currently occupied by Revenue & Benefits and Housing to enable the potential to rent the space to tenant, as well as optimising the use of the first and second floors by moving desks, developing what they’re calling ‘touch down’ spaces, and creating meeting rooms and staff break-out spaces.

Cllr Jackie Hook, executive member for climate change, said: “When we unanimously declared our aim to be carbon neutral by 2025, we committed to lead the fight to reduce our own carbon emissions within the district. This funding gives us a fantastic opportunity to reduce the carbon emissions by Forde House of over 90 per cent.

“It would be remiss not to look at agile working and home working post covid and it makes absolute sense to consider adaptations to the building to not only ensure lower emissions and energy use but also to ensure more flexible working space and take advantage of the relief of some office space to rent out and produce an income.”

Cllr Richard Daws said that while he was supportive of anything that the council does to reduce the carbon impact and it was a small step in the right direction, he wanted them to think bigger.

He added: “I want the council to commit to looking at the need for in person meetings and unnecessarily travel to meetings. There is a great utility in using technology that could have a massive impact on our carbon footprint as a council, and we can show a lead.  I support this but we need to go further in the future”, before suggesting whether Forde House was still the most appropriate venue.

Cllr Liam Mullone added: “We are looking at recovering the cost of doing this in about 320 years, so why will it take so long to recoup the savings and why is the price tag so large? Given we are in the swing of doing things remotely, has it been considered to knock the whole thing down and start again?

“It is not an attractive building,  not an efficient building, doesn’t have any sympathy to the listed building next to it, so why not start again for this kind of project so have something that is zero carbon and fit for the council and rental possibilities.”

Cllr Alan Connett, leader of the council, said:  “The choice is do we replace the gas boiler and carry on, or take the opportunity to hit some of the climate change targets and agile working possibilities and may attract more people to work for Teignbridge?”

The meeting heard that officers hadn’t considered the option of knocking down the building and to start again, but that due to the remedial and demolition costs, it was unlikely to be a viable proposition.

Will Elliott, the council’s climate change officer, added: “The reason for why the payback is so long is because a number of investments are needed to make it ready for low carbon technology and isn’t geared up for the heating system we want to put in.”

However, Cllr Robert Phipps was left concerned about the scheme viability depending on being able to rent out the office space, while Cllr Linda Petherick added: “We have declared a climate emergency so we have to practice what we preach, but we are saying we have a deficit and then borrowing money to get this work done, so we need to communicate why we are doing it.”

No details yet as to who any tenants for the ground floor space would be, or how exactly the building would be reconfigured to ensure public access to the revenue and benefits team would be maintained.

Councillors voted by 29 votes for three, with four abstentions, in favour of the plans.

Exmouth beach may ban drinking this summer

A booze ban for Exmouth’s beaches may be backed by councillors next week.

Daniel Clark www.devonlive.com

The existing Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO), which covers a number of central streets in Exmouth, bans consumption of alcohol, urination in public, aggressive requests for money, or intimidatory behaviour, and allows officers to issue fixed penalty notices to those who don’t comply.

But the current order doesn’t cover Exmouth beach, which has sporadically over the last year seen incidents of alcohol fuelled anti-social behaviour, and with the demand of staycation this summer set to rise, East Devon District Council is expecting to see a likely increased level of alcohol fuelled anti-social behaviour linked to the beach area.

As a result, the council’s cabinet, when they meet on Wednesday, May 12, are recommended to carry out public consultation on proposals to vary the existing order to also cover the beach.

At the end of the five week consultation, a further report will come back to the cabinet around whether there is support for and a need for the urgent implementation for the order to be amended to be in place for the summer period 2021 – a period where an increase in related anti-social behaviour problems can be anticipated due to the staycation.

David Whelan, the council’s community safety coordinator, in his report to the meeting, said: “In June 2020 on Exmouth Beach we saw a significant disturbance observed over a weekend exiting from Lockdown, these issues continued sporadically over that summer with a significant increase in anti-social behaviour and littering linked to the alcohol fuelled anti-social behaviour. It was felt at the time this was likely to be an isolated occasion/period of time.

“This however reoccurred over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend when the ability for groups to meet was released. Again alcohol fuelled anti-social behaviour was seen on Exmouth beach with littering, urination and defecation occurring where the use of toilets has been restricted.

“It is considered that during this summer and the demand of the Staycation we are likely to see an increased level of Alcohol fuelled anti-social behaviour linked to the beach area.”

He added: “The PSPO is already in existence in a number of central streets in Exmouth and allows authorised officers to deal with individuals by way of fixed penalty notices. The proposal would be for a variation of the existing order in order to simplify understanding and enforcement of the PSPO.”

The proposed changes to the order would also see it cover the beach area from Sandy Bay via Orcombe Point, to past the coastguard look out station, past the Beach Gardens The Esplanade, The Maer, Queens Drive, and also round past the Sailing Club, Camperdown Yard and the Imperial recreation Ground, all the way to the half-moon field.

Map of proposed variance. Blue is the current PSPO, red is the considered area of the variance for the Exmouth PSPO

Map of proposed variance. Blue is the current PSPO, red is the considered area of the variance for the Exmouth PSPO

Mr Whelan added: “It can be anticipated that we may receive a number of challenges from the consultation if social media and press messaging is sensationalised that Exmouth has an alcohol ban in place for its beach. This will have normal members of the public airing their concerns that they will have police turning up and routinely just seizing their picnic drinks.

“The Police are going to need to be proportionate and sensitive around its enforcement, where it is linked as a precursor to anti-social behaviour. occurring or as a result of anti-social behaviour. occurring and use their discretion when to engage, when to educate, when to encourage and when there is a need to enforce.

“Consideration for inclusion of other coastal area’s for an anti-social behaviour.PSPO was discounted at an early stage, as there has been limited reporting of historic problems and the transport infrastructure does not give the same level of access to the other coastal towns

“A period of consultation would need to be undertaken but this period could be kept to a minimal timeframe of five weeks as other councils have done, early indications from Police and Exmouth Town clerks are they are supportive of the extension of the PSPO.”

The Cabinet are recommended to carry out public consultation on proposals to vary the Exmouth anti-social behaviour. Public Spaces Protection Order 2020 -2023, which could include addition of beach areas in Exmouth, as well as other locations identified as anticipated displacement, before any final decision would be taken later this year.

River Otter flood plain work delayed to protect nesting birds

Plans to go ahead with the restoration of mud flats have been put back after concerns were raised by campaigners about the effect on nesting birds. [Story starts with Tweet]

www.bbc.co.uk 

See: Tweet

Chris Packham@ChrisGPackhamBreaking News . @EnvAgency have sanctioned the destruction of breeding birds tomorrow at the Lower Otter Restoration Project . This is #HS2 part 2 . PLEASE THINK AGAIN @ClintonDevon@kiergroup@NESouthWest Please follow @WiseBirding and RT

Otter estuary

The project involves the removal of vegetation on the River Otter estuary in Devon

The project would have involved the removal of vegetation on the River Otter estuary in Devon, starting on Tuesday.

The Environment Agency (EA) said the start of work was “being reviewed”.

The rescheduling followed involvement from the RSPB and wildlife TV presenter Chris Packham.

The RSPB said it supported the restoration scheme, but it was the wrong time of year.

In a video post on Twitter, Packham said: “You can’t just start destroying birds’ nests when they are protected.

“What sort of signal does that send out to developers.”

Cetti's Warbler

The Cetti’s Warbler is among species that would have been affected say campaigners

An EA spokesperson said the delay had been agreed so “that timings reflect the balance of ecological risks”.

The flood plains project is expected to create 55 hectares (136 acres) of wildlife habitat on the river, estuary and floodplain.

Tony Whitehead from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) said it had been “very concerned” about work being carried out in May, “in the middle of the nesting season”.

He said species like the rare Cetti’s warbler were at risk and the RSPB had “repeatedly” asked for the work to be moved to another time of year.

“It is good to hear that the works have been paused today and for the remainder of this week,” he said.

“We hope this will give time for the works to be rescheduled for after the bird nesting season, which in our view would be after the end of August.”

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