Ms Bond – a correspondent writes

A correspondent writes:

We could not have views more diametrically opposed than Owl’s and Paul S’s on the subject of the political affiliation of long-distance EDDC councillor Susie Bond.  I am firmly in the Owl camp.

Ms Bond was elected around the time of the Graham Brown scandal, at a time when calling yourself a Tory would have been a vote loser.  It made sense to be an independent.  Especially as she was identifying strongly with her ward and its appalling flooding problems.

However, as time went on, it was obvious that Ms Bond was closer in political terms to Tories than other Independents. This is fair enough – independents are on a spectrum just as party councillors are.  She made it quite clear that she did not feel close to other independent councillors (particularly East Devon Alliance) – always being careful to distance herself from them when it was needed – again, fair enough. But indicative of her lack of identification with other independents.

After the rout of Tories in the last election however, she joined the caucus around Ben Ingham.  Yes, other independents did too, but most of them saw the (blue) light quite quickly and abandoned his cabinet and sought to distance themselves from him – I do not recall Ms Bond doing this or criticising his increasing identification with Tories (of which he is one again after being Independent then East Devon Alliance (Leader) , then Independent again).

Note, too, that, as she says, she did not vote for Andrew Moulding (Con) bit DID vote for another Conservative councillor, not an Independent.

As for councillors not living in their constituency – true the pandemic made it impossible to hold a by-election for some of the time but one has to say that not living in the ward means she has had no ear to the ground in what goes on there – it was perhaps disingenuous to say nothing about her move until quite recently, and travelling from Berkshire for one physical meeting where she  supported Tories.

I think Ms Bond did right by her community on many hyper-local issues -but on non-local issues she showed a different side.

UK house prices rose six times more than nurses’ pay over last decade, Royal College of Nurses warns

A union is demanding a 12.5 per cent pay rise for NHS nurses after finding the increase in average house prices over the last decade had been six times that of an experienced practitioner’s pay.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) accused the government of perpetuating an injustice against nurses and said it should instead “tip the scales” in their favour. A planned 1 per cent basic pay hike was not enough, the union said.

The RCN cited analysis by the consultants London Economics, which found the total pay of a nurse in the NHS’s band five with seven years’ experience had risen only 9 per cent since 2011, from £32,440 to £35,340. Meanwhile, average house prices had gone up 55 per cent, from £165,600 to £256,400.

Total pay includes overtime, unsociable hours and on-call pay.

Experienced healthcare assistants and practitioners in lower bands – three and four – saw their pay rise by 12 and 9 per cent respectively over the decade, well below the increase in retail price index inflation, which was 31 per cent.

Graham Revie, chair of the RCN’s trade union committee, said: “The government needs to tip the scales in nursing’s favour to stop this injustice.

“The proposed 1 per cent pay rise won’t come close to remedying the suppression of nursing salaries over the past 10 years. It is officially a pay cut now that inflation has risen above 1 per cent as expected.”

And the union’s acting general secretary, Pat Cullen, added: “The impact of nursing staff being priced out of the neighbourhoods where they work is devastating not just for them but their patients and patients’ families.

“Communities in which nursing staff can’t afford to live are communities at risk of poor health and patient care.”

All UK nursing staff should get a 12.5 per cent pay rise, the union insisted.

The Independent has contacted the Department of Health and Social Care and the Treasury for comment.

Ministers have faced widespread criticism for their decision to implement only a 1 per cent pay rise for NHS staff, having spent more than a year expressing their thanks and admiration for health workers’ efforts in tackling the coronavirus crisis.

In March, more than 250,000 NHS employees reported having been made ill by work-related stress during the pandemic, while one in five said they had considered leaving the service.

NHS bands – what do they mean?

Here’s what duties the RCN says these staff can expect to perform

  • A band three healthcare assistant may have an important role in the accident and emergency department or the operating theatre
  • A band four assistant practitioner’s job can involve administering catheters and managing wounds
  • Most nurses are in band five, and their seniority is on the level of administrators who run GP practices, according to the NHS website. They may work in intensive care, mental health or another area, and can be responsible for monitoring patients and administering medicine

Meanwhile, one of the country’s biggest unions is warning that health workers employed by private companies may miss out on that 1 per cent rise promised by ministers to NHS staff.

Unison said in a statement: “Unison is calling on all private companies running health service contracts to pledge at least to match any government pay rise for workers directly employed by the NHS.

“Ministers should also increase funding to trusts to end the growing gap between the salaries of NHS staff and colleagues employed by private firms. Unison wants NHS trusts and boards to grant new contracts only to companies that pledge to equal health service pay rates.”

Outsourcing giants “must also improve sick pay, overtime payments and annual leave allocation in line with NHS terms and conditions”, the union said.

Sidmouth’s notorious crumbling cliffs crash down yet again

Sidmouth’s notorious crumbling cliffs have once again been pictured crashing into the sea.

Chloe Parkman

The town’s red cliffs are well-known for tumbling onto the ground below with the coastguard issuing a number of warnings to the public, urging them to avoid the area.

The most recent cliff fall took place yesterday (June 16) at around 4pm and was captured by Daryl Dudley Photography.

Daryl says he did not hear any sound prior to the landslide as he was stood quite a distance away, but he spotted the rest dust cloud shortly after it happened.

In the last three weeks, there have been at least four cliff collapses in the East Devon town, all of which on land which is owned and managed by the District Council.

The spate of recent falls prompted Beer Coastguard team to issue a warning to the public.

They posted: “Another cliff fall just happened to the East of the last one between Sidmouth and Salcombe Regis.

“Stay away from the cliffs, DO NOT go on the beach below Salcombe hill.”

Last week, DevonLive reported that no immediate work will be carried out on Sidmouth’s crumbling cliffs which have seen a spate of collapses in recent weeks.

Cliff falls in Sidmouth (Image: Daryl Dudley Photography.)

While long term work on the Sidmouth and East Beach Management Plan scheme, which aims to reduce the rate of erosion, is being carried out, the cabinet recently voted to pause the current working option to review other possible options now that the scheme is eligible for more government funding.

A spokesman for East Devon District Council (EDDC) said that the risk of cliff falls is well signed in this area, so members of the public should adhere to warnings to stay well clear of the cliffs and not access East Beach as it is closed for safety reasons, but that no immediate work was planned to address the recent cliff falls.

They added: “The locations of the recent cliff falls at East Beach/Pennington Point are outside land owned and managed by East Devon District Council.

“The risk of cliff falls is well signed in this area, so members of the public should adhere to warnings to stay well clear of the cliffs and not access East Beach as it is closed for safety reasons.

“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 heavy rainfall can trigger incidences.

“We recommend that people enjoy East Devon cliffs from a distance and do not climb or sit directly beneath them. Please always follow the warning signs.

“Work on the Sidmouth and East Beach Management Plan (BMP) scheme continues. It 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 east of the town (and therefore the rate of exposure of the east side of Sidmouth to coastal conditions).

“The EDDC Cabinet recently voted to pause the current working option to review other possible options now that the scheme is eligible for more government funding.

“A sub group is currently reviewing the scope for this and will report back at the next BMP advisory group in July.

“A temporary rock revetment on East Beach and planning permission for this will be explored if the new scheme means a delay to work starting.”

Simon Jupp’s pub crawl prompts a question

Simon Jupp is lobbying hard for the hospitality sector. But wasn’t last year’s “Eat out to help out” campaign thought to have been a significant factor in fuelling the second wave? – Owl

Photo of Simon JuppSimon Jupp Conservative, East Devon

East Devon is back open for business, but step into any pub, café, hotel or restaurant and it is clear that it is struggling with the impact of social distancing. Does my right hon. Friend agree with me that social distancing in hospitality must go next month to give these businesses a fighting chance of survival?

Photo of Steve BarclaySteve Barclay The Chief Secretary to the Treasury

My hon. Friend is right to highlight the importance of the review of social distancing that the Government are committed to undertaking, and that will obviously shape the approach. We have said that we will have a review, and we are very committed to that. The future beyond step 4 will therefore need to be taken in the round, shaped by the data in that review.

Anyone spotted our mystery man on his mission: as we head towards summer and hopefully some more fine weather, I plan to visit as many pubs as possible in the patch.?

300 ‘hippy crack’ canisters found near family beach – Exmouth

After experiencing a stint of warm weather across the county over the last few days, many of us have flocked to our local beauty spots in order to take advantage of the glorious sunshine.

Chloe Parkman

Beaches and parks have been packed out across Devon with people settling down for picnics and barbecues.

However, it appears that after their outing, some groups have left decided to leave a little more than just their footprints in the sand.

On Saturday, June 12, one Exmouth resident – who wishes to remain anonymous – discovered mounds of litter left by louts on the Maer including 300 hippy crack canisters.

The anonymous litter picker says that the waste was likely a result of a ‘party’ the group had the night before.

The rubbish pile was a mixture of plastic bottles, glass bottles and empty cardboard boxes as well as the canisters.

And it’s not the first time these silver bullet-like canisters have been spotted strewn across parks and public spaces in Devon.

Last year, Devon Live reported that these Nitrous Oxide canisters or what is more commonly referred to as “nos”, ”hippy crack” or “laughing gas” was increasingly prevalent throughout lockdown.

Although they may look harmless, they are the evidence of a drug-craze that frequently sweeps the country in the sunny months.

Mounds of rubbish found on the Maer in Exmouth (Image: Anonymous)

The drug is sold cheaply online making it easily accessible. It is often sold supposedly to make soda or whipped cream.

In 2015 Devon and Cornwall Police issued a warning to youngsters about the dangers of inhaling the gas after finding cannisters littered around a Devon town.

Police said some people have been taking to the gas for a “cheap and quick high, starving the brain of oxygen.”

A spokesperson for the police said at the time: “We have noticed an increase in used Nitrous Oxide canisters scattered around the town.

“They can cause instantaneous death through cardiac arrest or other life threatening conditions. Fainting, dizziness and a decrease in mental performance are minor side effects but the risk of ongoing health issues is well documented.”

Lib Dems win Chesham and Amersham byelection in stunning upset

Is this another Orpington moment as the Liberal Democrats take the safest of safe Conservative seats?

The constituency of Chesham and Amersham has been Tory ever since it was formed in 1974. A conservative majority of 16,223 has been swept away and replaced by a Lib Dem majority of 8,028.

Owl thinks this is a vote of no confidence in the Tory planning reforms.

Heather Stewart 

The Liberal Democrats have pulled off an extraordinary victory in the Buckinghamshire constituency of Chesham and Amersham, taking the formerly safe seat from the Tories in a byelection.

In a shock result, Lib Dem Sarah Green secured 21,517 votes, leaving the Conservative Peter Fleet trailing with 13,489, and giving the Lib Dems a majority of 8,028.

The contest was called after the death of the local MP Cheryl Gillan, who had represented the constituency since 1992 and held it in 2019 with a majority of 16,223.

Ed Davey’s party will hope the surprise win shows that a swath of seats across the home counties could now be within their grasp at the next general election.

Davey said his party secured a huge swing of 25 points to win Chesham and Amersham, claiming: “The Tory ‘blue wall’ is beginning to crumble … This is a huge victory for the Liberal Democrats. The people of Chesham and Amersham have sent a shockwave through British politics.

“We were told it was impossible for any party to beat the Tories here in Buckinghamshire. We were told this seat was too safe and the Tories too strong. This Liberal Democrat win has proved them utterly wrong.”

Green said she was “humbled by the faith you have placed in me” and promised she would hold the government to account.

“This Conservative party has taken people across the country for granted for far too long,” she said.

Senior Conservative figures including party co-chair Amanda Milling had poured into Chesham and Amersham to canvass in recent days, determined to show that the “blue wall” across the home counties remains intact.

Boris Johnson also made a visit to the area to back Fleet earlier this month, telling local paper the Bucks Free Press (BFP): “I think he’s a superb candidate, he’s a local man, he’s lived here for a while and has a long career in business. He has a huge amount to offer parliament and the constituents.”

The prime minister highlighted hopes of turning the nearby Chilterns into a national park, and ensuring that development takes place on brownfield land, not the green belt. And he claimed that if Fleet won, he would be the tallest Tory MP. The BFP said the MP, who towered over Johnson as they toured the streets, was “around 6ft 9in”.

The result will alarm Tory strategists at Conservative HQ. Johnson has made significant gains in former Labour-held areas in the Midlands and the north-east, including snatching the Hartlepool seat from Keir Starmer’s party last month in a rare gain for a governing party in a byelection.

But he also needs to avoid alienating his party’s more traditional supporters.

Some home counties Tory MPs, including former prime minister Theresa May, who represents Maidenhead, and Damian Green, whose seat is Ashford, in Kent, have recently been highly critical of Conservative policies, including Johnson’s planning reforms and his cuts to overseas aid.

The Lib Dems appear to have succeeded in picking off disenchanted Conservative voters in Thursday’s byelection, and Davey will hope it marks the beginning of a renaissance for his party after a very disappointing performance in the 2019 general election.

At last month’s local elections, the Lib Dems took control of Amersham town council.

Lib Dem activists on the ground had insisted the race for the seat looked “neck and neck”, with former Tory voters on the doorsteps complaining they felt neglected by the governing party.

The Lib Dems said the government’s proposed planning reforms had also featured heavily in the campaign.

Turnout in the byelection was just over 52%. Green candidate Carolyne Culver got 1,480 votes, with Labour’s Natasa Pantelic receiving 622.