Plans to boost East Devon after the pandemic: Introduction

EDDC has just published its own version of “build back better” with a council plan for the immediate post Covid recovery period 2021-2023.

Owl is publishing this in full in four posts:

Introduction (this post) which sets out the vision, plans and priorities. Followed by three more giving the details of each priority. 

Council priority one Better homes and communities for all

Council priority two A greener East Devon

Council priority three A resilient economy

Council Plan 2021-23 | East Devon District Council – Introduction

Councillor Paul Arnott Leader of the Council eastdevon.gov.uk


Message from the Leader

It is an honour to hold the position of Leader of East Devon District Council and therefore to have been asked to provide an introduction to this new Council Plan. It is the fruit of many hours of thoughtful work between the council’s members and officers, and enables both the democratic part of the council’s function and the administrative part to share an understanding and a practical vision.

I was aware when becoming Leader in May 2020 that there would be many legacy issues and I am pleased that members and officers have worked together to address a number of concerns. I am pleased that most of these matters have come to the fore because a new generation of councillors has engaged with the council to address them.

However, while legacy issues have to be dealt with, this council has also had to cope with the extraordinary work pressures caused by the need to respond to the pandemic, and all officers and members should feel highly satisfied that East Devon District Council has grafted above and beyond to sustain its services. There have been perfect storms, especially around waste and recycling, but the efforts to weather these have been magnificent, and our frontline workers in particular must also be warmly thanked.

Now we must look to the future, and the plan below sets out a practical roadmap to address the key priorities for the district which are, in essence, how can we make sure people have places they can afford to live, how can we conserve our magnificent environment, and how can we ensure there is the support and initiative in place to generate the employment opportunities to enable prosperity and economic security.

This Council Plan sets a course for the council to follow for the immediate future. It is imaginative but realistic as our finances, like so many other councils across the country are limited and this places limitations on how many of our aspirations we can deliver. We have quite rightly prioritised delivering on our promise to get more social and affordable homes built, as we face a housing crisis across the country. We have also prioritised our actions to tackle climate change, because if we don’t, as climate change champions say, there is no Planet B. And our third priority is to manage our finances and to budget in a responsible manner and to work to create a resilient local economy across the district.

I am in no doubt that a strong East Devon District Council working in close collaboration with county and other districts has the best chance of delivering on these priorities, and to take the opportunities which are perhaps going to arise from new regional investment from central government. Whatever the next few years may bring, close, respectful and collegiate cross-political-group work will be essential.

Our vision and values

Our vision is to make a positive difference to residents’ lives and our environment in East Devon.

The way we will make a positive difference to residents’ lives and our environment will be influenced by our values. These include:

  • seeking continuous improvement of our high performing council
  • listening to and learning from our residents and caring for them
  • adapting as a council to new ways of working and refreshed priorities whilst recognising the pressure on resources

Our Vision and Values Commitment sets out more detail about our core vision and values and how they underpin everything we do.

Our plans

Our plans and strategies fit together so that everyone understands how their contribution fits in with the Local Plan and the Council Plan – we call this the ‘golden thread’. Our suite of plans and strategies includes service plans as well as a Homelessness and Rough Sleeper Strategy, Housing Strategy and a Climate Change Strategy.

How our Council Plan gives direction for the council’s work

Our Council Plan with its three priorities feeds into a category of delivery. This then feeds into a category of monitoring.

The category of delivery includes the Financial Plan, the Local Plan, council strategies and Annual service plans.

The category of monitoring includes budgets and the Financial Plan. It includes Council committees like cabinet, Overview Committee and Scrutiny Committee. It includes Performance Excellence Reviews and individual performance objectives for council staff.

Our priorities

Our vision is integral to our Council Plan and the delivery of it and we believe that East Devon District Council can achieve it through our three priorities:

  • Council priority one
    Better homes and communities for all with a priority on the importance of good quality, affordable housing suitable in size and location. Poverty caused by the loss of employment, illness or disability is an increasing issue and will also be a high priority for East Devon District Council to tackle through all means available to us.
  • Council priority two
    A greener East Devon, which prioritises issues arising from climate change and supports our natural environment. This issue affects and informs all of our objectives and services.
  • Council priority three
    A resilient economy bringing prosperity to the district, notwithstanding the current challenging circumstances.

Conclusion of our Council Plan

This Council Plan sets out the district council’s strategic direction until the next elections in May 2023. It will guide officers and staff about council priorities and objectives, creating a framework to help plan and efficiently deliver great value and quality services to all residents, businesses and visitors.

This plan should also inform our residents, business, and partners about the council’s ambitions to evolve and improve. To do this, we have set out our three key priorities alongside our broader aspirations.

The council can, and will, deliver this Council Plan with the support and commitment of our dedicated staff and partners. This is only possible because each councillor, regardless of their political pedigree, has a single united desire to ensure that this council succeeds in all that it does to make East Devon a great place to live, work and play.

This council cannot deliver on its Council Plan unless it has the necessary resources. We remain at the whim of central government funding and direction, which presents a problematic and constantly evolving situation. Therefore, the council must continually find new and more imaginative ways of raising additional funds and review how it can more efficiently manage all of its assets and resources. The following two years and beyond will subsequently remain financially challenging for this council.

Despite these challenges, we conclude this Council Plan with the firm commitment to strive, more than ever before, to turn our ambitions and goals into quality services and support for all East Devon residents and businesses.

East Devon District Council is a local authority providing great value services to our local residents.

We are a council with no overall political control but a strong and productive coalition between the Democratic Alliance Group and Independent Progressive Group has formed an administration. The Leader, Councillor Paul Arnott, was elected as a member of the East Devon Alliance which is part of the Democratic Alliance Group within the council.

Find out more information about the political makeup of the council and to access minutes from our committee meetings

Our council comprises of:

Our councillors

Each councillor represents the residents living within a ward in our district.

Our councillors are committed to making East Devon one of the best places to live and work in the district delivering the services that our residents value the most.

Find out more about East Devon’s councillors

Find out more about the great place we service in our Knowing East Devon profile

Our services

We are proud of the wide range of services that our council delivers whether by itself or in partnership with others. We are especially proud of our staff’s continuing and additional delivery of services over recent challenging months during the global pandemic.

We have good news to share about how well we do as a council in recycling waste and delivering other services. We are the custodians of ten nature reserves and responsible for the South West Coast Path in our district and the East Devon Way.

Staff emptying recycling into a recycling vehicle on the roadside

SUEZ, our recycling and waste contractor

We are also proud of our external accreditation – our Green and Blue Flags, our platinum award from Investors in People – and we strive for continual improvement beyond what has already been achieved. This means operating at the highest level as an organisation – to deliver excellent services first time and every time.

East Devon District Council will improve communications to highlight the services we provide and what we do as a council, including the day-to-day work of our staff for our residents.

Our services range from the delivery of grants and benefits on behalf of the government through to environmental health, street cleansing, toilet provision, Award-winning parks, beaches and open spaces, recycling and waste collection. They are visible and make a big difference to the quality of life and the attractiveness of our local environment.

LED Community Leisure providing community activities in the district

Behind the scenes we also deliver so much more; complex and bespoke engineering projects typically linked with climate change and based around flood protection; a planning department that determines applications large and small and oversees building control; leisure services to meet the needs of East Devon residents through our partners in LED Community Leisure; cultural services both independent of and in conjunction with LED and a finance department that efficiently supports our customers, some of whom may be struggling financially.

We strive to evolve continually for the benefit of all our residents now and in the future

We strive to evolve continually for the benefit of all our residents now and in the future. This will require us to consider how we maintain and fund our assets such as toilets and car parks, which matter to the public. It also will require us to consider how we fund and deliver services in future, especially in the light of the recovery from the pandemic, the climate emergency and changing demographics, patterns of work and emerging technologies. We also will need to be clear about the capacity we have and the financial pressures facing local government, and be alert to securing new sources of funding and exploring new opportunities to secure resources for our activity.

The main entrance of Blackdown House

Blackdown House, Honiton

External evaluation matters to us and we will continue to value that especially where it, as often is the case, provides positive endorsement of our services, processes and staff.

In support of our three corporate priorities and behind the scenes we will:

  • improve our communications with residents so that they are better able to contact elected members and officers, find out information about the council and access the services we provide
  • look after our exist assets, expanding access to them and improving the return on the council’s investment in them, giving both value for money and providing social value to our communities
  • review the services we provide, the performance and funding of those services and the partnerships we require to expand the services and deliver them and effectively as we can
  • expand the resources available to support regulation and enforcement activity to ensure a good quality of life and a safe and attractive environment for our residents
  • develop a new and enhanced performance management system to monitor the efficiency of our services
  • explore innovative digital ways of consulting our residents to establish snapshot views in order to improve our services
  • improve the customer experience of our telephone system based on customer and stakeholder feedback
  • identify and implement improvements and upgrades to our website to enhance our digital offer and delivering more digital services so that customers can easily access reliable information and resolution of service requests
  • provide responsive, effective and consistent communications through traditional media and social media
  • listen to feedback via our residents’ vewpoint surveys and developing an action plan to improve our services

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