Two Plymouth councillors live in Gloucestershire

One of Owl’s not so myopic Moles has a sense of déjà vu.

Moley recalls that in 2010 Budleigh Salterton, for a year, became a French Commune. This was when Malcolm Florey, Conservative District Councillor for the Town, retired to live in France and continue his reign of governance from there. Budleigh Salterton sur Mer.

Rivals send moving card

Philip Churm, local democracy reporter 

Cllrs Sue Dann, Tudor Evans and Bill Stevens prepare a moving card

In a light-hearted sneer at two Plymouth councillors who no longer live in the city, the Labour group is sending them a card wishing them well in their new home – more than hundred miles away.  

Cllr Dan Collins (Plympton Chaddlewood) and his partner Cllr Shannon Burden (Moor View) were both elected as Conservative councillors in May 2021.

Cllr Burden left the Conservative group five months later and now sits as an independent. 

The couple have now moved out of the city and are believed to be living in Gloucestershire but some councillors have been critical, suggesting they should not be representing residents of Plymouth if they live so far away. 

As councillors, they are entitled to claim allowance from Plymouth City Council of more than £11,000 each. 

Deputy leader of Plymouth Labour, Cllr Sue Dann (Sutton & Mount Gould) said:  “We thought a card would be a nice gesture to mark the occasion because no-one begrudges them pursuing their careers and their life together.”

While some Labour members maybe unhappy at Cllr Collins and Burden living away from the areas they represent, the rules don’t prevent it. 

The Local Government Act 1972 states: “If a member of a local authority fails throughout a period of six consecutive months from the date of his/her last attendance to attend any meeting of the authority, he/she shall, unless the failure was due to some reason approved by the authority before the expiry of that period, cease to be a member of the authority.”

Cllr Collins and Burden have both attended enough meetings to stay within the rules. 

Out of a possible six meetings in the past six months, Cllr Burden has been at three and Cllr Collins has been at all 10 of the meetings he could attend.  

Last October Cllr Burden strengthened the power of independents on Plymouth City Council which now stands at nine after several Tories left.  

Cllr Collins, who sits on the performance, finance and customer focus overview and scrutiny committee was criticised shortly before being elected for politicising traveller and gypsy communities by placing an advertisement saying: “Travellers on the playing field – Conservatives would have taken action to prevent this. Remember the Labour council did nothing, when you vote at the local elections.”

The large card, sent by to Cllrs Collins and Burden has a picture of a cow on the front with the words: “You’ve Moooo-ved.”  

Inside, the message reads: “Good luck in your new home. From the Labour Group in Plymouth.” 

Several attempts have been made to contact the two councillors but neither have replied. 

East Devon car park rise causes spat

Leading East Devon politicians have been battling it out over proposals to double parking fees in parts of the district with Tory MP Simon Jupp accused of trying to be an opportunistic “populist” for criticising the plans.

Joe Ives, local democracy reporter 

East Devon District Council (EDDC) will soon vote on proposals to increase car parking charges for nine ‘prime’ tourist hot spot car parks to increase revenue for council services. 

Councillors will also be asked to consider a 50 per cent price hike in 10 other prime location car parks, taking their fees to £1.50 an hour. Those in favour say inflation and the introduction of VAT on parking have eaten into income it generates. 

EDDC’s cabinet, which put forward the proposals, said that the £1.1 million it expects to raise from the price increase is necessary to balance the council’s budget and provide urgently needed funding elsewhere.

The raise, the council’s first for almost 12 years, has drawn Mr Jupp’s ire. He says the fees risk drawing business away from high streets.

In a recent article, Mr Jupp wrote: “These new increases will make East Devon’s town and high streets some of the most expensive to park in coastal Devon, Dorset and Cornwall.

“I am really concerned by the impact on local shops, jobs, and tourism. So are my Conservative colleagues on the council.

“I have heard from businesses who fear shoppers will drive to out-of-town supermarkets or shop online even more, with visitors choosing to go elsewhere.”

Mr Jupp also tweeted: “We need to encourage people back into our towns and high streets, not drive them away.”

Responding to the comments, leader of East Devon District Council (EDDC) Paul Arnott (Independent East Devon Alliance and Democratic Alliance Group, Coly Valley) said: “Mr Jupp’s comments parallel his party’s disarray nationally.

“At the key overview committee which passed the car park recommendations up to cabinet, all but one of the Conservative councillors backed the necessary increases.

“They, and all overview members, are to be applauded for their mature good judgement.

“It is sad to see Mr Jupp disrespecting his fellow Conservatives in this opportunistic way. The sooner young MPs such as him release themselves from the populist grip of Mr Johnson, the better for the integrity of both local and national affairs.”

EDDC says parking charges have been benchmarked with other providers around Devon and Dorset with a maximum tariff of £8 per day agreed by cross-party group of councillors on the overview and scrutiny committee. 

For local residents, a monthly payment option of £10 per month will be introduced for parking permits. The £2 winter parking offer will continue between October and March each year.

The proposals have alarmed some members of the public. A petition by Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce calling for a smaller rise of 20 per cent has received more than 350 signatures.

The petition says EDDC has not expressed “any concern for the impact upon residents who shop in our town centres, or for the beleaguered traders, who have suffered a lot recently and did so much to support their customers during the pandemic.”

The council says it intends to introduce a monthly option for parking permits of £10 per month which works out at £2.31 a week “which we believe is a very competitive option to park in our car parks.”

Speaking at a recent EDDC cabinet meeting councillor Paul Millar (Labour, Democratic Alliance Group, Exmouth Halsdon) said he was originally against the rise but decided it was justified and would take parking prices in prime locations to levels seen in many other parts of Devon. 

Cllr Millar said: “We’re faced with a very difficult decision but one I think we have to take. It’s a decision about whether this council wants to be an austerity council or whether it wants to be a council that invests in its services for its residents.

“If Exeter, Teignbridge and Mid Devon are doing that by increasing their charges then why aren’t we?”

The move would allow the council to restructure its revenue budget, putting an extra £737,000 into staffing.  

This includes money for its contractor Streetscene, which cleans and maintains public spaces in East Devon including parks, public gardens and council-owned toilets. 

The revenue boost also allows the council to put £50,000 into a ‘tree strategy,’ without eating into its climate change budget. A further £159,000 will go into funding the council’s recycling and refuse service.

Additional funds will also go into hiring more staff for ‘development management,’ which is struggling to stay on top of record numbers of planning requests. Under the plans, two new members of staff will be hired at Manor Pavilion, Sidmouth. 

The council’s chief executive, Mark Williams, said: “There’s no logic why we should be so behind the curve in terms of the way we approach our charging policy for car parks compared to our neighbours.”

He said that with the increase “the council will be on a much better footing to achieve what it wants to achieve.”

The matter will go before full council for a final decision. If the budget is approved, the increases would come into effect at the start of the next financial year, beginning in April. 

The nine tourist hot-spot car parks to see a rise to £2 per hour rise are: 

Beer Central

Exmouth Queen’s Drive, Queens Drive Echelon, Foxholes, Beach Gardens

Budleigh Salterton: Lime Kiln

Sidmouth: Ham (East and West)

The other ‘prime location’ car parks set to see a rise to £1.50 per hour are: 

Sidmouth Roxburgh, Ham (East and West), Manor Road, Mill Street

Exmouth: Manor Pavilion, Imperial Road, Imperial Recreation Ground, London Inn

Honiton: Lace Walk, King Street and New Street (North and South), Fore Street

Budleigh Salterton: Rolle Mews.

EDF’s U.K. Arm Swings Into Red on Nuclear Outages, Pandemic

What’s happening to one of our regional “Golden Opportunities”? – Owl

Electricite de France SA’s U.K. division reported millions of pounds in lost earnings as nuclear plant outages and the impact of the pandemic added to the burgeoning woes of France’s largest utility.

Todd Gillespie 

EDF Energy Ltd. posted a 21 million-pound ($29 million) loss in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization for 2021, a major drop from its 712 million-pound gain the year before. EDF blamed the reversal on the “ongoing impact of Covid-19, high global gas prices, and unplanned outages at U.K. nuclear power stations.”

The company’s parent has come under increasing strain from repeated outages and strikes at its plants in France, where the state plans to inject about 2.1 billion euros ($2.4 billion) into EDF to bolster its finances. French nuclear stations are the backbone of the European power system, and the outages have contributed to higher power prices across the continent along with the wider gas supply crisis.

France to Pump $2.4 Billion Into EDF as Profit Set to Slump

In the U.K., EDF’s nuclear fleet produced 41.7 terawatt-hours of power in 2021, down by 4 TWh on the previous year. EDF plans to start electricity generation at its Hinkley Point C nuclear plant in southwest England in 2026. The company said on Friday that the pandemic “continues to have an impact on the project.” 

EDF Energy was compelled to help out as a swathe of energy suppliers collapsed in the U.K., getting paid 168 million pounds to take on more than 200,000 domestic customers from failed providers. In total, the company added more than 650,000 residential accounts last year, it said.