Planning applications validated by EDDC for week beginning 23 May

Paul Arnott, East Devon Alliance, and cross-party EDDC Leader, declares his allegiance in Parliamentary Elections.

Paul Arnott: article in Midweek Herald

Avid readers of this column may (or may not) have noticed an absence of articles by me in the local papers in recent weeks.

This coincided with the period leading up to and after the Annual Council meeting at East Devon, where all sorts can kick off when the Leader for the coming year is discussed and then elected by 60 councillors. Far be it from me to draw any comparisons with our own national leader, but if I must … the vote for me was unanimous, cross-party, with one abstention. Whereas in the House of Commons Mr Johnson would be lucky to muster much more than a quarter of MPs to vote for him. He has no mandate now.

However, by chance, here in East and Mid Devon the electorate can now properly and fully show that we reject the values of The Man With No Shame on the 23rd June and in the postal vote before that. And we can now see the content of the leaflets distributed by the two realistic contenders to win: Helen Hurford and Richard Foorde.

In the possible event of a Conservative win, I may find myself working with Helen as Leader at EDDC, so I have no intention of being negative about her; she seems like a nice person. The leaflet written for her by Conservative Head Office, however, made me laugh out loud.

Out comes the usual spin about the NHS safe in her hands. Helen, in my area alone your party has closed in-patient beds at Axminster, Honiton and Seaton. During the pandemic, there was no intermediate place for recovering Covid-19 patients to be discharged, and instead they went from the RD&E to care homes, leading as proved in the High Court to the needless deaths of residents.

There is talk about support for farmers. The one thing my conversations with Neil Parish, head of the agriculture committee in the Commons, most revealed, was his personal despair that in the six years since the 2016 referendum, farmers had been utterly let down by his government. To his credit, he spoke bravely about this in Parliament.

So no, like the NHS, farming does not need another obedient Tory MP. The Liberal candidate, Richard Foord, a local lad like Helen, is so clearly across all this in his leaflets. As he is on the cost of living, energy bill crisis and so on.

 In Helen’s leaflets there is a vague promise about more investment in Devon under the Levelling Up Scheme. I’ve been in meetings with government about this, and all they want to do is pile money into the “Red Wall” seats. So actually we would be better off with a Non-Tory MP, where a fearful government might pay some attention to East and Mid Devon for a change.

I hit 60 last November, and all my life I have been cautious about joining a national party. Where we live, I am really proud that we lead the council as an effective and kind coalition of East Devon Alliance Independents (EDA), LibDems, Greens and an Independent. I love the EDA, what it is continuing to achieve. We cannot stand nationally under our constitution, and that’s what we want.

But at a national level, it’s time for me to get off the fence. If not now, when? After 42 years as a voter, I’m finally nailing my colours to a national mast for Parliamentary elections, and have just become a member of the Liberal Democrats nationally. The time has come for me, and the time has come, if ever there was one, for this constituency to become Liberal Democrat too. If you are young, use the NHS, are a farmer or a rural enterprise, are retired, or are in desperate need of a home, the best future for the south west will be Orange not Blue. May the best team win.

BJ as PM? Five Devon Tories won’t say how they voted

But three want him out.

One of those staying silent is Simon Jupp. Not a strong endorsement for Boris is it?

Except Radio Exe is reporting that Helen Hurford, the Conservative candidate, for the upcoming Tiverton and Honiton by-election is backing prime minister Boris Johnson, after he survived a vote of confidence by his own MPs – and says he has a new mandate to lead.

She is also reported as turning down the offer of support from disgraced Neil Parish.

So now we know that a vote for Hurley is a vote for Boris – Owl

Philip Churm, local democracy reporter

Tory MPs in Devon have been reacting to Monday’s confidence vote in Boris Johnson.

Three of the nine Tory MPs in the county want the prime minister to be replaced, one, a government minister appointed by Mr Johnson, supports him, and the remaining five haven’t yet come clean.

The PM survived a bid to oust him as Conservative Party leader but 148 of his MPs voted against him; roughly 41 per cent of the parliamentary party.   

MP for Newton Abbot, Anne-Marie Morris described it as a “hollow victory.” And Tory MP for Totnes, Anthony Mangnall, suggested Mr Johnson was not a fit and proper person to be in No 10 Downing Street. 

In a statement Ms Morris said: “While the PM won the vote of no confidence, this will prove a hollow victory for him, for the party and most important for the country. 

“The country needs a leader that commands support from his party and respect across the House and the country to govern effectively. 

“This is the beginning of the end for this PM. 

“This result is worse than comparable votes of no confidence in his predecessors. This is a tragedy – a PM elected with such hope for a better future has not delivered. 

“He has been buffeted by terrible challenges – some he has met and successfully addressed and for those he should be applauded. 

“But that is not enough. Today’s challenge of the rising cost of living, as well as the post-Brexit opportunities for growth are not being met. 

“This PM may well prove me wrong – but without the trust of his MPs and of the electorate I can only see one end – and it is not a happy one.”

On Twitter, South West Devon Tory MP, Sir Gary Streeter went public shortly after he cast his vote on Monday evening. 

He said: “In February I submitted a letter of no confidence in the PM following the first Gray report. I have not changed my mind. Accordingly, I have just voted for change.

Totnes MP, Anthony Mangnall also tweeted his opposition to Boris Johnson ahead of the poll.   

“Today is not about Brexit it is only about whether or not colleagues feel the PM is the fit and proper person to be in No10,” he said.   

“Unsurprisingly, I do not believe he is and I will therefore be voting against the PM tonight.”

Torbay MP Kevin Foster who is on the government payroll as immigration minister in the Home Office, supported the prime minister. He would have been expected to resign if he had dissented in public.

Mr Foster had been expecting to spend Monday on personal business and not on politics, but the sudden announcement of the confidence vote meant he had to travel to Westminster.

In a Tweet ahead of the vote, he wrote: “People are understandably angry when seeing pictures of events which should not have happened or the idea their sacrifices were not what others were requiring of themselves. It is right apologies have followed and changes made.”

Five other Conservative MPs in Devon are mute on the matter. They are:

Sir Geoffrey Cox (Torridge & West Devon)

Simon Jupp (East Devon)

Johnny Mercer (Moor View), 

Selaine Saxby (North Devon),

Mel Stride (Central Devon).

All have been contacted but have not yet indicated how they voted in the secret ballot.  

211 Conservative MPs supported the prime minister in the confidence vote but it was fewer than he would have hoped and analysts are asking whether he will be able to stay in power until the next general election.   

UK coastal communities ‘cannot stay where they are’ due to rising sea levels, warns UK Environment Agency chief

Climate change-driven flooding now means the relocation of some UK coastal communities is “inevitable”, the Environment Agency has warned.

by: Sarah Wilson 

Some of the UK’s coastal communities will be forced to relocate as flooding increases in the coming years, the Environment Agency has warned.

EA chief James Bevan has said rising sea levels were now “inevitable”, with no way to recover land that will be lost to coastal erosion or swallowed by the sea as climate change accelerates. 

“Let me come now to the hardest of all inconvenient truths, which is this: in the long term, climate change means that some of our communities cannot stay where they are,” Bevan will tell a conference in Telford today. 

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In a prepared speech released before the event, he will outline the actions the EA will take in the coming years to protect communities from the impacts of flooding, erosion and rising sea levels. This includes a new national assessment of flood risk and long-term investment scenarios. 

According to the EA, around 5.2 million homes in the UK are currently at risk of flooding, with thousands of homes built on flood plains every year despite the long-term risks.

If current planning outcomes continue, the EA projects that the number of homes at risk of flooding could double in the next 50 years. 

Flooding and erosion caused by rising tides along the coast is particularly challenging for local communities. It is no longer considered financially viable to protect 114 miles of UK coastline from flooding, with parts of the North Norfolk and East Yorkshire coastline worst affected.

In 2019, the village of Fairbourne in Wales became the first in the UK to be “decommissioned” due to climate change. Residents have been told they will have to leave the area by the mid-2030s when flooding is expected to submerge the village entirely. 

Neither the EA nor the government has indicated if, or when, other parts of the UK may be similarly “decommissioned”. 

The Big Issue has collaborated with Social Stories Club to create limited edition gift hampers. Packed full of treats made by social ventures, this hamper would make the perfect gift for the festive season.

Bevan said it was time to “start the conversation” about the options available to communities threatened by coastal flooding, stressing that the “communities themselves” must decide what actions to take.

“When we do eventually get to decisions on any relocation of communities, they must take full account of the views of the people who live there: no-one should be forced from their homes against their will,” he said. 

In March, the government unveiled a £36 million Coastal Transition Accelerator Programme to help threatened areas “explore innovative approaches” to adapting to coastal erosion. The initial focus areas will be the East Riding of Yorkshire and North Norfolk.

Information about the programme indicates that interventions may include moving infrastructure “[away] from the highest risk areas” as part of a “managed transition” for communities, though Bevan said it remains “far too early to say” which communities may have to undergo relocation in the long term.

Council fury over Straitgate quarry appeal

Aggregate Industries have launched an appeal after plans for a 100-acre quarry in Ottery were refused in December, town councillors have been told.

Adam Manning

According to Cllr Jess Bailey, Devon County councillor for the Otter Valley, The ’11th-hour appeal’ was submitted on Wednesday, July 1, before the bank holiday weekend. Cllr Bailey was speaking at the Ottery St Mary Town Council meeting on Monday (June 6).

Ottery Councillors all agreed they were ‘dead against’ the proposals for any quarry in Ottery St Mary and would fight against it. 

In December last year, Devon County Council’s development management committee voted against the plan for Straitgate Farm on Exeter Road, submitted by Aggregate Industries UK Ltd. 

The scheme would have seen up to 1.5 million tonnes of sand and gravel dug up on the site over the next 10 to 12 years, before being transported 23 miles by road to Hillhead Quarry in Mid Devon for processing. 

Reasons given for the refusal by the committee included the protection of heritage assets, unacceptable impact on water supplies, unresolved road safety issues, lack of evidence of protected species, lack of surface water management plan, loss of mature trees and the impact on climate change. 

After more than two hours of debate, there were five votes for rejection and three abstentions. 

Now Aggregate Industries has launched an appeal.

Cllr Jess Bailey, Devon County Councillor for Otter Valley and District Councillor for West Hill and Aylesbeare told the Herald: “I am strongly opposed to this controversial proposal and as the County Councillor spoke at the planning committee on 1st December 2021.

“The planning committee rejected the application, which officers had recommended for approval, based on my six grounds for refusal and added a further of their own based on the distance from the quarry to the processing plant.

“Now at the eleventh hour, Aggregate Industries have submitted an appeal. There is currently only very limited information available but the appeal is to be held by way of Inquiry which is anticipated to last for 6 days.

“I intend to continue opposing this highly damaging proposal. Ottery St Mary Town Council and West Hill Parish Council have always been opposed as have Straitgate Action Group and the county councillor before me Claire Wright.”

Aggregate Industries has been approached for comment.

Cllr Roger Giles told the meeting: “The Town Council have consistently rejected proposals for a sand and gravel quarry at Straitgate Farm, which would have a considerable detrimental impact for Ottery and the surrounding areas and is very disappointed to learn that at this late date, Aggregate Industries have launched an appeal and the town council resolves to participate in the appeal to ensure it is unsuccessful.”


Nadine Dorries tell it as it is

I’m really developing a soft spot for Dorries… Here she is, happily telling us that Tory donors are blackmailing the party to keep Johnson in power. Marina Purkiss

Professor known as ‘Mystic Meg of politics’ says Boris Johnson will be out by autumn

A professor nicknamed the “Mystic Meg of political science” after accurately predicting the result of the confidence vote in Boris Johnson has forecast the prime minister will be out within six months.

Matthew Weaver 

Prof Jon Tonge , who teaches British politics at the University of Liverpool, is kicking himself for not betting on a contest he so accurately forecast.

In a tweet posted 58 minutes before the result was announced, Tonge correctly predicted 211 MPs or 59% would back Johnson. He also predicted that 147 or 41% would rebel. This turned out to be only one out because one more MP than expected took part in the vote.

Tonge now reckons Johnson will be out within months. Speaking to the Guardian he said: “I’d be surprised that if he was still prime minister in the autumn. I would say six months, but if anyone can tough it out it is Johnson.”

He added: “This is the political escapologist of political escapologists. The difficulty he’s got is that the privileges committee won’t pull any punches in its view about whether he misled parliament. And that will probably do for him.”

Tonge has been lauded overnight for his uncanny expertise but also inundated with requests for predictions of lottery numbers, horse racing and even the outcome of Love Island.

He responded by tweeting: “Thanks for very kind comments re VONC forecast. Main items: didn’t have a bet (sobs); you really don’t want my racing tips; Love Island? Liam or Gemma. Will post lottery numbers when rollover. As sceptical other half said though, ‘first time you’ve been right since marrying me’.”

He told the Guardian: “I do quite a bit of political betting, but ironically, I didn’t bet last night because I was busy trying to work out the result. So it is slightly bittersweet.”

Tonge’s prediction was no fluke. Last month he was almost as accurate at calling the outcome of the Northern Ireland assembly vote.

He recalled: “I said Sinn Féin would get 26 seats and they got 27. I said the DUP would get 24 seats and they got 25.” In 2017 assembly election he was also only one seat out and pointed out that Northern Ireland election is much harder to predict because of the single transferrable voting system.

He said: “Last night was more much more straightforward a contest but I do wish I’d had a bet.”

Tonge said he initially expected Johnson to match the performance of his predecessor. He said: “At the start of the day, I was thinking the result would be virtually the same as the no confidence vote in Theresa May. But during the day, it became clear that the level of opposition was going to be greater. I did wonder how low to go. I hovered around 58%/42% but in then end went for 59%/41%.

He added: “It was educated guesswork based upon the 2019 intake and basic loyalty versus declared pledges against him. You’ve got Covid lockdown sceptics who turned against him, hardcore remainers who never never liked him. But the rest were quite difficult because there’s no great great ideological rupture here.”

Tonge admits to a feeling of professional pride in his prediction.

“It gives you a nice warm feeling,” he said. But he is also annoyed that underestimated the size of the rebellion by one MP. “I am irritated because it would have been nice to have got it spot on,” he said.

However, Tonge’s was not the only correct prediction. In Westminster, as the Tory minister Greg Hands pointed out on Monday night after the vote, the Parliament Square bus stop called it just right.