Breaking: Martin Lewis challenges new prime minister to hour-long interview on cost of living

The new prime minister will be announced on September 5 and they will immediately inherit a crisis over the cost of living, with energy bills set to skyrocket.

Jen Mills 

Many are awaiting a response from the government, but have been told to wait until either Rishi Sunak or Liz Truss is named as the winner of the Tory leadership race.

Now, Martin Lewis is seeking to move the process along of finding out how they intend to help households weather the storm of a huge increase in their electricity and gas bills.

He has challenged whoever wins the contest to an hour-long interview on ITV about the cost of living.

The journalist, who became famous through his Money Saving Expert website offering explanations and tips on finance, has become one of the loudest voices on the crisis.

He has warned that ‘people will die’ this winter if help is not provided, from struggling to heat their homes in the cold and having to cut their income so much many will have to decided whether to heat or eat.

He wrote on Twitter this morning: ‘Dear @trussliz / @RishiSunak, The cost of living crisis has left millions worried how they’ll make ends meet.

‘I’d like to formally invite you, as the new PM, to join me asap once you take office for a special hour’s @itvMLshow discussion/Q&A to answer/ease people’s concerns.

‘ITV is happy to support this, so together will also extend the invite through official channels to both of you now for speed.

‘The preference is live in the evening, but we understand the time pressures and are happy to work on scheduling with you to make this work.’

He urged people to share the tweet inviting the winning politician to appear on the Martin Lewis Money Show Live, to get traction for the challenge.

When someone responded to say that he would only get ‘waffle, piffle and half promises’, he said: ‘I politely disagree. If this happens I will get straight answers.

‘There’s no point agreeing to do it unless you’ve something to say for an hour. And they know I’m focused on just cost of living so it’s details needed :)’

He also stressed that this would not be a ‘debate’ on the cost of living, as he is a consumer finance journalist and not an opposition politician.

Instead, ‘this is about an interview and Q&A for them to explain and answer questions on their plans.’

‘I’d happily give broad subject area notice but not vetted questions,’ he added.

Mr Lewis has previously called for more clarity on what government action will be taken on the cost of living.

Ofgem’s price cap for average household fuel and electricity bills – currently set to the equivalent of £1,971 a year – is already set to jump by more than 80% to £3,549 in October.

But this figure is likely to double to £7,263 when the cap is reviewed again in April, according to consultants Auxilione.

Liz Truss has said she will announce an emergency budget if she becomes prime minister, thought to include tax cuts and a reversal of the planned 1.25% increase in National Insurance.

However, how much this would help the very poorest has been questioned, with the FT stating that it would ‘offer only £59 to someone on the national minimum wage.’

Rishi Sunak said he would be prepared to find £10bn to soften the impact of this October’s price rise, with support going to the most vulnerable.

Writing in The Times at the start of August, he said that this would be paid for by limiting or pausing some programmes within the government, with some temporary borrowing as a last resort.

Expecting the new PM to show up and defend their policies to Mr Lewis may be a long shot, however.

Liz Truss pulled out of a planned face-to-face interview with BBC journalist Nick Robinson two days ago, saying she could ‘no longer spare the time’.


‘Setting up warm spaces as PM suns himself…’

“So as is so often the case in the last 12 years, it is left to us, the people, to try and help ourselves. At East Devon District Council we are doing all we can to help the extraordinary volunteers who work to share food through food banks or other sharing means. A beneficial side effect is that this also helps stop good food going to waste.”

We are also trying to find more funds to help the Citizens Advice Bureau and – and I can’t believe I am writing this – our officers have been working all summer seeing how we can collaborate with other agencies to provide “Warm Spaces” for those who simply cannot afford to turn on the heating.

What is Simon Jupp doing? – Owl

Paul Arnott, Leader EDDC 

September remains my favourite month, full of promise and fresh starts. The summer breeze still blows, blackberries are ready, and the TV schedules pop with new programmes as the days grow shorter.

This September, however, many of us are fearful of what is to come, especially with soaring energy costs. In our home we usually make it to mid-October before I catch my wife trying to reset the heating control panel in the boiler cupboard to “ON”. Perhaps that may buy us all some time, but not much.

In this universally predicated situation, what is most needed is clarity, which is now about three months overdue. Instead we have a disgraced prime minister, who should have long ago left the role, and a Hobson’s Choice between a pair of nakedly ambitious competitors to succeed him.

Our next national leader – a role with inordinate power exerted through the little understood Cabinet Office – will be chosen by at most two hundred thousand members of the Conservative party. That is to say, about one three-hundredth of the country.

To bring the point home, in our lovely East Devon, where roughly 180,000 people live, only 600 of us would have a vote on that fraction. I got more votes than that in 2019 for Colyton Parish Council.

This shames our country, with the increasingly empty boasts from the likes of Jacob Rees-Mogg that ours is the Mother of Parliaments. Any honourable new Prime Minister elected with this feeble mandate would immediately seek validation in a general election. For some reason, Liz Truss doesn’t seem to fancy her chances.

So as is so often the case in the last 12 years, it is left to us, the people, to try and help ourselves. At East Devon District Council we are doing all we can to help the extraordinary volunteers who work to share food through food banks or other sharing means. A beneficial side effect is that this also helps stop good food going to waste.

We are also trying to find more funds to help the Citizens Advice Bureau and – and I can’t believe I am writing this – our officers have been working all summer seeing how we can collaborate with other agencies to provide “Warm Spaces” for those who simply cannot afford to turn on the heating. In 2022! There is a whole generation now who do not remember the news stories about death by hyperthermia. That’s on its way back if we do not act.

This is why – and sorry if I sound unusually cross – the site of the pink and shirtless Boris Johnson holidaying around the Med, using his contact books to set up book deals and public speaking engagements likely to gross him at least £5 million in the next year is so sickening. Just look at him; he hasn’t a care in the world. I do hope the penny has dropped. That’s because he never has cared for anything but his own progress.

During Covid we are proud that as a district council we were a key agency. While making democratic choices we distributed everything from business rate relief to emergency business funding, energy rebate payments through our council tax system, to discretionary payments for those in extreme hardship.

All we have ever asked of Simon Jupp and Neil Parish (until he resigned) was to signal to government that we needed more than a week’s notice before putting these massive operations into action. We are a mere district council and only about 7% of your council tax bill comes to us. It’s tough.

But yet again it’s all going to be kick, b****ck and scramble. We’ll cope, at the price of stressed council employees switching roles and putting in extra hours. But for heaven’s sake – please – can we not inflict these slapdash Tories on us again? They are neither the natural party of government or of the economy.


Planning applications validated by EDDC for week beginning 15 August

Lib Dems get ready for possible byelection if Michael Gove quits

The Liberal Democrats are rushing through plans to confirm a candidate for Michael Gove’s Surrey seat amid speculation that the former levelling up secretary is considering quitting parliament, which would spark a byelection.

Peter Walker 

The party’s application window for selection for the seat, held by Gove since 2005, closes on Wednesday evening and the selection process is expected to take two weeks. Lib Dem officials are planning for a possibly imminent campaign in which the party would fight on issues including the state of local hospitals and plans to drill for gas locally.

A Conservative source said, however, it was not true Gove planned to quit as an MP. Speculation that he might has intensified since Gove publicly backed Rishi Sunak to replace Boris Johnson as prime minister, and said he did not expect to be in government again.

Before becoming an MP, Gove was a prominent journalist for the Times, and there have been reports he is considering a return to the profession.

Surrey Heath has been held by the Tories since the constituency was created in 1997, and Gove had a majority of more 18,000 at the 2019 general election, albeit reduced from almost 25,000 in 2017.

A Lib Dem source said the party had heard from several local sources that Gove could be about to depart, and that it would hope to emulate a trio of recent byelection successes over the Conservatives, in two of which it overturned bigger majorities.

“We are selecting a candidate and we are on high alert, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the byelection will happen.” the source said. “We are also preparing in other seats, for example in Mid Bedfordshire, if Nadine Dorries is given a peerage.”

The Conservative source said: “Sadly this is yet another example of Lib Dem dirty tricks. They are more interested in playing politics than delivering for voters. Michael remains absolutely committed to his Surrey Heath constituents and has no plans to stand down.”

Lib Dem hopes in the seat would be boosted by the party’s recent good performances in so-called blue wall commuter belt constituencies, notably the first of the recent byelection wins, in which the party overturned a Conservative majority of more than 16,000 to take Chesham and Amersham, just north-west of London, in June 2021.

Since then the party took two previously safe Tory seats: North Shropshire in December 2021, overturning a near-23,000 majority; and Tiverton and Honiton in Devon this June, where the Conservative margin had been more than 24,000.

The party can also point to good local election results in May in nearby Woking – there were no polls for councils inside the constituency – in which it took control from the Tories.

“We never take anything for granted,” a Lib Dem source said. “It would be a very hard fight and always we come in as the underdog. We don’t underestimate how hard we have to graft at every byelection”.

A Lib Dem campaign would focus in part on cost of living issues, but also local factors such as the local hospital, Frimley Park, one of 34 in England with a concrete roof at risk of collapse, and the government’s decision to allow drilling for gas in the Surrey Hills.

Gove has held a string of cabinet posts, including education, the environment, and communities and levelling up. Johnson sacked him from the last job in July after Gove told the prime minister he should leave No 10.

Earlier this month, Gove belatedly said he was supporting Sunak as the next Tory leader and PM, warning that the economic plans of Sunak’s rival, Liz Truss, amounted to a “holiday from reality”.

With Truss seen as almost certain to win, that makes Gove’s chances of returning to the frontbenches very slim. Announcing his decision to back Sunak, Gove wrote in the Times: “I do not expect to be in government again.”

Energy bills soaring because of government failure not Ukraine, says ex-Tory adviser

Both Ofgem and Ofwat, the watchdogs for energy and water respectively, should be axed and replaced with new stronger regulators for each entire system, according to Sir Dieter Helm, Professor of Energy Policy at the University of Oxford, Fellow in Economics at New College, Oxford and former Government adviser.

The sectors are undermined by “revolving doors and pork-barrel politics, heavily influenced by vested interests, with an interest in complexity, which is a lobbyist’s dream”.

This had led to the “inevitable consequences of poor regulation and bad outcomes for customers”

So much for privatisation of monopoly services beloved by Tories – Owl

Rob Merrick 

Government failure not the war in Ukraine is to blame for rocketing UK energy bills, a former Conservative adviser says.

Dieter Helm, who wrote a 2017 Cost of Energy review, questioned ministers trying to shift responsibility to Russia’s invasion as he attacked the “broken” privatisation model for energy and water.

On a visit to Kyiv last week, Boris Johnson claimed Britons are suffering soaring bills as a price the West must pay for standing up to Moscow’s aggression.

The departing prime minister said: “We know that if we’re paying in our energy bills for the evils of Vladimir Putin, the people of Ukraine are paying in their blood.”

But Sir Dieter pointed to a market system that is not “fit for purpose”, arguing it wrongly fixes prices to the cost of gas – also handing “supernormal profits” to renewable producers.

Average bills will soar to £3,549 in October – and are predicted to top £5,300 from January – despite the UK importing barely any gas directly from Russia.

“Customers faced with high bills are paying too much because the government failed to reform the market,” he told the Financial Times.

The former adviser, now an economics professor at Oxford University, argued both energy and water are “too essential to be treated like any other commodity”, as privatisation had allowed.

The sectors were undermined by “revolving doors and pork-barrel politics, heavily influenced by vested interests, with an interest in complexity, which is a lobbyist’s dream”.

This had led to the “inevitable consequences of poor regulation and bad outcomes for customers”, Sir Dieter added.

He called for both Ofgem and Ofwat, the watchdogs for energy and water respectively, to be axed and replaced with new stronger regulators for each entire system.

It follows anger over water companies pouring sewage into England’s rivers and seas and implementing hosepipe bans while failing to plug leaks that waste supplies – and paying their bosses eye-watering sums.

The Independent revealed how Liz Truss failed to hold any meetings with water bosses over the dumping of raw sewage in two years as environment secretary, despite the practice having been ruled illegal.

The likely next prime minister is in the firing line over the sewage scandal after records revealed her only talks were to discuss a bug linked to severe stomach upsets.

“It is not accidental that both the water and the energy privatisation models have run into serious trouble. After more than 30 years, neither is fit for purpose. Nor are their regulators,” Sir Dieter told the Financial Times.

On energy, he added: “Ofgem is not the right vehicle. Energy needs system regulation, not an institutional muddle with Ofgem in overall charge.”

But Ofgem said: “We are confident Ofgem regulation is robust, tackling any unfair practices by suppliers and putting consumer protection at the heart of what we do.” Ofwat declined to comment to the paper.

A decade of Tory energy failures will cost us well in excess of £18bn a year

Do Conservatives really get the big calls right?

A decade of under-investment and “light touch” regulation will cost us dear.

Salient points drawn from a recent Times article – Owl

As households and businesses face crippling energy bill increases and fears grow of potential blackouts this winter, recriminations are flying over how Britain got to this point. “Twelve years of failed Conservative energy policy has left bills too high and our energy security too weak,” Ed Miliband, the shadow climate change secretary, said. Andy Prendergast, of the GMB Union, said: “Successive governments have been asleep at the wheel for years over the UK’s energy strategy.” Emily Gosden


Rob Gross, director of the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC), said. “Better insulated houses would without doubt have eased some of the pain this winter.” Even if prices were just as high, better insulation could have helped households to use less, mitigating the increase in their overall bills.

“The No 1 thing that the government could have done differently would have been to have a serious energy efficiency policy over the last decade,” said Simon Evans, deputy editor of the specialist energy and climate website Carbon Brief. “There’s been just a succession of policy failures on energy efficiency.”

Insulation rates plummeted by about 90 per cent in 2013 as the coalition government changed to a new energy efficiency scheme that it then scaled back after David Cameron reportedly ordered officials to “cut the green crap”.

ZERO-CARBON ABANDONED: Cameron 2015- cost over coming year £2.1 bn

In 2015 the Cameron administration also abandoned the planned zero-carbon homes standard that would have ensured that new-builds were well insulated. “We’re still building houses that are not brilliant from an energy efficiency point of view and we should have stopped doing that years and years ago,” Keith Anderson, chief executive of Scottish Power, said.

Carbon Brief estimates that these two decisions alone will cost households an extra £2.1 billion over the coming year. Other failed energy-efficiency efforts include the Green Deal, a coalition era scheme to encourage households to take out loans to pay for home improvements, and the Green Homes Grant voucher scheme in 2020.

Analysis by the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit finds that homes with the worst energy efficiency ratings, rated “G”, will pay almost £2,000 more for their energy this winter than those rated “C”, the government’s target.

GAS RESILIENCE: Failing to develop gas storage [cost consumers last year £230 million]

Britain imports just over half of its needs. Despite this the government over the past decade rejected repeated calls to bolster Britain’s gas storage capacity, which was already one of the lowest in Europe.

In 2013 Michael Fallon, the energy minister, ruled out subsidising new storage sites, arguing that supplies were resilient and the market would deliver security of supply more cheaply. This led to Centrica scrapping two proposed projects.

In 2017 the situation worsened as Centrica announced that it was closing Rough, Britain’s biggest gas storage site, as it was not economical to repair without subsidy. The business and energy department, then led by Greg Clark, did not intervene and Richard Harrington, one of his ministers, said: “The closure of Rough will not cause a problem with security.”

The government still did not heed calls for a rethink the following year when the Beast from the East led to a rise in gas prices, even as analysts at Wood Mackenzie warned that Britain’s lack of storage left it “precarious” and could lead to blackouts in a winter supply crunch.

Less than a year ago Kwasi Kwarteng, the business and energy secretary, was still insisting that gas storage was “a red herring”, but he now appears to have had a change of heart and is in talks with Centrica over reopening Rough. Centrica claims that the site would have “saved consumers about £100 each last winter had it been operational”. [There are around 23 million domestic gas meter points in UK so £100X23,000,000 = £230 million

GAS IMPORTS: Failing to secure long-term supplies [cost unknown but significant]

“Because the UK took a view that state-backed long term contracts (for LNG in particular) weren’t necessary or desirable, we now have to pay high prices to ensure that gas is delivered here, rather than into Asia, where long-term contracts remain more common,” Gross, of the UKERC, said.

Kathryn Porter, of the Watt-Logic consultancy, agreed that gas policies had been complacent. “Successive governments essentially took a bet that the global market would remain well supplied and neglected to hedge against rising prices,” she said. “An appropriate hedge would have been to buy some of these volumes on firm, fixed price contracts.” One energy chief executive argued that households would be better off if the government had stepped in even a year ago to procure gas supplies for the nation.

GAS DEPENDENCE: Failing to develop more wind, solar and nuclear [Cost this year £10.5 bn]

The coalition government decided in 2014 to restrict subsidies that supported the deployment of solar farms, and in 2015 David Cameron’s Conservative government scrapped onshore wind subsidies and tightened planning rules.

Carbon Brief estimates that if solar deployment had continued at its previous pace then it could have reduced annual energy bills by almost £3 billion from October and continued onshore wind development could have saved £4.5 billion. 

Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, said: “For more than a decade, experts have been warning that a failure to replace our retiring nuclear fleet, which will be all but gone by 2028, would result in increased supply volatility and higher prices. Had decisions been made sooner on projects like Hinkley Point C, which would have saved consumers £3 billion had it been online this winter, the industry wouldn’t have to be playing catch up now.”

POWER IMPORTS: Failing to secure adequate back-up for wind power [unknown but significant]

High gas prices are not the only thing pushing up power prices: there have also been increasing periods when electricity supplies have simply been scarce, especially at times when wind speeds are low and wind farms are producing less than expected. 

“As Britain and other countries progressed their wind-led energy transitions, gradually intermittent renewables displaced ageing thermal and nuclear generation to the point where security of supply is at risk when wind output is low,” Kathryn Porter, consultant at Watt-Logic, said. “In the past there was a view that it would always be windy somewhere and so better interconnection would allow those surpluses to be carried to the markets that need them. Unfortunately we have discovered that this is not always true in practice.”

Tom Edwards, of Cornwall Insight, said that allowing interconnectors to take part in this scheme was a mistake as it “allowed replacement of UK generation capacity with cables”. Lisa Waters, of Waters-Wye Associates, added: “The market has long argued that interconnectors are not generators, just wires, so they are being paid for capacity that in reality they may not be able to deliver.”

ENERGY SUPPLIERS: Failing to ensure robust companies [cost £5.7 bn]

Since summer last year 29 energy suppliers have gone bust after being unable to withstand soaring energy prices. This has resulted in multibillion-pound costs to consumers that are now being recouped via energy bills. Of the failed suppliers, 28 have been dealt with through an Ofgem process that is estimated to have cost £2.7 billion, or £94 for every household; the costs of the 29th, Bulb, remain unclear but could be as high as £3 billion.

Ofgem, the energy regulator, has taken most of the blame for these failings, accused by MPs on the business select committee of being negligent and incompetent by failing to check if suppliers were set up and financed properly. The MPs found, however, that the situation also reflected a political drive to encourage competition and low prices as the top priority.

The Sturminster Marshall Horror Show

Boris Johnson refuses to rule out return during Dorset visit with Nadine Dorries

Boris Johnson has refused to rule out a political comeback during a farewell trip to Dorset. The outgoing Prime Minster declined to be drawn on what he will do when he is replaced as prime minister by either Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak.

Mike Taylor

Could this be one of Neil Parish’s Tractors? – Owl

The outgoing Prime Minister in Sturminster Marshall instead put his focus on the expansion of gigabit-speed broadband, as he sought to emphasise his Government’s achievements. He visited Henbury Farm with Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries where Wessex Internet are laying fibre optics in the field.

Asked if he would rule out a comeback, Mr Johnson told reporters: “I think on the whole people in this country are more interested in their gigabit broadband than they are in the fate of this or that politician.”

Mr Johnson’s demise was ultimately triggered by the row after former deputy chief whip Chris Pincher was accused of inappropriate behaviour. Asked if he had regrets about the way allegations of misconduct had been dealt with, Mr Johnson said: “All those things have to be handled carefully and sensitively and we have processes for dealing with them, and people who have complaints should raise them in the normal way.”

Mr Johnson declined to give himself a rating out of 10 for his term in office. Asked about his plans after next Tuesday, when he is set to be replaced, Mr Johnson said: “I am concentrating on today.”

Rory Stewart, a former Conservative leadership rival of the Prime Minister, warned on Monday that Mr Johnson could try and make a comeback. “I fear we’re going to end up with a second Berlusconi or a second Trump trying to rock back in again,” the former Tory Cabinet minister said.

Mr Johnson highlighted the announcements already made which will see £1,200 going to the eight million most vulnerable households. But he added: “Whichever of the two candidates gets in next week, what the Government is also going to do is provide a further package of support for helping people with the cost of energy.

“What we’ve got to do is get through the tough months – and I’m not going to shrink from this, it is going to be tough in the months to come, it’s going to be tough through to next year.”

The price increase in gas is being driven by Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, he said during a visit to Dorset. “We’re going to get through it,” Mr Johnson said. “We’re taking 26% more of our own gas from the North Sea than we did last year, we’re much less dependent on Putin’s supplies.”

He added “I just want to give people a sense of hope and perspective” because the UK was in a “strong economic position” which meant the Government had been able to provide support and it also had a “long-term British energy security strategy”.

Boris Johnson sets out to defend record on farewell tour

Dorset maybe as far West as he comes, no obvious successes to celebrate in Devon – Owl

George Grylls

Boris Johnson will kick off a farewell tour of Britain today as he spends his last week as prime minister highlighting his achievements in 10 Downing Street.

Johnson will travel to Dorset to trumpet his government’s record expanding broadband to rural communities.

When Johnson took over as prime minister, only 7 per cent of households had gigabit broadband. That number has risen to 70 per cent today.

“From Sherborne to Stirling, lightning-fast broadband is levelling up towns and villages across the country,” Johnson will say in a speech today. In just three years we have increased the coverage of gigabit broadband from 7 per cent of households to 70 per cent.

“I am proud that today more than 20 million households, businesses and organisations are able to tap into rapid and reliable internet, unleashing their potential, creating opportunities and driving growth across the country.”

The target date in the Conservatives’ 2019 manifesto to supply gigabit broadband to every home and business across the UK was 2025. This date will be missed, and some households will instead have to wait until 2030 before they are hooked up with fast internet.

Johnson’s visit to Dorset will celebrate work beginning on the first major contract awarded under the government’s £5 billion Project Gigabit.

After his visit to the southwest, Johnson will embark on a tour of other parts of Britain this week.

He boasts about the progress the government has made in recruiting police officers, another manifesto pledge. The culmination of the week will be a speech on energy in which Johnson intends to highlight his achievements in nuclear power and wind energy.

“There is a lot of stuff that he can feel rightly proud of,” a No 10 source said. One of Johnson’s most outspoken critics, however, predicted that despite the messages appearing to signal his departure from frontline politics, the prime minister would attempt to make a comeback.

Rory Stewart, the former international aid secretary, likened Johnson to Silvio Berlusconi and Donald Trump, both of whom are trying to force their way back into politics having been ousted from office.

“I’m afraid he has an extraordinary ego and he believes that he was badly treated,” Stewart told BBC Radio 4.

“He doesn’t see the reality, which is that he was a terrible prime minister and that he lost his job because of deep flaws of character. I fear we’re going to end up with a second Berlusconi or a second Trump trying to rock back in again.”

As Johnson tours the UK, Nadhim Zahawi will be in the US to take part in meetings on global energy security in what is likely to be his last week as chancellor.

He will visit New York to discuss the international competitiveness of the City of London following post-Brexit deregulation, and will then travel to Washington DC for meetings with US Treasury officials.

“I’m determined, here in the US, to work closely with my allies on the common challenges we face to create a fairer and more resilient economy at home and abroad,” he said.

Brewers warn of mass closures – send for Simon Jupp!

[Tough, “no hand-outs” Liz drinks fizz – Owl]

From Today’s Western Morning News

Cornish brewery giant St Austell Brewery has joined fellow industry leaders in warning of widespread closures of pubs and brewers as prices soar.

Bosses of six of the UK’s biggest pub and brewing companies have signed an open letter to the Government urging it to act in order to avoid “real and serious irreversible” damage to the sector.

St Austell Brewery are joining Greene King, JW Lees, Carlsberg Marston’s, Admiral Taverns and Drake & Morgan in sounding the alarm today, with fears of price hikes upwards of 300%.

Soaring energy bills have added to inflationary pressures on the sector, which like other industries is not protected by the regulated price cap that applies to domestic gas and electricity bills.

The bosses, who sit on the board of the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), have demanded the Government implement an urgent support package that effectively caps the price of energy for businesses.

Brewers also face supply concerns over CO2, used in the production of some beer, after CF Fertilisers, one of the UK’s biggest CO2 producers, revealed it will halt production at its remaining UK ammonia site due to rocketing costs.

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the BBPA, said the rise in energy costs “will cause more damage to our industry than the pandemic did”.

She added: “Consumers will now be thinking even more carefully about where they spend their money. There are pubs that weathered the storm of the past two years that now face closure because of rocketing energy bills.”

She’s Frit!

Liz Truss accused of ‘running scared’ after pulling out of BBC interview

Liz Truss has been accused of “running scared” of scrutiny after pulling out of a BBC interview scheduled for Tuesday, meaning she is likely to become prime minister without undergoing a single set-piece broadcast quizzing.

Peter Walker 

Earlier this month the foreign secretary agreed to a primetime interview with the veteran political journalist Nick Robinson on BBC One, something already done by Rishi Sunak, her rival to succeed Boris Johnson as Conservative party leader.

But a BBC spokesperson said Truss had now cancelled the interview. “Ms Truss’s team say she can no longer spare the time to appear on Our Next Prime Minister,” they said. “We regret that it has not been possible to do an in-depth interview with both candidates despite having reached agreement to do so.”

In a tweet, Robinson said he had been pleased that Truss had agreed to the interview and he was “disappointed and frustrated it’s been cancelled”.

A source in Sunak’s campaign said their tally showed Truss had done just two broadcast interviews of any form during the campaign, whereas Sunak had undertaken nine, also including three spots on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme and an appearance on ITV’s This Morning.

The source said: “It’s important that candidates face proper scrutiny so that members and the public know what they are offering. Avoiding that scrutiny suggests either Truss doesn’t have a plan at all or the plan she has falls far short of the challenges we face this winter.”

Wendy Chamberlain, the Liberal Democrats’ chief whip, said: “Liz Truss is running scared of the media and proper public scrutiny. How can she lead our country through an economic crisis when she can’t even cope with a basic media interview?

“She wants to follow in Margaret Thatcher’s footsteps but she’s fallen at the first hurdle. She’s fighting for the highest office by answering the lowest number of difficult questions.”

Labour also criticised Truss for backing out. Conor McGinn, the shadow minister without portfolio, said: “The British public don’t get a say in choosing the next Tory prime minister and now it seems Liz Truss wants to avoid any public scrutiny whatsoever.

“People will rightly conclude that she doesn’t want to answer questions about her plans for the country because she simply hasn’t got any serious answers to the big challenges facing our country.”

Truss’s tactic of avoiding scrutiny mirrors that of Boris Johnson, who before the Conservative victory in the December 2019 general election declined a BBC interview with Andrew Neil, something faced by rivals including the then Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn.

Truss has appeared at a series of Conservative hustings events around the UK in recent weeks and faced some difficult questions from the various hosts, although less so from the audiences made up of party members.

But longer-form interviews, in which a candidate can be pushed repeatedly on their answers, are viewed as considerably more difficult.

During some hustings events, Truss has been critical of the media, and of the BBC specifically, accusing some outlets of trying to “talk our country down” and having a leftwing bias.

Truss’s campaign was contacted for comment.

Just when you think it couldn’t get any worse… the return of “Vulcan”

(aka John Redwood)

A Ms Truss campaign insider told the Telegraph that the leadership hopeful thinks that the country’s current economic strategy has “failed” and said she won’t be captured by “Treasury groupthink”. 

The European Research Group (ERG), who are key backers of Ms Truss’ campaign, has tipped Mr Redwood for a role in the Treasury, with one senior member telling The Express that he would be a “superb choice” as Chancellor of the Exchequer.

No comfort from voices of reason and experience

Liz Truss would “completely crash the public finances” if she pushed ahead with tens of billions of pounds of tax cuts, a senior economist has warned.

Liz Truss’s plan to cut VAT would crash economy, warns expert

Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, accused Truss of adopting a “simplistic mantra” of cutting taxes to solve the cost of living crisis. He said the policies being discussed by her team were “quite worrying”.

He told The Times that a proposal to cut VAT was “inappropriate” and risked exacerbating inflation, not taming it. Johnson also said the Bank of England would raise interest rates more quickly if Truss pressed ahead with the cuts….

…Johnson said the economic picture was different from when Gordon Brown announced an emergency VAT cut of 2.5 percentage points in 2009, and questioned the economic reasoning for such a measure.

“It made sense to have a temporary cut in VAT in the financial crisis because there was a huge drop in demand and a big recession without much in the way of inflation,” he said.

“It might reduce inflation temporarily, but it clearly increases it at the point at which the VAT cut is undone.”

He said there was a greater case to raise income tax thresholds, given that the Treasury had expected to generate £8 billion from the “stealth tax” when it was announced this year. As a result of inflation, the freeze in income tax thresholds is set to raise £20 billion.

Johnson said that no matter the tax cuts, support for energy bills would need to be given to people on low and modest incomes and he questioned the need for an immediate slashing of income tax on top of other measures.

“You clearly can’t do all of this without completely crashing the public finances,” he said. “This simplistic mantra that you cut taxes and the economy grows more, that you cut taxes when you have a big deficit and high inflation, and you don’t do it with any other part of the plan, is quite worrying.”

He added that a large deficit could push up borrowing costs. “The markets for a decade have been willing to fund very high deficits. The risk comes if we start on a very different route to other countries and we look riskier than they are,” he said.

George Grylls (Extract)

Bold action needed now on energy bills, says Alistair Darling

“You need something significant and substantial and you need it now, because people’s bills are going to start coming in in a few weeks’ time.”

Darling, who served as chancellor under Gordon Brown, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“If you don’t do that then you have the risks that I’ve been describing, that the economy will slip into recession, with all that entails. And when you’ve got that on top of the fact you’ve got inflation already at very, very high levels we haven’t seen since the 1970s, this is a lethal cocktail, which is why it needs bold action taken by the government now, not fiddling around with small measures that frankly won’t make any difference at all.”

While the government has already offered some support to households, Darling said this was now far from sufficient to meet the scale of the crisis.

He said: “Frankly, the stuff that’s been announced so far might have passed muster earlier this year. It simply won’t do now. You need something far more substantial than that unless you are willing to see substantial damage being done to our economy.”

A lesson from 2008 was that “you’ve got to do more than people expect and you’ve got to do it more quickly than people expect if it’s going to work”, Darling said.

“It’s going to cost money. When I announced the package in 2008 when it was the banking crisis, it amounted in total to about £500bn, but actually we got all of that money back over the following years. So what I think we need to see today from the government, from the new prime minister, is measures that will be big enough to deal with this.”

Peter Walker (Extract)

Cranbrook town centre work starts

Spade comes to sod, at last

The decade delay is a result of “leaving it to the market”, unravelled by the “New Guard” at EDDC – Owl

Paul Nero

The giant red starfish will be replaced by a town centre (image courtesy: EDDC)

When residents began moving into their spanking new homes in the new town of Cranbrook in East Devon, they didn’t think it would be more than a decade before work began on a town centre.

But a field a quarter of a mile from the main school has been redundant ever since. 

Now, after a series of false dawns, construction will finally begin this work.

East Devon District Council is puffing it up as a “major milestone” although the leader, who wasn’t in place when the tortuous journey began, does make a nod towards the delay.

Cllr Paul Arnott, who is portfolio holder for strategic development and chair of Cranbrook Strategic Delivery Board said: “The people of Cranbrook have been incredibly patient and we’re delighted to learn that the town centre will actually start to become a reality.

The latest plan from East Devon District Council

A consortium of developers, Henry Davidson, Hallam Land Management, Taylor Wimpey and Persimmon will now get cracking on a supermarket, and a children’s day nursery, which will open next year, and high street shops with homes above and a town square that should be ready in 2024.

Separately, East Devon District Council is in the process of acquiring four acres of land so the town centre can accommodate community facilities  such as a health and wellbeing hub (including a GP surgery) and leisure centre.  Devon County Council is also continuing to work on its new community building combining a library, children and youth centres. 

Further aspects of the town centre will include a new town hall, extra care housing and a skate park.  

Cllrs Kevin Blakey, Kim Bloxham and Sam Hawkins, East Devon District Council ward members representing Cranbrook, said: “The three Cranbrook ward members are naturally delighted that the construction work on the town centre is getting under way.

“As we have said previously, a great many people have worked long and hard to draw together all the many threads to the legal agreements that are now complete, and our thanks go to them all. We can now look forward to the land being a hive of activity as the physical creation of our much anticipated town centre takes shape. This is a big moment in the story of Cranbrook!”

This previous plan has been updated

‘It will benefit the powerful’: row over Brixham fish market levelling up plan

A diverse group of sceptics ranging from conservationists to the local yacht club, town councillors and day boat skippers has expressed concern at the bid by Torbay council for £20m of cash from the levelling up fund.

This year a boat called Margaret of Ladram, owned by the biggest fishing company in the port, Waterdance, broke the Brixham port record with a catch that sold for £155,000. Though the vessel is based in Brixham, the fish were caught not off Devon but in the Irish Sea off the Welsh coast.

Steven Morris

A scheme to double the size of England’s most lucrative fish market and provide more room for “industrial” trawlers using levelling up funds has been condemned by green campaigners, smaller-scale fishers and leisure boat enthusiasts.

Critics claim the plans for the Devon harbour town of Brixham, which is expected to land a record-breaking £50m worth of fish this year, will lead to more environmentally damaging fishing practices, increase lorry movements and benefit a few powerful businesses rather than improving the town as a whole.

A diverse group of sceptics ranging from conservationists to the local yacht club, town councillors and day boat skippers has expressed concern at the bid by Torbay council for £20m of cash from the levelling up fund.

“It will be good for the big boys who already make shitloads of money,” said Tristan Northway, who skippers a 9-metre fishing boat, Adela, and sells directly from the deck of his vessel. “But it will do nothing for the rest of us and nothing for the town.”

Harry Barton, the chief executive of Devon Wildlife Trust, said the expansion would lead to further damage to the seabed and greater carbon emissions.

“Trawling and dredging are among the most destructive activities that happen in the marine environment,” he said. “The fishing industry is a major contributor to carbon emissions. This is partly from the emissions of the engines but more significantly because dredgers stir up the sediments on the sea floor, resulting in large amounts of carbon being released.”

Richard Spreckley, the commodore of Brixham Yacht Club, said the people who would most benefit were the owners of the port’s beam trawlers, larger boats that drop large, heavy-duty nets attached to steel beams into the water and drag them along the seabed.

Spreckley said he doubted claims that expanding the quay and market would lead to more jobs for local people, pointing out that the boats already had to supplement crews with fishers from the Philippines because they could not find local people to go to sea. “But there are very strong forces in the town that tend to get their way,” he said.

Despite issues around paperwork and bureaucracy that Brexit has thrown up and the soaring price of fuel, Brixham fish market is thriving. Just before Brexit it introduced an online auction system, allowing fish buyers from anywhere in the world to bid for catch, and it credits the change with boosting prices by 20%.

A record £43.5m of fish was sold at the market in 2021, making it the biggest by value in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and it hopes to break the £50m mark this year. On a busy day it can deal with 100 tonnes of fish, with 70% of it trucked to mainland Europe.

At this time of year the fish boxes in the market are full of a dazzling variety of fish – bass, brill, rock salmon, john dory, gurnard, megrim – while the cuttlefish season, worth £9m year, earning the catch the nickname “Brixham gold”, will begin shortly.

The fish comes from far and wide. This year a boat called Margaret of Ladram, owned by the biggest fishing company in the port, Waterdance, broke the Brixham port record with a catch that sold for £155,000. Though the vessel is based in Brixham, the fish were caught not off Devon but in the Irish Sea off the Welsh coast.

Such has been the success of the Brixham market that fishers based hundreds of miles away, from ports such as Hastings in East Sussex and Aberystwyth in mid Wales, send their catch to be sold there before it is shipped back out on lorries across Europe.

Duncan Kenny, of the Brixham conservation organisation Tide, who lives on the harbourside, said: “Already we see and hear trucks coming in day and night. It’s madness. I would rather levelling up money be put into improving healthcare, investing in schools, transport. Fishing is a huge part of our heritage but we need to do it more sustainably.”

Colin Moore, a spokesperson for Ocean Rebellion in south Devon, said the campaign group had run one demonstration against large-scale fishing in Brixham and planned others. “Levelling up money must not be used to boost industrial fishing,” he said.

Brixham Trawler Agents, which owns the market, and Waterdance declined to speak about the plans, but the local Conservative MP Anthony Mangnall said levelling up money would boost not just the fishers but the whole town. He said Waterdance was investing in new more environmentally friendly equipment such as a new beam gear called the Sumwing, designed to have less contact with the seabed.

Some critics of the scheme flag up that Brixham Trawler Agents and Waterdance each gave £2,500 to Mangnall’s 2019 general election campaign. He declared this, and he told the Guardian that he did not favour the two companies over others in the town. The bid is being led by Torbay council, which is led by Liberal Democrat and independent councillors.

Jim Funnell, a local writer who campaigns on social justice issues and has formally complained about the levelling up bid, said: “This development will benefit the most powerful people in the town. The more I question, the more questions it raises. The questions intersect with some of the biggest issues of our times – social inequality, the environmental crisis and a lack of aspiration to think beyond the simplistic, easy-to-reach option.”

Brixham town council has expressed reservations about the bid. It has supported the application but said in a statement: “Concerns were raised that the [bid] only supports one core commercial area of Brixham. Whilst Brixham is widely recognised as a large fishing port, it is also a tourist destination and a place to live.”

Torbay council pointed out that the money would support plans to grow the photonics and microelectronics industry in the area as well as the fish market and quay. It said: “These developments could bring significant benefits to Torbay. Torbay council is aware there are questions being raised regarding the environmental impacts of extending Brixham fish quay and market and will continue to consult, engage and work with key stakeholders to ensure the right scheme is delivered for the area.”

Simon Jupp’s low profile over the summer explained.

Owl expected Simon to be hard at work rooting for Rishi, apparently not.

Owl was surprised that Simon let Richard Foord hold centre stage on Budleigh beach to talk about sewage pollution. Obviously not important to the hospitality sector so close to Simon’s heart.

Even Alison Hernandez has had to cosy up to Richard Foord to find an East Devon photo op.

Here is the explanation: he has been working on constituents’ casework. 

Oddly, though, he doesn’t mention the cost of living crisis  – Owl

Summer recess allows time to work on queries and casework

Simon Jupp

Summer recess allows MPs to spend more time to carry out important constituency work. It’s the best bit of the job and one of the reasons why I opened a constituency office in Exmouth.

Recess also allows hardworking Parliament staff such as the clerks, doorkeepers, catering and cleaning teams to take a much deserved break. The House of Commons remains open to visitors during recess periods, giving more people an opportunity to see the home of our democracy. If you’re interested in a tour of Parliament, please do get in touch with me.

August can be something of a quiet month in the news, especially now as it is not until 5th September when the new PM is announced. My small team and I will continue to work hard during this summer lull.  

At the moment, my team and I are currently working on record amounts of queries and casework, so I wanted to talk about the sort of work we do day-in-day out that is not made public.

To give an example of what the email inbox might bring in on any given day, this might include queries about the Passport Office, about driving licences, about Ukrainian visa applications, planning applications, GP appointments, and energy bills. We cannot always solve a problem but we always try to do whatever we can to help, to advise, or to raise through official channels.

Some Ukrainian visa issues are ongoing and this is often involves chasing up the Home Office or checking up on details. These issues are time sensitive so I am continuing to meet with Home Office officials each week on behalf of Homes for Ukraine hosts in East Devon. If you are a host still waiting for a decision and permission to travel letter for those you are sponsoring, please get in touch.


The link between pollution of the Axe and Liz Truss cuts to farm inspections

Liz Truss allowed farmers to pollute England’s rivers after ‘slashing red tape’, say campaigners

Helena Horton 

Liz Truss is responsible for farmers being allowed to dump a catastrophic “chemical cocktail” of pollutants into Britain’s rivers, according to environmental campaigners.

This has meant agricultural waste now outstrips sewage as the leading danger to England’s waterways.

Truss boasted of cutting farm inspections in a parliamentary exchange in 2015 when she was environment secretary. This allowed farmers to dump waste, including pesticides and animal faeces, into rivers.

“We have seen a reduction of 34,000 farm inspections a year and an 80% reduction in red tape from Defra [Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs]. That is vital for our £100bn food and farming industry,” Truss, who held the environment post from 2014 to 2016, told parliament.

“A future Conservative government would continue to bear down on red tape. We are considering pilots for landowners and farmers to manage watercourses themselves, to get rid of a lot of bureaucracy.”

Because of cuts to the Environment Agency and Truss’s policy of trimming official rules and inspections, farmers were able to dump waste in their local watercourses without much fear of being caught and fined. Campaigners say this has had dire consequences for England’s rivers.

For example, in the Wye valley, home to one of Europe’s largest concentrations of intensive livestock production, Lancaster University found there were 3,000 tonnes of excess phosphorus caused by agriculture seeping into the valley’s waterways.

Other rivers polluted by agriculture include the Axe, which flows through Dorset, Somerset and Devon, the Derwent in Yorkshire, the Ehen in Cumbria, and the Test and Itchen rivers in Hampshire.

Louisa Casson, head of food and forests at Greenpeace UK, said: “Letting industrial farms unleash a chemical cocktail into our rivers and get away with it has been catastrophic for our environment. Liz Truss’s crusade against red tape has been a key contributor and, ultimately, our wildlife and the public have been left wading through the resulting filth in the rivers they cherish.”

The Guardian revealed last week that Truss presided over huge cuts to the Environment Agency’s sewage monitoring system. She implemented a £24m cut from a government grant for environmental protection – including surveillance of water companies to prevent the dumping of raw sewage – between 2014-15 and 2016-17, according to the National Audit Office.

During Truss’s tenure at Defra, the department was taken to court by Fish Legal and the WWF over a change to the voluntary reporting of farm waste dumping. After a judicial review, the Environment Agency inspected the river Axe. It found that from the winter of 2016, 95% of farms had not complied with slurry storage regulations and 49% were polluting the river.

A spokesperson for the Wildlife Trusts explained: “Clearly, cutting farm inspections has left a legacy of significant water pollution.”

Campaigners say Truss’s policy meant that farm visits dwindled for years, and in 2018-19 inspectors visited only 403 farms to check for activities and practices that could cause water pollution. There are 106,000 registered farm businesses in England. Campaign group WildFish calculated that at that rate, farms could expect an inspection every 263 years.

Following the cuts in inspections, by 2019 agriculture had overtaken the water industry as the sector responsible for the greatest number of failures against water targets.

“Farm inspections are not designed to catch farmers out,” said Ali Morse, water policy manager at the Wildlife Trusts. “They ensure that our rivers and seas aren’t polluted, and that valuable soils and nutrients stay in fields and out of rivers. This is in the interests of the farming sector as much as our environment.”

Liz Truss was contacted but declined to comment.

Is Jacob Rees-Mogg about to sell off No 10 Downing Street?

Tory Efficiency minister Jacob Rees-Mogg is planning to sell underutilised government offices in London and the Prime Minister hasn’t used No 10 recently.

He has been working remotely, very remotely. -Owl

[Efficiency-Mogg is reported recently to have spent £1,332 of taxpayers’ cash travelling to, from and around Wrexham by chauffeur-driven limousine – instead of getting there by train, which would have cost £98. ]

Jacob Rees-Mogg to sell London offices as civil servants work from home

Nadeem Badshah

Jacob Rees-Mogg has revealed he is planning to sell off £1.5bn worth of government offices in London due to the proportion of civil servants continuing to work from home.

The minister for Brexit opportunities and government efficiency will publish a strategy next week that includes selling property assets over the next three years, with staff working in fewer buildings as part of a new network of government “hubs”, the Telegraph reported.

The proposal is part of a government property strategy aimed at raising £2bn in savings from property sales and efficiencies, and also encompasses the use of modern building materials and energy sources.

Rees-Mogg, who has orchestrated a long-running campaign to encourage civil servants to stop working from home after coronavirus restrictions were scrapped, told the Sunday Telegraph: “We have seen over the last year that expensive office space in central London has been underutilised. Why should the taxpayer be made to fork out for half-empty buildings?

“But moving civil servants to our beautiful counties and towns through the Places for Growth programme will benefit everyone, giving civil servants a better quality of life and helping economic growth outside the capital.

“We are cutting the cost of the public estate so that we can return money to the taxpayer. All spending on government property needs to be justified.”

The Conservative MP for North East Somerset added that transferring civil service jobs out of London would “allow greater savings and mean the government is closer to the communities it serves”.

In April, it emerged that Rees-Mogg had written to cabinet ministers urging them to coerce staff into a “rapid return to the office” and left notes in empty Whitehall workspaces with the message: “I look forward to seeing you in the office very soon.” Labour MPs called the move at the time “patronising” and “passive-aggressive”.

It also emerged that Rees-Mogg was conducting “spot checks” at offices to monitor occupancy rates with senior bosses told to publish figures on the proportion of government staff working from the office.

The minister has also condemned the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) after staff told bosses at the regulator that two days a week in the office is the most they can cope with.

“The FCA has an important job and any sensible person would recognise that spending only two days a week in the office will harm performance,” he told the Telegraph. “We know that people work better when they are together.”

Liz Truss ponders 5% VAT cut amid cost of living crisis

Liz Truss is considering whether to reduce VAT by 5% across the board, which could save families £1,300 a year, it was reported.

Nadeem Badshah

The foreign secretary is understood to have discussed the move with her advisers but no final decisions will be taken until the Conservative leadership contest concludes on 5 September, according to the Sunday Telegraph.

The Treasury is expected to present the new prime minister with plans modelled on Gordon Brown’s response to the 2008 financial crisis, where VAT was reduced from 20% to 17.5% for a year, as part of a series of proposals amid soaring energy bills.

Energy bills for a typical household will rise to £3,549 a year on 1 October, when a new price cap is introduced, it was announced on Friday.

If the rate of VAT is cut by up to 5% from the current standard rate of 20%, it would be the largest ever reduction.

Truss’s campaign has begun drawing up plans for her “emergency budget” but a source told the Telegraph that it “would not be right for her to announce her plans before she has even been elected prime minister or seen all the facts”.

A 5% cut would cost an estimated £3.2bn a month or £38bn to keep in place for one year, according to analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies research institute.

It would also reduce inflation temporarily by about 2%. Last month, Rishi Sunak announced plans to temporarily scrap VAT on household energy bills if elected prime minister.

A Treasury spokesperson said the government was making the “necessary preparations to ensure a new government has options to deliver additional support as quickly as possible”, adding: “No major fiscal decisions will be taken until the new prime minister is in post.”

Colyford could get its own council

Residents in the historic East Devon village of Colyford could get their own council after locals say they do not feel properly represented under the current system. 

Philip Churm, local democracy reporter

Villagers submitted a petition to East Devon District Council (EDDC) to carry out a ‘community governance review’; a process which can lead to the alteration or replacement of an existing parish council.

At present Colyford village is covered by Colyton Parish with 13 councillors but many people living south of Colyton say they feel left out of the democratic process.

Julian Thompson is one of the villagers driving the campaign and explained why they petitioned for a new council. 

He said: “People who are living here were finding they weren’t able to have a fair, democratic governance of their local services and things they wanted to get done in the village to the current council, because the current council always out-voted the number of Colyford parish councillors who were sitting on it.”

Mr Thompson said villagers felt the proportion of funds distributed across the existing parish unfairly favoured people in Colyton. 

“Because of the lack of democracy and transparency and clarity about where the Colyford tax had gone, it was very difficult to feel the local people were empowered and be able to look after their community,” he said. 

Mr Thompson and other supporters drafted a four-year financial plan and listed the benefits of having a village council for the community, including:

The village council will recognise the unique and historic identity of the ancient borough of Colyford from 1237 – one of the largest communities in East Devon without its own council. 

Residents will have access to a council that will work hard on their behalf – “by Colyford, for Colyford”. 

Money raised through council tax by Colyford residents will fund improvements in Colyford and not elsewhere. 

Residents will have greater influence on local planning matters, address their unique issues on traffic control and safety and build rapport with the local grammar school. 

Former RAF Air commodore and Falklands veteran Julian Thompson said they have considered all the necessary aspects of the proposal which, if successful, would result in the election of new councillors next May. 

“I have taken a very strict military approach to introducing new capability based on a military line of development,” he said.

“And from that I’ve taken all the inputs from the National Association of Local Councils and Devon village councils, EDDC, other parishes and built a sort of ‘how to introduce initial operating capability for local council’.” 

EDDC independent councillor for Axminster, Sarah Jackson, who is portfolio holder for democracy, transparency and communications said: “It is evident from the recent consultation that the residents of Colyford feel a sense of identity separate from that of Colyton and a clear desire to be self-governed via the formation of a new parish council, and so I am pleased to see this governance review progress to the next stage. 

“It is, however, important that the proposal is now refined and fine-tuned. Part of this will be to determine where exactly the boundary between the parishes will fall. 

“I strongly encourage all those who are consulted on the draft proposal to fully engage with the process so that your views are considered and taken on board.”

The next stage in the process would be to consider submissions and prepare final proposals which could then be submitted to EDDC cabinet in November and full council by December. 

If passed, elections under the new arrangements would take place in May 2023.  

Hundreds of coastal overflow sites ‘not included’ in UK government sewage plan

Government plans to reduce sewage spills in English waters fail to include hundreds of storm overflows into estuaries and the sea, according to new analysis.

Saphora Smith 

In the government’s draft storm overflow discharge reduction plan the only coastal overflows that must cut spills are those near designated bathing sites, but it’s not clear what distance is classified as “near” one,  according to the Marine Conservation Society.

Its analysis found that around 600 coastal sites therefore won’t have to reduce the number of times they spill sewage into the sea, some of which could be near Marine Protected Areas.

Meanwhile, for inland waters and designated bathing waters water companies must not discharge sewage more than an average of 10 rainfall events per year by 2050, according to the draft targets. A rainfall event is up to 12 hours of rain.

“Defra can’t provide a list to us of the storm overflows which aren’t going to included [in the targets] – which is ridiculous in itself – so these overflows could be discharging into marine protected areas, shellfish waters or other beaches which are not designated as bathing waters,” said Rachel Wyatt, water quality policy and advocacy manager at the Marine Conservation Society.

The “uncontrolled” dumping of sewage will have a direct impact on England’s estuaries and seas which are “already known to be failing to meet key water quality targets,” said Ms Wyatt. “And there’s nothing to stop water companies from diverting more sewage to these overflows to meet upstream targets.”

The target of 2050 for inland waters and bathing sites is also “nowhere near soon enough,” she added. “Our environment can not wait another 28 years for this impact to stop.”

In 2021, untreated sewage was spilt 66,286 times, for a total of 440,508 hours, within one km of marine protected areas, which are home to some of the most important habitats and marine life in the country, according to the Marine Conservation Society.

Sewage contains bacteria, viruses, harmful chemicals and microplastics which can impact marine life. Microplastics, for example, if ingested by marine life can damage animals’ digestive systems, and even stop them from feeding, resulting in impacts on their growth, development, reproduction and lifespan, it said.

The government consulted on its storm overflow discharge reduction plan earlier this year and is due to publish its final stratgey next month.

Amid the recent scrutiny of the UK’s wastewater disposal, Water Minister Steve Double has said the government has been “clear” that water companies’ reliance on overflows is “unacceptable” and that they must significantly reduce how much sewage they discharge as a priority.”

The Marine Conservation Society’s analysis comes as three French MEPs said the UK was putting the environment, fishermen’s livelihoods and public health at risk by pumping sewage into the sea.

In a joint statement, the European politicians accused Britain of neglecting its environmental commitments made during the Brexit process. A government spokesperson said it was “simply not true” that the UK had “exempted ourselves” of strict targets on water quality.

Meanwhile, The Independent revealed this week that all wastewater companies in England and Wales have failed to meet their targets to tackle pollution of sewage floods.

Public warnings were also issued in the UK about pollution at more than 50 beaches after wastewater firms discharged sewage into the sea and new figures revealed that sewage has been dumped into England and Wales’ natural environment more than a million times in the past five years.

A Defra spokesperson said: “We will be setting out proposals imminently that will provide a comprehensive plan to tackle the issue of combined sewage overflows . We have been clear to water companies that action is long overdue.”