Tributes paid to East Devon councillor Val Ranger

“Goodbye Val. We will do our best to follow in your footsteps.” – Paul Arnott

Dan Wilkins 

Tributes have been made to East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) Vice Chair Councillor Val Ranger who died on August 2.

EDDC’s Leader Cllr Paul Arnott said: “Val was one of those extraordinary characters whose premature loss is being deeply felt by hundreds of people, both in East Devon and beyond.

“Although being a district councillor meant that she was partly a political figure, the kind, courteous and patient way she had with members from all backgrounds marked her out as a very special human being, evident inside and well beyond the council chamber.

“Very many of us simply adored her for her calmness and wit, while also appreciating her true grit and determination to resist and flush out cant, from whatever quarter, which was the cornerstone of both her campaigning and her case work.

“Ultimately, we will always love her for who she was, a unique, incredibly hard-working person with a radiant, smiling personality, the wisest of counsels to people of all ages.

“Our profound sympathies go to her family, in particular to her two adult sons Richard and Chris, who I hope are already taking considerable comfort from the flood of warm testimonies being paid to their mum.

“Goodbye Val. We will do our best to follow in your footsteps.”

Val’s family has decided they will be having a small private funeral which will take place in the coming weeks.

A public memorial service is to be held to remember Val on Saturday, September 17, between 12.30pm and 4pm at The Pavilion, Newton Poppleford playing fields. 

Everyone is welcome to attend (smart dress code) the memorial service to pay their respect – there will be an informal service, allowing anyone who would like to say a few words or share a readings, to stand with Val’s family and friends to remember and mourn Val.

This will then be followed by an afternoon tea – something Val loved – allowing everyone to remember Val in the way she would have wanted by sharing stories and memories.

Don’t Miss

Dartmoor and South Hams included in Plymouth freeport area

Dartmoor to be re-industrialised under “permitted development rights”?

Why does the Plymouth “Freeport” have to include most of West Devon?

Looks unbelievably dangerous for the environment.- Owl

William Telford

Tax-break industrial sites with relaxed planning rules could be set up anywhere in the South Hams or on Dartmoor as part of Plymouth’s new freeport, it has emerged. The Government has set a vast boundary for the project which stretches from Devonport to Dartmouth, Salcombe to Okehampton, and incorporates all of the moor and the entire South Hams.

Ministers have revealed the extensive boundary for the freeport on a map, leading to concerns being raised from some environmentalists and critics of the freeport programme. It came as a surprise because it had been said that the freeport would involve just three Plymouth sites: at Oceansgate in Devonport, Sherford and Langage.

But it has now been explained that these are what are termed “tax sites”, where businesses can benefit from a range of tax benefits including paying less when buying land and avoiding National Insurance payments for newly employed workers. The three sites are also what is called “customs sites”, where businesses don’t have to pay tariffs on some goods they import.

There can only be three tax sites, and there must be at least one customs site, or “free zone”, in any freeport. But the freeport company could seek to create more customs sites within the extensive outer boundary.

However, the Plymouth and South Devon Freeport stressed it is “categorically not the case” that the entire area on the map has been earmarked for development or has any special planning status. A spokesperson said: “The outer boundary does not confer any special planning or regulatory status.”

The freeport explained that any new customs site would still need to fit within a “rigorous planning process”, including the suitability of the area for any businesses, and existing local authority restrictions and prohibitions. In Dartmoor’s case this would mean it having to fit with it being within a national park and an area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB).

But an individual new customs site could, in theory, benefit from relaxed planning regulation. The Government’s own website highlights relaxed planning rules for customs sites. It said freeports will “provide a supportive planning environment for the development of tax and customs sites through an extension of permitted development rights and incentivising use of local development orders.”

Permitted development rights allow certain building works and changes of use to be carried out without the need for a full planning application. And local development orders allow local authorities to give permitted development rights for specific types of development in defined locations.

The freeport boundary maps published by the Government drew concern on social media and from some commentators. Twitter campaigner Stan Fontan called them “deregulation zones” and in the Guardian, writer George Monbiot questioned why the Plymouth and South Devon Freeport boundary needed to be so extensive and said that what the boundary means is “as clear as mud”, criticising the Government for “opacity” around freeports. PlymouthLive has also been approached by readers asking what it all means.

The blue line is the boundary of the Plymouth and South Devon Freeport area, the red dots are the tax and customs sites at Devonport, Sherford and Langage (Image:

A spokesperson for Plymouth and South Devon Freeport explained that the furthest permitted distance between any two sites in a freeport is 45km, hence the outer boundary. The spokesperson said: “Only three tax sites will ever be created as part of the Plymouth and South Devon Freeport and these were defined at bid stage and confirmed with the Government during both the outline and full business case process. Two sites (South Yard and Sherford) have been designated and one (Langage) is to be designated in the autumn.

“No further tax sites will be allowed – we have included the maximum number of tax sites permissible (three) as part of the bidding process and these have been confirmed by the Government.”

But the spokesperson confirmed that “dependent on need” the freeport could look to HM Revenue and Customs to designate further custom sites within the outer boundary in the future. However, the spokesperson stressed: “To be clear, any planning for customs sites would follow the standard rigorous planning processes including suitability of the area, local authority restrictions and prohibitions including those in the national park and AONBs, and in consultation and agreement with relevant parties.

“Planning for any future custom site(s) will follow the usual planning processes. The current freeport sites are covered under the Plymouth and South West Devon Joint Local Plan.”

The Plymouth and South Devon Freeport is one of only eight freeports planned for England by the Government. It is expected to provide an economic boost to the region, deliver thousands of jobs and encourage millions of pounds of inward investment to Plymouth, South Hams and the wider region.

The freeport’s outline business case is set to be approved by the Government and it is now under the control of a new company called Plymouth and South Devon Freeport Ltd. This is a private company limited by guarantee without share capital, currently led by interim chair Adrian Bratt, executive director at Princess Yachts, and interim chief executive Richard May, currently head of Oceansgate and Marine Investment for the city council.

It is a condition of freeport designation that an independent company is formed which has a chair and board of directors. Its directors are from Plymouth, Devon and South Hams councils, and private companies.

Sewage spills in UK waters since 2016 have lasted nine million hours

Raw sewage has been pumped into waters around the UK for more than nine million hours since 2016, figures have revealed.

Geraldine Scott 

Data from the Environment Agency showed that the total duration of monitored spill events had risen from 100,533 hours in 2016 to 2,667,452 last year.

This week pollution warnings have been put in place on 40 beaches across England and Wales after companies discharged raw sewage into rivers in response to heavy rainfall.

The Labour Party, which analysed the data, said it was a “disgraceful practice”. Jim McMahon, the shadow environment secretary, said: “Families across Britain are trying to enjoy the summertime.

“While water companies are paying billions in dividends, the Tories have allowed them to cut corners and pump filthy raw sewage on to our playing fields and into our waters.

“Labour will put a stop to this disgraceful practice by ensuring there can be enforcement of unlimited fines, holding water company bosses legally and financially accountable for their negligence, and by toughening up regulations that currently allow the system to be abused.”

Using information from the annual returns of each water company, the Liberal Democrats found that the combined bonuses and salaries per water company boss rose by a fifth over the last year.

This is an average rise in executive pay of nearly £200,000, with the average bonus alone rising by £100,000. The Liberal Democrats called the situation a “national scandal”.

The Environment Agency had previously suggested that bosses should face jail for the worst pollution incidents and said this week that the risk of surface water floods caused by sudden heavy rain “reinforces the need for robust action from water companies to reduce discharges from storm overflows”.

David Black, the boss of regulator Ofwat, said: “I was very clear with company remuneration committees in March that performance-related pay for CEOs should be clearly linked to their performance for customers, the environment and society.

“We are carrying out our own analysis and plan to report on whether we feel companies have clearly made this link. Performance-related pay can’t be a one-way street — if companies are not performing that should be reflected in executive pay.”

Water companies have also come under fire for the increasing number of leaks detected in their systems during a period of widespread hosepipe bans.

A spokesman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pointed to a statement released on its website yesterday, which said the government was “taking action” on sewage discharges, with the present administration being the first to set an expectation on water companies to significantly reduce discharges from storm overflows.

Steve Double, the water minister, said: “We have been clear that water companies’ reliance on overflows is unacceptable and they must significantly reduce how much sewage they discharge as a priority.” He said a plan would be published by September 1.