Lack of access to schools and healthcare among the concerns raised during talks to agree sites for new homes in Exmouth, Sidmouth and Honiton

Talks have been held to identify fresh sites for new homes in East Devon when the district council this week met to agree potential locations in Exmouth, Honiton and Sidmouth.

Local Democracy Reporter

East Devon is pressing ahead with its local plan 2020-2040 with recommendations to endorse the sites suggested for development, despite protests from several strategic planning committee members, writes local democracy reporter Georgia Cornish.

On Tuesday (September 6) the committee at East Devon District Council (EDDC) discussed a report outlining a number of preferred and “second best” sites for what they call tier one and two settlements around the district that may be suitable for development.

The tier system references a hierarchy of settlements being discussed, with tier one indicating places in Exmouth, tier two being Honiton and Sidmouth, three covering Axminster, Seaton, Ottery St Mary, Budleigh Salterton and Cranbrook and finally, tier four which includes Clyst St Mary, Uplyme, Colyton, Beer, Broadclyst, Lympstone, Woodbury and Dunkeswell.

Concerns raised in the report included the current plan failing to reach the desired number of new homes – it is currently expected to be 1,899 properties short.

Allocating additional “second best” sites could alleviate the shortfall in tiers one and two, with additional housing planned for tiers three and four once assessments have begun at that level.  Housing density, currently being modelled at “reasonably typical standard density levels,” could be increased too.  Other adjustments could limit the shortfall, as could expanding Cranbrook.

While some objections were raised about the locations of the proposed developments, more concern was expressed about the lack of infrastructure to support these new settlements.

Councillor Jess Bailey [Independent, West Hill and Aylesbeare] said the target for housing was “incredibly burdensome,” and that she feared the manner in which the proposed sites have been assessed is “too anecdotal”.

She called for more refined assessments, ones that outline what would happen should infrastructure such as schools and healthcare provision be lacking.

The lack of infrastructure across Devon has been highlighted recently in a BBC survey finding that no dental practices in the county are accepting adult NHS patients. The waiting list is reported to have reached 78,000 patients last summer, with an increasing number of dentists dropping patients from their NHS lists.

The recommendations, backed by the majority of committee members, will be applied to future plans and revisited at future meeting.

The strategic planning committee will meet again on Friday (September 9) to discuss plans for tier three and four settlements.


Liz Truss approval ratings reach new lows after Tory conference

Liz Truss’s personal ratings are now even worse than those recorded for Boris Johnson at the height of the Partygate scandal, according to another Observer poll which will cause alarm among Tory MPs.

[And if it’s any consolation for her, Kwarteng’s approval is even worse.]

61% of all voters say there should be a general election this year, with a quarter against the idea.

Michael Savage 

Truss’s personal approval rating of -47 is now the worst ever recorded for a prime minister in an Opinium poll for the Observer. It is a worse rating than that recorded for Johnson during Partygate and Theresa May in the weeks before her resignation.

It suggests that the perception of the prime minister among voters has worsened despite the Tory party conference, when leaders and parties traditionally see a bump in support as they are given the chance to present their political vision.

Her net approval rating has fallen by 10 points since last week as a result of a significant rise in the number of voters who say they “disapprove” of the job she is doing. The figure was up nine points to 64%. Only 16% approve of the job she is doing. She has an overall approval rating of -47 after rounding is taken into account.

In a concerning sign for Truss, her approval figures are almost as bad among leave voters as remain voters. Among leavers, 61% disapprove of the job she is doing, while 19% approve. Among remainers, 74% disapprove, while 12% approve. Truss successfully won the mantle of the Brexiter candidate for the Tory leadership, despite having backed remain during the EU referendum campaign.

However, chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s ratings are even worse at -51 overall. It follows a mini-budget blamed for crashing the pound, inducing market chaos and leading to a major party conference U-turn over abolishing the top rate of tax. Keir Starmer’s figures are largely unchanged, with a net approval of +9.

With Truss facing opposition to her plans from her own MPs on several fronts, most voters (53%) think she should resign. Only 25% think she should remain Tory leader. Among voters who backed the Tories at the last election, 41% say she should remain in post, while 39% say she should resign.

Overall, Labour’s lead of 21 points is now the biggest Opinium has ever recorded, though the company started polling after the peak of New Labour’s popularity. Labour has tended to have smaller leads than recorded with other polling companies because of the way Opinium treats how likely voters are to cast a ballot.

After a Tory conference characterised by public spats among cabinet ministers over immigration, tax and welfare, voters were unsurprisingly clear on which party had enjoyed the better conference. Asked about Labour’s conference, 44% said it had gone well, with 12% believing it had gone badly. For the Conservatives, 19% thought it had gone well, with 49% saying it had gone badly.

The Conservatives are holding on to just 60% of their 2019 voting coalition. Labour is holding on to 87% of its 2019 voters. 61% of all voters say there should be a general election this year, with a quarter against the idea.

Adam Drummond, Opinium’s associate director, said: “The Conservative party conference has not, it seems safe to say, given the Truss administration the boost in the polls it might have hoped for. The fact that the prime minister seems determined to avoid up-rating universal credit in line with inflation puts her on the wrong side of public opinion on the issue.

“Even though voters generally like it when politicians U-turn to abandon unpopular policies, the fact that ‘U-turning to abandon unpopular policies’ seems to have defined her time in office so far means that she doesn’t even get the benefit of being seen as principled: her ratings for this are as poor as they are for being competent or being a strong leader.”

Opinium polled 2,023 people online from 5-7 October.

Liz Truss facing rural rebellion over anti-nature ‘growth’ push

Liz Truss is facing a rural revolt against her plans to prioritise a “dash for economic growth” over nature protection and the environment.

[The latest Opinium poll for the Observer, taken after the disastrous Tory conference in Birmingham last week, shows the biggest Labour lead ever recorded by the company.]

Helena Horton 

Senior party figures, including ministers under Boris Johnson’s premiership and former Tory leader William Hague, have joined the National Trust, the RSPB, the Angling Trust and Wildlife Trusts in criticising what they see as environmental vandalism.

It follows concerns Truss is treating the leading nature charities as part of a so-called “anti-growth coalition” that she claims to be confronting.

As MPs return to parliament, Truss is facing Tory revolts on several fronts in the wake of a chaotic party conference. Senior MPs believe she is now a “prisoner of the parliamentary party”, unable to force through controversial policies on tax, welfare and immigration. The environment has become the latest flashpoint.

Former nature minister Rebecca Pow, who resigned over Partygate, spoke out against the attack on nature organisations. Former environment secretary George Eustice is said to be dismayed at the way policies he championed are being dismantled.

Pow told the Observer: “The government must engage the full range of stakeholders when developing agricultural and environmental policies, including farmers and NGOs. They bring valuable evidence and are practitioners who deliver nature recovery and food production on the ground.

“As environment minister, I consulted them regularly when developing the Environment Act’s targets to improve and restore the environment. Similarly, their views were crucial in helping design ELMs to achieve those targets and set us on a trajectory for healthy ecosystems and sustainable food production.”

Nature groups are now working together to mobilise their millions of members against Conservative policies. With Tory support collapsing in the polls, the prospect of rural Conservatives deserting en masse will further alarm Tory MPs as they return to Westminster this week.

The latest Opinium poll for the Observer, taken after the disastrous Tory conference in Birmingham last week, shows the biggest Labour lead ever recorded by the company. Keir Starmer’s party holds a 21-point lead, while Truss’s personal approval rating is the worst the company has recorded for a prime minister.

Truss used her conference speech to attack an “anti-growth coalition” that included the green lobby.

Wildlife groups are concerned rare animals and plants could lose their protections when the promised “bonfire” of EU red tape happens later this year. Species are also at risk from the government’s plans to set up new investment zones. Truss’s growth plan says environmental legislation could be slashed to make development in these areas easier.

Though No 10 has promised to protect the environment, it has given no specific assurances for areas of outstanding natural beauty, sites of special scientific interest or national nature reserves. Nor has it stated that rare animals will be protected from development in investment zones.

Martin Salter at the Angling Trust said: “Given the government’s current problems it beggars belief that they have chosen this time to pick a fight with the public and groups concerned with protecting wildlife and the natural environment. The RSPB, Rivers Trust, National Trust, Wildlife Trusts between them represent in excess of 10 million voters. Add in a couple of million anglers and countless others who are appalled at seeing rivers polluted and green spaces destroyed for ever and you have created a massive ‘coalition of concern’. Liz Truss would do well to listen again to the advice of former Environment Secretary Michael Gove who has warned of the dangers of reneging on promises made to protect our rivers and natural environment.”

Craig Bennett, chief executive of the Wildlife Trusts, said: “Restoring nature and creating a greener, healthier and more prosperous future must go hand in hand. To pit the economy and environment against each other is a retreat to the kind of outdated, failed ideological thinking that got us into this mess, not what’s needed to get us out of it. The Conservative Party was elected into Government on a promise to leave the environment in a better state for the next generation. It has no electoral mandate to do the opposite.”

Meanwhile, Hague wrote recently: “The idea that we can choose faster growth at the expense of our environment shows an inadequate understanding of those trends – that we are biological creatures that need a thriving ecosystem around us, not gods who can dispense with it if we wish.

“Crucially, it also reveals a misunderstanding of the future of growth. The great prizes for growth in the coming decades will go to cities that can breathe, with the trees that help that and the wildlife that proves it.” The Truss government has also prompted anger and confusion in rural Britain by deciding to review its post-Brexit farming payments scheme, the Environment Land Management scheme.

This was to pay farmers to farm sustainably, and also create habitats for wildlife. The scheme took six years to create, with wildlife organisations and farmers contributing. Many farmers signed up to pilot schemes having changed the way they work in order to be eligible for funds.

While some in the agricultural industry complained about elements of the scheme, such as little reward for upland farmers, that the paperwork was difficult to fill in and that the government has been low on detail for how to be eligible for future elements, the rural world was getting ready for the change.

Many were shocked and angered to find out that the government plans to review six years of work in six weeks, without warning.

The Labour party is now drawing up a list of rural and nature policies and making a point of defending the nature organisations attacked by the government.

Jim McMahon, the shadow environment secretary, said: “Instead of dismissing the opinions of experts, who represent millions of people’s views, the Conservatives should be listening to well-respected nature organisations’ concerns about the impact of their planned bonfire of environment regulations.

“Labour believes in protecting and enhancing our natural environment, not just because it’s the right thing to do for our planet, but because our nature and our coastal hotspots are a driver of jobs, economic growth and wellbeing in our great country.”

Commenting on the government’s attitude to nature, Sarah McMonagle, acting director of campaigns and policy at CPRE, the countryside charity, said: “Antagonising people who care about nature and the countryside is completely counterproductive.

“Over many years, Defra has engaged constructively with the environment sector and it’s important that continues.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: “The environment, farming and economic growth go hand-in-hand and we want to support our farmers to produce high-quality food and enhance our natural environment. We are not scrapping our farming reforms, including the Environmental Land Management schemes. We are committed to halting the decline of nature by 2030 and will not undermine our obligations to the environment in pursuit of growth.”

You announce a plan of unfunded tax cuts, then the debt collectors knock on your door.

What’s an old Etonian with a “brilliant” academic mind, variously described as: arrogant; tin-eared and, with only a few of week’s experience, a bit naive, to do when the debt collectors call? Especially when he has already crashed the pound and pushed up interest rates for everyone.

It increasingly looks like Plan A was to bounce the cabinet, the treasury and us with a wing and a prayer assumption that tax cuts would instantly be self-funding by immediately creating 2.5% growth. No questions asked nor needed for such obvious genius.

Except the experienced, real world, orthodox debt collectors called his bluff.

So what is his Plan B?

Austerity on a scale that will make Osborne look generous? – Owl

(Plan A looks a bit thin to Owl)

OBR forecasts likely to show £60bn-£70bn hole after Kwarteng’s mini-budget

Richard Partington (extract)

Kwasi Kwarteng has been handed independent forecasts on the state of the UK finances that are expected to show a hole of more than £60bn left by his sweeping tax cuts and a sharply slowing growth outlook.

At the end of a turbulent week for Liz Truss’s government, the chancellor was on Friday handed the initial predictions for the economy and public finances by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) which are likely to paint a gloomy picture.

Sir Charlie Bean, a ex-member of the independent watchdog and a former Bank of England deputy governor, said the document would probably show a large shortfall for the exchequer.

“It will be in the order of £60bn to £70bn relative to its previous forecasts,” he said, adding that Kwarteng would face three options: further U-turns on his tax-cutting plans, deep cuts to public spending, or risking the ire of already rattled financial markets by substantially adding to the national debt.

‘Winding up the other side’: leftwing designers CGI-bomb Tory speeches

At 4.55pm on Monday the WhatsApp group of a collective of leftwing graphic designers started pinging excitedly after one member noticed something.

The chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, had given his speech to the Conservative party conference in front of a bright blue screen – almost a replica of screens used for computer-generated imagery (CGI).

Alexandra Topping 

By 5.23pm the group, Labour Party Graphic Designers, had tweeted a video of the chancellor, created by 22-year-old collective member Christian Walker, with news footage of the drop in the pound precipitated by his mini-budget rolling behind him.

Watch on twitter here

On Tuesday the background had not changed, and the group tweeted a video of the home secretary, Suella Braverman, against the opening of the Star Wars film The Force Awakens, with the words: “Lessons learned by the Conservative party yesterday: 0”.

Watch on twitter here

Convinced the screen would be changed for the prime minister’s speech, they held tight. But as Truss walked on stage on Wednesday – and stood in front of the same blue background – they got to work. “It was a race against time,” says Kevin Kennedy Ryan, who runs the group’s Twitter account. “We wanted to get it out as quickly as possible – I think we ended up posting just a couple of minutes after she finished.”

Watch on twitter here

The video, which shows Truss opening her speech against a backdrop of snaking food bank queues, sewage spewing into the sea, patients on trolleys in hospital corridors and graphs showing the increase in household bills and the falling pound, was accompanied by the words: “Political tip! Don’t stand in front of a bluescreen if you’re in the middle of crashing the country.”

Viewed 1.5m times since, Kennedy Ryan says the group wanted to create mischief (“there’s a lot of nuances to political communications, but winding up the other side is just great”) but – like all political design – there was a serious message. “We wanted to juxtapose this incredibly managed and polished impression that they were trying to present with the stark reality of what’s actually happening in this country,” he says.

Sana Iqbal, a member of the group, says good graphic design is a powerful tool to help amplify a political message. “It’s a great vehicle to persuade people, influence people, emotionally touch their hearts and minds – but it can’t win an election. You need substance at the core,” she says.

Labour Party Graphic Designers are a collective of mainly young creatives who support the party, but are not officially affiliated with them – as Kennedy Ryan puts it: “We’re just a bunch of nerds who do this in our spare time.”

The set-up works for Labour because they get instant, memeworthy and shareable content without having to produce it – and the ability to distance themselves if content oversteps the line, argues Iqbal. But it works for the creatives too: “We don’t have to stick to any guidelines. Nobody’s going to tell us off.”

Powerful political graphic design is, of course, not the preserve of the left. One of the most impactful political images in history came from 1978, in anticipation of the general election the following year – when Saatchi & Saatchi created the poster Labour Isn’t Working, featuring a long queue for unemployment benefit.

As the former Saatchi & Saatchi art director Martyn Walsh recalled it, “every newspaper put it on their front page, every TV station had it on the news […] By the end of the first week, both the poster and the name Saatchi & Saatchi were known in every household in Britain.”

The poster linked the Conservative party with strong design, but imagery has always been a fundamental part of the labour movement, argues Chris Burgess, the head of exhibitions and public programmes at Cambridge University library and an expert on political posters and imagery.

“Throughout its history, the Labour party has produced images creating a really strong identity,” he says, from the earliest images made for the labour movement such as Mothers Vote Labour, created by Gerald Spencer Pryse in 1919, to the upbeat image of Harold Wilson with a thumbs-up in 1964. “But while the party has often been at the forefront of political design, traditionally they just didn’t have as much money to put up as many posters.”

Kennedy Ryan argues this is still the case, but Labour-supporting creatives are capitalising on the digital revolution to produce fast, cheap and instantly shareable political graphic design.

“They’ve got the cash, but we’ve got the culture,” he says. “We’re using the human resources and the creativity of the people who want to fight for a better world, where the Conservatives, you know, have to pay people to go to their birthday parties and stag dos and do their graphic design.”