PPS: Simon Jupp now living in a parallel universe

A few weeks ago, in his weekly news column, Simon was promoting Kwasi Kwarteng and Liz Truss’ unfunded, tax cutting, “growth” “mini-budget.

In this week’s Exmouth Journal, published today, he rides on the coat-tails of EDDC’s announcement of its successful bid for £500K to help support the homeless and returns to his recent attack on EDDC for continuing to hold virtual meetings.

No mention of the fact that the budget he supported a few weeks ago has been scrapped and the country plunged into austerity 2.0 by one of the architects of austerity 1.0 and by the reckless actions of the government in which he plays a minor part. Obviously no apology either.

Today inflation has risen to levels not seen for 40 years, driven by increases in food prices. People are yet to feel the increases in mortgage rates coming down the tracks.

What’s the point of an MP who is “not free to speak” and “not free to act”?

Can someone give him sight of a newspaper? – Owl

Breaking: UK inflation rises to 10.1% as energy bills and food prices increase

Figure returns to double digits in September, with households under pressure from cost of living crisis

(The September figures are the ones normally used for the inflation uplift to pensions and benefits, though Liz Truss is flip flopping on this manifesto pledge – Owl)

Richard Partington www.theguardian.com 

Inflation in the UK has risen above 10% for the second time this year as households come under mounting pressure from sky-high energy bills and rising food prices amid the cost of living crisis.

The Office for National Statistics said the consumer prices index rose to 10.1% in September, returning to double digits after a slight dip to 9.9% in August. The figure was last higher in 1982.

City economists had forecast a modest increase to 10%.

South West “worst” for ambulance response

Ambulances in the South West operated by the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) took an average of 11 minutes and 10 seconds to respond to category one calls during September.

From today’s Western Morning News

Such calls are the most serious, for life-threatening conditions and injuries. The average was down from 11 minutes and 27 seconds in August, but was far longer than the target of seven minutes set by the NHS. It is also the longest wait for category one calls of any ambulance service in England.

Category two calls, which cover conditions like strokes, were responded to by SWASFT in an average of one hour eight minutes, well short of the 18 minute target and up from 59 minutes and 45 seconds the month before. It is the second-longest wait across England.

Category three calls, meanwhile, were responded to by SWASFT in an average of two hours 50 minutes, compared to a target of two hours, and category four calls were responded to within an average of three hours 22 minutes, compared to a target of three hours.

Response times vary across England. While SWASFT had the slowest response to category one calls, in London they were responded to in an average of seven minutes and 14 seconds.

A spokesperson for SWASFT said: “Our ambulance clinicians strive every day to give their best to patients, but our performance has not returned to pre-pandemic levels, partly due to handover delays at emergency departments.

“Health and social care services are under enormous pressure. We are working with our partners to ensure our ambulance clinicians can get back out on the road as quickly as possible, to respond to other 999 calls within the community.”

For category one incidents, the average response time across England is nine minutes, 19 seconds. The best performing region is the North East, at seven minutes 14 seconds, and the worst is the South West, at 11 minutes 10 seconds.

East of England Ambulance service has the worst record for category two calls. Those calls should be responded to within 18 minutes, but in the east they take an average of one hour and 14 minutes. SWASFT had the second-longest wait time, at one hour, eight minutes and 53 seconds.

The England average was just under 48 minutes for a category two call. The East Midlands arrived in 53 minutes and four seconds, East of England in one hour 14 minutes and 12 seconds, with London, the North East, North West, South Central and South East Coast all around 40 minutes. 

£500k grant will help tackle rough sleeping in East Devon

A grant for more than half a million pounds has been awarded to help tackle rough sleeping across East Devon has been.


Rough sleeper, homeless

East Devon District Council (EDDC) has successfully bid for funding from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities through the Rough Sleeper Initiative.

A total of £568,074 has been given to the district to tackle rough sleeping and contribute towards EDDC’s ambition to end rough sleeping in the district, over the next three years.

The money has helped to provide a more stable platform allowing EDDC to finance and hire officers in the following posts:

  • Two ‘Rough Sleeper Navigators’ who undertake outreach sessions to follow up new reports of rough sleepers and work with existing rough sleepers with the aim of helping them to obtain suitable accommodation options.
  • One ‘Housing Officer’ dedicated to providing wraparound support to former rough sleepers accommodated through the ‘Housing First’ programme.
  • One ‘Private Sector Liaison Officer’ working with homeless applicants, and former rough sleepers, to access accommodation within the private sector through the council’s rent deposit and bond scheme.

Several positive outcomes for former rough sleepers have been achieved over the past few years, within a very challenging housing environment, through this funding stream which has played a major part in enabling the council to work towards its aim to end rough sleeping in the district.

There were 159 reports of new rough sleepers within the district in 2021/22, and a further 122 over the last six months between April and September, 2022/23.

In the past 12 months, between September 2021 and September 2022, the number of verified rough sleepers at any one time in East Devon has varied from three to 14 – with August, September and October seeing the highest numbers (between 11 and 14) and February, March and April seeing the lowest numbers (with three).

Councillor Dan Ledger, EDDC’s portfolio holder sustainable homes and communities, said:

With the cost-of-living crisis that we are currently facing as well as other winter pressures on the horizon, this funding is really welcomed.

We acknowledge that some of our residents will struggle in the coming months and as a Council we wish to help wherever possible.

These additional posts will ensure that the council is able to offer full assistance to anyone requiring it, giving timely help, advice and support to our residents who need it most.

This will hopefully keep as many people as possible off our streets over the next few years and help to achieve positive outcomes in securing long term sustainable accommodation for those individuals and families.

Planning applications validated by EDDC for week beginning 3 October

‘Nowhere for them to live’: the Devon families pushed out by Airbnb

Hardship and heartbreak as Devon families lose homes to Airbnb lets.

Some of those who have been evicted are living in camper vans, caravans, even on boats. There are families who have been booted out of their homes crammed together in holiday park chalets or single rooms while others have had no choice but to give up and leave the area completely.

Steven Morris www.theguardian.com 

The dramatic rise of short-term holiday lets in Woolacombe and neighbouring villages and towns in north Devon is causing hardship, heartache and anger as landlords and investors cash in and local people are squeezed out.

“It’s really dire,” said Emma Hookway, a founder of the North Devon and Torridge Housing Crisis campaign group. “I constantly come across people in tears after they have been kicked out of rented accommodation because landlords want to turn places into holiday lets.”

Hookway, a 43-year-old cleaner, began the group after she and her young son were forced to leave their rented house. They eventually found a flat above a working men’s club. “It felt soul-destroying moving back into a small flat in my 40s. But I had to suck it up and now I realise that, actually, we are the lucky ones.

“Tourism here has boomed, especially since Covid. Landlords who were making £1,000 a month renting to a tenant can make that in a week now and investors are snapping up properties to make money out of them. It’s easy money for them.”

Renting out through Airbnb in the area is lucrative. Two-bedroom flats in the modern Oceanpoint and Narracott developments in Woolacombe will cost about £1,200 a week this autumn. A small studio above the Tides Inn is almost £100 a night.

But there is, undoubtedly, a price to pay for the community.

Another member of the campaign group, Graham Bell, who works at a local hospital, said key workers were being forced out. “We lose nurses and teachers who grew up here because they can’t find anywhere to live. They move to Exeter, Bristol or further afield. Families are being pushed into holiday parks, hotels, B&Bs. Children are having to sit their exams while living in caravan parks. Education and life chances are being affected.”

One emergency worker in his 30s, who asked not to be named, described how he and his partner were evicted from their flat in Woolacombe and now lived in a van on a campsite. “We’re making that work for now but it’s not ideal. It’s not what we want long term. It feels like a downward spiral for the area. How are they going to find people to staff the hospitals, the fire station, the shops if nothing is done?”

A woman with a small child who is being compelled to move out of her Woolacombe home this winter after almost a decade summed up her feelings as “heartbroken, scared and helpless”. Another parent who has been given notice to leave said she was “genuinely terrified” at the prospect of becoming homeless.

Dan Stokes, 40, who works as a chef in Woolacombe, has struggled to find stable accommodation. “There are dozens of applications for every rented place.” It means there are acute staff shortages in hospitality. “Probably most businesses have 60 or 70% of the staff they need because there’s nowhere for them to live.”

Stokes said he knew of a hospitality worker who lived in a camper van in Woolacombe and a family of three – two parents and a grownup son – who shared one room. “Something has got to be done.”

The feel of the place is changing. Locals say they cannot afford the “London prices” charged in many pubs, bars and restaurants and there are frequently complaints about the behaviour of short-let visitors – loud music, excessive drinking, antisocial behaviour (often when hot tubs are involved).

According to North Devon council’s figures, 47% of places in the Mortehoe parish, which includes Woolacombe, are second homes or holiday lets. The figure for the nearby village of Georgeham is 45%. In 2020-21, the number of section 21 eviction notices issued by landlords to tenants in north Devon was 39; in 2021-22 it was 103.

The council’s chief executive, Ken Miles, has been busy drafting a report in response to the UK government’s call for evidence on holiday lets. The draft report says the council is “particularly concerned about community cohesion in areas where there is a high intensity of short-term holiday lets”.

Examples Miles cites include a primary school struggling to maintain enough pupil numbers to remain viable and he points out a road in Georgeham where only one dwelling is occupied in the winter. “Communities cannot be sustained with that level of holiday use,” the draft report says.

It goes on to highlight the case of a senior college worker in north Devon who has to live 40 miles away and an employee of a local care home who had to give up her job when she was evicted.

The report says that in recent years “the nature of the tourist accommodation offer has changed with the rise in prominence of sites such as Airbnb”. It suggests consideration of a licensing scheme for holiday lets and perhaps the requirement to apply for planning consent for change of use where residential premises are converted to holiday lets to allow more control.

Malcolm Wilkinson, the council’s lead member for coastal communities and a resident of Woolacombe for half a century, said there was some good news. A community land trust has been formed to build 21 affordable homes for local people next to the village hall. “We hope that will help a little,” he said.

Tensions are surfacing. One second-home owner, who rents her place out when she and her partner are not there, said a guest recently left early because they did not feel welcome by local people. “They were told that tourists weren’t wanted,” she said.

The owner, who asked not to be named, said she did not make huge profits and employed a local cleaner and used local companies for laundry and building work.

She argued that Woolacombe had long been a tourist destination. “Our guests use local attractions, cafes, restaurants and shops. I don’t know what would happen to the place if there weren’t any visitors.”

Alarm over sharp rise in Airbnb listings in coastal areas of England and Wales

A sharp rise in the number of Airbnb listings in coastal areas of England and Wales has prompted fears that some seaside areas will become “theme parks for the wealthy”.

(This articles linked to one describing the particular problems in Devon: Hardship and heartbreak as Devon families lose homes to Airbnb lets)

David Blood www.theguardian.com 

The number of “entire places” for rent in coastal spots in England and Wales increased by 56% between 2019 and 2022, compared with 15% in non-coastal areas, according to analysis.

The rise means coastal areas now have three times the rate of Airbnb listings per dwelling than in non-coastal areas, up from twice the rate pre-pandemic.

Housing campaigners say the trend indicates that landlords in popular seaside towns and quiet coastal getaways may be favouring tourists over tenants at a time when many such communities are being hit by rising living costs, mortgage and house prices.

“Tourists don’t want to visit ghost towns. And most people can’t afford to live in a theme park designed for wealthier visitors,” said Will McMahon, the director of the charity Action on Empty Homes, who coordinated the Action on Short Lets campaign.

He added that the current situation “ultimately kills the very communities that were once considered to be part of the attraction to visitors”.

The analysis, which calculates the number of Airbnb listings advertised as an “entire place” for rent – as opposed to a room in a house or a shared room – as a rate of local housing stock in statistical reporting regions known as middle-layer super output areas, found that in May 2019, one in every 105 dwellings in coastal areas in England and Wales were advertised as an Airbnb.

In May 2022 it was one in every 67 coastal dwellings, while in inland locations it was one in every 196 properties, according to Inside Airbnb, a non-commercial project that aims to highlight the impact of the service on residential housing markets.

Data also showed that some seaside locations had a far greater proportion of Airbnb listings.

One in four houses and flats in Woolacombe, Georgeham & Croyde in north Devon were listed on Airbnb in May this year, up from one in six in 2019, as were homes in the Scores, overlooking the sea in St Andrews, Scotland. And one in five dwellings in St Ives & Halsetown in Cornwall were listed while one in six properties in the Cornish town of Newquay and Whitby in North Yorkshire were advertised on the site.

Dan Wilson Craw, the deputy director of Generation Rent, said one of the driving forces behind the rise in Airbnb listings was a lack of tax and regulation for holiday lets.

“In the past seven years, the government has withdrawn mortgage interest tax relief from residential landlords but left the holiday let sector untouched. That has encouraged landlords in holiday hotspots to switch their properties from tenants to tourists. As a result there are fewer listings on the rental market and rents have soared, pushing people out of the towns and villages they grew up in.”

The rate of Airbnb listings in coastal areas across Great Britain grew by 40% in the three-year period compared with 17% in inland locations. Of the 50 areas with the highest proportion of Airbnb listings per dwelling, two-thirds were in coastal areas although coastal locations make up just one quarter of the small areas covered by the analysis.

The analysis looked only at Airbnb listings advertised as an “entire place” for rent, as opposed to a room in a house or a shared room, and did not distinguish between properties let out full-time, and included caravans, pods and manor houses, which make up a fraction of listings.

Airbnb questioned the accuracy of the findings, emphasising that unusual listings such as caravans or large manor houses, used for events, may not affect the local housing stock.

A spokesperson said: “The pandemic changed the way we travel and moved demand from densely populated cities to coastal and countryside communities, which created new economic opportunities for local families to boost their income by occasionally renting their home.

“The typical UK host rents their own home for just a couple of nights a month to boost their income, and over a third say the additional income helps them afford rising living costs. Airbnb welcomes new rules and we proposed a host register to the UK government, and we continue to support its consultation on the matter.”

McMahon pointed to potential solutions in other countries: “In Scotland councils are empowered to limit short lets, in Wales new powers are coming in to make short lets and second homes separate planning classes from homes in normal residential use.

“It is time we ensured a decent supply of affordable housing for local people is maintained and that means ensuring that all the local housing isn’t snapped up by investors with deeper pockets who then just rent it on Airbnb for huge profits.”

Plymouth ‘Independent’ group may emerge following Tory chaos 

Nationally Conservatives are disintegrating, now it looks like the same is happening locally. – Owl

Plymouth City Council’s Conservative group is set to undergo yet more losses following on from the suspension – and deselection – of its former leader, Nick Kelly. Saturday night saw news that the former leader of the council – who was ousted from his position in March this year following a vote of no confidence – had been suspended by his own group following claims of “several serious and different complaints and allegations”.

Carl Eve www.plymouthherald.co.uk 

The Plymouth Conservative Group released a statement saying that allegations had been made formally to its Group Executive team and it confirmed Cllr Kelly, who represents Compton ward, had been “suspended from Plymouth City Council Conservative Group, pending all necessary investigations.”

However, Cllr Kelly took to his Facebook page to reveal that he had undergone the selection interview process with the Approvals Panel on Saturday and had been informed that he would not be selected to stand as a Conservative in his own ward at the next local election in May 2023. Cllr Kelly said he was “extremely disappointed that the local Conservative Party have deemed that I am not fit to represent the party” at the forthcoming election.

Read next: PM Liz Truss ‘laughed’ as she sacked Plymouth MP Johnny Mercer

PlymouthLive has learned that Cllr Kelly wrote to the Conservative group following his ‘deselection’ and then suspension, saying he was resigning his position. Since then there have been a number of claims circulating which suggest he is looking to create an ‘Independent Alliance’ with other Independent Plymouth councillors. Sources have told PlymouthLive at least three councillors are in talks about forming a new group.

In addition, PlymouthLive has now heard from three sources who have stated that a second Conservative councillor – Cllr Patrick Nicholson – who represents the Plympton St Mary ward – has also not been selected to run as a Conservative at the next election. It is understood that Cllr Nicholson aims to appeal the decision.

Mr Nicholson has been contacted to confirm this information.

PlymouthLive has also had sight of an emailed response from Cllr Kelly to Conservative Group Chief Whip Cllr Pat Patel, (St Budeaux ward) who had informed the former leader he was being suspended pending an investigation over “a number of complaints”. In his strongly worded reply, Cllr Kelly wrote asking him him to explain under which rule of the “Plymouth City Council Conservative Group Rules” he had been suspended and “the specific reason/s for this suspension.”

He argued that in his opinion the “professional way to conduct such an act” would have been to adhere the the group rules, ensuring that it was only the “Group Leader who has the ability to suspend a member.”

He added: “To make unfounded allegations, without any specific details, and circulate these to the media is quite dangerous from a defamation point of view.”

He went on to make a number of allegations regarding Cllr Patel and pointed out that he “formally resigned from the Conservative Group on the 15th October 2022.”

Cllr Kelly’s deselection and suspension has drawn the ire of other former councillors who were themselves told they would not be selected to represent the party at the next local election..

Dave Downie wrote on Cllr Kelly’s official Facebook page: “The best most forward-thinking and innovative leader this council has had for a long time. Stabbed in the back by a clique who will not have the courage to explain why this decision was taken. A complete disgrace. Conservative politics in Plymouth are being dictated by a group of non-accountable, unelectable idiots who are not acting in the best interests of the city. They only want ‘their people’ front and centre. If you dare challenge them, you are not approved to stand for election again. Things must change. Party politics is over.”

Similarly, former Lord Mayor Cllr Terri Beer, who left the Conservative group earlier this year but who has continued her role as ward councillor for Plympton Erle Ward as an independent, wrote: “You are such an amazing Councillor Nick. This is what unelected people do to hardworking councillors. Conservatives self-destruction. Vote Independent in May.”