Not for Twiss’ Eyes – Mid Devon urgently needs to find over half a million pounds to balance the books…

….after rejecting a new business plan for their controversial development company.

“Conservative councillors seem hell bent on investing more taxpayers’ money on this vanity project.” LibDem spokesperson

Mid Devon is another council facing problems from controversial property development.

[Mid Devon District Council – No overall control since 1999, Conservative led for a decade until 2019, subsequent “Indy” Leader Bob Deed until ousted this week].

The council appears simultaneously to have reject two sources of revenue: raising car parking charges and a new business plan for their controversial development company –  3 Rivers Development Ltd (3RDL). Council members have also ousted their Leader, Bob Deed.  

3RDL is another of those controversial investment schemes see: “A cautionary tale from Mid Devon – Council dabbles in investment”. Here are some selected quotes from this 2020 post.

Following an explanation from Deputy Chief Executive, Andrew Jarratt on the origins and aims of the 3Rivers project, Leader of the Council, Bob Deed was reported as saying:

“It was time to “lift the veil” on the “considerable mystery around the performance of 3RDL and the oversight of the company by the responsible officers at the Council.”

He said: “You have heard in Mr Jarrett’s response that 3RDL has already returned significant sums to the Council over the past two years and delivered its only completed scheme to date on time at its level of profit.

“This is opaque speak in that, not one penny has been returned to the Council by 3RDL over the past two years, every penny of interest due from 3RDL to the Council has had to be lent by the Council to 3RDL and remains outstanding within its total loan figure due to the Council.”

LibDems said in February:

“Conservative councillors seem hell bent on investing more taxpayers’ money on this vanity project. The Liberal Democrats believe external expertise needs to be brought in to review the company and to find a solution that does not leave the local council taxpayers ‘picking up the tab’.

 Mid Devon budget chaos as parking charge hike refused and 3Rivers plan rejected

Ollie Heptinstall

Mid Devon urgently needs to find more than half a million pounds for its new budget after councillors rejected two sources of income.

At a lengthy and eventful full district council meeting on Wednesday [22 February], a new business plan for the authority’s controversial housing development company, 3Rivers, was rejected.

The expected interest generated from loans to the company – whose future is now in serious doubt – is therefore missing from the budget, meaning the council is £500,000 short, according to deputy chief executive Andrew Jarrett.

It is also short of an additional £120,000 of revenue after members paused planned hikes to car parking charges, following a public outcry. Some charges, including annual allocated permits, were planned to more than double.

As a result of the decisions and the financial implications, councillors decided not to vote on the proposed 2023/24 budget. Some also didn’t want to because the budget papers had been submitted without five working days’ notice.

An emergency meeting will now be scheduled, in which savings or cuts totalling around £620,000 will need to be agreed. Councils must legally set balanced budgets by Saturday 11 March.

However, councillors did vote to put up council tax by 2.99 per cent – something that has to be agreed by the end of this month so that bills can go to residents in time. The rise is equivalent to an extra £6.56 per year for a band D property, taking their annual contributions to Mid Devon up to £225.40.

Together with other increases to Devon County Council, fire, police, and town and parish councils, band D households will be paying out £2,295.32 next year – an increase of £109.73. Councillors now quickly need to finalise what taxpayers will be paying for in Mid Devon over the year ahead.