E coli levels in Suffolk river in Thérèse Coffey constituency far above legal limits, data shows

The government has asked water companies to create two river bathing water sites each in the next 12 months as it promises to drive a cleanup of rivers.

What chances for the Otter or the Axe?

And what about the Exe? Until December 1998,  the sludge from the Exeter Water Treatment Works was regularly transported by barge down the estuary and dumped at sea.- Owl

Sandra Laville www.theguardian.com 

E coli levels from treated sewage discharges into the River Deben in Thérèse Coffey’s constituency are far above legal limits for bathing water status, campaigners say.

As the environment secretary was due to visit Martlesham water treatment works in her constituency on the Deben in Suffolk on Friday, previously unpublished data given to campaigners by Anglian Water reveals extremely high levels of E coli in the river.

The government has asked water companies to create two river bathing water sites each in the next 12 months as it promises to drive a cleanup of rivers. Waters with bathing water status are regularly tested for E coli from May to September to ensure the safety of water users.

But the new data shows levels of the bacteria are so high they far exceed that required for bathing water status.

At their highest, levels measured at the outflow at the Martlesham treatment plant reached 640,000 colony forming units (CFU) per 100ml of water. E coli levels in bathing waters must not exceed 900 CFU/100ml.

Campaigners say the E coli is coming from treated sewage being released into the river and that the pollution has made it impossible for parts of the Deben to be considered for bathing water status.

Two areas of the Deben – Woodbridge and Waldringfield – have applied to become bathing water areas. At Woodbridge the tests showed levels as high as 20,000 CFU/100ml. The government rejected the area’s application for bathing water status.

At Waldringfield, average levels were 786 CFU/100ml and the area was approved to go forward to consultation for bathing water status.

Campaigners behind the bathing water application in Woodbridge believe the high levels of E coli from the discharge of treated sewage from treatment plants was the reason the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs rejected the application for bathing water status.

Eamonn O’Nolan, a green councillor in Woodbridge, said: “We have been testing for 18 months and are pretty sure there was E coli in numerous locations around the Deben in Woodbridge.

“But Defra has steadfastly rejected our techniques. Now that we have the Anglian Water test results we are reassured but disappointed to find they corroborate what we have been finding. This is coming from treated sewage from the treatment plants along the river. We think this is the real reason Woodbridge was turned down.”

He said it would be very difficult to create a network of bathing water areas in rivers with this level of sewage pollution from treated effluent.

“This sewage is supposed to be treated. But it is not being treated to a level that means the water is safe. Only UV treatment would clean the sewage releases [sufficiently] and that is not in place. We are a passionate group of local residents totally fed up with the situation we are dealing with. People swim in the river at Woodbridge, people kayak on it and sail on it, so whether it has bathing water status or not, it is socially unacceptable to have such levels of E coli pollution.”

Bathing water status is being seen by campaigners as a way of unlocking investment by water companies in treatment plants, including installing costly UV treatment in the future – currently only used at some coastal sites – which cuts pollution.

Anglian Water said: “We share our customers’ desire to make our waterways healthier. Rivers should be beautiful places, rich in nature, and we know how valuable they have become for community recreation and wellbeing.

“At Anglian Water, we are committed to playing our part in making that happen. As part of our Get River Positive programme we’ve pledged to make sure our operations will not be the reason for poor river health.

“We’re already working with local river and wild swimming groups to support plans for bathing water designation, including those on the River Deben, to help initiate consistent monitoring by the Environment Agency. Alongside this, we’ve been working with the River Deben Association and the ‘Save the Deben Campaign’ for over a year to help monitor the water quality and start planning the necessary improvements our operational activity plays in it.”

Spot the Minister canvassing with Simon Jupp and Phil Skinner

According to a report in The Times, the prime minister and Greg Hands, the Conservative Party chairman, have challenged ministers to complete at least three days of campaigning in key areas. A league table has been set up and at cabinet last week Sunak congratulated Lucy Frazer, the culture secretary, for being in pole position.

The obvious choice for East Devon, until a week ago, would have been Simon’s one-time political boss and mentor: Dominic Raab. 

Think of the headlines: “Deputy Prime Minster canvassing in Devon”.

Unfortunately, Dominic is now just the latest “has been” in a long list of resignations.

Over the border in Mid Devon Neil Parish has shown no inhibition in “putting himself about”, sprinkling a little bit of “star dust” in support of some hapless “independent” candidate.

Although never a minister, Neil has a name recognition score way ahead of most of them.

These days, that is all that really matters

If anyone spots a minister, please let Owl know.

Exeter Tory candidate is also running for election 120 miles away

Tories scraping the barrel again. 

Under the title “The good people of Sidmouth deserve better”, Owl has already pointed out that the Tories are struggling to find Sidmouth folk who aren’t related to stand in the 3 Sidmouth wards in this election, or to find candidates who actually live in the Ward they’re standing in, including a current Windlesham, Surrey, parish councillor.

Owl recalls that for a year Budleigh became a French Commune when Conservative Cllr Malcolm Florey retired to France. In the subsequent local elections the “True Blues” of Budleigh took their revenge and kicked the Tories out.

Two hypocrisies are revealed here: the East Devon Tory insistence on scrapping Zoom and returning to eyeball to eyeball meetings, for the sake of democracy; and the Tory campaign stress on listening to and supporting the local community.

PS do these semi-detached candidates get two votes, one here and one there? – Owl

Mary Stenson www.devonlive.com

An Exeter Conservative candidate listed for the upcoming City Council election appears to simultaneously be standing to become a councillor in his hometown in Hampshire, more than 120 miles away.

Harry Johnson-Hill, 21, is the Conservative candidate for the Duryard and St James ward in the upcoming Exeter City Council election. At the same time, he is actively campaigning to represent the Alresford and Itchen Valley ward on Winchester City Council, despite the two cities being more than 120 miles apart.

It is understood that Mr Johnson-Hill came to Exeter as a student at the University of Exeter but hails from the market town of Alresford in Winchester, meaning he has addresses in both cities. He has a Facebook page dedicated to his political campaigns but, so far, no posts have made any mention of Exeter.

His profile on the Exeter Conservatives reads: “Harry has long been invested in the local community and will be an exciting new voice in Duryard & St James as well as the wider city. Working closely with County Cllr Percy Prowse and the Conservative team he is keen to improve the area and challenge the failing Labour council where other parties have not.”

DevonLive asked Mr Johnson-Hill today (April 28) why he was standing in both wards, what his connections to both cities are and, if elected, whether he would be able to adequately represent both areas, given the long distance between them. He said he would “of course welcome the opportunity to serve as a councillor” and said he would “hold the current administration to account”.

He said: “I have addresses in both Winchester and Exeter, and ties to both communities. I would of course welcome the opportunity to serve as a councillor and make important contributions for the community.

“Conservative representation is important at council level to hold the current administration to account.”

It’s not the first time he has stood to represent Duryard and St James as he was beaten out last year by Liberal Democrat candidate Kevin Mitchell as the party maintained its only ward in Exeter, alongside Cllr Michael Mitchell. The City Council currently has a Labour majority.

Local Elections 2023: East Devon District Council candidate statements Honiton

On May 4 Honiton residents will vote for five new East Devon District Councillors across two wards.

Owl notes that Phil Twiss has endorsed Tory candidates. Maybe he should concentrate on the day job of trying to avoid DCC falling into bankruptcy. Not a good advert for the pledge to run a “value for money” administration.

Remember DCC is facing bankruptcy after hiking council tax by 5%. The coalition EDDC, despite inheriting significant legacy problems, has a balanced budget and only raised council tax by 3%.

(Alison Hernandez hiked the police budget by 6%)


Voting will also take place to elect 18 new Honiton town councillors.

East Devon District Council candidates for St. Michael’s Ward (3 councillors to be elected):

Violet Bonetta (Labour)

I am Honiton born and raised and attended both primary and secondary here. I’m invested in community work here in Honiton, through both volunteering and work. Through my role at Honiton Foodsave, I have helped to give away tens of thousands of items of food to our local community and keeping the operation running by making and upkeeping our website. I also worked as the Member Pioneer at a local supermarket, supporting community causes and charitable events. Locally, we need a more diverse range of councillors who know people’s priorities and that will work with the community to improve the lives of working people in Honiton and beyond. With the cost of living only rising, something needs to be done, and I commit to doing all I can to continue with Labour’s achievements on EDDC and to support you as your local Councillor.

Joanne Fotheringham (Independent)

Originally from London, I have lived and worked in central Honiton for five years. I am a business analyst, an Associate of the Chartered Institute of Bankers and gained a History degree as a mature student researching Britain’s secret chemical weapons programme in Cornwall. I am 100% independent and have never been a member of any political party.

Lockdown made me appreciate living in Honiton and the importance of our local independent shops and green and open spaces. I want to help to continue the positive work of our current town council. I will oppose Devon County Council’s plan to introduce a pay and display parking system on the High Street.

The loss of HSBC and Barclays bank branches from the high street is a concern. Although it is good to see that Barclays is planning a part-time presence in the library, I will work with others to campaign for a proper community banking hub for the town.

I support the current Town Council’s decision to contribute towards the cost of building a pedestrian crossing on Clapper Lane to improve safety for children and parents of Honiton Primary School and will support ongoing efforts to make sure that Devon County Council schedule the work urgently.

Finally, if you are voting in person at the polling station, don’t forget you will need photo ID such as a driving licence or passport. The permitted forms of photo ID are listed on the back of your polling card.

Nicholas Ingham

I am an IT consultant and have lived and worked in central Honiton for five years. I was born in Manchester and grew up in Cornwall. I lived in Catford in south east London for many years where I was involved in a number of campaigns including Save Ladywell Pool (to save the local swimming pool from demolition) and the Bring Back Democracy campaign (calling for the abolition of the directly elected Mayoral system in Lewisham). Both campaigns involved working with a wide range of people from all political parties including Conservatives, Greens and Socialists.

At the forthcoming election for Honiton Town Council, a number of excellent town councillors are now standing down. I want to ensure that the progress made by the “Honiton Forward” group of new councillors is not lost. I am very concerned about the possible effect of the new voter ID laws on both voters and polling staff. Recent polling shows that 1 in 4 people are completely unaware that they will need to produce Photo ID or a Voter Authority Certificate to be able to vote in the Local Elections. Before the election, I will be campaigning raise awareness of the new Photo ID regulations. Joanne Fotheringham and I have set up a campaign website at https://readytovote.uk


Councillor Phil Twiss has shared with Nub News a supporting statement for Paul Carter, Jenny Brown and Brice Cornelius who are all standing for the Conservatives:

Statement from Phil Twiss: All three Conservative candidates (Jenny Brown, Paul Carter and Brice Cornelius) are strong advocates for the farming community, buying locally produced food whenever possible, helping reduce carbon miles and supporting local High Street businesses from food shops to hospitality venues and other services, including people’s health and wellbeing, where they will work for improvements to local health services and build more high quality affordable homes for local people.

Regenerating the High Street is a key priority for all of them, to keep Honiton sustainable and vibrant. We will all make every effort we can to regenerate Honiton High Street by innovative working, attracting more funding and new business, making Honiton an even better place to live, work, shop and socialise.

Paul Carter (Conservative)

Paul Carter works for the internationally famous Donkey Sanctuary, who have offices in Honiton High Street; in what spare time he has Paul breeds and trains horses. He was also previously a member of EDDC and has many years of experience in a number of Councillor Roles to call on.

Brice Cornelius (Conservative)

Brice Cornelius moved to Honiton 40 years ago and is well known locally. He is a highly experienced professional, working as a Senior Project Manager in the construction industry and would bring a wide range of skills to EDDC, if elected.

Jenny Brown (Conservative)

Jenny Brown is a Town Councillor and committed to community work, including help reduce social isolation by running the popular Beehive Arts and Community centre café and helping those she comes in to contact with. Jenny previously sat on EDDC, and was the lead Councillor for Tourism and successfully campaigned for the reopening of Honiton Police Station.

East Devon District Council candidates for St. Paul’s Ward (2 councillors to be elected)

Tony McCollum (Independent)

For many years I have been a voluntary member of the Honiton & District Chamber of Commerce and Industry and for the last three years I represented the Chamber as their Honorary President. 

As a Town Councillor I will continue to support Honiton and its small independent businesses by keeping High Street and New Street as free as possible from the large national companies who are happy to take money out of the town, but shut down at the first downturn in profit. 

The driving force to provide Honiton’s future lies with the council understanding the needs and aspirations of our townsfolk, and being engaged with so many committees and working groups I am always in touch with the people of Honiton.

I have lived in and around Honiton for 50 years, having worked in our local dairy business working my way up to factory manager over a period of 25 years and followed this with a further 10 years in the engineering side of the industry which has given me a ground level insight into the needs and wants of working men and woman. 

As a Honiton Town Councillor I am involved with many charitable organisations and would like to continue to support them as best I can. In many ways I have been partially responsible for the changes brought about within Honiton Town Council and am happy to be able to report that the council now functions with civility and decorum between all councillors and changes are underway to ensure, by written agreement, that this will continue to be so.


Councillor Phil Twiss has shared with Nub News a supporting statement for Andrew Pearsall and John O’Leary who are both standing for the Conservatives:

Statement from Phil Twiss: Andrew Pearsall and John O’Leary are strong advocates for the farming community, buying locally produced food whenever possible, helping reduce carbon miles and supporting local High Street businesses from food shops to hospitality venues and other services, including people’s health and wellbeing, where they will work for improvements to local health services and build more high quality affordable homes for local people.

Regenerating the High Street is a key priority for all of them, to keep Honiton sustainable and vibrant. We will all make every effort we can to regenerate Honiton High Street by innovative working, attracting more funding and new business, making Honiton an even better place to live, work, shop and socialise.

Andrew Pearsall (Conservative)

Andrew Pearsall is a local builder, who is also a member of Honiton Town Council. He recognises the challenges facing all of us in the town, not least getting to grips with ensuring we have high speed Ultrafast Broadband across the whole of Honiton; essential for businesses to operate effectively, as well as attracting new ones who cannot be competitive without it.

John O’Leary (Conservative)

John O’Leary is very well known to many people in Honiton, who come across him working on the Deli counter at Complete Meats, in the middle of the High Street. John was previously a popular and hardworking EDDC Councillor representing Honiton St Paul’s ward for a number of years, where he is again seeking your support on May 4.

The full list of candidates for the town and district level elections is available here.

Local Elections 2023: Meet the candidates for Axminster, Trinity and Yarty wards


Ahead of next week’s East Devon District Council elections, here you can read more about candidates standing in and around Axminster.

Below, candidates for the Axminster, Trinity and Yarty wards have offered statements ahead of polling day on Thursday, May 4.

To find out more information on the upcoming election – including a list of candidates for all wards across East Devon or details of your local polling station – visit https://eastdevon.gov.uk/elections-and-registering-to-vote/election-information/

Don’t forget, under new government guidelines, you will need to show proof of ID at the polling station. More details on acceptable forms of ID can be found at https://www.gov.uk/how-to-vote/photo-id-youll-need


Three seats available

Ian Hall, Steven Holt and David Willey – Conservative

Ian Hall is a lifelong Axminster resident, current chair of Devon County Council and an East Devon district councillor for Axminster. He is dedicated to improving the infrastructure of the town, education facilities and employment opportunities in Axminster.

Steve has the health and well-being of people at the heart of the work he does within his various charity roles and as a town councillor. He is passionate about the improvements needed to rejuvenate a ‘shop local’ town centre and make Axminster an even better place to live, work and socialise in. 

David moved to this area to give his growing family a secure life in wonderful East Devon, bringing with him very significant expertise in setting up and working with youth groups. Ian, Steve and David offer a wealth of experience to deliver the things people in Axminster have told them they want for the town.

At the last elections, the Conservatives lost their majority. The first action of the new alliance council was to stop any debate on a relief road for Axminster. Four years later we are no further on; there is still no discussion about poor air quality or safety issues due to congestion, or a wider infrastructure review to unblock our choking town centre.

Ian, Steve and David’s overwhelming priority are the needs of everyone in Axminster. They agree that “we need to ensure the best outcomes for everyone, through the full cycle of life, and to help improve the health and prosperity of everyone who lives here”.

Paul Hayward – Independent

I am often asked why someone would give up their spare time to serve as a councillor. Why sit through endless meetings, reading thousands of pages of reports and documents, getting home late and missing out on time with family and friends?

There’s no easy answer. I genuinely believe that each of us wants to help our neighbours and those living nearby whenever and wherever we can. That’s an instinctive human trait. Politics, however, can be a huge turn-off for a great many. Too much talking, not enough doing. Too many arguments, not enough agreement. The perception is that tax-payer’s hard-earned money is frittered away on daft projects. Perception is everything.

I have served Axminster (and parishes nearby) since 2011 – starting just four years after I moved here from “sunny” Slough with my family. We chose to come here because Axminster offered a bright future, an opportunity to live in the glorious Devon countryside and a chance to live in a small community where you could make a real difference and feel welcome.

In the last 12 years, I have met thousands of people – both as a town and district councillor, and as a member of staff to four wonderful local parish and town councils – and I have no doubt that Axminster is one of the friendliest places in the UK. Certainly, our motto “Axminster – the home of Community Spirit” is well-founded and well-deserved.

Since 2019, I have served as an EDDC councillor (for Yarty ward) but also as the deputy leader of the council, and Cabinet member for economy. During those four years, our lives have been turned upside down by the impact of Covid and the worst ‘cost-of-living’ crisis since the 1950s.

There is still so much to be done to create a brighter, better future for Axminster. Please consider trusting your three votes on May 4 to Sarah, Simon and myself – your independent candidates – and allow us to make that difference. People before politics. Public before party. Service before self-interest.

Please vote independent and vote for Paul Hayward.

Integrity. Honesty. Accountability.

Sarah Jackson – Independent

I have been living in Axminster for over a decade now. I am running for re-election to EDDC as an independent candidate. This time, I am standing with two outstanding independent colleagues – Simon and Paul. I am incredibly proud of this town and its community, and I’m committed to continuing my efforts to make Axminster a better place for all.

During the pandemic, I helped found ACER, a community organisation that provided support and assistance to the most vulnerable in Axminster. I also volunteer for the Axminster Banners group and for the Axminster Christmas Together lunch. These experiences have reinforced my belief in the strength of community spirit here.

Over the past four years, I’ve worked hard to advocate for residents and business owners in the area through one of the most challenging times in living memory. I ensured the transfer of Jubilee Field into public ownership. I secured significant funding from EDDC for the Axminster Skatepark, a project which was only made possible because I encouraged multiple organisations to cooperate where they had not done so before.

Additionally, I have made protecting the environment and promoting biodiversity projects a priority and have consistently opposed inappropriate housing developments that don’t deliver the necessary infrastructure.

Each of us believe that we can achieve even more for our town by working together. We believe that our locally elected representatives should be accountable to the public. We are committed to putting the needs of Axminster first, rather than the interests of a national political party.

Axminster has enormous potential, and with the right approach, we can achieve a bright future for the town while maintaining its unique charm. By electing three independent councillors, we can unlock Axminster’s potential and meet the needs of a growing population in more appropriate ways while preserving our community spirit and natural surroundings.

As election day approaches, please use all three of your votes to elect independent councillors who will put you first. Together, we can make positive changes for our community. Thank you for your support, and I look forward to hearing your thoughts and concerns.

Gillian Jordan – Liberal Democrats

I have lived at Raymonds Hill, in the EDDC ward of Axminster for 13 years and am standing as the Liberal Democrat candidate in the forthcoming elections. I have extensive experience in the education sector – as a primary school teacher, an adviser and a school governor. I am currently a member of the Axminster Medical Practice PPG (Patient Participation Group), which aims to improve links between the community and the medical practice.

I’m backing the Lib Dem plan for East Devon:

  • Fighting for fairer funding to protect local services; 
  • Protecting the environment – continuing to lead the way to a cleaner and greener future for all;
  • Protecting our most vulnerable people.

My priorities for Axminster are:

  • Holding the water authorities to account by ending the scandal of regularly dumping sewage into the Rivers Axe and Yarty;
  • Supporting the local groups working to reduce single use plastic, recognising their success;
  • The provision of more hospital services to be located at Axminster hospital, in order to reduce the number of journeys patients have to make to Royal Devon & Exeter hospital;
  • The provision of affordable homes for local people when new house building resumes. The issue of phosphates in our rivers is a serious one and is severely restricting the house- building programme;
  • The need to consider ways of reducing heavy traffic travelling through the town centre, to make it a safer place for pedestrians;
  • More investment and innovation to reduce the number of empty shops in Axminster;
  • Consulting with the County Council to address the issues of speeding on our roads and the appalling state of many of our roads due to pot holes! 
  • Acting as a voice for children with Special Educational Needs and their parents. Provision in the Axminster area is insufficient to meet their needs.

I am fighting for a fair deal for Axminster.

Simon Smith – Independent

You have the power to effect real change in Axminster. As someone who lives and works in this town, I know first-hand the struggles faced by individuals in our community. That’s why my colleagues, Paul, Sarah, and I are running as independent candidates in the upcoming election. We’re passionate about working together with you to bring vitality and a fresh perspective to our town.

In my role as a community manager in Axminster, I have seen the gaps in provision and heard about people’s struggles. I don’t believe in party politics, and I think that real change can only come from individuals working together to get things done.

Our priority as independent candidates is to work collaboratively with you to bring vibrancy back to Axminster. We want to protect our community assets from opportunistic developers and promote much-needed improvements to reduce congestion in our town. We want to ensure that every person in Axminster, regardless of their background or circumstances, has access to the services they need.

If elected, we promise to take action to solve the concerns you’ve shared with us. We’ll listen to your ideas and work collaboratively with you to find practical solutions to the challenges facing our town. Transparency is essential to us, and we will keep you informed about our work and decisions.

We’re not professional politicians; we’re just members of our community who care deeply about Axminster’s future. We believe that our shared skills and experiences make us the perfect candidates to represent our town. We’re passionate about working together with you to bring vitality back to Axminster, and we’re committed to making it happen.

We humbly ask for your vote on May 4 to help us bring about the positive change that each of us in Axminster deserves.

Jeremy Walden – Labour

I have lived in Axminster for 40 years. With my family I ran a pub and restaurant and latterly a sandwich-making and distribution business. I retired last year. I am an Axminster town councillor, governor at Axe Valley Academy and chair of trustees for arc, a local mental health charity.

If elected I will generally support the independent alliance, but be separate from it as I feel they have not got it totally right.

EDDC is not right in developing its new local plan by not co-ordinating new housing with infrastructure. In this it is not challenging its officers who should act according to councillor’s policy decisions, not the other way round.

EDDC has also not acted in robust enough way to South West Water’s blatant treatment of excessive sewage outflows. This must end.


One seat available

Andrew Turner – Conservative

For those of you who don’t know me I am Andy Turner, the fourth generation of my family to live in Uplyme Parish. I am acutely aware of the things that matter to local people here, and in the rest of Trinity ward.

I have been an Uplyme parish councillor for 17 years, currently deputy chairman and chairman of the Planning Committee. I am deeply involved in a number of important community roles, including being snow and flood warden and 37 years as a police special, rising to the rank of Chief Superintendent.

Partnership working is a key part of being a councillor and I will work with our county councillor, MP and any other individual or organisation that can improve lives in Trinity ward. My management and relationship experience gained over many years in various roles will be an invaluable part of my job, if elected.

I am an active member of the community and would like the opportunity to serve everyone in Trinity Ward with the same enthusiasm that I have done in Uplyme over many years, pulling together the many positive elements of the three parishes, working together and supporting each other, not least with greater emphasis on the provision of ‘real’ affordable housing for local people.

I will maintain and build new relationships to ensure the voice of Trinity is well represented and heard at all levels of local and national government. Together, we will engage with utility companies across a wide range of issues, from roads and drains, to reducing the impacts of the unexpected, such as the cost of living crisis and weather emergencies. 

Also standing in the Trinity ward is Susan Westerman – Liberal Democrats.


One seat available

Richard Norman – Conservative

People ask me why I am interested in politics. Put simply, all of my life I have tried to help people make the most of their lives, whether at work or rest. Local politics is an extension of that desire to get even more done. I am motivated and organised, having worked in the engineering industry for 30 years in IT programme and project management, moving to Devon eight years ago to start with my wife to start the next chapter of my life.

Team work is import to me, not working in isolation. I look forward to working with likeminded people in the wider Axminster area, who like me are committed to their local communities, in my case with a very clear emphasis on all of the villages and communities in Yarty ward. My clear aim is to work with them to promote ways of us improving the wellbeing and prosperity of all people who live here; not least with the local county councillors to us the £9million they have just received from government to fix potholes!

Significant proposals recently announced by the government will hopefully ensure communities gain the maximum influence, to benefit from these important changes to planning policy housing policy, being at the heart of deciding how many homes will be built and where.

I am committed to promoting wider alternative energy use, but not at the expense of our countryside. I support new ways of generating green energy, including use of ground source heat pumps, where viable.

Duncan Staddon – Green Party

I’m excited to be standing for a party that genuinely wants to make a difference. I’ve worked closely with a number of charities over the years and am aware of how tough it is for families at the moment.

If elected I’d do all I can to help families that are struggling. As a Dad, I also believe it’s crucial we do all we can to protect our environment for future generations and work towards a fairer more equal society. 

Also standing for Yarty is Duncan Mackinder – Liberal Democrats.

All the above statements were supplied by candidates personally. All candidates for the above wards were offered the opportunity to submit a statement up to the same maximum word count, by the same deadline. Some chose to submit joint statements. 

Richard Sharp: key inquiry findings on how he was appointed BBC chair

Richard Sharp has resigned as chair of the BBC after an investigation concluded that he broke the rules by failing to declare his link to a secret £800,000 loan made to Boris Johnson, creating a “potential perceived conflict of interest”.

Geneva Abdul www.theguardian.com 

The inquiry report says Sharp had a discussion with Johnson about applying for the job of BBC chair, shortly before taking part in a supposedly independent interview process where it was made clear that Sharp was Johnson’s preferred candidate.

Here are the other findings of the investigation by Adam Heppinstall KC:

Sharp’s name was leaked before the formal application process had concluded

The investigation cites a news report in the Daily Telegraph mentioning Sharp’s application for the role suggesting he was already the government’s favoured candidate while the job advert was still live.

Both the panel and ministers were “disappointed” by the quality of the applicants for the position of BBC chair, with the investigation concluding other candidates may have discouraged others from coming forward due to the perception that Sharp was being lined up for the role.

Sharp discussed becoming chair with Johnson before applying – even though the PM would have to approve the appointment

Sharp was working as an adviser to the Treasury during the coronavirus pandemic when he told the then prime minister of his intention to apply for BBC job.

Sharp told the inquiry the conversation with Johnson informing him of his intention to apply for the role was similar to that of one with a current “boss”, seeking permission to apply for a new role.

Sharp said he did not consider it a conflict of interest but rather an opportunity for the then prime minister to “persuade him” to stay in his current position. Sharp told the inquiry that in hindsight he should have disclosed this, and that he apologised.

The investigation said: “Whilst it might have been appropriate for Mr Sharp to inform his ‘boss’ of his application particularly in light of Mr Sharp’s work at a time of national emergency, it was also appropriate for him to have informed the panel of the conversation.”

Sharp said any failure to disclose conflict was “inadvertent”. Announcing his resignation on Friday, he said: “I have always maintained the breach was inadvertent and not material, which the facts he lays out substantiate.”

No 10’s support for Sharp was made known to the panel who interviewed candidates

Sharp was interviewed on 11 December 2020, as one of five shortlisted candidates for the position of BBC chair.

The lead interviewer said they knew of Downing Street’s support for Sharp and he was the only candidate whose application was supported by ministers.

Sharp discussed potential personal loan for Johnson while preparing for job interview

Before his interview, Sharp told Johnson of his intention to meet the cabinet secretary and introduce “to him a person who had made a suggestion that he might assist the former prime minister with his personal finances”.

In December, Sharp met the cabinet secretary, Simon Case, in a meeting in which no one else was present. No official minutes were produced.

Following the December meeting, the cabinet secretary commissioned advice to be given to Johnson relating to his private financial affairs.

The advice, given by the deputy cabinet secretary, stated: “Given the imminent announcement of Richard Sharp as the new BBC chair, it is important that you no longer ask his advice about your personal financial matters.”

The inquiry was told the advice was given not to avoid a conflict of interest in the appointment process, but to stop further contact between Sharp and Johnson.

Links between Sharp and Johnson during the interview process could have undermined BBC impartiality

The public could be left with the impression that Sharp was “beholden to the prime minister for his support such that his independence from government was compromised”, the inquiry concluded.

Johnson was the person “who would make the final decision on the recommendation for appointment and also a person from whom Mr Sharp would have to maintain independence if so appointed.”

Being chair of the BBC “fundamentally requires independence” from the government. But having conversations about applying for a job with the prime minister, before applying for the job, “could undermine this independence.”

Drivers’ misery as pothole-related breakdowns surge – state of roads ‘nothing short of scandalous’

A 39 per cent surge in pothole-related breakdowns has seen the RAC respond to 10,076 incidents between January and March for faults likely caused by poor road surfaces.

Reporting by Neil Shaw www.inyourarea.co.uk 

The RAC recorded the jump when comparing incidents from the same period in 2022, saying the state of roads is ‘nothing short of scandalous’. And with common pothole-related problems including damaged shock absorbers, broken suspension springs and distorted wheels, the motoring firm said it is ‘not right that drivers who are struggling to make ends meet are having to fork out’, reports HullLive.

UK Government funding to maintain England’s motorways and A roads was 31 times higher per mile than for local roads in 2022, according to analysis by the Local Government Association. But the government has hiked up its Potholes Fund (with funding going to English councils) by £200 million to £700 million this financial year.

Simon Williams, an RAC roads spokesman, said: “Drivers are telling us that the UK’s local roads are in a worse state than ever, and it’s hard to disagree looking at some of the craters that litter so many of our carriageways. It’s not right that drivers who are struggling to make ends meet are having to fork out for new tyres, wheels, suspension springs and shock absorbers simply because our roads have been allowed to fall into such a dire state of repair.

“We implore the government to think differently to end the pothole plague once and for all. One way could be to ringfence a proportion of fuel duty revenue for the maintenance, repair and improvement of our local roads because, as it stands, the £28 billion collected from drivers is currently just another form of general taxation.”

A Department for Transport spokeswoman said the government is investing more than £5 billion from 2020 to 2025 to maintain local roads, with an extra £200 million announced in the budget, which will help fix ‘millions of potholes a year’, making journeys ‘smoother and safer for everyone’.

Honiton and Tiverton MP takes the county council to task over ‘incredibly dangerous’ potholes on roads in East Devon

Dangerous potholes risking motorists’ and cyclists’ safety on roads in East Devon has prompted the county council to come under fire from the MP for Tiverton and Honiton.

The Conservatives have run the County Council into the ground; they’d do the same if they got control of EDDC wouldn’t they? – Owl

Local Democracy Reporter eastdevonnews.co.uk

A Devon MP has written to the county council’s chief executive to complain about the state of local roads, writes local democracy reporter Ollie Heptinstall.

Safety fears have been raised over the size of potholes on the road between Honiton and Dunkeswell, East Devon, and Black Cat junction on the A396 – some deemed as ‘incredibly dangerous’, forcing motorists to swerve to avoid the defects.

In his letter to Donna Manson at Devon County Council, Liberal Democrat MP Richard Foord says his postbag “has been flooded in recent weeks with residents concerned about the state of the roads across my Tiverton & Honiton constituency, and around the county.”

Mr Foord outlined how, in many cases, potholes and defects are “incredibly dangerous for both motorists and pedestrians, with drivers often having to swerve sharply to avoid damage to their vehicles.

“This is especially true on the road between Honiton and Dunkeswell, and Black Cat junction on the A396.”

In the first 20 days of January, the council recorded more potholes than in the whole of January 2022, with Mr Foord adding: “There has also been a series of diversions caused by these potholes and other safety defects, causing huge disruption to communities and commuters.”

“I appreciate that we can never totally eradicate potholes, but with the council paying out tens of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money to compensate drivers for damage caused by the poor state of our roads it’s clear we need to ensure that when these problems do emerge, they are tackled quickly.”

A spokesman for Devon County Council said: “We thank Richard Foord for his letter and will respond to him directly.

“We have just experienced a winter of prolonged freezing weather followed by very wet spells – the worst combination for our roads – which has had a significantly detrimental effect on the condition of our 8,000 mile road network.

“To tackle this over the past few months we have doubled the number of pothole gangs, introduced weekend working and extended working hours across the network. This resulted in up to 2,200 potholes being repaired each week.”

A report in March said the number of recorded potholes in Devon is on track to be lower than the previous financial year.

However, the council also said its road network faces an “inevitable decline” because of a lack of funding. A new highways management plan details how current investment means the worsening condition of some roads is “unavoidable.”

It hopes that A and B roads can be maintained in their current condition, but minor roads will be allowed to “gradually deteriorate,” while unclassified roads will get “minimal maintenance.”

Devon porn scandal MP considers shock political return

Neil re-announces his re-announcement. 

He first hinted at his return in August last year, then repeated it again as recently as March.

But don’t believe this ”Independent” nonsense.

 Like Simon Jupp Neil dutifully trooped into the voting lobby to vote against the Lord’s amendment to stop companies dumping raw sewage into our rivers and seas.

Can’t see any self respecting independent candidate in East Devon wanting his assistance.

Bring it on! – Owl

Lewis Clarke www.devonlive.com

Devon’s porn watching former MP who quit in the wake of the scandal has been spotted canvassing in Devon promoting a Independent’s political prospects in the upcoming local election. Neil Parish has also hinted that he may make a return to politics and stand as an independent parliamentarian when the nation next goes to the polls.

Mr Parish quit his role as Tiverton & Honiton MP a year ago this week after admitting twice to watching pornography in the House of Commons. At the time, he said he had been trying to search for tractors when he accidentally viewed the X-rated material before purposely watching it a second time while waiting to vote.

Ahead of May’s local election on May 4, Mr Parish has been out in the Cranmore ward of Tiverton backing Christina Daw, who is standing as an independent after quitting the Conservative Party earlier this year in a row over the 3 Rivers Development at St George’s Court.

While out campaigning, Mr Parish indicated that he is considering running as an independent candidate in the next general election, saying he had received a good reception while out in town.

Mr Parish stated: “I’m just making sure that people know that Chris is standing as an independent, and I want to make sure I’m for things, not against things. People are still very worried about the cost of living and everything going on, but it’s fascinating, really. I think politically, the election is wide open here, and somebody like Chris Daw, who’s done such a good job for the area, will stand a very good chance.”

He continued: “I’ve always worked very well with Chris, and she is a very good councillor, and for my sins, I think I was not a bad MP either. Therefore we both share the same vision that you stand up for your community, you stand up for your area, and you fight for it.

Mr Parish spoke about the possibility of running as an independent candidate himself, stating: “I think with the political climate like it is at the moment, they may well be looking for a change, and perhaps the political parties don’t always please them, so somebody who could look across the political spectrum and be for things not against them.”

He continued, “I’m not against the Conservatives, Liberals or Labour or anybody, I just want to be for the area, and if I stand as an independent, that is what I will do. If I am going to stand, I will make a decision during the summer for sure. It’s very difficult in a parliamentary seat to suddenly pop up at the last minute; therefore, one will have to dig in.

Parish, who represented the area in Parliament for 12 years, acknowledged: “When you have blotted your copybook, you have to see how people now view it. I think, on the whole, people think I did a stupid thing, but I think they also believe that I stood up for the area.”

Christina Daw added: “It’s been very interesting out with Neil this afternoon to see what people are thinking and being very open to us, asking lots of questions, but you never know what will happen until the votes are counted.”

The full list of Cranmore district council candidates: Steve Bush (Independent), Les Cruwys (Liberal Democrat), Chris Daw (Independent), Guy Edward (Conservative), Tom Ewings (Labour), Beckett Fish (Liberal Democrats), Sue Griggs (Conservative), Lance Kennedy (Liberal Democrats), Nina Zuleika Lindsay (Conservative)

Local elections: your candidates for Sidmouth and Ottery

With less than a week to go before the local elections, the media is beginning to publish candidate statements. 

Owl notices that many Conservative candidates have chosen no to do this, five on this list.

Are they taking the electorate for granted or are they only paper candidates?

Philippa Davies www.sidmouthherald.co.uk

East Devon goes to the polls, along with the rest of the country, on Thursday, May 4, with all the seats on the district council up for grabs. Here are the candidates standing for election in the Sidmouth and Ottery area, with the details they have supplied to us. 

Beer & Branscombe: (one seat)

Conservative: Maria Hall – no details supplied

Independent: John Heath

“I am contesting the Beer and Branscombe seat on EDDC as an Independent. I am local and have lived in Beer for 13 years, having married a ‘Beer’ girl.

“My professional career has been as a front-line child protection social worker and manager, and I have been an inspector of social services. I am newly retired so can devote my full attention to the needs of my local area.

“I will listen to and act on your concerns ensuring your views are represented. I simply want what is best for our community. I am currently a councillor with Beer Parish Council and will use my skills and experience to serve the district.”

Liberal Democrat: Peter Burrows

“I have lived in Seaton for 27 years with my family, children and grandkids. In that time l have served on the District and the Town Council. I have been an East Devon District Councillor for 13 years and have stood for election as County Councillor, in Beer & Branscombe, following the wonderful Margaret Rogers. I served on the Planning committee fighting for the locals against excessive development. I very much understand the effect of second homes has on the community and would do my utmost to stop the spread as it is detrimental to the local economy especially during the quieter months. Council tax should be tripled! It is also forcing locals to find places elsewhere which is unacceptable.

“I am a member of Greenpeace and Surfers Against Sewage and I am the lead on the Plastic Free Seaton group which organizes Beach & Town cleans and encourages people to be aware of their environment.”

Newton Poppleford & Harpford (one seat)

Conservative: Josh Harrison

“Joshua is a youthful resident of Newton Poppleford and is enthusiastic about the future of the town. Joshua is determined to update the local amenities whilst staying true to the rural town we all know and love. Josh is aware of all the local issues such as road safety, keeping the parking free and the need for the development of communication for both work and social lives. Joshua will listen to you and will be there to help with local problems no matter the size. And will deliver your priorities.”

Independent: Chris Burhop

“As a resident of Newton Poppleford for the past 30 years I have taken an increasingly keen interest in the role of firstly the Parish Council, which I am currently Chair of, and latterly the District Council following my successful election at the by-election for the ward in November last year.

“I am 57 years old, married with three grown-up children. Both the safety of local roads and protecting and enhancing our beautiful environment have been the focus of much of my attention over the past several years, along with campaigning for better facilities in the ward. I sincerely hope that I can continue to serve residents as their District Councillor for the next four years.”

Ottery St Mary (three seats)

Conservative: Charlie Hobson – no details supplied

Conservative: Mohammed Sarul Islam – no details supplied

Conservative: Mohammed Zayan Islam – no details supplied

Independent: Peter Faithfull – no details supplied

Independent: Vicky Johns

“I have lived in Ottery St Mary for the majority of my life having gone to both Ottery St Mary Primary school and The King’s School. I work for a local charity, am a supporter of the Ottery St Mary Veterans Society, and my husband is chair of the local cricket club. Our two grown-up children were also schooled in Ottery and participated in various activities within the area. I love where I live and am proud of our community.

“I have represented Ottery residents at both Town Council and at East Devon District Council since 2019 and would like to continue to do so. I think it is important for councillors to ‘listen’ to the residents and act in their best interests, as an Independent candidate I am free to represent the community.”

Liberal Democrat: Graham Woolnough

“Graham spent 16 years as a unitary authority councillor. He has been a governor of a further education college for twelve years and of primary, secondary and special needs schools. 

“Now retired, Graham worked in the construction and transportation industries, latterly as a Commercial Manager.  He has four adult children and nine grandchildren under 10.

“My priorities as a councillor would be to work with the County to ensure quality, local education for our children and to campaign for proper infrastructure, particularly transport links, for the more inaccessible parts of our District.”

Liberal Democrat: Jamie Aylward

“Jamie moved to Ottery 25 years ago, having run a restaurant in Exmouth and been a web developer. Today he is a qualified hypnotherapist, practising in Ottery.

“I believe that close-knit families have better health and so do communities. Loneliness is damaging so as a community we should look after each other.  I believe we can all contribute to Ottery St Mary – people are our best resource.  My ambition is to do what I can to bring them together.”

Labour:  Bethany Collins

“Having lived most of my life in the town, I have a deep understanding of the issues that matter to our thriving community.  I am running to be your councillor because I love Ottery and will work tirelessly to make a positive difference to the lives of residents.  I believe EDDC could benefit from having a strong Ottery voice and I hope you do too.”

Sidmouth Rural (one seat)

Conservative: Christina Richards – no details supplied

Independent: John Loudoun

“I have a strong commitment to public service, no personal vested interest to pursue and a proven record of standing up for Sidmouth and the Sid Valley. I want to continue to make positive and effective improvements that support local residents and businesses. 

“I was elected in 2019. Since then, I have worked across the political divide. In 2020 I joined the current Council coalition administration and am a Cabinet Member.  

“We are proud to have worked positively and collaboratively for the benefit of East Devon’s residents and businesses. With your support I can continue that work on local issues as a local independent voice.”  

Sidmouth Sidford (three seats)

Conservative: Mike Goodman

“Mike was a County Councillor and Cabinet member in Surrey before moving to Sidmouth two years ago with his wife Karen. He is passionate about helping others, through Rotary he  helped families and senior citizens in the Sid Valley last Christmas. He is part of the Parish Church and umpires for Sidmouth CC. Mike also started the petition to stop the doubling of car parking charges in Sidmouth. There is so much that can be done for residents and the  environment and  Mike wants to represent you so you have a voice in what happens in your area.”

Conservative: Stuart Hughes

“My track record shows positive results achieved over a wide range of issues as someone who listens to residents and stands up for what is right for both the individual and the wider community.

“Re-elected on Thursday 4th May I will continue to be a strong voice at East Devon District Council for the Sidmouth Sidford Ward, giving 100% in my Community leadership role.
“I will continue through the Local Planning process to oppose any development of the Sidford business park land, which would have a detrimental effect on the quality of life for local residents through increased traffic and would also lead to the eventual destruction of the green wedge between Sidford and Sidbury.”

Liberal Democrats: Lisa Garner

“I currently work as an NHS clinician within community mental health services and have 30 years’ experience in Health and Social Care.

“I think being part of community is very important for all of us. I enjoy getting involved in local activities and support networks. I also enjoy bird watching and appreciating our beautiful environment and quirky historical buildings. I have a daughter and two grandchildren.

“I believe in local decision making, proactively representing the views of local residents.  My late partner was an EDDC Councillor, so I know the commitment and work required to be a local representative.

“I love our special part of East Devon and it would be an  honour to be elected by you to represent Sidford.”

Liberal Democrats: Marianne Rixson

“I have been a District Councillor for Sidmouth Sidford since 2015 and a Cabinet member for Climate Action for the last three years.

“If re-elected, I would:

Ensure the sea defence project of £19.5m is implemented to protect Sidmouth seafront and town

Hold South West Water to account over sewage pollution

Fight for high quality, low carbon homes in East Devon that are affordable

Provide support for those affected by the cost of living crisis

Continue public toilet provision for residents and tourists

Encourage further improvements in our recycling and waste performance

Deliver the council’s climate action and biodiversity strategy.” 

Sidmouth Town (two seats)

Conservative: John Zarczynski

“East Devon has been home to my family since 1991, I am a hard-working individual with a strong commitment to public service. I am a Trustee and Chairman of the 55+ Day Care Centre which provides a vital service for Devon’s most vulnerable Senior citizens. I ask for your vote and if elected I pledge a firm commitment to oppose any cuts in vital public services as your public servant.”

Conservative: Sophie Richards

“I fell in love with Sidmouth as a child and I am so proud to be standing to serve Sidmouth Town on EDDC. For many years, my parents visited our beautiful town and now they’ve settled here, I call it home.

“Jacob’s Ladder has always been my oasis and a place of happy memories, particularly playing cricket on the beach with my family. I will do everything I can to protect our stunning coastline and beautiful countryside.

“Knocking on doors and speaking to people, I know many share my concerns about the future of our seafront, the huge hike in the cost of parking, the impact of the local housing plan and the cost of living.

“My promise to you is simple – I will work hard to serve you, represent the values of our town, and make sure every decision our council makes is value for money for taxpayers.”

Independent: Ian Barlow

“I have lived or worked in Sidmouth for over 42 years. Sidmouth Town Councillor for 12 years, three as chair, helping to transform it into the most proactive, efficient, innovative and courageous town council in East Devon working together to deliver for our town. I believe in getting things done, not political bickering that seems to exist in local councils today. I will work with any person regardless of their political beliefs as long as they are efficient and get the job done. I am experienced in local matters,  I am NOT a career politician, I am retired and am happy to dedicate my time, that I believe the position of councillor needs if we want things to improve . I promise to put in the hours if you give me your vote.”

Independent: Denise Bickley

“I’m friendly, collaborative, energetic, environment-focused, open and honest. I can’t stand old-school ‘political games’ and bullying. I live and work in Sidmouth and am raising my children here.

“I believe in affordable homes in the right places, designed for how we want to live. I work hard for biodiversity, a plastic free environment, improving recycling, and action towards mitigating and adapting to the climate emergency we face.

“I want to remain part of the Beach Management Plan as it enters the crucial design stage to ensure a positive outcome.

“I am happily committed to working in collaboration with like-minded councillors in a positive, forward-thinking administration.”

West Hill & Aylesbeare (one seat)

Conservative: Alan Richardson

“Alan and his wife Vera moved to West Hill almost seven years ago and are enjoying the peaceful tranquillity of village life after living in the commuter belt of London for more than 40 years.

After serving five years on the West Hill Conservative Association branch committee, Alan became chairman earlier this year and both he and Vera are active in a number of other social activities within the village.

Should he be elected he would be concerned to maintain the quiet charm of the village and other similar villages in the area whilst at the same time recognising the need for constant change to adapt to an ever evolving world. The village shop in West hill is a vital part of the community, particularly with its provision of postal services and anything which could be done to support maintaining the viability of this facility would be a high priority.”

Independent: Jess Bailey

“If re-elected, my key priorities would be: to vigorously oppose large scale development especially greenfield development; to hold South West Water to account to clean up our rivers; and to press for greater protection for our trees. We already have huge housing pressures on our area – our services including schools and GPs are at capacity and our roads are in the worst state I have known them. With significant changes to planning rules looming, it is now more important than ever for West Hill and Aylesbeare to have a committed and robust advocate with a proven track record of representing the community.”

Liberal Democrats: Iain Fairbarn

“Iain is a retired solicitor, who still works part-time, leading a high-tech engineering business at Exeter Science Park. In the law, he worked extensively for the NHS and spent seven years as a non-executive director of a Bristol teaching hospital.

“My first priority would be more affordable housing, without spoiling our countryside – good homes are badly needed, particularly by young families. And, secondly, to work with the NHS and the County to improve access to health and social care services.”

A spot of rain leads to sewage discharges on all East Devon beaches

This could have been the first time South West Water’s major multi-million “improvement” to our sewage system has gone live.

Owl is referring to the engineering work at the Budleigh Lime Kiln car park which is replacing the Victorian discharge pipe with a new one less liable to storm erosion. All this investment does is allow SWW to continue releasing untreated sewage into the sea at Otter Head, nothing to improve treatment capacity.

Was this investment included in Simon Jupp’s £70m announcement, and is the work being funded by us the consumer; or us the taxpayer through the Environment Agency? Just asking.

The work was to have been completed so as to free up the car park by Easter. 

As Owl reported a month ago the “wrong sort of rain” has delayed the final connection.

Map of sewage discharged in the past 48 hours as at 27 April.

[Ladram Bay not monitored out of season]

Devon County Council leader John Hart quashes retirement talk

As DCC teeters on the abyss of bankruptcy, 78 years old John Hart, who has been a county councillor for 34 years and its leader for the past 14 years, doesn’t see the need for “fresh ideas or a fresh face”.

It’s not just the Tories in Westminster that are past their sell-by date. – Owl

Ollie Heptinstall www.exmouthjournal.co.uk 

The leader of Devon County Council says he is not ready to retire after a councillor asked whether it was time for him to step down.

Born in 1945, John Hart was elected to the council in 1989, and took charge at county hall 20 years later when his Conservative group won overall control.

He has remained in the top job ever since.

But speaking at a procedures’ meeting on Tuesday, April 25, in which councillors provisionally agreed a “root and branch” review into “serious failures” of the council’s governance, his future was brought into question.

Independent group leader Frank Biederman told Cllr Hart: “John, you are a tremendous leader. I have a huge amount of respect for what you’ve had to do.

“You’ve been the leader through the most difficult time for local government nationally.”

But he added: “We’ve got a new chief executive. Is it time to give somebody else the opportunity? Fresh ideas, a fresh face … I just question it. I genuinely question it.

“And I don’t do it lightly. I just think you’ve done a tremendous job and I have really got huge respect for you.

“I certainly wouldn’t have wanted the job with the cuts and the scale of the cuts that you’ve had to face.”

In response, Cllr Hart said he isn’t ready to retire: “A time might come. A time might happen, but at the present moment, ironically, I do still quite enjoy the job.

“I will admit equally I never dreamt I was going to be here for the length of time that I have, but the Conservatives seem to be doing something right and the other parties don’t seem to be catching us up yet.

“It will happen, I know that … but at the present moment I’m reasonably comfortable if I put it this way.

“I’m available to talk to any councillor if any councillor wants to talk to me.”

The review into the way the council is run and overseen comes as it admits its internal operation is “very challenging,” with a report citing its failing children’s services and budget pressures.

The council also accepts there is “concern from stakeholders regarding confidence in the council to address these challenges”.

Next month’s full council meeting will be asked to rubber-stamp the review, which will be carried out by a cross-party working group.

Jupp: Others just talk, we’re taking action to clean water – fact checked

The Government made a preemptive move to thwart Labour’s pollution debate on Tuesday by announcing their own, improved, plans.

But it amounts to very little: 

A target published last year will be made  legally binding one  But the goal in question is for 2050.

Yes you read it correctly 2050, more than a quarter of a century in the future. Hope you’re still around to see this through and be able to swim safely in our rivers and seas Simon!

Targets on curbing the spills from storm overflows, before that, will not yet become law. I.e. will remain just targets.

The Conservatives have overseen underinvestment by the water industry and a gutting of environmental regulation capacity. 

If Coffey and colleagues want to avoid public frustration over water spilling into a general election campaign, they will need to do better.

Sewage spill law is progress but Tories must do more

Adam Vaughan www.thetimes.co.uk

‘Shameful”, “revolting”, “disgusting”, “scandalous” and an “absolute catastrophe” — MPs from across the political spectrum queued up yesterday to see who could express the strongest outrage about water pollution, and argue about who personally cared the most about ending the problem.

Labour held a Commons debate to put Tory MPs in the lose-lose position of backing an opposition bill on sewage solutions or being seen to vote against it. Largely, the parliamentary exchange generated more froth than clear water.

Jim McMahon, the shadow environment secretary, berated ministers for the economic and environmental hazards of a raw sewage spill roughly every two and a half minutes. Thérèse Coffey’s rejoinder as environment secretary was that we know about the problem only because of monitoring her party brought in, and to attack Labour’s record on water quality in Wales. However, the stunt did have the welcome effect of pushing the government to make a pre-emptive strike. As The Times was first to report, Coffey promised to enshrine in law a key target for effectively ending the sewage spills that outraged MPs. That is good news.

This newspaper’s Clean It Up campaign has been calling for stronger regulation, so making a target published last year a legally binding one is progress. But the goal in question is for 2050, a conveniently pain-free option for today’s government. Other, earlier targets on curbing the spills from storm overflows will not yet become law.

The targets in the storm discharge reduction plan fall short in other respects. The Times wants to see the earlier goals, for 2035 and 2045, either brought forward or strengthened. Some water bosses, such as Liv Garfield of Severn Trent, agree.

Sewage spills from storm overflows are very visible and rightly anger people. But they are far from the only reason why only 16 per cent of England’s rivers and waterways are in a good ecological condition. Yesterday’s pledge and Coffey’s recent Plan for Water suggest the government is starting to get serious about tightening the screws on water companies. But on the pollution of rivers by farming, Coffey and colleagues still have huge strides to make, as Britain’s three biggest conservation groups have pointed out.

Yes, the Conservatives improved monitoring. But they also oversaw underinvestment by the water industry and a gutting of environmental regulation capacity. If Coffey and colleagues want to avoid public frustration over water spilling into a general election campaign, they will need to do better.

Adam Vaughan is environment editor

South West Water given record £2.1m fine for pollution offences

But let’s put this in perspective.

The £2.1m fine covers offences over four years, or £0.5m/year

As far as SWW is concerned it’s actually peanuts. Simon needs to get his head around their accounts.

Susan Davy, who is chief executive of South West Water’s parent company Pennon, is paid a base salary of £456,000, but with her bonus, incentives and benefits the company’s latest set of accounts (2022) show her total pay was bumped up by an additional £1.1m in bonuses for the year. Between them the top three directors took more than £2m in bonuses.

So, the fine equates to a single year’s bonus payments for four years of offences and what about the dividends?

South West Water is the second worst investor after Yorkshire Water, spending only 39% of the funds available since 2020. – Owl

Alan Quick www.teignmouth-today.co.uk 

SOUTH West Water has been fined more than £2 million for a series of environmental offences across Devon and Cornwall spanning a period of four years.  

It is the largest ever fine imposed for environmental offences in the region.  

Delivering her sentence, District Judge Matson said: “Incidents of pollution will no longer be tolerated by these courts” and fined the water company £2,150,000 today, April 26.

The EA has shown that there were numerous common deficiencies in the implementation of SWW’s management systems which have contributed to each of these offences. 

Fish killed because of pollution discharged into the River Axe at Kilmington. (EA )

The company had pleaded guilty at an earlier court hearing and District Judge Matson, sitting at Plymouth Magistrates’ Court sentenced the company on 13 charges – six for illegal water discharge activities and for seven offences of contravening environmental permit conditions.

The offences took place between July 2016 and August 2020 at Lostwithiel, Kilmington, Crediton and Torpoint sewage treatment works and the Watergate Bay sewage pumping station.   

The water company was ordered to pay £280,000 costs and £170 victim surcharge.

Inaccurate and inadequate operational procedures led to harmful chemicals escaping from SWW sites on more than one occasion which resulted in significant environmental damage including sites at Kilmington on the River Axe and in Crediton on the River Creedy.

Following the spill at Kilmington, thousands of fish died in the River Axe including some protected species.

Failure by SWW to operate its assets and processes in an effective manner was also demonstrated at Lostwithiel in July 2016, where raw sewage was pumped into the River Fowey for more than 12 hours despite control room alarms indicating there was an issue with the works.  

Not responding adequately to alarms the same year resulted in an illegal discharge from the Watergate Bay sewage pumping station in August 2016. The discharge lasted for more than 35 hours and a sample taken from a stream at the beach showed E. coli levels to be 2,000 times higher than the level that would be classified as poor.

On two occasions effluent from the Torpoint sewage treatment works was pumped into the St John’s Lake Site of Special Scientific Interest – this also lies within the Plymouth Sounds and Estuaries Special Area of Conservation. The site is designated due to its variety of bird life and invertebrates.  

Today’s sentence “shows the shareholders and management of South West Water the importance of compliance”, said the judge.

Alan Lovell, Chair of the Environment Agency, said: “We welcome this sentence. Serious pollution is a serious crime – and we have been clear that the polluter must pay.

“The Environment Agency will pursue any water company that fails to uphold the law or protect nature and will continue to press for the strongest possible penalties.” 

Clarissa Newell, Environment Agency environment manager for Devon and Cornwall said: “Failure to apply basic environment management principles has caused pollution incidents at some of the most scenic locations in Devon and Cornwall including bathing waters and designated Special Areas of Conservation (SAC). 

“Having alarms to alert you that sewage is spilling is no good if no action is taken. Enforcement is intended to prevent these things from happening again and ensure South West Water improve and meet the expectations placed on it. 

“Like all water companies, South West Water has a responsibility to operate in accordance with permit conditions and to prevent pollution. Polluters must pay and the Environment Agency will continue to do everything in its power to ensure that they do.”  

An Ofwat spokesperson said: “The actions of South West Water have rightly been condemned and we welcome the penalty imposed by the court.

“This stands as another example of regulators using all available means to hold water companies to account. We will continue to work with our colleagues in the Environment Agency and across Government, to ensure companies meet the standards expected.”

“Standing up for our Environment” Tory pledge rings hollow in “Greendale”

(Revised 10.30 27/04/2023)

Tories Protecting Our Environment. Really?

According to the Tory leaflet for the Woodbury and Lympstone ward for the upcoming district elections the Tories  are going to protect our rivers our landscape and environment.

Maybe the 2 prospective conservative candidates  Ben Ingham and Cheryl McGauley should start asking their friends to assist them, rather than working against them.

The current goings on at Greendale Business Park owned by FWS Carter and sons who`s directors  financially support the Tory party don’t seem to be helping their declared aims unfortunately.

There are a number of challenges with unlawful development, and enforcement issues at the Business Park that over the last 10 years has seen over 60 retrospective applications and a large number of enforcements.

The most recent anomalies that FWS Carter and sons have managed to create are:

Greendale Business Park Covid Centre

The Large Covid Vaccination Centre at Greendale Business Park which most residents visited during the pandemic is now being used for truck parking, caravan storage/occupation, all without any planning consent.

There is a current live planning application for this area to use either an NHS walk-in Centre or business space (application No. 22/1893/FUL) which is due to be considered in June, but there is no application for it to be used by other tenants which would require a change of use application.

NHS covid facility was built under government emergency powers (which did not require planning approval) but there is prior history to this extension to the business park which was built illegally in around 2015 but had to be removed following a retrospective application was refused, both by the Planning Authority and upheld by the  government Planning Inspectorate! The decision was subsequently upheld in the High Court. The land was then required to be returned to agricultural use, but the owners simply covered the concrete apron with soil and grassed it!

At the time of the NHS Covid centre being built the planning authority did inform the NHS and Greendale the significant previous planning history but they decided to proceed due to the covid emergency.

Greendale Farm Shop

Further down the road at the continuous expanding Greendale Farm Shop a new Covid Drive Thru Vaccination Centre has been built without the benefit of planning permission and FWS Carter and sons are now seeking retrospective consent for its retention under application No. 23/0298/FUL.

It is not clear  what the intentions of the NHS are regarding the vaccination centres at these two locations are. The farm shop new centre is described as a “replacement” and yet the description of development for the existing large vaccination centre also requires its “retention” as a vaccination centre!

It would suggest the NHS is keeping their options open by retaining some form of lease on both centres. Their intention appears to be to use the new drive-thru centre for the roll out of the spring booster jabs to over 75’s and those in the most vulnerable category while retaining an option on the main vaccination centre should it be ever needed in the future.

These applications are submitted by the land owners and not by the NHS which suggests that the NHS is being offered either or both sites for delivering the vaccination programme, but it is questionable whether the cost of renting either of these premises is cheaper than a normal mobile vaccination centre in an HGV in a shopping centre car park is not made clear.

At present it is difficult to justify these developments which are both outside agreed employment and development zones but in the open countryside. The question is why the NHS or Greendale think it should be granted contrary to the Local Plan and National Planning policies.

Hogsbrook Farm

On the hill overlooking the Business Park is Hogsbrook farm where there seems to be illegal  storage of vehicles in a field. There is an open enforcement case  that the use of an agricultural field is unacceptable for this purpose.

The landowners FWS Carter and sons are required to either make a retrospective planning application to retain it and in so doing justify why it should be allowed to remain contrary to the policies of the local plan or enforcement action will require the removal of the vehicles.

Clyst St Mary

Further afield close to the village of Clyst St Mary a field hedge boundary has been removed which is contrary to the approved planning application.

There had been some initial activity last year which was finally stopped, but only after substantial damage had taken place to an orchard and treeline with mature oaks that was removed without a tree felling licence. FWS Carter and sons have agreed to stop work again at the site under the threat of a temporary stop notice.

PS Simon Jupp MP has not only received donations from FWS Carter and Son  but rents his office from them.


Richard Foord: Tory fanfare sewage announcement with two faces

Richard Foord Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Defence)  3:35 pm, 25th April 2023

I would like to tell a tale of two announcements. We are used to reannouncements, where the Government use much fanfare to introduce funding that, it later emerges, they have announced before. But I want to describe something that is new to me: an announcement with two faces.

On 7 April, the Sidmouth Herald quoted a Government press release:

“This week, the water Minister”— the Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Rebecca Pow

“confirmed £70 million of cash will be used to improve sewage systems in Sidmouth, Tipton St John and Axminster, as well as Falmouth in Cornwall. East Devon’s share of the cash…will help prevent sewage overflows in Sidmouth and Tipton St John, as well as water pollution in Axminster.”

On the surface, that is welcome: £70 million to improve sewage systems in east Devon. Those reading that in the paper in Devon are led to believe that that relates to our area, and might miss the passing reference to a distant town in Cornwall, but readers in my part of Devon are discerning and they notice a mention of Cornwall in a story that is supposed to be about Devon.

To get a full picture of what is going on here, one needs to travel 125 miles south-east of Axminster and read the same announcement in Falmouth’s local newspaper, The Packet. What does the Conservative Government’s announcement claim in Falmouth?

South West Water’s total investment for the Falmouth area includes…a total of £40 million.”

By reading about the same announcement in the neighbouring county, we find that most of the £70 million funding is not for east Devon at all.

I, for one, will never defer to the interests of polluting water firms or simply parrot the lines they suggest we MPs might like to use. Instead, I will always stand up for my constituents, who are seeing their bills rise and profits leaking out in bonuses, all while sewage poisons our rivers and beaches.

Cranbrook is officially getting even bigger

It’s in line with plans to grow the town’s population to 20,000

The coalition led EDDC of the past three years inherited a local plan devised and driven through by successive Conservative administrations based on a high growth scenario. The 18 year housing target in the 2013-2031 EDDC local plan is a minimum of 17,100. This is an increase of 63% over what is needed purely to satisfy demographic trends. 

The coalition has also withdrawn from the secretive Greater Exeter Strategic Plan (GESP), a move opposed by every Tory councillor present at the debate.

GESP was the strategic plan to spread Exeter’s housing needs more widely with its neighbours: Teignbridge; East Devon and Mid Devon.

A draft allocation plan was published in 2019 (since withdrawn from the public domain). However we know that East Devon was set to take a disproportionate share of the total which amounted to a 150% uplift to the already eye watering local plan, and would continue to 2040. 

A vote for a Tory under the leadership of Phil Skinner is a vote to return to this “Build, build, build” policy. 

Leopards don’t change their spots. – Owl

Mary Stenson www.devonlive.com

Cranbrook is set to get even bigger as planning permission for more than 1,400 homes has been granted today (April 25). It comes as a separate application for another 1,035 homes was also approved last month.

A scheme of 1,435 new homes to be built in Cranbrook has secured planning permission at an East Devon District Council planning committee meeting today. The plans, which include a mix of apartments and houses on land at Cobdens, were first submitted in March 2022 by Persimmon Homes South West.

The plans are in line with the town’s Local Plan which aims for Cranbrook to reach a population of 20,000 and had allocated 110 hectares of land at the Cobdens Expansion Area for a mixed use development. Just last month, the 1,035 home development at Treasbeare was given the go-ahead.

The Cobdens development is following the Local Plan’s outlines for 15 per cent affordable housing as Persimmon has confirmed that 215 of the 1,435 will be transferred to a social housing provider for rent and shared ownership. A number of amenities are also set to be built, including a primary school with 630 spaces, a SEN school, a local centre, allotments, a place of worship, cemetery, ‘enhanced’ green space for leisure and recreation and 10 serviced pitches for Travellers.

A development of 1,435 new homes in the Cobdens area of Cranbrook has been granted planning permission (Image: Persimmon Homes South West)

Developers say that the design also incorporates a SUDS strategy, Country Park, SANGs (Suitable Alternative Natural Green Space) and six local play areas in a bid to create attractive open space areas, deliver biodiversity enhancements and mitigate flood risk.

Persimmon Homes’ South West Managing Director, Daniel Heathcote, said: “We’re delighted to have secured outline planning permission for our scheme at Cranbrook Cobdens.

“The development will provide a wide range of high-quality new homes designed for local people, especially young families and first-time buyers, who otherwise might struggle to get onto the housing ladder in Devon.

“Throughout the planning process for Cranbrook Cobdens, we have worked closely with officers and stakeholders at East Devon District Council to ensure that our homes are in keeping with – and enhance – the local area and its surroundings.

“The scheme will deliver substantial community benefit including over 400 new jobs, a range of new facilities including a new primary school, local centre, allotments, place of worship, cemetery and enhanced green space for leisure and recreation.

“Persimmon has an established record of delivery in Cranbrook and we are excited about this latest scheme as we continue to build the best value homes in sustainable and inclusive communities.”

Tory MPs Have Voted Down Labour’s Bid To Stop Sewage Being Pumped Into Rivers

Tory MPs have voted down a bid by Labour to stop sewage being dumped into rivers and the sea.

Surprise, surprise! – Owl

Kevin Schofield www.huffingtonpost.co.uk 

The party wanted to introduce a new law bringing in legally binding targets and automatic fines for water companies guilty of the disgusting practice.

But following a three-hour debate, MPs voted 290 to 198 to kill off a Labour motion which would have given them party parliamentary time to bring in the legislation.

In a separate development, the government today announced its own plans for legally binding targets to cut sewage discharges.

Environment secretary Therese Coffey said: “A clear, credible and costed legally binding target will add to our transparent and determined approach to solve this issue, whilst keeping consumer bills low.”

Labour’s Water Quality (Sewage Discharge) Bill would require water companies to reduce discharges from storm overflows by 90% by the end of 2030 and impose automatic financial penalties for sewage dumping.

Shadow environment secretary Jim McMahon told MPs the plans “would finally see an end to the Tory sewage scandal”.

He said: “The reason we’re here today is because the country we love and the quality of life for millions of working people is being treated with utter contempt, dumped on with raw human sewage, dumped on on an industrial scale, and dumped on with at least 1.5 million sewage dumps last year alone.

“Dumped on for a total of 11 million running hours, that’s a sewage dump every two and a half minutes.”

But Therese Coffey said Labour’s bill was “pointless”.

She said: “We already have a target for reduction in sewage discharges which we will put into law, we’ve already consulted to remove caps on financial penalties and we’ve already undertaken an assessment of sewage discharges – but unlike the opposition we have a credible, costed plan to stop the scourge of sewage.”

Following the vote, Lib Dem environment spokesperson Tim Farron said: “It is scandalous that Conservative MPs have blocked the Sewage Discharge Bill.

“This is a new low for Conservative MPs who simply don’t care about the sewage crisis.

“They would rather these water firms rake in millions in profits whilst we all swim in sewage. Frankly, the whole thing stinks.”

Labour is determined to make the sewage problem a major issue in next month’s local elections.

In their latest Twitter attack ad, the party said: “Do you think it’s right to allow raw sewage to be dumped into our rivers and beaches 800 times a day? Rishi Sunak does.”

Devon Tory slammed over holocaust and gun posts


Tories must be scraping the bottom of the barrel to find candidates – Owl

A would-be Tory councillor has been criticised after his social media account suggested the holocaust would have been less likely if more Jews had guns. He also claimed if parents spent time with their children at rifle ranges it would be “quality family time and gun control all in one.”

Philip Churm www.devonlive.com

Ivybridge West Conservative hopeful Stanley Murphy’s personal Facebook site additionally argued the Covid vaccination programme was an experiment on the population and some equality programmes in schools are “communism.”

In a series of comments posted in 2021, Mr Murphy, who is standing for South Hams District Council, argues for controversial ideologies associated with US far-right groups, including limiting restrictions on firearms and his support for Donald Trump, who was sanctioned by social media giants following the 6 January 2001 Capitol riot.

Two Ivybridge residents, who do not wish to be named, say some local people are concerned about Murphy’s Facebook profile. One said: “It would appear from his personal Facebook postings [he holds] some worryingly extreme far-right American political views.”

They continued: “These posts appear to support the right to carry arms, concerns that the Chinese military are extracting DNA from pregnant women from around the world and that Covid-19 is a bio-weapon manufactured by the Chinese.”

In one post, Mr Murphy shows an image of Jews being forced onto trains during the notorious “Grossaktion” in 1942, when victims were deported from the Warsaw Ghetto before being sent to the extermination camp in Treblinka. The image includes the words: “Why gun control? Because armed people will NOT willingly load themselves into railroad boxcars.”

Another of Mr Murphy’s Facebook post shows a photograph of a man, woman and young boy, all pointing rifles and says: “This is quality family time and gun control all in one. Re-post because the communist [sic] at Facebook are covering it up and deleting.”

The Conservative candidate also reposted a YouTube video in which a British man in the United States aggressively criticises a school programme to improve the attainment of black students. Mr Murphy adds: “This is how you deal with crazy leftist school boards or anyone who hates their own country in favour of communism and behave in a dictatorial manner.”

The Facebook posts were dated between April and July 2021, at the height of the UK’s vaccination programme, but Mr Murphy reposts a meme stating: “Stop saying you did your research before you got the injection – you are the research.”

Stanley Murphy’s Facebook comments appear to be at odds with the Conservative Party, which he is representing in the local elections. Mr Murphy and the Conservative Party have been approached but have not responded.