If Owl asks nicely do you think we can get the Nasty Party out? No? OK Plan B it has to be – not nicely!

“The man advising the Government on its response to the Grenfell Tower disaster argued in favour of cuts to fire service funding and against fitting sprinklers to tower blocks.

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid announced last night that Sir Ken Knight will chair an “independent expert advisory panel” to advise on new fire safety measures.

It has been pointed out that Knight advised the Government against retrofitting sprinklers to high rise residential buildings in his report on the Lakanal House fire in Camberwell, in which six people died.

He wrote: “It is not considered as practical or economically viable to make a requirement for the retrospective fitting of fire suppression systems to all current high-rise residential buildings.”

Scrapbook has also found that Knight was the author of a 2013 report which advocated £200 million worth of cuts to the fire service.

The report’s recommendations included cutting the number of firefighters. In a BBC interview at the time, Knight said:

“The protection of services is not just about jobs, it’s about redefining what we want firefighters to do, what we want the fire service to do.

“So it is right, there will be an adjustment to numbers, of jobs, of people, of people doing different jobs, but that’s right in any business, in any industry, in any area of the public sector. …”


Seaton: the seafront development people DO want – but there’s no money


Well, we have all to first pay for a seafront development Exmouth doesn’t want and then we all have to pay for EDDC’s flash new offices and then … who knows?

Seaton always seems to be the poor relation.

Come on Mr Parish – get your fingers out!

What (some) young people think of Sidmouth and Seaton

“It’s paradise…for the retired and elderly. There is only one nightclub known for its legendary ‘Chlamydia pole’ that no-one dares touch, the ankle breaking stairs down to the loos and music from 2007. Can you think of any good tunes from 2007? No. Exactly.”

“Seaton is over-run with pensioners. Not the nice fluffy kind, the “get out of my way you snivelling little fool” type on their mobility scooters. They all live in bungalow-land in the north of the town leaving the town centre to a deserted shopping street and a gigantic Tesco, which is also only half full at the best of times.”


No magic money tree for high rise blocks with failed cladding

Grenfell Tower cladding scandal could cost councils millions after Government says no guarantee of extra funding.

‘There is no way we can afford to reclad our tower blocks. If we have to find that money, it will come from other projects’

But despite emergency fire safety checks being carried out nationwide under central government direction, councils will not be reimbursed for refurbishment work carried out.

A DCLG spokesperson said there was “no guarantee” of central government funding and that it would be “up to local authorities and housing associations to pay” for the work needed to ensure residents’ safety.

The spokesperson said financial support would be considered on a “case by case” basis for those that could not afford to carry out the necessary work, but did not clarify what the criteria for that consideration would be.

The announcement was met with severe criticism from some of the councils affected, with local authorities already having their budgets severely squeezed after years of austerity measures.

Julie Dore, leader of Sheffield City Council, which is among the authorities to have discovered unsafe cladding, said “starved” councils would be forced to make cuts to other areas, including schooling, if central government did not help with costs.

“Local authorities have been starved of money over the past seven years. Our spending power has decreased,” she said. “There is no way we can afford to reclad our tower blocks. If we have to find that money, it will come from other projects, from investing in the fabric of our schools, capital investment in our infrastructure, the money has to come out of that. And it can’t really be done.

“I say absolutely, categorically that the Government should pay. If they can find £1bn to send to Northern Ireland, that gets more spending per capita than anywhere else, to buy 10 votes, then these people, living in high-rise towers, deserve better.” …


EDDC Audit and Governance: new auditors find much to comment on

A little late, as the meeting is tomorrow, but anyone with a spare couple of hours (!) might want to spend it poring over the agenda of the Audit and Governance Committee.

A rather thorough going over after their appointment as auditors has seen KPMG out EDDC under the microscope.

Too many to list here, it has identified numerous financial and procedural weaknesses.

For quick reference the agenda is here:


and Owl found the following pages most interesting:

Pages 84-88 detailing financial weaknesses

Page 103 on weaknesses in contract Standing Orders and procurement procedures

Appendix A Risk Review – page 86

which contains this intriguing comment:

Risk: [Identified as medium BOLD type is Owl’s]

Incapacitation of all staff for protracted period re Elections

In the event that all election staff were absent for a prolonged period the Council would fail to complete the canvass, fail to publish a revised register and fail to produce accurate data and registers for elections. In the event that the Electoral Services Officer/Manager was absent for a prolonged period it is unlikely that existing staff resources would accept managerial responsibilities.”

and finally – another coruscating reminder of the Section 106 scandal


“Leicestershire school plans early finish on Fridays due to cuts”

“A school in Leicestershire is proposing to operate on a four-and-a-half-day week due to budget cuts, confirming warnings by unions that changes to the schools funding formula would lead to schools closing early.

In a letter to parents, Danemill primary school in Enderby cited the controversial formula as a reason for its decision to end the school week at lunchtime on Fridays from October.

The letter published by the Leicester Mercury said: “As you may be aware the fairer funding formula has resulted in schools receiving significantly less money in their annual budgets from the government and Danemill is not an exception.”

To cope in the “current economic climate” it proposed early closing on Fridays. It says: “Effective from October 24 2017 the school day would end on Friday afternoons at 1.05pm.” It argued this will help maintain quality teaching and give teachers time to prepare lessons.

Parents have reacted with dismay, according to the Mercury. One unnamed father told the paper: “This is in the middle of the working day. Lots of parents have to work to make ends meet. It is unworkable madness.”

The school has proposed a limited number of “enrichment activities” on Friday afternoons for some children. The proposal follow warnings by teaching unions that schools would be forced to consider early closing because of a squeeze on resources.

Tim Stone, the chief executive of the Discovery Schools Academy Trust which runs Danemill, said the proposal to close early on Fridays was being put out to consultation with parents. …”