A hint as to where Devon’s “health service” could be headed

No more prescriptions, instead:

“We are all used to going to the doctor and have them write a prescription for medicine. But what we are less used to is the idea that the doctor or nurse or social worker might give us a prescription for a walking group, soup and sandwiches in the local village hall, an Age UK befriending service.”

Patricia Hewitt, ex-New Labour Blairite MP, privatisation enthusiast and now chair of the Norfolk & Waveney Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP)


Needless to say, the walking classes which would likely be volunteer run for free, soup and sandwiches in the village hall perhaps provided by the food bank and befriending by an already overstretched and underfunded charity – definitely NOT by her STP!

“Gambling machines with £100 stake are only allowed in UK”

It is thought the Chancellor is loath to change odds because the gambling industry contributes large sums to the Exchequer (and, coincidentally, of course, to Tory funds by their directors):


Britain is the only developed country to have high street betting shops that allow people to bet up to £100 every 20 seconds, according to a report.

The government should cut the maximum stake on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) from £100 to £2 because such high stakes destroy jobs, devastate communities and are “highly destructive” to family life, the Conservative think tank Respublica argues.

Phillip Blond, co-author of the report, said: “Conservatives should not support a piece of New Labour legislation that has wrought destruction throughout some of our most disadvantaged communities.”


“Now police chief Alison Hernandez faces a no confidence vote from her own former colleagues”

It seems only local Conservative politicians are prepared to keep her – what a surprise! In any other walk of life she would probably now be at the job centre. What a waste of our money.

“Police and crime commissioner Alison Hernandez faces another vote of no confidence this week – from her own former council colleagues. Ms Hernandez was a member of Torbay Council before she took on the job as Devon and Cornwall’s police chief.

Now her old council will be the latest to move for a vote of no confidence in her. The Conservative commissioner has already endured votes of no confidence from Plymouth City Council, which she lost, and another by the police scrutiny panel, which she won.

Devon County Council’s cabinet also backed the commissioner last month. Cornish councillors are also expected to have a similar discussion this month.

Now Liberal Democrat councillors in Torbay have her in their sights. They are angry at police cuts as well as Ms Hernandez’ comments on using armed volunteers in response to terrorist incidents and her attempts to appoint a deputy.

They have also not forgiven her for taking a ‘selfie’ with firefighters at the Exeter Royal Clarence Hotel fire.

A motion to the council meeting on Thursday, proposed by Nick Pentney and seconded by Cindy Stocks, is headed ‘Crisis in Frontline Policing in Torbay’ and reads: “Torbay Council is extremely alarmed that under the watch of Alison Hernandez, there has been a drastic reduction in the number of PCSOs, the eyes and ears of the force in Torbay. …”


Independent East Devon Alliance councillors spearhead rethink on Port Royal development

“Cllr Cathy Gardner, who jointly led the ‘Three Rs’ campaign to retain, refurbish and re-use existing buildings at Port Royal, said: “I’m delighted that the reference group has reacted to the views of residents and the consultant will reconsider their recommendations.

“The redevelopment of this area of town is important to all of us and a chance to do something wonderful for the town.

“The Three Rs campaign group will be working to encourage a community-based solution that makes the most of the heritage of the area without over-commercialisation.”


Tick-box “consultations”

“Consultations are often a legal requirement for government departments – but this sometimes means they are formulaic and ineffective. In an extract from his report, Creating a democracy for everyone: strategies for increasing listening and engagement by government, Jim Macnamara (University of Technology Sydney/ LSE) looks at some of the failings of government consultation, and the problems with one NHS consultation [NHS Mandate public consultation conducted in October 2015] in particular.”


“Sainsbury’s faces anger over London plot with just 4% affordable homes”

683 homes on a prime London site and Sainsbury’s says it can afford for only 27 of them to be affordable … beggars belief. PLEASE, PLEASE get this government – which not only allows this sort of thing but encourages it – OUT!

“Sainsbury’s is facing housing campaigners’ anger over a proposed high-rise development surrounding an east London superstore that includes just 4% affordable homes.

Local opponents have described the supermarket’s proposal that just 27 of the 683 homes in the Ilford project will be available for affordable rent as “insulting”.

Planning experts for the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, have said the offer “falls substantially short” of City Hall’s plan to deliver 17,000 affordable homes per year – equivalent to 40% of the strategic housebuilding target.

It also falls well short of the London Borough of Redbridge’s target of 50% affordable housing across all new developments. There are currently over 8,000 households on the waiting list for affordable housing in the area, and more than 2,400 living in temporary accommodation.

The borough estimates it needs an extra 15,000 affordable homes by 2033. The case is set to go before a public inquiry starting on Tuesday, but the project appears likely to go ahead after the council withdrew its opposition on Saturday.

Sainsbury’s says the “maximum reasonable” amount of affordable housing it can include is 14 one- and two-bedroom flats, a dozen three-bedroom units and a single four-bedroom property. It estimates making a 20% profit selling off the private flats, according to planning documents. At current local prices that could exceed £40m.

It has described it as “a financially challenging project”, partly because of lost revenues to its retail operation when it closes its existing store for construction. It has also agreed to pay Redbridge £11.4m in community infrastructure levy, although this cannot be used to fund affordable housing.

But Meenakshi Sharma, co-founder of Ilford NOISE, a local residents group, said the amount of affordable housing being offered was “ridiculous and insulting”.

“People can’t believe it is 4% especially with all the publicity about the need for affordable housing,” she said. “And yet this still carries on. They don’t take any notice whatsoever. There’s a big housing need in the area. There are lots of people in temporary accommodation and lots of overcrowding.”

It is the latest in a series of high-profile battles over the financial viability of private housing schemes in the capital with councils seeking to maximise the number of cheaper homes in developments and developers seeking to minimise them. Previous disputes have centred on central London sites where developers have argued that the high cost of land limits their ability to subsidise affordable housing, but the row over the Ilford site suggests the issue is spreading to the outer London suburbs.

Affordable in this case means rents capped at 60% of market rates. Sainsbury’s is increasingly moving into housebuilding, using the space above its stores for housing. The Ilford project is its largest yet, but it has also built 650 homes around a store in Nine Elms and 500 homes above a store in Fulham, both in London.

Redbridge had originally rejected the application because of the lack of affordable housing and was planning to oppose it at the public inquiry, but it has now reversed its position and accepted the 4% offer.

On Friday, a spokeswoman for Redbridge told the Guardian: “We declined the application because of the huge gap between the borough’s expectations on affordable housing in new developments, and the proposals we were given. The capital is critically short of housing, especially affordable housing and we need to increase the stock in the borough.”

But on Saturday it told the planning inspector it was withdrawing its opposition and would not resist Sainsbury’s appeal against its original refusal.

In a letter to the planning inspectorate, the head of planning, Joanne Woodward, said it had agreed common ground on the financial viability of the project and a planning deal, although without any increase in the affordable housing included in the development.

“The council will attend on the first day of the inquiry to explain how the position it has now adopted has been reached,” she said.

Sainsbury’s said: “Our plans will help kick-start Ilford’s future regeneration by driving growth and job creation, as well as provide a broad mix of housing for local people. We look forward to the outcome of the appeal. We have agreed with the council to review the provision at certain points throughout the development, and if we can increase the number of affordable homes we will.”