EDDC flogging off the Ocean Centre Exmouth – well, it might cover a bit of the new HQ bill!

“According to agent Vickery Holman Property Consultants, Ocean Blue, in The Esplanade, is on the market for £2,700,000.

The facility, which opened its doors for the first time in 2012, has 12-lane 10-pin bowling, a gaming area and the Ocean Bar and Grill, with a seating capacity of 100 on the first floor and a large children’s soft play area and café for 22 children.

On the second floor, there is a function suite, bar and two outside terraces which has become a popular wedding venue with a capacity for 350 people.

The complete site is subject to a 125-year lease with East Devon District Council and was sublet to LED Leisure Ltd for 25 years in 2015.

The Journal understands this agreement will not be affected by the sale of the site.”

http://www.exmouthjournal.co.uk/news/exmouth-s-ocean-goes-on-the-market-for-2-700-000-1-5612363

“Council cuts are putting the vulnerable at risk, Tory peer says”

“LGA chief says austerity could damage local authorities ‘beyond recognition’

Local authorities have reached the point where relentless financial cutbacks are putting the wellbeing of vulnerable adults and children at risk, the Conservative leader of the Local Government Association (LGA) has warned.

The Tory peer Lord Porter said that after eight years of austerity during which £16bn has been stripped from municipal budgets in England, councils risked being “damaged beyond recognition” and communities depleted of vital services.

An £8bn black hole in council budgets would open up by 2023 unless ministers stepped in to close the gap between spiralling demand for adult and children’s social care services and shrinking town hall incomes, he said.

“We’ve reached a point where councils will no longer be able to support our residents as they expect, including our most vulnerable,” Porter added.

As well as problems coping with demand for services for elderly and disabled adults, the LGA says councils are struggling with an explosion in the number of children in care, and a rising bill for 80,000 homeless families placed in temporary housing.

An LGA briefing on the prospects for local government states: “The failure to properly fund these services puts the wellbeing of some of the most vulnerable residents at risk, and this cannot go on.”

Porter’s intervention, ahead of the LGA annual conference, which opens in Birmingham on Tuesday, reflects councils’ increasing concern about the precariousness of local authority finances, and frustration that ministers are ignoring the escalating crisis in social care.

While the NHS last month received a five-year £20bn cash injection, the government’s plans to overhaul the funding of adult social care services, originally due in a green paper before the summer, were delayed until the autumn. Council bosses have warned that in many areas these services are on the verge of collapse.

The fragility of many individual councils’ finances has increased speculation that more local authorities could follow Northamptonshire county council into bankruptcy. In May, Tory-controlled Somerset called for an overhaul of council funding after it was warned by auditors it could go bust.

Council leaders are also worried about the political consequences of having to sacrifice popular local services such as libraries, Sure Start centres, parks and leisure centres to divert funds into core services such as social care.

Bus services in ‘crisis’ as councils cut funding, campaigners warn
Porter said: “Councils now spend less on early intervention, support for the voluntary sector has been reduced, rural bus services have been scaled back, libraries have been closed and other services have also taken a hit. More and more councils are struggling to balance their books and others are considering whether they have the funding to even deliver their statutory requirements.

“If the government allows the funding gap facing councils and local services to reach almost £8bn by the middle of the next decade, then our councils and local services will be damaged beyond recognition.”

The LGA is calling for councils’ funding problems to be addressed through a government spending review expected in spring 2019, which is likely to set out public services funding plans over the four years to 2023.

A Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government spokesman said: “We recognise the pressures councils are facing, so we are working with local government to develop a funding system for the future. Over the next two years, we are providing councils with £90.7bn to help them meet the needs of their residents. On top of this, we are giving them the power to retain more of the income they get from business rates so they can use it to drive further growth in their area.”

Labour’s Andrew Gwynne, the shadow communities and local government secretary, said: “This new analysis is a damning verdict on eight years of Tory austerity. Our public services are straining at the seams, whilst the government continues to cut funding.”

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/jul/03/council-cuts-are-putting-the-vulnerable-at-risk-tory-peer-says

How much land does EDDC own? Answer: 2,302 acres

Answer to a Freedom of Information request:

1. The total amount of land (in acres) currently owned by your Council – 2302 acres

2. The total amount of land (in acres) currently owned by your Council that has been identified as surplus to requirements – 0 acres

3. The total amount of land (in acres) currently owned by your Council that is scheduled to be sold – 0.3 acres

4. The total amount of land (in acres) currently owned by your Council scheduled for joint venture housing development or where such development is already taking place – 0 acres

Date responded: 20 June 2018

http://eastdevon.gov.uk/access-to-information/freedom-of-information/freedom-of-information-published-requests/

The Great Public Asset Sale!

No mention of community hospital sales – many hospitals having been financed by the local population.

And it begs the question: if the community has no assets and is getting only statutory services which are funded out of general taxation – what are we paying (increased) council taxes for?

“Libraries, swimming pools, youth and community centres, town halls, parks and other open spaces were among more than 4,000 public assets sold by local councils to developers and other private buyers last year.

Sales appear to have risen since George Osborne, who was then the chancellor, changed the rules in 2016 to allow local authorities to use money from sales of publicly owned buildings and land to cover running costs. Campaigners say that authorities facing financial pressures are denying future generations access to many community assets.

Locality, a network of community organisations, submitted freedom of information requests to all 353 local authorities in England asking about asset sales, of which 240 responded. The results showed that councils sold 4,131 buildings or plots of land last year.

Tony Armstrong, the chief executive of Locality, said: “One of the concerns we have is that many local authorities are just selling these assets off, and until now we have not had a clear picture of the scale of this.” He called for more buildings and sites that councils could no longer operate to be transferred to community groups that could run them on a not-for-profit basis.

Richard Watts, of the Local Government Association, said: “With local government facing an overall funding gap in excess of £5 billion a year by 2020, councils face difficult decisions about how best to use their resources to support local services, day-to-day activities and to protect public assets. Before a decision is made to sell an asset, the cost of selling it versus the benefit it could bring is considered carefully.”

Source:Times (pay wall)

“Trying to maximise income purely from commercial revenues is NOT what the public want.”

CIPFA chief executive Rob Whiteman has told a conference this morning”

“… At some point in the next 15 – 20 years local government needs to be reorganised. We need to be aware reorganisation would be a good thing.”

But he predicted there was unlikely to be “any meaningful local government reform” for some time.

Local government must rebuild trust with the public, Whiteman told his audience. “In its present form, local government is not perfect.

“I do not think that trying to maximise income purely from commercial revenues is what the public want.”

Don Peebles, head of CIPFA UK policy and technical, echoed this, suggesting local government’s commercial investments should be more about keeping council finances afloat rather than maximising profit.

He said recent changes to the prudential code – the statutory guidance for local government on borrowing and investments – reflected that “the priority is not maximisation of return but the protection of capital”. …”

https://www.publicfinance.co.uk/news/2018/05/local-government-uncertain-place-10-years

“Concerns raised over plan for Exmouth seafront temporary car park”

Owl says: This is what happens when you run a council as a business and not as a public service.

“East Devon District Council (EDDC) is seeking to create 13 spaces on land behind the rowing club, in Queen’s Drive.

The plot, owned by the authority, has previously been used by Exmouth RNLI for storage.

Tony Crowhurst, vice-chairman of Exmouth Rowing Club, has questioned the financial viability of the car park, adding: “There is a lot of work that needs to be done to create a safe car parking space which I don’t think they will recoup.

“The fact that they are going to be using the duck pond for events – we’re going to have a double whammy of people parking to use that area and those parking behind us.”

Mr Crowhurst also questioned the impact the plan will have on the club’s ability to transport their boats across the road to the beach.

He said: “We’re a local club and have got around 80-odd members. We do a lot of things in the community but this will make our ability to transport boats across the sea even harder.

“Already, people will park in front on the club and go dog walking for one or two hours and we can’t get our boats out.

“I would say at least once a week we’re in a situation where we have to ask people to move their cars from the front of our gates.”

An EDDC spokesman said it is aware of the rowing club’s concerns and believes they can be resolved.

Exmouth Town Council’s planning committee is set to discuss the application on Monday (April 30).

EDDC’s cabinet is due to decide whether or not the proposed facility should be included on the authority’s parking places order.

According to agenda papers for the meeting to be held on Wednesday, May 2, at Knowle, Sidmouth, officers are recommending that councillors approve this.

EDDC say they have sought cabinet approval prior to planning permission as they intend to have the car park operational by this summer.

A spokesman for EDDC said: “We are hoping to be able to offer the car park for public use this summer so we are running both of these processes in parallel to save time.”

EDDC planners will make the final decision on the application.”

http://www.exmouthjournal.co.uk/news/exmouth-rowming-club-objects-to-new-seafront-car-park-1-5491480

County council refuses to spend business profits on affordable housing

“Liberal Democrat councillors have criticised Surrey County Council for failing to spend profits from its £298m commercial property portfolio on council services.

In November, the council transferred £3.8m of rental income from the properties into its revolving infrastructure and investment fund.

However, Liberal Democrats complained that the original investment strategy, agreed by the council in July 2013, promised to use income to support the delivery of functions and services.

Cllr Hazel Watson, leader of the Liberal Democrats on Surrey County Council, said: “I am deeply concerned that none of the income derived from the county council’s extensive property investment portfolio so far has been used to support council services.

“This contradicts previous assurances from the Conservative administration that the purpose of their investment strategy was to support the county council’s budget.

“The county council is proposing millions of cuts to services this financial year and it is simply unacceptable for them to use precious resources to purchase more property, when that resource should be used instead to protect services for Surrey residents.”

Responding to the criticism, Tim Oliver, Surrey’s Conservative cabinet member for property and business services, said: “The investment portfolio created under the investment strategy consists of property investments which have been made by the council in order to deliver economic regeneration or to provide for long-term future service use, whilst delivering an investment return.

“These assets provide flexibility in the estate whilst producing a net revenue.”

He said that the total net income delivered to date by the strategy will be used to support spending on council services in the future and was expected to have reached £5.3m by March 2018.”

http://www.room151.co.uk/treasury/lib-dems-slam-use-of-property-profits-at-surrey-cc/