Axe Valley Academy 6th form to close due to austerity cuts

“AXMINSTER has been hit by the shock news that the sixth form at Axe Valley Academy looks set to close.

The board of trustees of Vector Learning Trust, which includes the academy, issued a statement this afternoon saying that a public consultation has been launched regarding the proposed sixth form closure at Axe Valley Academy.

The statement said: “Schools and academies nationwide have come under increasing financial pressure from government underfunding in the last few years with a particular reduction in the amount received per sixth form student.

“Consequently, schools with small sixth forms have supplemented post-16 provision from budgets allocated to 11-16 year olds; a situation which is neither fair on the lower school nor sustainable in the long term, and subsequently many school sixth forms throughout the country have closed or are planning to close.”

Ann Adams, chairman of trustees of Vector Learning Trust, said: “Despite the best ever sixth form results in August of this year, the finances at Axe Valley Academy have reached a critical point and tough decisions are having to be made.

“Re-designation of the academy to an 11-16 provider would guarantee financial stability and allow us to direct staffing and resources to the lower school resulting in a more effective and efficient organisation which will ensure outstanding education for the young people in the Axe Valley communities.”

The proposed sixth form closure is for August 2019, to allow the current cohort of Year 12 students to complete their two-year courses.

All further post-16 recruitment has been suspended pending the outcome of the consultation.

Martin Brook, CEO of the trust said: “We are totally committed to providing our existing sixth form students with high quality teaching and resources to attain their required grades at A Level and thus secure their preferred places at leading universities.”

He went on to say: “I have no doubt that this is absolutely the right decision for the young people and staff at Axe Valley Academy and by making it now we are securing the future of the academy in the long term as well as the provision of outstanding schooling for students in Years 7-11.”

Further information regarding the proposed sixth form closure can be found in a full consultation paper posted on the Academy website http://www.axevalley.devon.sch.uk (printed copies available on request).

The consultation will run until Tuesday November 7thduring which time comments can be sent to the Academy by e-mail admin@axevalley.devon.sch.uk or delivered to reception in Chard Street, Axminster. A public consultation evening is being held at 6pm on Tuesday 10th October 10th in the Main Hall at Axe Valley Academy to which all are welcome to attend.”

https://www.viewnews.co.uk/sixth-form-closure-shock-axminster/

DCC EDA Independent Councillor joins DCC independent Councillor Claire Wright as one of the few NHS champions at DCC

“After the failed Health Scrutiny Committee meeting in July – which has led to repercussions in the County’s Standards and Procedures Committees as well as at EDDC – the full Devon County Council will be asked to look again at the issues on Thursday 5th October. I have proposed the following motion, which Claire Wright will second:

The County Council regrets the failure of the Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee on 25 July 2017 to be seen to scrutinise the decision of NEW Devon Clinical Commissioning Group to close community hospital beds in Honiton, Okehampton, Seaton and Whipton, especially in the light of the subsequent urgent recommendation by the head of the NHS in England, Simon Stevens, which is supported by evidence from the Royal College of Emergency Medicine and the King’s Fund, that more beds need be made available for the coming winter.

Noting also the Standards Committee’s conclusion that events at the Scrutiny Committee meeting ‘may not reflect well on individual members of the Council or upon the Council as a whole’, its recommendations for the Committee’s Chair and its general recommendations to both members and chairs of Scrutiny Committees, the County Council therefore

requests the Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee to scrutinise those issues identified by the County Solicitor in her paper for 25 July which were not directly and fully addressed at the Scrutiny Committee in that meeting;
consistent with the Council’s ‘community champion’ role, alerts the Secretary of State to the strength of feeling in the locality at the overall STP process throughout the County and the significant numbers of objections made by the public to the CCG’sproposals and that in the interests of democracy and democratic accountability he might wish to satisfy himself that all relevant process were properly undertaken and assessed and that the CCGs subsequent decisions are supported by the evidence; and
welcomes the agreement of the Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee to examine, subject to the advice of the County Solicitor, means of safeguarding community hospital buildings throughout Devon as facilities for the provision of place-based health services.

Seaton and Axminster – combined health hub?

As I have reported before, Seaton Town Council, the League of Friends and I have been discussing the future of Seaton Hospital in the light of the removal of the beds. Full details of the proposals have not been finalised, so I can only quote the report of Councillor Jack Rowland, Mayor of Seaton, to next Monday’s Town Council:

‘The next campaign is to ensure that the site is retained with a compelling case for retaining the existing services and extending these. To this end I attended a meeting on 6 September to discuss the next steps. I cannot give fuller details at this stage, but broadly the idea is to set up a Steering Committee for an Axe Valley Health Hub and to work in conjunction with Axminster to build a case for retaining both sites with complementary services.’ “

After the failure of the July Scrutiny meeting, I am asking Devon County Council to look again at hospital bed closures on 5th October

Developer Bovis too poor to finish Axminster estate – and “steep slopes” came as a surprise (and Owl says ‘I told you’!)

Owl predicted problems with this development LONG ago:
https://eastdevonwatch.org/2016/04/04/axminster-regeneration/

Recall the site was acquired below market value when Axminster Carpets got into difficulty.

And it seems that Bovis has its own troubles:
https://eastdevonwatch.org/2017/04/30/bovis-slow-down-will-hit-east-devon-hard/

Although again Owl drew attention to another problem affecting house sales on the site:
https://eastdevonwatch.org/2016/12/23/axminster-and-cranbrook-slums-of-the-future-says-councillor-hull-whilst-councillor-moulding-says-nothing/

So, it’s hardly surprising we find that Bovis blames everyone but themselves for their so- called plight – though its directors are probably not too worried about their bonuses:
http://www.constructionenquirer.com/2017/06/21/new-bovis-homes-boss-buys-extra-2m-shares/

“HOUSE building on the Bovis Homes Cloakham Lawn estate could cease unless planning conditions are removed or eased.

Bovis Homes says the scheme is in the process of stalling and, unless it can be brought back into viability, the company will have “no option but to cease work and mothball the development”.

But Axminster Town Council feels it is an attempt by the developer “to wriggle out of its commitments”, with district councillor Ian Hall saying: “‘Trying it on’ comes to mind.”

Bovis Homes has submitted a planning application to East Devon District Council (EDDC) to vary the Section 106 agreement (a set level of affordable housing and contributions towards the local infrastructure and facilities).

The development includes permission for up to 400 dwellings, and the company celebrated the second anniversary of its on-site sales office in September last year.

But a summary of an independent viability assessment, produced by chartered surveyor Belvedere Vantage Ltd, says: “The local market in Axminster has proved very difficult, with interest in the first phase of the development having slowed significantly, resulting in a large number of completed unsold ‘standing units’.”

The summary also referred to a number of physical constraints at the site, and “potential abnormal costs” associated with the constraints, which started to become clear during detailed site investigations after outline planning permission had been given.

Constraints include areas with very steep slopes, a flood plain boundary, two distinct drainage catchments, a watercourse running through the site, the need to maintain access to existing leisure facilities.

The negative impacts, including an inability to plan the scheme effectively, of a tree preservation order are also mentioned.

Axminster Rural district councillor Ian Hall, having declared an interest as he is the chairman of Cloakham Lawn Sports Centre (a Bovis Homes tenant), said in a formal response: “I have absolutely no sympathy.

“This land was purchased by Bovis for £2.9m cheaper than the market price when the failing Axminster Carpets Ltd was winding up.

“Bovis representatives (who were the strong arm of Bovis during the purchase of the land) were very aware of the agreements and were more than happy to proceed with the bargain of the decade.

“I am not one to make unnecessary fuss, although, on this issue, I will not compromise.

“ ‘Trying it on’ comes to mind.”

The independent viability assessment is confidential because it contains commercially sensible information, which is not included in the publicly available summary.

Axminster Town Council has requested more detailed confidential information and, in its formal response to EDDC, said: “The town council objects to this application, which appears to be an attempt by the developer to wriggle out of its commitments.

“There is insufficient information on which to make a well-reasoned response.”

The town council requested a meeting with EDDC and the developer so that it would be able to “respond in the light of more detailed, commercially confidential information”.

The town council also requested a site meeting in the company of a planning officer.

Town clerk Hilary Kirkcaldie said EDDC replied it could not share confidential information, but had appointed an independent viability consultant.

EDDC also expressed a willingness to host a site visit, which is yet to be arranged.

In her formal response to the application, EDDC housing strategy officer Melissa Wall said: “We are disappointed that the applicants have not approached the council before submitting their application to vary the S106 contributions to discuss their viability concerns.

“We are open to suggestions regarding changing the tenure and numbers of affordable units in order to assist viability.

“We are hopeful that agreement can be reached between the council and the applicant to ensure that the development can support some form of affordable housing.”

Bovis Homes would not say how many houses have been built and how many are under construction – nor would the company comment on Councillor Hall’s claims.

A spokesperson said: “We cannot comment on live viability applications but we will continue to work closely with the local authorities to deliver the new development at Axm- inster, which is providing much-needed new homes as well as an economic boost and jobs for the area.”

https://www.viewnews.co.uk/housing-development-axminster-stop/

“Competition watchdog to examine warranties for new homes”

Too late for the many people in Axminster and elsewhere in East Devon, sadly.

“The Competition and Markets Authority is examining payments between housebuilders and the providers of warranties for new homes as part of a review of NHBC, the largest warranty provider.

The CMA announced last month it was reviewing undertakings made by NHBC, the standard-setting body for new-build properties in the UK and the main warranty provider. These 22-year-old undertakings were designed to improve competition in the warranty market.

The review was announced amid concerns that NHBC is compromising its independence by paying millions of pounds to developers every year. However, the CMA said it was launching the review following a request from NHBC and that it would not consider the “wider issues” relating to the organisation. …”

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/apr/07/competition-authority-to-examine-warranties-for-new-homes