FINAL RESULT Sidford Sidmouth – East Devon Alliance 2, Conservative 1

Sidmouth Sidford (three seats)
Stuart Hughes (Conservative) – 1,089 ELECTED
Dawn Manley (East Devon Alliance) – 1,303 ELECTED
Zachary Marsh (Conservative) – 721
Colin Mills (Labour) – 381
Marrianne Rixson (East Devon Alliance) – 1,326 ELECTED
Jenny Ware (Conservative) – 757
Ken Warren (UKIP) – 369

“Number using food banks in part of Devon doubles in six months”

“The number of people using food banks in the Sid Valley has more than doubled in the last six months.

The Sid Valley Food Bank’s co-ordinator Andie Milne told East Devon councillors on Wednesday night of the alarming numbers of people and the stark rise in numbers of people they are seeing.

She said that six months ago, they were dealing with 15 families a week, but last week, more than 30 families came through their doors, with 36 children being helped.

And she added that last week they helped a family from Axminster as there was no help available in the East of the county for them, and raised concern over what would happen to the emergency food bags located at the council’s Knowle HQ, that sometimes are refilled four times a week, when the council offices move to Honiton early in 2019.

Her comments came prior to the full council unanimously supporting a motion brought forward by Cllr Cathy Gardner, of East Devon Alliance, calling for a report on the potential impacts of benefits changes and spending cuts on people in East Devon and whether there was a need for further support from the council in supporting the roll-out of Universal Credit, homelessness prevention or for local food banks.

Proposing her motion, Cllr Gardner said: “Most of us are doing okay and are comfortable, some are doing extremely well, but some are struggling, and we have a civic duty to see if we can do more. I would be horrified to learn if a child suffered as we failed to something in some way to help.

“I am not criticising the council or the hard work that our officers do to help people but simply to ask if there is anything more that we could do, as we know that people are struggling with Universal Credit.

“If the report says it is all perfect, then we can rest easy, but I want the report to come forward so we can be seen as outstanding, caring and vigilant.”

Cllr Marianne Rixson, supporting the motion, added that some people are being forced to use food banks just to make ends meet, even though they are in employment. …”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/number-using-food-banks-part-2323249

EDA Councillor calls out Highways Department for inconsistency in Sidford

“‘Inconsistent’ highways bosses have been slammed for supporting a plan to build 40 homes when they refused to support one house being built just down the road.

District Councillor Marianne Rixson raised concerns about two cases where she claims the county council’s highways department’s decision making had been ‘inconsistent’.

Highways objected to an application to build one home in Sidford Road because the proposed development was next to the A375 Sidford Road, which connects to Sidmouth and Honiton, as well as to the A3052 Exeter to Lyme Regis at Sidford Cross at a staggered traffic light junction. At peak times, the signalled junction can cause long tailbacks past the new home.

However, Highways supported an application to build 40 retirement flats at Green Close in Sidford, just 0.2 miles away..

In its report Highways said the development at Green Close would ‘potentially’ generate a slight increase in traffic compared to the site’s former use as a care home.

Cllr Rixson said the South Lawn access to the development ‘in effect is single track because of parked cars’.

“There will be 40 apartments with 24 car parking spaces. These additional vehicles will be entering and exiting via South Lawn and this could cause tailbacks at the junction of South Lawn with the A375, yet Highways raised no objections,” she said.

“I really cannot understand why Highways raise no objections to major developments yet for a single dwelling produce arguments which would be applicable to all three of the applications listed below.

“The Herald attended the meeting on December 4 and heard East Devon District Council members being sympathetic toward my objections to the change of access but stated that, as highways had not objected, it would not succeed at appeal.”

A Devon County Council spokesman said: “Despite the close proximity of the two developments the implications of the two schemes on the highways network were very different, site specific and not comparable. When as the highways authority we give our observations regarding developments we follow the National Planning Policy Framework, the National Planning Policy Guidance and the Manual for Streets to ensure that our recommendations are consistent as possible.”

https://www.sidmouthherald.co.uk/news/highway-bosses-slammed-for-decisions-at-sidmouth-1-5839296

East Devon Alliance councillors spur council to decry poverty in East Devon

“The number of people using food banks in the Sid Valley has more than doubled in the last six months.

The Sid Valley Food Bank’s co-ordinator Andie Milne told East Devon councillors on Wednesday night of the alarming numbers of people and the stark rise in numbers of people they are seeing.

She said that six months ago, they were dealing with 15 families a week, but last week, more than 30 families came through their doors, with 36 children being helped.

And she added that last week they helped a family from Axminster as there was no help available in the East of the county for them, and raised concern over what would happen to the emergency food bags located at the council’s Knowle HQ, that sometimes are refilled four times a week, when the council offices move to Honiton early in 2019.

Her comments came prior to the full council unanimously supporting a motion brought forward by Cllr Cathy Gardner, of East Devon Alliance, calling for a report on the potential impacts of benefits changes and spending cuts on people in East Devon and whether there was a need for further support from the council in supporting the roll-out of Universal Credit, homelessness prevention or for local food banks.

Proposing her motion, Cllr Gardner said: “Most of us are doing okay and are comfortable, some are doing extremely well, but some are struggling, and we have a civic duty to see if we can do more. I would be horrified to learn if a child suffered as we failed to something in some way to help.

“I am not criticising the council or the hard work that our officers do to help people but simply to ask if there is anything more that we could do, as we know that people are struggling with Universal Credit.

“If the report says it is all perfect, then we can rest easy, but I want the report to come forward so we can be seen as outstanding, caring and vigilant.”

Cllr Marianne Rixson, supporting the motion, added that some people are being forced to use food banks just to make ends meet, even though they are in employment.

Cllr Eleanor Rylance said that the national picture showed there were 2.5m people living just 10 per cent above the poverty line. She added: “A small reversal of the economy could put 2.5m people below the poverty line in weeks. We all know of people who are struggling and other who could very soon be struggling.”

The motion received unanimous support from across the council chamber, with Conservative councillor Mike Allen said that he really liked the motion and thanked Cllr Gardner for bringing it forward.

He said: “If you work in a food bank, you get to understand how little accidents or small things can trip someone into a poverty – be it a divorce or splitting up with a partner, or a jobs loss, which leads to a massive hole in your income and you cannot afford what you used to take for granted.”

Cllr Jill Elson, portfolio holder for sustainable homes and communities, said that the council worked very closely with food banks across the district and that council staff were currently co-located in the job centres in Exmouth and Honiton to get the 1,013 people in East Devon claiming Universal Credit and were going the extra mile to help them, be it by helping them fill in the forms or giving them food bank credits.”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/number-using-food-banks-part-2323249

“Take business park land out of Local Plan say campaigners”

“Campaigners have called for land earmarked for a multi-million pound Sidford business park to be taken out of the Local Plan.

t follows East Devon District Council’s decision to throw out an application to build 8,445sqm of employment floor space on an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

The proposed development for the Two Bridges site received 255 comments of objection and 111 in support. A campaign group also submitted a petition to the council with 1,400 signatures opposing the plans.

Now campaigners are calling on council bosses to look at removing the area, earmarked for development, out the Local Plan, claiming it should have never been there in their first place.

The Herald understands the application could once again go to appeal following a response from East Devon District Council saying it would not be appropriate to respond to the campaigners’ comments.

An EDDC spokeswoman said: “As we understand that this matter is now going to appeal, it would not be appropriate to make any comments about the status of the Local Plan.

“The campaigners can make their points direct to the Planning Inspector in support of the council’s decision to refuse.”

Councillor Marianne Rixson has spoken out on the reasons why the town should join her rallying call to pressure the authority to look at taking the site out of the Local Plan at the earliest opportunity.

The Local Plan

“When a Government inspector was examining the suitability of the site in 2014, county Highways failed to point out that the roads would not be able to cope with the traffic an industrial estate would bring. Highways only admitted their error in September 2016.

“After the draft Local Plan had been sent to the Inspector for final approval in 2015, district councillors realised they’d made a mistake and voted almost unanimously to try to remove it from the plan but no effort was made to explain to the Inspector the reasons why the site was unsuitable – consequently he had no option but to rule that the site should remain, subject to planning.”

Flooding issues:

“It is on a floodplain and flooding will inevitably get worse with climate change.

“The Two Bridges site is in zones 3A and two flood risk zones – yet another reason why this site is unsuitable.”

Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB):

“England has 34 AONB all of which are supposed to have the highest rate of protection in law and Government policy.

“We should only build on AONB if there is an overwhelming need for a development. The owners’ plans for a business park were market driven so there isn’t any hard proof. Surely we need to know for sure that there is an overwhelming need for employment space in the Sid Valley before we destroy this AONB?

“I would advocate for the district and town councils to work together to look seriously at how we can attract good quality, well paid jobs into the valley and how we can most effectively locate them without encroaching into the AONB and where there is good transport infrastructure.

“We need to attract good quality, well paid jobs into the area. Surely we can do this without encroaching into the AONB and where there are better road links? Regrettably by mid November Sidmouth will have lost three banks and building societies. Far better to turn these buildings into offices, which would help to keep our town vibrant, rather than build new offices on the outskirts.

Roads:

“Traffic cannot cope on this narrow road as it is due to the bottlenecks and number of HGVs already using the A375 – it will not be able to cope with more.

“Highways now agree this is not suitable for HGVs. “For two lorries to pass you need 6.5 metres. The main access for business park would be School Street which has a pinch point of 4.77 metres. There are several points through Sidbury too where the road is less than 5.5m, including Sidbury Mill and Cotford Bridge.

“Surely there should be a weight restriction on this road?

“According to an FOI submitted by the Say No Sidford Business Park campaigners some 30,000 cars travelled along the road in one off-peak week in April.

“I’d like to call for a weigh restriction on these struggling roads.

Endangered Bats and Japanese knotweed:

“The Two Bridges site is an important wildlife site for species that are protected such as horseshoe bats, otters and dormice.

“Knotweed exterminators have been seen on the site – it takes several years to get rid of.

Light Pollution

“The Norman Lockyer Observatory is both historical and the home to an active amateur astronomical society.

It also has plans to build a £70,000 extension so more experiments can take place than ever before.

“The light from any business park there will have an impact on the night sky, which currently has semi rural dark skies status at Sidford.”

http://www.sidmouthherald.co.uk/news/campaigners-reasons-why-sidford-business-park-land-should-not-be-in-eddc-local-plan-1-5772366

Hospitals should not be used as “weapons”

Here are some images of a few of the responses in the Sidmouth Herald to Hugo Swire after his claims that campaigners for Ottery St Mary Hospital are “anti-Tory” and have “weaponised” their campaign (click on images for better view):

  

     

Independent EDA Councillor Rixon speaks up for Sidford parking

Here is her speech to Cabinet which led to reconsideration of an increase in car parking charges.

“My comments echo those made earlier by Richard Eley, on behalf of Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce.

I would ask you to reconsider the proposal to standardise car park fees. Evidence in my Ward suggests that a one size fits all policy will not help small businesses to survive, let alone thrive.

Sidford is a clear example. We have already lost many shops over the years. Everyone knows that retail is suffering due to competition from online shopping from the likes of Amazon which makes huge profits but contributes little to the UK economy.

Business rates weigh heavily on SMEs, which pay a disproportionate rate by comparison with large business.

Add to this the increase in the minimum wage, high levels of VAT and general running costs.

And then the local council decides to hike up the cost of parking to your customers by a whopping 150%. Taking Sidford Spar as an example, why would anyone pay a 50p premium for half an hour to buy a loaf of bread or pint of milk when they can drive to Temple Street and park for nothing or onto Waitrose and park for nothing, or even Newton Poppleford and park for nothing?

The Operations Director of Spar told me they “lost significant customer flow when the Doctor’s surgery relocated and now these increases will only hit our business even more.”

The owner of Lexys, the hairdressers, said, “I am not happy at all with the charges proposed. If I were to raise my charges by 150%, I wouldn’t stay in business.”

Cllr Pook stated “the Council has listened carefully to what has been said during the public consultation and the cabinet report recommendations reflect the views of the respondents”.

This is not the case with regard to Sidford, where 64% agreed with the proposal to introduce free parking for the first two hours. Nor does it reflect the views of business owners.

Looking at the current revenue generated, this car park contributes only 0.32% towards annual revenue at £10,676 for 2016/17. There are 60 spaces which generate only £29 a day for the whole car park (so less than 50p per space per day). Raising the parking fees by 150% would only equate to £43.50 per day, which is still miniscule. And apparently the amount for 2017/18 was even less, £10,535, so still less than 50p per space per day).

In summary, a dramatic increase in car park charges could hasten the closure of more local businesses through lack of custom. Precisely how much do the Sidford companies pay in business rates? Could it be more than £29 per day? I would suggest that this information be made available, so that it can be reviewed by Cabinet.”

Speeches by councillors for Lympestone and Phear Park led to reconsideration of their charges as reported here:

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/parking-charges-rise-devons-cheapest-1948853