Rights of way – action needed

Ramblers Association:

“We have until January 2026 to save our historic rights of way.
Well over 140,000 miles of public paths criss-cross England and Wales. This network has evolved over centuries with many paths dating back to medieval times – or earlier! These paths link villages, hamlets, roads and towns – they describe how generations before us travelled to the pub, field or shops and reflect the changing patterns of human interaction with the landscape. To this day, millions of people across our towns, cities and countryside, use this fantastic network. However, miles and miles of our public paths are unrecorded and if they are not put on the map by 1 January 2026, they will be lost for ever.

Download our guide below and get started on the hunt for lost rights of way in your area (requires form fill-in)

https://e-activist.com/page/34392/data/1

“Spending watchdog urges ministry to address weaknesses in local authority governance”

“The National Audit Office has sounded the alarm about local authority governance and audit for the second time in a week.

In its latest report, Local Authority Governance, the spending watchdog said the government should improve its oversight of the local governance system in the face of increasing financial pressures on councils.

It said councils’ responses to these pressures had “tested local governance arrangements”, as some had pursued large-scale transformations or potentially risky commercial investments that added complexity to governance arrangements.

But spending to support governance fell by 34% in real terms between 2010-11 and 2017-18.

The NAO said external auditors issued qualified conclusions for around 20% of unitary and county councils, and “several authorities did not take appropriate steps to address these issues”.

A NAO survey of auditors found 27% did not agree that their authority’s audit committees provided sufficient assurance about governance arrangements.

Some councils had questioned the contribution of external audit to providing assurance on their governance arrangements, with 51% of chief finance officers wanting to see changes, including a greater focus on the value for money element of the audit.

The NAO said the Ministry for Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) did not systematically collect data on governance, and so it could not assess whether issues that arose were isolated incidents or symptomatic of failings in aspects of the system.

Ministry intervention at councils was not always made public “meaning its scale and effectiveness is not open to scrutiny or challenge”, the watchdog said.

The report’s recommendations include that the MHCLG should work with local authorities and stakeholders to assess the implications of, and possible responses to, the various governance issues it had Identified.

This would include examining the status of section 151 officers and the efficacy of their statutory reporting arrangements, the effectiveness of audit committees, the effectiveness of overview and scrutiny functions, and the sustainability and future role of internal audit. …”

http://www.localgovernmentlawyer.co.uk/index.php

“County Council leader tells me he ‘hasn’t got a clue yet’ about No Deal Brexit planning” says EDA Independent Councillor

At yesterday’s DCC Cabinet meeting, Leader John Hart answered three questions I had put in writing about estimated risks from Theresa May’s Brexit and No Deal, about help to businesses for No Deal, and emergency planning for disruption to fuel, food and medical supplies in Devon as a result of No Deal.

The questions and answers are attached. It will be seen that Cllr Hart did not answer any of the questions. When I asked when he would answer them, he said ‘We haven’t got a clue yet’ about what is going to happen, and that there would be a meeting next week, with just 10 weeks left to when the UK will crash out of the EU with No Deal if no change is made.

It can be seen that there are no protections in place to protect Devon from the effects of a No Deal. Economy Cabinet member Cllr Rufus Gilbert said ‘we can’t plan for a hypothetical’ but at the moment No Deal is the default scenario for 29th March.

This is why Devon and Dorset MPs like Ben Bradshaw, Sarah Wollaston and Oliver Letwin are absolutely right to try to block No Deal. I told Cabinet it was irresponsible of them not to support these moves.

Martin Shaw
Independent East Devon Alliance County Councillor for Seaton & Colyton”

dcc leader’s replies on no deal brexit 9.1.19

Effective scrutiny essential when councils fail – as they will do more often in future

“There needs to be a “thorough rethink” about how to approach failure in local government, think-tanks have warned.

Methods of addressing failure in local government are “no longer fit for purpose” according to a briefing paper published on 10 December by the Centre for Public Scrutiny and Localis.

They identified four main types of failure including: a failure of culture, a failure of service, a failure of function and a failure of duty.

CfPS and Localis said councils experiencing these types of failure often become less outward looking, more introspective and more defensive. The warning was timely, they said, because of the recent high-profile failures at Northamptonshire County Council, and increasing pressures on the sector more widely.

Jacqui McKinlay, chief executive of the Centre for Public Scrutiny, said: “Our recent experience of working with local authorities shows that it is time for a thorough rethink about local government failure.

“Failure in local government is not something that is going to go away – in fact, a range of looming pressures mean that the problem is likely to become more prevalent in the years ahead.”

McKinlay urged local government needs to prepare for increasing instances of failure in the years ahead.

She added: “We are clear that improved scrutiny processes at the local level will be crucial in this effort.” …”

https://www.publicfinance.co.uk/news/2018/12/call-rethink-councils-approach-failure

“Laybys in Cranbrook are being used by lorry drivers to ‘entertain’ women”

Owl LOVES the comment from the DCC officer: ““I know this is not a popular thing to suggest, but the people who bought the houses bought them in full knowledge of the layby” but Owl thinks they expected the LORRIES to be laid by, not ladies being laid by lorry drivers!

“Two laybys that lorry drivers are using to ‘entertain’ female companions will be closed.

The laybys, right in the middle of Cranbrook, are also being used a public toilet, for boy racers to congregate and play loud music and swear, and the proximity to houses mean that lorry drivers can see into homes from their cabs.

Unanimous agreement was given by councillors to close the laybys and for Devon County Council’s Highways officers to come up with a solution.

Cllr Ray Bloxham, who brought the proposal to Friday’s East Devon Highways and Traffic Orders Committee, said that the laybys used to be in a rural location but now are right in the middle of Cranbrook, and homes are now located immediately adjacent to the laybys.

He said: “The two laybys in question are now principally used by HGVs for overnight parking as a free car park. This results in considerable disturbance to adjacent households and there have been a series of complaints about noise disturbance especially overnight from refrigerated units and from engines being started and left running during the early hours. There have been ancillary complaints about anti-social behaviour by drivers using the hedgerow as a toilet and other unpleasant behaviours.

“The complaints by local residents have been referred to both Environmental Health at East Devon District Council and to Highways, and the only solution that was put forward and supported by highways department was to close the laybys.”

He added that there was organised lorry parking less than a mile away in Clyst Honiton, but there is a fee for it, so they prefer to park for free.

A resident of Roman Way, which is just 15m away over a hedge from the layby, said that they are facing anti-social behaviour ‘night and day’.

She said: “There are privacy issues as from their cabs, they can see into our residences, while the anti-social behaviour is disturbing out sleep. One lorry driver ‘entertained’ a female companion in his cab overnight and she left at 5.30am in the morning – this is the kind of behaviour we want to end.

“Some of the drivers urinate and use the hedge as a toilet, and they leave litter there which attracts vermin, and at night you get boy racers there and they play music and swear loudly.

“It is a real nuisance and causes health risks to us and our children. It doesn’t support the healthy town concept and for us as residents, the issues are very real. If you lived in our home and had this every day and night, you would realise the issues that we are facing at the moment.”

Mike Jones, Senior Devon County Council Traffic Officer, said that the laybys were on the road so lorry drivers do have a place to stop. He added that the road is a diversion route for the A30 and the road does need marshalling facilities and laybys are a useful thing to have, before saying: “I know this is not a popular thing to suggest, but the people who bought the houses bought them in full knowledge of the layby.”

But Cllr Richard Scott said that was an inappropriate argument to make, as it would be the same as saying if you bought a house next to a field, then it could never be built on. He said that if that argument was used, then Cranbrook itself would never have been built.

Cllr Phil Twiss said that he fully supported the laybys being closed to vehicles, but said that as a cyclist who used the road, those laybys are a handy little refuge to stop and have a drink or check tyres. He said: “I agree that we should close them, but officers need to go away and come up with a practical solution.”

The East Devon HATOC unanimously agreed that the two laybys, located on opposite sides of the highway alongside the B3174 at Cranbrook, approximately 100m west of Parsons Lane, be closed to vehicular use, either by the introduction of a Traffic Regulation Order, or a different solution that the highways department could identify which meant moving the kerb line.”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/laybys-cranbrook-being-used-lorry-2303961

Food resilience after Brexit – councils must set up risk teams”

“An advice notice sent to all UK local authorities says they should set up a team to make risk assessments of how different outcomes for Brexit might affect food availability and supplies in their areas.”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/uk-england-devon-46370313

We know that EDDC has done nothing:
https://eastdevonwatch.org/2018/09/06/eddc-has-done-no-brexit-planning/

So let’s hope DCC is on the ball …. hhhmmm, get back to you on that!

And just what are councils supposed to do with no money and no resources?

“‘Staggering’ £2million spent on gagging former staff at Devon County Council”

“A Freedom of Information Request submitted by the Exmouth Journal has revealed between 2013 and 2017 the council (DCC) spent £1,965,370 on 145 separate settlement agreements, often referred to as gagging orders.

The confidentiality clauses in these agreements are usually agreed when an employee leaves an organisation due to a disagreement, workplace issue or redundancy.

None of the settlement agreements into which DCC entered in the last five years were for staff being made redundant. …”

https://www.exmouthjournal.co.uk/news/2million-gagging-staff-at-devon-county-council-1-5801603