“Devon MP Hugo Swire will not stand in the next General Election”

Owl says: FRIT! FRIT! FRIT!

“The Member of Parliament for East Devon says he will not stand in the next general election.

Conservative MP Hugo Swire, who was first elected in 2000, insists that he will continue to support Prime Minister Boris Johnson but says he will not be standing for re-election.

Announcing his decision via social media this evening, he said: “At a meeting earlier this evening of the Executive if the East Devon Conservative Association I announced that I would not be standing for re-election as the Member of Parliament.

“It was my original intention to stand down in 2022, when the next general election was scheduled to be held.”

He continued: “I served in a number of different roles in opposition, including in the shadow cabinet as Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. In Government I was first appointed as Minister of State in the Northern Ireland Office and then Minister of State in the Foreign Commonwealth Office.

“Whilst I was honoured to have been appointed to these roles, my greatest privilege has been to serve my constituents, regardless of their political allegiance, I am truly grateful for consistently returning me at elections and will continue to serve them to the best of my ability until an election is called.”

Reaffirming his support to Mr Johnson, he added: “We live in challenging political times, but I remain convinced that to bring the country back together we need to deliver on Brexit and I shall continue to support the Prime Minster and the Government in their endeavours.”

The announcement prompted quick reaction from the prospective parliamentary candidates (PPC) for East Devon.

Eleanor Rylance, for the Liberal Democrats, said: “Conservative chaos continues.”

And independent PPC Clair Wright simply posted a ghost emoji after Mr Swire shared his announcement on Twitter.”


EDDC: the resigned/sacked councillor saga continues…

Owl says: Of course, none of this would be happening if Leader Ingram had been prepared to work with the other independent group – East Devon Alliance (of which he had previously been leader – after being an independent independent – after being a Tory!).

AND it re-ignites the argument: who actually runs the council: councillors or officers? In theory, officers advise, councillors decide …..

“Cllr Paul Millar, who represents the Exmouth Halsdon ward, quit the Independent Group who are in control of East Devon District Council

A blistering attack on East Devon District Council’s management has been launched by a councillor who resigned from group running the council.

Cllr Paul Millar, who represents the Exmouth Halsdon ward, quit the Independent Group on Monday night.

In an email announcing his departure from the group, Cllr Millar said he found working with the Senior Management Team and trying to have any influence over his transformation portfolio to be impossible, that he had no confidence in the senior management, and that the Independent Group has little desire to change anything really at all.

His resignation from the group means that they are no longer the largest party on the council, with both them and the Conservatives having 19 seats each.

In a response, Cllr Ben Ingham, leader of the council, said that he thanked Cllr Millar for his contribution but that the ‘personal and unfounded comments’ do not help advance understanding of the work carried out by East Devon District Council’s officers and councillors.

It is understood that Cllr Millar had been removed from his transformation portfolio role by Cllr Ingham prior to his resignation from the group.

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Cllr Millar confirmed that he would remain a member of the council and would sit as an Independent not aligned to any group.

He said that he has found local casework immensely fulfilling and this will enable him to concentrate on that and he joked that his contributions to the cabinet wouldn’t be missed as his ideas seemed to be ignored and they didn’t give him anything to do.

In his resignation statement, Cllr Millar said: “Since being elected I have sadly found working with the Senior Management Team and trying to have any influence over my portfolio to be impossible. I was not once asked my view on any matter of policy or given information with which to make any real decision.

“I raised this on a number of occasions, and was sent an email by the Monitoring Officer telling me it is ‘impractical’ for councillors to make even a ‘small fraction’ of decisions.

“Although I’m very new, as a democrat I found this despairing and disappointing as I believe elected representatives are best placed to make decisions in the public interest. We take the blame when things go wrong, so we should have more control, as we’re the ones on the ground.”

Cllr Millar was absent from last Thursday’s overview and scrutiny committee meeting where the service plan objectives for 2019/20 where being evaluated due to illness, but had he attended, he said: “I would’ve struggled to explain what I’d done at the as I’ve not been given any opportunity to make a single major decision. I can only conclude this has been a deliberate action taken by the officer lead for my former portfolio.”

He added that he has no confidence in the current Senior Management and he would like to work with colleagues to at some point submit a motion of no confidence against the Senior Management Team.

He said: “I have become convinced by my short experience and conversations with others across parties that cultural change at the top is required if East Devon District Council is ever to provide a better service, win greater trust among our residents and to have fewer decisions made behind closed doors by officers who are unelected, unaccountable and often I believe show an arrogant contempt towards councillors.”

And he questioned whether the current administration in charge of the council was sustainable for much longer, and his departure means that the Independent Group, which was made up of 20 individual Independent councillors, is no longer the largest group, with the Conservatives also have 19.

He said: “My departure means the ‘Independent Group’ no longer has any majority and as a result to my mind no longer has any mandate to continue as the current administration.

“I will be voting against the Council Plan as I believe it is mostly a load of wishy-washy nonsense written entirely by senior officers, some of whom view our residents merely as “customers” to have money sucked out of, and underestimate the intelligence and ability of elected representatives. In its current form the plan gives the council and the current administration no clear direction of travel.

“Worst of all, I’ve been disappointed that the Independent Group has little desire to change anything really at all. I’ve never been part of a more autocratically-minded institution in my life, and my old Students’ Union was pretty bad.

“The leader and deputy leader have consistently bowed to the SMT (senior management team) in the name of ‘continuity’. It’s been so frustrating and there’s no active feeling that SMT want to work with councillors.”

Cllr Ingham, in response, said he was grateful for the work Cllr Millar had carried out and wished him well for the future.

He added: “It is very unfortunate when individuals resort to personal and unfounded comments. Such attacks do not help us advance understanding of the work carried out by East Devon District Council’s officers and councillors and their respective roles and responsibilities as detailed in the council’s constitution. Rather, they confuse, contribute to rumours and create more harm.”

“However, I am confident that the council offered Cllr Millar a high level of support and assistance to help him try to adjust to the demands of being a Portfolio holder, and I thank him for his contribution.

“On behalf of the council I am very grateful for the work that Cllr Millar has carried out since his election and appointment to the cabinet and wish him well for the future. Looking forwards, though, it is business as usual for East Devon.”

It is understood that Cllr Ingham had sacked Cllr Millar from his role as he failed to take the ‘many chances’ given to ‘show respect to officers and each other at all times’.

Cllr Millar’s resignation leaves the Independent Group and the Conservatives both holding 19 seats on the council. The East Devon Alliance hold 11, the Liberal Democrats eight, the Green Party two, and one Independent.

A meeting of Conservatives members will take place next week to discuss what, if any, moves they plan to make to try and regain control of the council.”


Finally, Parish on Brexit …

Owl isn’t convinced!

“With the current unrest in Parliament – linked to indecision around Brexit – Honiton Nub News contacted local MP Neil Parish to find out his thoughts on what is going on.

He said: “I supported the PM in his call for a general election, so the country can decide who deals with Brexit.

“Parliament is not functioning properly.

“There is no majority for the executive, MPs are not respecting the referendum result – and are now refusing to face public opinion.

“It can’t go on. After Party conference, the impasse must be broken at the earliest opportunity.

“I want to get on with leaving the EU, recruiting 20,000 extra police officers, providing a £14 billion cash boost for schools, 20 new hospital upgrades and transformative infrastructure investment on transport and superfast fibre broadband.

“These are all things which are crucial for our area.”


Swire on prorogation – and a constituent’s response


“Dear Mr

Thank you for your email about the votes in the House of Commons on stopping a No Deal Brexit and extending the deadline.

I voted with the Government against the bill as I believe it completely undermines the Prime Minister’s attempt to get a deal on Brexit. It is little more than a cynical attempt to delay or revoke the whole process by those who have never accepted the result of the referendum.

The bill will allow the EU to unilaterally impose & dictate the length of a further Brexit extension therefore putting our future in the hands of the EU. It would go against the result of the 2016 referendum which wanted to have the power back into the hands of the UK.

I believe that not leaving by 31 October could lead to a catastrophic loss of confidence in our political system. The indecision of the last three years and the repeated failure to deliver on the referendum result cannot be allowed to continue.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.

Yours sincerely
Hugo Swire”


“Thank you for your biased reply.

The current Prime Minister is not attempting to get a deal with the EU. This has been confirmed recently by Amber Rudd, EU officials and Leo Varadkar.

I would remind you the 2016 referendum was “ advisory” only. The result has been hijacked by leavers as the “ will of the people “ to leave the EU without a deal.

To state that our future will be in the hands of the EU is incorrect. The UK has always had control over it`s own affairs and always will have. There have been occasions in the past when the UK has chosen not to use those powers. We have never been controlled by the EU without our own consent. The EU does not work like that and you know it. Member states have control over their own affairs and laws.

MPs are at Westminster to have the best interests of their constituents first and foremost in mind. MPs have the resources at hand via advisors and experts to “ save us from ourselves “ and put into action our best interests.This is something you have constantly failed to do.

The naive and gullible who voted to leave the EU in 2016 were encouraged to do so by inveterate liars. Staggeringly, those liars are currently at the very top of Government.

I look forward to the upcoming General Election when we can vote for someone who will at the very least attempt to represent constituents and not just be driven by self interest.”

Sheffield change to committee system moves on with resignation of deputy leader from her role so she can fight for it

“The deputy leader of Sheffield City Council has resigned after a petition was submitted calling for a referendum on the way the authority is run.

More than 26,000 people have backed calls for the authority to move from a strong leader model to a committee system of decision making.
By law a petition signed by 5% of voters – 20,092 – will trigger a vote.

Olivia Blake said she was stepping down from her role in order to back the petition.

A council spokesman said if the petition was deemed valid a city-wide vote would take place by May 2020.

Ms Blake said: “My preference was to resolve the debate on the council’s governance structure without the need for a referendum but now that it is almost certain to be held, it is time to take a public position on where we go next.

“I will take the side of the people. I will back the committee system. It is a starting point for a wider debate on how to rejuvenate our democracy, and it is important that Labour voices contribute to this debate.

“I have added my name to the It’s Our City petition, and will make further statements in the coming days about the role I intend to play in the upcoming referendum.”

Sheffield City Council has 84 elected councillors across 28 wards, but under the current model it is the council leader and nine cabinet members who make decisions on “the most significant issues”.

Co-chair of It’s Our City Ruth Hubbard said the existing system “places power in the hands of too few”.

“We want our city to work for all of us but at the moment it’s failing,” she said.

The council now has one month to verify the signatures on the petition.
James Henderson, director of Policy, performance and communications at Sheffield City Council, said: “If a valid petition is submitted by It’s Our City then we are required to hold a referendum on changing the council’s governance system.”


“Stop the Coup Protest: this Saturday 7 September, Exeter, Bedford Square, 2 pm

Saturday 7 September 2019
Stop the Coup
Bedford Square
2 pm.

Other events in Exeter coming up:

Saturday 14 September 2019

Extinction Rebellion – Fight for the Planet

Extinction Rebellion Exeter are again taking to the streets to march for the planet 10:30am on Saturday 14 September, meeting in Southernhay. Rebels will be marching in blue to represent a wave of water. This is to highlight:

– the global water crisis: as the climate warms, rains become erratic – lands flood with undrinkable water and water stress leads to water crisis for millions of individuals
– rising sea levels due to climate crisis: the threat of too much water. If the sea rises as it is projected to, the greatest achievement of the last two hundred years, our sewage system, will be swept aside; all the drinking water Exeter will be able to rely on will from the ancient medieval water course.

Friday 20 September 2019
Global Strike for Climate – Exeter

Hosted by Exeter Global Strike for Climate and 4 others
Friday, 20 September 2019 from 11:00-14:00
Bedford Square, Exeter
17 High Street, Exeter, Devon