If Devon and Cornwall police merge with Dorset, who would make the best Police and Crime Commissioner?

Martyn Underhill is the police and crime commissioner for the Dorset Police force area.

Martyn is a retired Detective Chief Inspector who served with both the Metropolitan and Sussex Police forces. He is representing and working closely with the people of Dorset to further improve policing and community safety.”

https://www.police.uk/dorset/pcc/

The same site contains no personal information about Devon and Cornwall PCC Alison Hernandez, a career Tory local politician, but the Devon site says:

“Prior to my election I predominantly worked in public service except for a four year stint running my own management consultancy, working internationally helping companies with business improvement, particularly in the housing and transport industry.

Prior to my election I predominantly worked in public service except for a four year stint running my own management consultancy, working internationally helping companies with business improvement, particularly in the housing and transport industry.”

It then goes on to talk about how wonderful she was as a Torbay councillor and lists her hobbies as Netflix and sleeping.

http://www.devonandcornwall-pcc.gov.uk/about-us/the-police-and-crime-commissioner/about-the-pcc/

National parks and Devon unitaries – an intriguing solution

Councillor John Hart, Leader of Devon County Council appeared recently on BBC Spotlight, and explained that Devon was unlikely to become a Unitary Authority, because its population, at nearly 800,000, was greater than the Government’s preferred size for a Unitary, which is between 300,000 and 500,000. He may be right: Devon might be too big.

Meanwhile Michael Gove, Minister for the Environment, announces that he is to conduct a national review of National Parks, and says he is keen to create new ones.

Is there an opportunity here to kill two birds with one stone?

The Dartmoor and Exmoor National Parks already exist, and there are proposals for a Dorset and East Devon National Park, and a South Hams National Park. Were these National Parks to be created, and significant powers handed over to them, the rest of Devon’s population would be significantly reduced.

There is also the Tamar Valley AONB and the Blackdown Hills AONB, which could be incorporated into an expanded Dartmoor National Park and Dorset and East Devon National Park respectively.

A redrawing of boundaries to, for example, link the South Hams AONB/National Park with Dartmoor opens the prospect of three large parcels of Devon being created to create new National Parks, which would be at least semi-autonomous administratively from the rest of Devon.

The rump of Devon, still centred upon Exeter, and including, essentially, Teignbridge, Torridge, North Devon, Mid Devon, and much of East Devon, would have a population of around 500,000, and thus meet the Government’s guidelines.

All the existing District Councils would disappear, thus at a stroke removing an entire tier of local government and saving tens of millions of pounds. And the new and expanded National Parks will bring in greatly increased tourism revenue, and provide much-needed protection to our glorious countryside.

Tourism – where would you go …?

A correspondent writes:

Nice to see EDDC is doing all in its power to attract tourist into the area.

To park in a nearly deserted Lime Kiln car park in Budliegh at 6.00 pm cost £1 per hour (maximum £6)

To park in Lyme Legis long stay £2 …… all day

To park at an almost full West Bay, Bridport, car park 8.00 am to 10.00 pm £2.

So it cost 3 times as much to park in East Devon seaside resorts than it does to park on the coast in Dorset.

Where would you go?

“Two Dorset councils take out [allegedly] ‘fraudulent’ high-risk loans worth over £120m”

“Campaign group Debt Resistance UK revealed that Dorset County Council and Weymouth and Portland Borough Council have taken out £123m of Lender Option Borrower Option loans (LOBOs) in an effort to reduce their debts.
Dorset County Council took out £95.9m, while Weymouth and Portland Borough Council took £27m at the end of the 2015-16 financial year.
The LOBOs, which were uncovered on Channel 4’s Dispatches documentary series, allow private banks to propose or impose a new fixed rate on a pre-determined future start date.

This means that the borrowing party can either accept the new interest rate or repay the entire loan, paying a ‘breakage penalty’—the fee a client must pay its lender to break from the contract— incurring further costs on the local authority.

Last month the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) urged local councils to review their LOBO loans after auditing firms expressed concern at their impact on local authorities’ accounts. Channel 4’s Dispatches found that over 200 authorities had used the loans, totalling up to £15bn.

Cllr John Whitworth, chair of the Newham Council Scrutiny Committee, labelled the LOBO loans a “fraud on the people,” arguing that many local authorities took out the loans when they were struggling financially during the economic downturn in 2008. He added that the loans became “a very serious handicap” on councils dealing with austerity in later years.

Debt Resistance UK campaigner Joel Benjamin noted: “it is always cheaper for government to borrow than banks, and that PFI and by extension LOBO loans are therefore a fraud.”

Last week a merger between all nine Dorset councils was approved, creating the formation of Christchurch and Poole Council and Dorset Council. The deal is expected to deliver £6m in savings.”

http://www.publicsectorexecutive.com/Public-Sector-News/two-dorset-councils-take-out-fraudulent-high-risk-loans-worth-over-120m

What can a National Park do for East Devon?

“Following Michael Gove’s announcement that the Government will look at creating new National Parks – what will it mean to East Devon if a Dorset East Devon National Park were to become a reality?

A National Park is an exciting vision for our countryside, communities and economy and it can become a reality. It would work in partnership to:

• Conserve and enhance our great landscapes and heritage
• Boost our economy and attract new funding, investment and jobs
• Make the new National Park a global brand and destination; adding opportunity and value to our tourism businesses and local producers
• Help farmers and land managers to access funding and other support
• Work with communities for appropriate development, affordable homes for local people and a thriving, successful location
• As the planning authority for its area, partner with Councils and help deliver what our communities need

IT WILL LOOK AFTER OUR ENVIRONMENT

The Dorset landscapes and heritage are very special. They have been judged to be amongst the top 4 percent in the country.

The environment is Dorset’s and East Devon’s greatest economic asset and the National Park would have a duty to look after and promote our environment and heritage.

IT WILL SUPPORT COMMUNITY LED DEVELOPMENT IN THE RIGHT PLACES

The National Park would work with communities, councils and businesses to meet local needs, including housing and affordable homes for local people. National Parks are not against development, and they build on neighbourhood
plans to support thriving local communities.

The National Park would be a one-stop-shop for co-ordinated planning advice and would work in partnership with other local authorities.

IT WILL BOOST THE RURAL ECONOMY

A National Park would boost the rural economy and attract investment and jobs. Tourism is the area’s largest economic sector, and a National Park brand would put the area on the world map and encourage visitors to stay longer and spend
more.

It would help develop an area wide marketing strategy, manage tourism pressures and could attract funding for sustainable transport.

IT WILL HELP FARMERS AND LANDOWNERS

A National Park would help farmers and landowners to access funding and other support, and help them diversify and thrive as well as pursue conservation and recreational opportunities.

IT WILL BRING NEW AND EXTRA FUNDING

National Parks are separately funded by Government and not by residents or businesses. They also bid for extra funds which are invested in the local economy, in partnership with communities, not-for-profit and commercial businesses, farmers and landowners.

A National Park will be an asset and a close, efficient partner for the Councils and complement their work. It would bring additional resources and free up some council funding to help support local services and communities.

The South Downs NPA has secured over £100m in core and project funding since 20115.

HOW WOULD NATIONAL PARK STATUS HELP DORSET AND EAST DEVON?

National Parks have a responsibility to:

• Conserve and enhance the environment.
• Promote recreation, health, and the enjoyment and understanding of the special qualities of their area.
• Foster the economic and social wellbeing of their communities.

Let’s hope East Devon District Council make the right decision!

Boundary problems and a headache for EDDC’s new leader

What is fascinating about this spat is that a park and ride scheme can be deemed a harmful impact in an AONB.

Owl wonders if this will therefore similarly be a material consideration for a new industrial park planned in Sidford?

“A park and ride service which operated to the West of Lyme Regis has been halted.

East Devon District Council last week refused planning permission for a further temporary consent for the site, off the A3052, in Uplyme.

The application, from Lyme Town Council, was rejected on the basis of a lack of evidence provided to justify a need for the facility and that, as a result, this would have a harmful impact upon the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

East Devon’s planning department had previously granted temporary consents for the park and ride use to support businesses in Lyme Regis and visitors to the town, but despite ample time being given to Lyme Regis Town Council to justify the park and ride’s continued use, the required information had not been received, say officials.

Since 2014, the district’s planning authority says it has consistently asked Lyme Regis Town Council to gather evidence to justify the need for a park and ride in the location in Sidmouth Road.

Despite the town council having four years in which to do this, the work has still not been carried out, says EDDC.

In addition, East Devon is not convinced that the proposed site is the best location for a park and ride facility, or that a further park and ride site is required, given that the majority of the traffic does not enter the town from the West on the A3052 where the site is located, and that the park and ride on Charmouth Road, to the East of Lyme Regis, has very recently been granted planning permission to operate 400 spaces over a longer seasonal period.

EDDC says it is happy to entertain a future planning application for the site, but it needs to be supported by justification for the use of the site. In addition, robust evidence of the need for the facility and justification that the proposed site is the most appropriate location to serve visitors to the town must be provided.

Cllr Ian Thomas, Leader of East Devon District Council and ward member for Trinity, which includes Uplyme, said: “East Devon planners, Uplyme Parish Council and I have worked for several years, in the interest of Lyme Regis traders, residents and visitors, in what has become a uniquely frustrating process.

“Last Summer, contrary to planning guidelines, I was able to secure a further last minute temporary consent.

“I was only able to do so: ‘….to allow the newly formed working group, including representatives from Devon and Dorset County Councils, East Devon and West Dorset District Councils. Lyme Regis Town Council and Uplyme Parish Council, to use such information in the development of a strategic approach to the management of traffic and parking requirements…”

“Sadly, this group has never met…

“It is disappointing that another planning application (validated on 19 March 2018) was submitted by Lyme Regis Town Council, seeking further temporary consent from 30 March 2018. The application is essentially a copy of that submitted in 2017, so it again neither offers supporting evidence requested following the 2014 application, nor demonstrates any significant progress in that direction.

“This lack of progress makes it impossible for me to intervene again on the grounds I used in 2017.

“Despite several instances of ‘factual inaccuracy’ by the applicant, I commend both East Devon planners and Uplyme Parish Council on their rigorous adherence to dealing professionally with each successive application, according to planning policy and guidelines.

“Notwithstanding difficulties experienced to date, I am confident that East Devon District Council, Uplyme Parish Council, other local authority neighbours and I, remain willing to work with Lyme Regis Town Council to develop the best possible long-term solution to the management of traffic and associated parking requirements in and around Lyme Regis and Uplyme.”

Lyme Regis deputy mayor, Cllr Steve Miller, said: “Lyme Regis Town Council was extremely disappointed to learn, immediately prior to a busy bank holiday and the school half term, that East Devon District Council refused the application for continued temporary use of the Sidmouth Road park and ride site.

“We are surprised by the tone and content of the press release issued by East Devon District Council, a copy of which was not supplied to the town council. We believe such a release is not normal practice on refusal of a planning application.

“The town council will obviously review available options before deciding how to proceed, which may involve appealing the planning authority’s decision.

“In the meantime, the work to obtain the evidence previously requested by East Devon District Council has already been commissioned via independent experts Hydrock and will continue. However, this has been made more difficult by the refusal of the Sidmouth Road application.

“This work will ascertain the best parking, transport and signage strategies for the town and will be pursued by the town council in the best long-term interests of the residents and businesses of Lyme Regis and those visiting the town we all love.

“The 400-space Charmouth Road Park and ride site will continue to operate throughout the peak summer periods. In addition, the town council has just agreed to extend the bus service to include all June weekends.

“The town council is grateful for the help and support it received from West Dorset District Council, its local representative and the landowner in achieving the permanent permission for the use of the Charmouth Road facility, which is also in an area of outstanding natural beauty.” …

http://www.midweekherald.co.uk/news/planners-reject-lyme-park-and-ride-application-1-5538074

Independent East Devon Alliance councillor Geoff Jung seeks support for a (non-political) Jurassic National Park

Press release:

“A Jurassic National Park makes sense Says East Devon Councillor

East Devon’s new leader Cllr Ian Thomas has been contacted regarding Mr Michael Gove’s announcement that the government is considering creating new National Parks within the UK.

Cllr Geoff Jung who is Ward Councillor for Raleigh Ward that includes several rural villages including Collaton Raleigh, Otterton, Bicton and Yettington and most of Woodbury Common that are all within the “Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty” of East Devon has written to Cllr Thomas asking for his and full council support in creating a Jurassic National Park to cover the length of the Jurassic Coast from Poole Harbour in Dorset to Exe Estuary which would include Woodbury Common and the villages he represents.
This is because a few years ago the Council discussed the concept of creating a joint Dorset and East Devon National Park which they considered neither appropriate or achievable.

However, Cllr Geoff Jung points out that since then a lot has changed as the District Council is now working with Exeter, Teignbridge and Mid Devon Councils with the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan, to provide for extra housing and commercial development in the Greater Exeter growth area it would now make sense to open a dialogue with Dorset and the Government.
To the Leader of East Devon District Council.

(An open Letter to the leader of East Devon District Council)

Michael Gove the Environment Secretary has stated today (27/05/2018) plans for a new “Green revolution”, with a possible new generation of National Parks and changes to the boundaries to our Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

This review is our one opportunity in East Devon to protect and enhance our beautiful area!

Within East Devon we have the Pebblebed Heaths (commonly known as Woodbury Common) and the Blackdown Hills designated as AONBs. We also have the World Heritage Jurassic Coast which covers the coast line area from Exmouth through to Lyme Regis in Dorset, and the Exe Estuary which is a most important habitat being designated a SSSI and RAMSAR site.

The review is to be conducted by a panel led by Julian Glover, a former Downing Street adviser. They will look at both extending existing AONB and National Parks or possibly creating new ones.

Mr Gove says the review will consider landscapes such as the Chilterns and South Devon Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) to join the list of 10 National Parks.

It should be noted that Mr Gove mentions South Devon which may not include our own district but would possibly include the “South Hams” only.

It is well known that National Park status “provides safeguards at the highest level “In most National Parks the decisions on planning matters are dealt with through the “National Park Authority.” However, in the recently formed South Downs National Park, the Local Authority administer the planning process, on behalf of the National Park.

I understand that Dorset and East Devon were in discussions a few years ago regarding a “Jurassic National Park” which would cover the coast line of the Jurassic Coast and the hinterland of some of East Devon and Dorset including the areas of AONB in each area. However, I understand that the proposals were not considered appropriate at that time.

I understand from colleagues in Dorset that they are now considering applying to Mr Gove to designate the Dorset area of the Jurassic Coast from Poole Harbour to Lyme Regis to be included in a National Park.

This very important review of the AONBs and National Parks could mean that with the current policy of EDDC we may find ourselves having a new National Park in Dorset and in the South Hams but none in our area!

This would be a travesty in East Devon considering that one of the Jurassic Coast`s most important areas is the undercliff between Lyme Regis and Seaton and we already have the Pebblebed Heaths and the Blackdown Hills.
The loss to East Devon’s Tourist trade and the exclusion of funding and grants that will be allocated to the new National Parks would mean our area lose out on a once in a lifetime opportunity for protecting our beautiful unique landscape.

East Devon District Council is discussing with their neighbours in the west (Exeter, Teignbridge, Mid Devon Councils) a plan development. The GESP (the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan) is looking at the “Growth Area” for possible expansion of housing and commerce within the confines of commuting distance of the main driver which is the growth of the City of Exeter.

However up to now our dialogue with our eastern neighbours has resulted in a negative response to a joint National Park.

I would strongly support that we endeavour to work with our growth point neighbours to the East but at the same time discuss with the National Park Panel and our Dorset neighbours to plan a balanced and unique area of managed economic growth to provide the required housing, infrastructure and commerce, and at the same time expand the AONB designated areas and strive for a joint Jurassic National Park that would include the most important natural areas in our district.

East Devon is about to be placed at a crossroads, do we ignore our wonderful and unique selling point which is our countryside and only concentrate on growth or do we aim to deliver on both these important issues?

This issue most not become a Party-Political tool, but be endorsed by all the parties and independents at East Devon District Council.

I therefore ask for your support and urgent consideration.
Councillor Geoff Jung
Raleigh Ward. East Devon District Councillor”