Local Enterprise Partnership “scrutiny” committee – an oxymoron

Minutes (for what little they are worth) here:

https://democracy.devon.gov.uk/documents/g3417/Public%20minutes%2002nd-Nov-2018%2014.15%20Heart%20of%20the%20South%20West%20HotSW%20Local%20Enterprise%20Partnership%20L.pdf?T=11

REAL scrutiny by DCC Independent East Devon Alliance Councillor Martin Shaw of this laughable attempt to continue to hoodwink us here:

An inauspicious start for new Scrutiny Committee for the Heart of the South West Local Economic Partnership

Call for independents spreads to Bournemouth

Where East Devon (Alliance) leads the “Alliance for Local Living” in Bournemouth follows!

“A NEW political party is planning to contest next year’s election to the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole combined authority.

However ALL, or the Alliance for Local Living, is being set up in contrast to the traditional party system, as its members will all be independents standing under one banner.

They will not be forced to follow the party line via the whip.

The organisers, a group of residents, have now put out a call for candidates.

“We want ordinary members of the public, passionate people who are doing valuable things in their community to think about possibly stepping up and bringing local politics back into that community,” said Felicity Rice (above), one of the founders. “We are happy to have anyone in our group, they can even be a member of an existing party, but they must make their own decisions based on their personal opinion.”

ALL, also known as Three Towns Together in its earlier stages, was inspired by the similarly organised Independents for Frome group, which took total control of the Somerset town’s council in 2015.

The reduction from 120 to 76 councillors covering the three boroughs in the new unitary has led to concern that it will be dominated by one political party. Independents and members of current opposition parties are known to have spoken with ALL as a way to unite a disparate opposition against the Conservative Party.

Current Poole People Party councillor Andy Hadley said he was liaising with the group on behalf of his party, and he thought them “well-matched”.

“We have been passing on advice on what we have had to go through to get elected as independents, the vision of getting 72 seats is is very extreme. But to get enough to make a significant impact on decision-making would be really good.

“I know quite a few people have expressed an interest, but it needs people to stand up and say ‘we want to be part of this’.”

ALL’s first selection day for candidates will be November 24. Visit voteforall.org.uk to get involved.”

https://www.bournemouthecho.co.uk/news/17187673.new-party-of-independents-all-wants-ordinary-people-to-stand-for-election/

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):

  

     

Independents knock some sense into DCC Tories about health and NHS

Thank the Lord for independent Councillor Claire Wright and East Devon Alliance Independent Councillor Martin Shaw

Press Release:

“In a hour-long debate in yesterday’s meeting, the Council adopted proposals which Cllr Claire Wright and I, the two Independent members from East Devon, put forward, in place of the original recommendation by the Cabinet. The ruling Conservative group adopted (with a small addition) the wording of my amendment, which Claire seconded, which proposed to work with to influence NHS decisions ‘in the direction of retaining all community hospitals to be used as health and wellbeing centres for their areas’, in place of the original Cabinet recommendation to merely seek ‘decision making appropriate to individual circumstances, including population need and the quality of building.’

This is an important change in direction by the Council, which is now committed for the first time to work to retain ALL hospitals, as Claire (who proposed the original motion) had requested. The Conservative leader, Cllr John Hart, insisted on adding the words ‘where appropriate’ to my proposal, which we opposed because it provides the NHS with additional leeway to close hospitals. Cllr Hart’s addendum was too much for one Conservative Councillor, Jonathan Hawkins (Dartmouth), who voted with the opposition for my amendment without this addition, in the light of his community’s experience of the closure of Dartmouth Hospital.

The Devon Clinical Commissioning Groups could end this controversy with a clear policy statement that all remaining hospitals will stay open and will be supported as health and wellbeing centres for our communities. Until this happens, Claire and I, with the support of tens of thousands of people around Devon who are fighting for their local hospitals, will continue our campaign. On yesterday’s evidence, we are winning.”

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

Cranbrook (and elsewhere) – do you want independent councillors at East Devon District Council?

For the first time next year in May 2019 , Cranbrook will be electing three district councillors to serve on East Devon District council. This happens only once every four years.

Elected councillors serve on committees such as planning, housing and scrutiny.

Councillors are paid for their time (from at least £4360 per year plus expenses):
http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/2513061/members-allowances-2017-18.pdf

You may feel that you have a natural affinity for the ruling block on the council – Conservatives or the other party represented at EDDC, Lib Dems. Conservatives currently hold 36 of the 58 seats, Lib Dems hold 6 seats.

But what if you feel that party politics (following the orders of your national party at such a local level) is not for you?

The next biggest group after Conservatives is independent councillors. They currently hold 16 seats. There is also an Independent East Devon Alliance councillor (Martin Shaw – Seaton and Colyton) at Devon County Council but their elections do not take place until 2022.

Some Independent councillors at East Devon (10 of them) belong to the East Devon Alliance.

How come independent councillors can be in an alliance?

Well, on all matters EDA are always totally independent and free to vote however they wish – there is no Whip as there is for a political party (though, by an anomaly of the electoral system, EDA has no alternative but to register as a political party for elections because the electoral system has not moved with the times!).

EDA councillors do though share common values – a committment to accountability, scrutiny and transparency in all council business and fight hard for these values for which they find it useful to be a group supportive of each other, while maintaining their independence. They also help each other in practical ways – canvassing, leaflet distribution, advice, etc.

If you think you would like to be a councillor, check out:
https://www.gov.uk/government/get-involved/take-part/become-a-councillor

If, after reading it, you like the idea of being an Independent East Devon Alliance councillor, contact the group at:

http://www.eastdevonalliance.org.uk/admin/contact-us/

or visit their Facebook page.

(East Devon Watch is supportive of East Devon Alliance but independent in its own views)

Unrest in Otterton – planning policies in shambles

Otterton Residents frustration to visitor and contractor traffic.

Residents in the beautiful village of Otterton are very concerned after the hot summer which has seen a heavy increase to their village roads with serious problems in noise pollution and traffic with visitors to Ladram Bay Holiday Park and now large mobile homes getting stuck in the village and causing further frustration to local people.

Residents blame EDDC and the County Council for allowing the Holiday Park to expand over the last 20 years and not listening to their views or those of the Parish Council concerns.

However, District Councillor Cllr Geoff Jung who has been the District Councillor for the last 3 years for Raleigh Ward that includes Ladram Bay, says:

“I have done everything possible to control the expansion of the Holiday Park. The Park is there and there is nothing that a Planning Authority can do to reduce its size.”

“The East Devon Local Plan does not support any further expansion for any Holiday Park within the AONB, and with the site being on the Jurassic Coast which is a World Heritage site, this you would think would be reason enough to protect the area from further expansion.”

“However as demonstrated at East Devon’s planning meeting last Tuesday regarding Industrial units to be built at Blackhill Quarry in the AONB of Woodbury Common, that although it was against East Devon’s local plan policies, the lack of support from Natural England and the controlling party Tory Councillors supporting Enterprise over Environmental issues, the committee unfortunately voted to approve the application by just one vote!!”

“The justification for Blackhill was – it will provide jobs and unfortunately RSPB and National England did not object won the day. I fear the same will happen when three outstanding Ladram Bay planning applications that are being considered at present.”

The 3 planning Applications awaiting determination are:

18/2015/FUL LPG storage tanks Ladram Bay Otterton Budleigh Salterton EX9 7BX.
This is for the siting of large storage tanks in the field above the existing Holiday Park and the Public Road.

8/1517/FUL Retrospective application for a new ‘splash’ zone adjacent to the indoor swimming pool, extension to viewing deck at junction of beach and slipway; relocation and re-orientation of bases and addition of static caravan. These developments have already been built and the owners have been requested to summit the applications to comply to Planning Policy.
The Jurassic Coast Trust has objected, plus the Parish Council and 10 individuals. The Planning department are awaiting further comments from the AONB and Natural England before they come to a decision.

17/1584/FUL for revisions to a planning permission submitted in 2016, 16/1709/FUL for the construction of new service yard and building. Again, this application covers work that has already been carried out with new roads car park and a service yard being built one third larger than originally approved.

This application is being held up for further landscaping proposals from the applicant before it can be finally being determined by the planning department.

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