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

The (political) times are a-changing in East Devon!

Once upon a time, the saying was that a donkey could get elected to East Devon District Council if it wore a Tory blue rosette. But times are changing … And what do we have here – a plea from the local Conservative Party for candidates for next year’s local elections – anyone, anywhere – please, please, with a whiff of desperation!

as discussed on EDA DCC Councillor Martin Shaw’s blog post here:
Desperate Conservatives advertise for candidates on Facebook, as they try to cling to control of East Devon in 2019

It seems to Owl that some of the old (very, very old) guard Tories are throwing in the towel – but no-one wants to pick it up!

But when you think of councillors who are REALLY changing things, who do you think of?

Well, of course, Independent Claire Wright – but also EDA Councillor Martin Shaw (fighting long and hard for the NHS), EDA Councillor Cathy Gardner, constantly holding EDDC to account and fighting her Sidmouth corner, EDA Councillor Marianne Rixson and Dawn Manley – never-ceasing their crusade about the awful plan for a massive business park in Sidford, EDA councillor Val Ranger taking in developers, including Clinton Devon Estates in Newton Poppleford, EDA Councillor Geoff Jung – with some spectacular successes taming the Greendale tiger – which has now lost quite a few teeth! All EDA councillors, all making a big difference.

Voters – if you want to effect REAL change in East Devon, the Tories are a lost cause. Their MP in East Devon is an absentee, more interested in exotic foreign travel than his constituency. And even when down here he prefers to live in mid-Devon! Their Tiverton and Honiton MP puts all his energy into fighting for farmers after Brexit (well, not surprising as he is one in Somerset). Ah, and probably best not to go into the health service cuts and privatisations, Brexit fiasco, the austerity cuts, the drop in education standards, rising crime, inappropriate developments …

No, if you want to make a difference it has to be East Devon Alliance (note: this blog DOES support EDA but is not a part of EDA as everyone must surely realise).

Why become an EDA councillor? Because all EDA councillors ARE independent but do agree on the major issues facing the district and, while being free to vote as they wish – without the whipping by a Whip-who-says-he-doesn’t-whip that has seen some disgraceful behaviour of this majority party. And EDA councillors help and support each other in elections.

There MUST be a new approach to East Devon’ mounting problems and it must come from an effective and united independent opposition – that could hopefully become the ruling group.

So, if you are thinking of being an East Devon councillor, think carefully whether you want to continue to drag East Devon along the bottom and answer the plaintive Tory howl of anguish, or raise it up and contact East Devon Alliance!!!

They can be contacted at:
http://www.eastdevonalliance.org.uk/admin/contact-us/

or via their Facebook page

https://www.facebook.com/eastdevonalliance/

Obituary: Ian McKintosh (founder member and President of East Devon Alliance and trustee of Community Voice on Planning(

“East Devon Alliance regrets to announce the death of its Honorary President Ian McKintosh on June 4, 2018 at the age of 80.

After a distinguished legal career during which he worked as a circuit judge in Cornwall and Devon, Ian retired to East Devon where he became deeply involved in local issues. He was particularly concerned by changes in the planning system which, he felt, had moved from protecting the environment and the wildlife, which he cherished, to facilitating large-scale development which was not always necessary.

After joining a mass-march in Sidmouth in November 2012 to protest against planning decisions which threatened public parks and the East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, in February 2013 he became a founder member and chairman of the EDA, a role he carried out with his usual verve, commitment and good sense.

Ian combined a burning passion for transparency, integrity and justice, with an impish sense of humour and a cheerful sociability towards everyone he met.

His colleagues in EDA benefited enormously from his invaluable legal advice which he gave unstintingly, particularly his contribution to a series of detailed submissions by EDA to Parliamentary committees on such topics as scrutiny and ethics in local government.

At meetings his wise advice was often enlivened by anecdotes and reminiscences so time-keeping was not always scrupulously observed!
As well as his commitment to EDA, Ian also became a founder-member and trustee of Community Voice on Planning, a national grouping bringing together more than 100 organisations all over the country. He travelled widely to meet and share ideas with other campaigners for more democracy in the planning system.

Ian also found the time and energy to throw himself wholeheartedly into the struggle to preserve local hospitals from closure.

He was a tireless fighter, bringing wisdom from a wide life experience. His colleagues in EDA thoroughly enjoyed working with him and will miss him immensely.”

Greendale Business Park Tree Order – East Devon Alliance Councillor Geoff Jung instrumental in getting it passed

Well done, East Devon Alliance Councillor Jung! Others with business parks earmarked for their areas should take note! The tree order for the area around Greendale Business Park has been out for consultation and is now agreed and signed off. Let’s hope the owners of Greendale have the map – and understand it.

“Within the proposal for the 2009 extension to the business park back in 2009 there was an “agreed” landscaping proposal. However, agreements to maintain the landscaping proposals in a planning agreement do not generally extend beyond the agreed time of 5 years to maintain or replace the landscaping trees and shrubs in their first few years of growth.

Following many unauthorised tree and landscaping removals by the owners of Greendale Business Park, it was considered appropriate to instigate a review of all the trees existing surrounding the park and to include all the agreed landscaping.

The Local Authority (EDDC) following this review considered that the most appropriate way to stop further encroachment on the agreed landscape proposals would be to cover the whole area with a Tree Preservation Order.

Tree Preservation Order Proposal

The Tree Preservation Order (TPO) has been made to protect the significant individual trees and areas of newly created woodland. The TPO protects a total of 47 ‘Individual’ trees, 19 ‘Groups’ of trees, 3 ‘Areas’ of land and 17 ‘Woodland’ areas. The TPO collectively protects thousands of trees growing on and around the Greendale Business Park.

Extent of Tree Preservation Order 18/0002/TPO marked in green.

Most the trees within the TPO are contained within the landscape planting areas that were approved under the historic planning consent for the expansion of the business park (09/1195/MOUT). The extent of the business park is defined further within the adopted East Devon adopted Local plan 2013 – 2031.

Collectively the trees add to the rural character of the surrounding landscape. With the individual mature trees, their amenity is already significant. The landscape planting areas, will significantly increase in their amenity value, as the tree increase in size and develop into areas of woodland.

The protected trees and woodland areas are important in reducing the visual impact of the business park on the surrounding area and help maintain the rural character of the wider area.

Tree Preservation Order consultations

Three letters have been received requesting modifications to the provisional TPO, these modifications can be summarised as follows:

• Woodland, W2 – Request the removal of an area of land on the north-eastern corner of the woodland, as it does not contain any trees (Figure 2).

• Woodland, W8 – Request the removal the most southern end of the woodland as it is sandwiched between industrial units, is in places in contact with the buildings causing maintenance problems and it is of limited public amenity.

Area of Woodland (W2) showing absence of trees

What will this Tree Order mean?

No one can cut down, top, lop, uproot, wilfully damage or destroy a tree or cause or permit the cutting down, topping, lopping, uprooting, wilful damage or wilful destruction of any tree except with the written consent of the Local Authority.

This order does not restrict the management of these trees and woodland areas but if any work was to be carried out the landowner is now required to seek permission from the Local Authority.

Comment from the District Councillor

Councillor Geoff Jung (EDA Independent Councillor for Raleigh Ward which includes Greendale Business Park)

I really appreciate the work that the officers have done on this Tree Order that will in effect protect the trees and woodland in whole area surrounding the Business Park and the Rural Village of Woodbury Salterton.

I know that the Woodbury Salterton Residents Association and Woodbury Parish Council have been must concerned with industrial encroachment into the countryside within the area and important landscaping being removed prior to any planning approvals.

This TPO (Tree Preservation Order) and the shortly to be approved EDDC village development plan with its designated employment line around the business park will provide better certainty and protection to the rural landscape of Woodbury Salterton.”