EDA County Councillor Martin Shaw on Seaton hospital bed cuts

“PRESS RELEASE

Protestors from Seaton, Honiton, Okehampton and elsewhere in Devon will converge on County Hall again on Tuesday 25th July from 1 pm, before the special meeting of Devon County Council’s Health Scrutiny Committee at 2.15 which will decide whether to refer the closure of beds in the three hospitals to the Secretary of State.

NEW Devon Clinical Commissioning Group proposes to replace the beds with a new system of care at home. We shall be pointing out that:

The new system, which they have been developing only since March, has not been tested in winter, let alone a flu epidemic; it is uncertain that they will be able to staff it effectively over time given the complex travelling arrangements that it requires for medical as well as care staff.

The small number of beds (halved to 71) which they propose to retain across the 3 remaining community hospitals ignores the facts that East Devon has far more over-85s (the key users of community beds) than other areas of Devon and that these numbers are projected to treble in the next two decades.

The remaining beds will not be distributed in an ‘even geographic spread’ as the CCG claim but, concentrated in Tiverton, Exmouth and Sidmouth, give no provision at all in the Axe Valley which is the area of East Devon furthest from the RD&E.

The closure of beds is driven by the CCG’s aim of reducing the amount of rent which it has to pay to NHS Property Services for community hospital space, and is probably a prelude to the gradual elimination of community hospitals over the next few years.

Six speakers from the affected communities will address the Committee in the Public Participation session, and I shall be addressing them as County Councillor for Seaton and Colyton.

We urge that the Committee use its legal power to refer the CCG’s decisions to the Secretary of State.

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

EDDC: (second) postal votes fiasco WILL be scrutinised

“East Devon District Council’s chief executive will be asked to include an explanation of how 9,000 postal votes were sent out without an official security mark ahead of June’s General Election,

The postal vote pack sent out on May 25 to 9,000 voters by the Acting Returning Officer for the East Devon Mark Williams, who is also the council’s chief executive, contained voting slips that did not have an official security mark visible on the front of the ballot paper.

East Devon District Council were responsible for printing the ballot papers but Mr Williams issued a statement reassuring voters that no postal votes had been affected as a result of the error.

The council’s ruling cabinet committee voted on Thursday to agree with the council’s scrutiny committee that his forthcoming report to Cabinet on his two priority areas after the Parliamentary Election must include the explanation of the postal vote issue of May 25 that did not have an official security mark visible on the front of the ballot paper.

Paul Arnott, the chairman of the East Devon Alliance, had previously raised concerns about the fact that the council’s scrutiny committee were not able to investigate what he called the postal voting ‘cock-up’.

He was told that the current legal assessment is that the remit of the Scrutiny Committee does not extend to Parliamentary elections, which is the remit of the Electoral Commission. He queried this and was told that there is nothing laid down about where electoral matters can or can’t be discussed within the framework of local authority governance, and ultimately it is up to the Council and its operation of its scrutiny function as to whether any or all elections or electoral related matters are included in that scrutiny.

He has written to the council, asking them to take on board this advice and for scrutiny to investigate the matter, but in response, Henry Gordon Lennox, the Strategic Lead (Governance and Licensing) and Monitoring Officer of East Devon District Council, said that Mr Arnott had misinterpreted the advice he had been given and said that his query was ‘politically driven’.

Mr Gordon Lennox in a statement said: “In my view, Mr Arnott has misinterpreted the advice from the Electoral Commission, who said that there were no legislative provisions dealing with the role of Scrutiny and elections and therefore it is down to the rules of each authority that will dictate whether or not there is a role for Scrutiny.

“Mr Arnott has taken this to say that the Council’s Scrutiny Committee should be reviewing the conduct of elections. However, what they are saying, and it is my view too, is that effectively it is the Council’s Constitution and the Terms of Reference of the Scrutiny Committee that determine whether they can consider elections or electoral related matters.

“In general terms the role of Scrutiny is to review the actions relating to the various functions of the Council (in whatever form that takes). The role of Returning Officer is not part of the Council, save for the elections relating to towns and parishes and the district. It is for this reason that the Scrutiny Committee do not have the authority to consider the actions and conduct of the Acting Returning Officer / Deputy Returning Officer in the Parliamentary / County elections respectively.

“I think it important to also address the political side of this. I note that Mr Arnott says this is not political. However, Mr Arnott refers to the East Devon Alliance (EDA) report submitted to East Devon District Council following the May 2015 elections.

“Mr Arnott was at the time the Chair of the EDA and therefore a part of the Executive Committee who produced and submitted the report. At the County elections, Mr Arnott was an appointed election agent for the EDA.

“In the correspondence arising out of the postal vote issue during the Parliamentary election, Mr Arnott, when officially signing off his emails, referred to himself as the Chairman and Nominating Officer of the EDA.

“So my perception, notwithstanding what Mr Arnott says, is that his query is politically driven. To that end, the role of Scrutiny is supposed to be apolitical and I would be concerned that even if it were permissible for Scrutiny to be considering this matter, that the purpose for them so doing would be questionable.

“I have explained this matter in some detail in order to ensure that the correct context is understood and to give clarity on the issue. I would further confirm that, despite the above, it is my understanding that the Returning Officer will be presenting a report to Scrutiny at its next meeting on the key priorities he is working on, following what will now be the standard practice of a review process taking place after each election.”

In response, Mr Arnott said: “The independents who campaign under the protective umbrella of the East Devon Alliance have both a right and a civic duty in the public interest to ask questions about this matter without fear of partial criticism from the council’s legal chief.

“Nothing is more serious than questionable practices in a general election, and Mr Gordon Lennox’s boss, Mark Williams, has had since June 6 to the present day to simply explain why he printed the postal ballot papers sent out with no watermark or QR code himself and did not commission them from a professional printers. He has disdained to give a much-needed open answer and his team have focussed on giving reasons why he shouldn’t have to be questioned about it at Scrutiny. Why?

“Mr Gordon Lennox’s time would be better spent persuading his employer to answer councillors about their election concerns than taking swats at me. I am a volunteer while he and his boss are both handsomely paid by council tax payers.

“This matter, and the arrogant manner in which it continues to be dealt with is the essence of why the East Devon Alliance had to be constituted. When we say this issue is not political, what we mean is that Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Independents alike at EDDC should all be equally alarmed about yet another badly-run election paid for by local people. If they aren’t, they should be.”

http://www.devonlive.com/east-devon-chief-executive-will-be-asked-to-explain-postal-vote-error/story-30443902-detail/story.html

“38 degrees” petition started on plans for Sidmouth’s Port Royal

“To: East Devon District Council c/o P Diviani and Sidmouth Town Council

Alternative plan for Sidmouth’s Port Royal – the 3R’s

Include our alternative plan for Port Royal: Retain, Refurbish, Reuse in your regeneration proposal in place of the current ‘multi-use development’.

Why is this important?

In October this year EDDC will decide on future development for the Port Royal area of our seafront. This follows a scoping study done in conjunction with Sidmouth Town Council. The large-scale development put forward in the consultation (and as proposed in the Local Plan) will have a huge impact on the views, use of the area and change its unique character. People in Sidmouth have been asking why the area can’t remain as it is, with subtle improvements and changes. We now call on EDDC to reconsider their plan for a large new building and adopt our proposal to Retain, Refurbish and Reuse. Retain existing buildings, allow careful refurbishment of the whole area and open up discussions on potential uses for the Drill Hall.

How it will be delivered

Delivery in person, to the Leader and Chair of EDDC and the Chair of STC”

https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/alternative-plan-for-sidmouth-s-port-royal-the-3r-s?source=facebook-share-button&time=1500191579

EDDC officer accuses East Devon Alliance chairman of “point scoring” over (second) postal vote cockup

Owl says: if the point IS scored, surely that speaks for itself! And anyone reading this supposedly “neutral” officer’s report is bound to wonder if it is, er, political!

“East Devon District Council’s monitoring officer has accused the chairman of the East Devon Alliance of political point-scoring after he raised concerns that the council’s scrutiny committee were not able to investigate a postal vote ‘cock-up’ ahead of the General Election.

Packs that were issued on May 25 contained voting slips that did not have an official security mark visible on the front of the ballot paper were issued to more than 9,000 voters in the constituency.

East Devon District Council who were responsible for printing the ballot papers but Mark Williams, the council’s returning officer, issued a statement reassuring voters that no postal votes had been affected as a result of the error.

The ‘cock-up’ has left Paul Arnott, chairman of the East Devon Alliance, furious, and said that he would have more confidence in a village raffle than in Mr Williams running the forthcoming election and asked the council’s scrutiny committee at their last meeting in June to interrogate the reasons why 9,000 unmarked Parliamentary ballot papers were issued to postal voters.

But in response, he was told that the current legal assessment is that the remit of the Scrutiny Committee does not extend to Parliamentary elections, which is the remit of the Electoral Commission.

Mr Arnott queried this advice with the Electoral Commission, and says he was told that there is nothing laid down about where electoral matters can or can’t be discussed within the framework of local authority governance, and ultimately it is up to the Council and its operation of its scrutiny function as to whether any or all elections or electoral related matters are included in that scrutiny.

He has written to the council, asking them to take on board this advice and for scrutiny to investigate the matter, but in response, Henry Gordon Lennox, the Strategic Lead (Governance and Licensing) and Monitoring Officer of East Devon District Council, said that Mr Arnott had misinterpreted the advice he had been given and said that his query was ‘politically driven’.

The scrutiny committee have recommended to the council’s ruling Cabinet that the Chief Executive’s pending report on the election does includes explanation of the postal vote issue of May 25 that did not have an official security mark visible on the front of the ballot paper.

Mr Gordon Lennox in a statement said: “In my view, Mr Arnott has misinterpreted the advice from the Electoral Commission, who said that there were no legislative provisions dealing with the role of Scrutiny and elections and therefore it is down to the rules of each authority that will dictate whether or not there is a role for Scrutiny.

“Mr Arnott has taken this to say that the Council’s Scrutiny Committee should be reviewing the conduct of elections. However, what they aresaying, and it is my view too, is that effectively it is the Council’s Constitution and the Terms of Reference of the Scrutiny Committee that determine whether they can consider elections or electoral related matters.

“In general terms the role of Scrutiny is to review the actions relating to the various functions of the Council (in whatever form that takes). The role of Returning Officer is not part of the Council, save for the elections relating to towns and parishes and the district. It is for this reason that the Scrutiny Committee do not have the authority to consider the actions and conduct of the Acting Returning Officer / Deputy Returning Officer in the Parliamentary / County elections respectively.

“I think it important to also address the political side of this. I note that Mr Arnott says this is not political. However, Mr Arnott refers to the East Devon Alliance (EDA) report submitted to East Devon District Council following the May 2015 elections.

“Mr Arnott was at the time the Chair of the EDA and therefore a part of the Executive Committee who produced and submitted the report. At the County elections, Mr Arnott was an appointed election agent for the EDA.

“In the correspondence arising out of the postal vote issue during the Parliamentary election, Mr Arnott, when officially signing off his emails, referred to himself as the Chairman and Nominating Officer of the EDA.

“So my perception, notwithstanding what Mr Arnott says, is that his query is politically driven. To that end, the role of Scrutiny is supposed to be apolitical and I would be concerned that even if it were permissible for Scrutiny to be considering this matter, that the purpose for them so doing would be questionable.

“I have explained this matter in some detail in order to ensure that the correct context is understood and to give clarity on the issue. I would further confirm that, despite the above, it is my understanding that the Returning Officer will be presenting a report to Scrutiny at its next meeting on the key priorities he is working on, following what will now be the standard practice of a review process taking place after each election.”

The scrutiny committee have recommended to the council’s ruling Cabinet that the Chief Executive’s pending report on the election does includes explanation of the postal vote issue of May 25 that did not have an official security mark visible on the front of the ballot paper.

East Devon District Council’s Cabinet committee will consider the recommendation on Thursday, July 13.”

http://www.devonlive.com/east-devon-alliance-chairman-accused-of-politically-driven-query-over-postal-vote-scrutiny-request/story-30434940-detail/story.html

Greendale Business Park 120% expansion plan – battle for who really controls East Devon planning policy and an EDA councillor excluded from meetings about his own area.

document to support the already approved “East Devon Local Plan.”

The Owners proposal is approx. 120% more development beyond the present developed area. The various coloured outlines show the proposed
development areas.

 

“East Devon District Council recently asked local people about a planning

The Local Authorities proposal for Greendale Business Park. “No further expansion beyond the present permitted developments already permitted”

The Owners version published in a document called the “Greendale Masterplan” which is included in the published consultation documents.

This proposal, known as the “Villages Plan,” will provide planning guidance until 2031 for the larger villages in East Devon and two large industrial sites of Hill Barton and Greendale.

The Villages Plan is not yet approved but the owners FWS Carter and Sons have submitted a “masterplan” proposing a massive 120% expansion to their site. There is considerable local concern that further expansion at Greendale Business Park will now continue.

The company`s agents have submitted a multitude of documents to support their claim for continued expansion and in a bid to overcome possible objections have re-introduced a “liaison group” which they claim is:

“To provide better lines of communication and wider understanding”

A few years ago, following a great many complaints, contentious planning applications and planning appeals the owners of the Business Park were asked by the County Council to invite Planning, Environmental Officers and locally elected representatives to form a liaison group.

This was a success for a few years, but was disbanded by the management 18 months ago, however they held a liaison meeting on Wednesday June 21st at their offices.

There is local concern over who the owners invited to attend.

There was no invitation for members of the Residents Association, Woodbury Parish Council were restricted by the company who named two Councillors they wished to attend. Most controversially the “Terms of Reference” was changed by removing the word “Local” from “Local Elected Member of the District Council” and the invitation was sent to Conservative Budleigh Town and District Councillor Tom Wright but not the current ward member.

The local ward Councillor Geoff Jung (EDA Independent) who is also the secretary of the Residents Association and a Parish Councillor says:
“This is not the normal practice for a “Liaison Group”, but the company has the right to invite whoever they wish to these meetings.”

“It`s totally “legal” but it`s certainly not democratic, I am unable to represent people as a member of Residents Association, nor as a Parish Councillor, nor as a District Councillor”. “I now have the most bizarre situation that I must direct residents with local concerns to the new Chair of this Liaison Group, Conservative Exmouth Town and recently elected Local County Councillor Mr Richard Scott.”

“It`s standard practice that a District Councillor represents his own ward at Liaison meetings and this requires the approval of the District Council. Cllr Wright has ignored this protocol and attended but, I am very pleased to hear that planning officers from the District Council will not attend the meetings until my inclusion is agreed.”

“There are serious local concerns regarding the recently submitted “Greendale Masterplan” and I suspect that the re-introduction of this Local Liaison Group is to do with these expansionist plans”

The Planning History.

Thirty years ago, the business park was a farm with some agricultural buildings which the owners claimed to be “redundant for farming use” They were given permission to be converted to Industrial units. More agricultural buildings were built and again allowed to become Industrial. Many of planning applications were “retrospective” (Built or converted prior to Planning Permission being submitted.

In 2009 the Business Park was permitted to enlarge to its present size as an “Exception Site to the then Local Plan” This was because the East Devon Business Forum (chaired by disgraced Conservative Councillor Graham Brown who boasted to a daily Telegraph “sting” reporter that he could provide approval for planning for a fee). The Forum claimed there was an acute lack of Industrial land available within the district.

Steadily the owners have built a very large Business Park in the open Countryside which was never the local planning authorities policy.
The residents of the rural village of Woodbury Salterton consider that any further expansion will destroy their beautiful village set in the open countryside, and for the last 10 years have campaigned for better planning protection.

The Local Authority with their recently approved Local Plan decided on the location for housing and commercial land, and agreeing with the village residents that further expansion of Greendale Business Park would not be appropriate or suitable.

The Local Plan is a blueprint for district planning until 2031 and includes policies for commercial and industrial developments to be built close to urban settlements. Substantial commercial opportunities exist at Cranbrook, Exeter Airport and on land known as the West End (on the outskirts of Exeter). This is to follow the Government`s planning policy that people should not be required to commute far from their homes to a place of work.
The village community, through their Residents Association, their Parish, District and County Councillors have strived for a sensible balance of development and the proposals included in the Local Plan and the emerging Village Plan are a direct result of 10 years of hard work of campaigning and lobbying.

Councillor Geoff Jung says:

“The decisions for both the Local Plan and the Villages Plan were decided democratically and agreed by full Council and by a Government Planning Inspector. The owners of Greendale must not be allowed to bulldoze further and further into the countryside.”

DCC Scrutiny Committee “frustrating” for Seaton and Honiton community hospitals says Seaton DCC councillor

Posted by Martin Shaw, DCC Independent East Devon Alliance councillor for Seaton:

“The Health Scrutiny Committee meeting at County Hall yesterday was incredibly frustrating for the 60 or so supporters of Seaton, Honiton and Okehampton hospitals who attended. It resolved nothing and there will be another meeting before the end of July to consider the matter again (I will tell you when the date is fixed).

You can watch the meeting at https://devoncc.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/288543.

The speakers in the public participation at the beginning were good, much better than most of the committee discussion. My speech is at 0.34.50. You may have seen that we also made a good splash on regional TV.

There WAS progress, I think, in pinning down the irrationality of the decision to close Seaton’s beds. Speeches supporting Seaton were made by Martin Pigott, Vice-Chair of Seaton Town Council, Mike McAlpine, Chair of the committee for the Axe Valley Health Hub, Cllr Ian Hall of Axminster, as well as myself.

The issue was picked up on the committee, especially by Cllr Hilary Ackland, who twice challenged Dr Sonja Manton of the CCG on the issue. Manton declined to answer Ackland’s specific question.

I feel we can build on this at the re-run meeting. We also have an opportunity to challenge the CCG (who are answering questions from councillors) at EDDC’s Scrutiny Committee on Thursday at 6pm. EDDC doesn’t have any power but I think we should keep up the pressure on the CCG. I have put down to speak. If anyone else can do it – email Debbie Meakin dmeakin@eastdevon.gov.uk.

Would anyone who can come to this meeting – whether to speak or not – let me know (cllrmartinshaw@gmail.com)?

Thanks to all who came and who sent emails (they really had an effect).

A frustrating day, but further chances on Thursday and in July to challenge the CCG