Axminster by-pass – east or west?

East: developers of eastern extension to the town have to chip in = cheaper solution

West: no developer funding but solves the problem of Weycroft Mill bottleneck = more expensive solution.

Owl’s guess: no common sense or forward planning = cheapest wins

“Axminster Town Council has called a special meeting to discuss plans for the town’s long awaited north-south relief road.

It follows growing concerns about the current ‘preferred’ route and will take place on Thursday, September 27, at 7.30pm in The Guildhall. It will be open to the public.

Under present proposals the £20million scheme takes the road to the East of the town, emerging on the Lyme Road.

But campaigners are becoming increasingly worried that this will not solve the major problem of the Weycroft Bridge bottleneck.

And there are calls that the alternative route – to the west of the town – should be looked at again, despite its much higher cost.

* East Devon District Council has appointed consultants to produce a masterplan for the bypass and the associated housing development which will help to fund it, following its successful bid for £10 million government money towards the project.”

http://www.midweekherald.co.uk/news/campaigners-want-route-to-go-west-of-the-town-1-5695852

Another blow to a new Cranbrook town centre?

A large shopping centre development at Sowton was recently turned down by Exeter City Council because it did not fit in with their vision for local centres in the large new housing developments springing up in that area. The scheme called for an out-of-town shopping centre with the likes of Next, Boots, etc.

The developer, rather than appealing the decision, has swiftly withdrawn the original plans and submitted a revised application, thus avoiding the hefty cost of submitting new plans.

They now say they will (possibly) include a post office, pharmacy and gym and maybe other smaller retail elements. This, they feel, fulfills the requirement for a more local feel to the plans.

Whether Exeter City Council agrees with this, or if an appeal is successful if they still reject it remains to be seen.

But it certainly puts a damper on those retail ventures willing to open up in secondary, nearby areas such as Cranbrook and those developers willing to take a chance on anything but (highly profitable) housing.

“Bombshell No Deal Brexit documents show councils fear billions in lost funding and soaring poverty”

Remember, EDDC has confirmed it has done NO Brexit planning:

https://eastdevonwatch.org/2018/09/06/eddc-has-done-no-brexit-planning/

“Councils have compiled a dossier of No Deal Brexit documents which warn that thousands could be left destitute in communities across the country.

Local authorities fear they may be left “unable to effectively support local communities” but they warn that the Government is failing to heed the warnings.

They say that a post Brexit downturn could see businesses up and down the country go bust.

While a series of major investment proposals have been put on hold due to Brexit.

A number of councils suggested Brexit will make desperately needed regeneration projects “unviable”.

Strikingly some of the most stark warnings come from areas which voted to Leave.

Fenland District Council rank the risk associated with a no deal Brexit on the same level as that of a natural disaster.

The area in the East of England depends on unskilled labour from Eastern Europe and 70% of people living there voted to Leave.

It produced a corporate risk register in June which gave the risk of failing to take action to prepare for Brexit a score of 25/25.

That rating is reserved for items with the potential for “catastrophic impact” and equal to the threat posed by a natural disaster.

Hackney Council raised concerns over the impact of Brexit on local job growth, with one local business claiming Brexit had “traumatised our office and the sector we cover”.

Hackney also echoed other local councils in reporting a spike in hate crimes since the 2016 referendum.

Harrow Council in London also predicted an increases in levels of poverty, homelessness and health inequalities in the Borough.

Lancashire County Council highlighted the importance of EU trade, with 62% of Lancashire’s exports (£1,876 million per year) destined for the EU market.

Around 300 councils replied to the Freedom of Information requests which were put in by campaigning group Best for Britain- making the project one of the largest bodies of research into Brexit planning undertaken so far.

Commenting on the findings, Best for Britain champion Layla Moran MP said: “These internal council documents are devastating. They show Brexit will cause tremendous damage to their ability to provide the quality public services towns and cities up and down the country so desperately need.

“The only thing scarier than these documents is the fact that some councils haven’t done them – effectively they’re walking off a cliff blindfolded.

“The finger should point directly at those extremist Brexiteers in the Tory party with a gun to the country’s head. We cannot let this sinister gang of hucksters usurp common decency and sensible politics.

“Thankfully, the fight isn’t over. We can still put a stop to this madness through a people’s vote with the option to stay in the EU. Only then will the people of this country be able to compare the devastation of Brexit – as shown in these documents – with the bespoke deal we’ve been building up over the past four decades.”

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/bombshell-no-deal-brexit-documents-13238369

“Cash Machines Closing At A Rate Of More Than 250 A Month”

Rural areas and small businesses hit hardest:

“…A total of 76 protected ATMs – those which are located one kilometre or more away from one another – were lost in the period.

Of those, 43 had Post Office over-the-counter services available nearby while 12 could not be accessed by the public. Some 21 machines were shut down with no alternative access to cash.

The Federation of Small Businesses expressed concerns that the closures could hit small business owners in remote areas. …”

https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/atm-closures_uk_5b993a88e4b0162f473313f0

“Business rates ‘to blame for high street decline’ “

“The boss of Tesco has warned that if the government does not reform business rates soon it will have contributed to the decline of high streets across Britain.

Dave Lewis, chief executive of the country’s largest supermarkets group, said: “A decision not to reform business rates by the government will be a statement of policy.

“It will be a deliberate decision not to support the retail industry. We believe businesses should pay taxes, as it is the responsible thing to do, but should the government be laying a heavier burden on a shrinking industry?” He said that the government was in danger of “overmilking” the retail industry through “completely disproportionate” and excessively high business rates and risked damaging the sector.

Business rates — a tax linked to the value of property that a business occupies — have become an increasingly fractious issue in the retail industry as traditional bricks-and-mortar operators labour under a tax burden not shared by online-only rivals.

Tesco’s rates bill is almost £700 million. The total annual business rates tax take for the Treasury is £30 billion. Mr Lewis said that while corporation tax had fallen [from 28 per cent to 19 per cent since 2010], inflation-linked business rates, which hit the retail sector harder than any other, had increased.

“Business rates have gone up while corporation tax has gone down very significantly and that is very different to everywhere else. The UK has the second highest property-based tax in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development at 4.5 per cent [of the total tax take]: it is only 1 per cent in France and Germany,” he said. “The approach of most of the countries in the OECD is to tax businesses on their profitability and to help businesses with investment, but business rates is a tax on any investment I make in my stores.”

Mr Lewis, who is in the middle of implementing a turnaround at Tesco, said in 2015 that retailers faced a “lethal cocktail” of rising taxes and costs at a time of falling profits. Yesterday he said that distress on the high street, where House of Fraser recently failed, showed his prediction was coming true.

Although the Treasury has made some revisions to business rates to ease pressure, Mr Lewis said that it had tinkered around the edges, despite the fact that British retailers made a huge contribution to the economy by generating employment and wider consumer spending, particularly in rural areas “where there might not be much else going on”. A recent study by KPMG estimated Tesco that contributed £37.3 billion in gross value added to the economy, a third of the construction sector’s total GVA in 2016.

There are growing calls for a tax on sales generated by online-only retailers. Mr Lewis said that if retailers were struggling to pay rates because their sales had fallen, “you need to look at where those sales have gone and if they are being taxed in the same way”. He said that a tax on online sales without a reform of business rates would result in a “double whammy” for retailers with stores and online divisions.”

Source: The Times (pay wall)

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

“Flybe … a perennial basket case”

Owl recalls the many, many times East Devon District Council Tories (and in particular their former Leader Paul Diviani) has used Flybe as an indicator of the district’s economic prowess … hhhhmmmm!

From today’s Sunday Times:

“As the boss of regional airline Flybe, Ourmières-Widener (her married name) is one of a handful of female airline bosses.

She has one of the toughest jobs in the industry. Flybe has been a perennial basket case, disappointing investors repeatedly in its short life as a listed company. After floating on the stock market in 2010 with a valuation of £200m, it is now worth just £90m.

In 2014, under Saad Hammad, then chief executive, it returned to investors with a begging bowl, raising £156m in a deeply discounted rights issue with a promise to build “resilience and profitable growth”. Yet its performance since then has been lacklustre at best. Flybe’s first — and only — annual profit as a listed company was £2.7m, in the year to the end of March 2016. …

Her plan is to shrink Flybe to success by cutting its fleet from a peak of 85 aircraft in May 2017 to 70 by 2020. … “

Source: Sunday Times (pay wall)