The new council at EDDC – “Independent Group” stitches up Independent East Devon Alliance, opting for cosy relationship with old-style Tories!!!

No representation at all for East Devon Alliance members, except Val Ranger for symbolic appountment as Deputy Chairman. Lib Dems totally excluded too.

Stuart Hughes (Tory) voted in as new Chairman – unopposed and nominated by Independent Ben Ingham and seconded by Tory Phil Twiss!

Says it all really …

Vice-Chairman Val Ranger – EDA

New Leader – Ben Ingham – Independent Group, Exmouth

New deputy leader – Susie Bond – Independent Group, Feniton

Committee chairmen:

Overview – Nick Hookway – Independent Group, Exmouth
Scrutiny – Alan Dent – Tory, Budleigh
Housing Review Board – Tony McCollum – Independent Group, Honiton
Strategic Planning Committee – Susie Bond – Independent Group, Feniton
Development Management Committee – Mike Howe – Tory, Clyst Valley
Audit and Governance – Sam Hawkins, IndeGroyp, Cranbrook
Standards – Stuart Hughes – Tory, Sidmouth Sidford
Interviewing (chief officers) – Ben Ingham, Independent Group, Exmouth
Employment Appeals – Susie Bond – Independent Group, Feniton
Licensing and Enforcement – Paul Jarvis – Independent Group, Budleigh

So, first day – sold out.

Owl knew it had to keep an eye on this lot …

A bad, bad day for East Devon.

Small businesses accuse government of failing them

“Theresa May’s Government today stands accused of failing to back small businesses, in a report due to be launched by Home Secretary Sajid Javid.

A damning poll reveals three in five people think the Tories are letting down the army of small firms which are vital to the economy and town centres.

The findings come from a YouGov survey of 1,644 adults for the Centre for Policy Studies think tank, which was founded by Margaret Thatcher.

It revealed 60% of people believed the Government “is not on the side of small business”, with just 14% disagreeing. …

This report shows how bureaucracy and paperwork are stifling the growth of our small businesses and offers a series of compelling ideas for how Government can roll back the tide and show that the Conservatives are backing entrepreneurs.”

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/small-businesses-damning-verdict-nine-16052199

“Almost one in 10 cash machines vanishing from East Devon”

“… Figures show one in ten cash machines – or ATMS – have disappeared from East Devon’s high streets in the last two years, amid warnings the UK’s cash system is ‘falling apart’.

At the end of 2017, there were around 230 ATMs – according to data from the cash machine network Link – this has now fallen to 208, as of February this year.

The number of free-to-use cash points has also gone down from 179 in 2017 to 171 two years later.

An independent review published in March found that around eight million adults – 17 per cent of the population – were still reliant on cash and would struggle to cope in an entirely digital economy.

These included people in rural communities, those on a low income who may struggle to budget without cash, and older people or people with disabilities who rely on cash for their independence.

Natalie Ceeney, chair of the Access to Cash Review, said: “There are worrying signs that our cash system is falling apart.

“ATM and bank branch closures are just the tip of the iceberg – underneath there is a huge infrastructure which is becoming increasingly unviable as cash use declines.

“We need to guarantee people’s right to access cash, and ensure that they can still spend it.”

A recent report by consumer watchdog Which? found almost 1,700 previously-free cash machines had begun charging users between January and March of this year. …”

https://www.exmouthjournal.co.uk/news/east-devon-atms-disappeating-figures-show-1-6047802

“Rural communities being ignored and underrated, say peers”

“Rural communities have been “ignored” and had “inappropriate” policies forced upon them, a report says.

A group of peers said a new agenda for the countryside was needed similar to the government’s industrial strategy.

Priorities included improving mobile and broadband connections, replacing lost bank and bus services and tackling social isolation, the House of Lords Rural Economy Committee said.

The government said it was committed to “rural proofing” policies.
Ministers plan to spend £3.5bn on supporting economic development in the countryside by the end of 2020 through the Rural Development Programme.
The cross-party committee of peers said policies suitable for urban and suburban areas had too often been foisted upon the countryside.

As well as improving communications, it is calling for action to address the supply and cost of housing and a lack of training for people working in rural industries.

“Successive governments have underrated the contribution rural economies can make to the nation’s prosperity and wellbeing,” it said.

“They have applied policies which are often inappropriate for rural England. This must change. With rural England at a point of major transition, a different approach is needed.”

Lord Foster, the Lib Dem peer and former MP who chairs the committee, said the “clear inequalities” between urban and rural areas could not be allowed to continue.

He called for a policy blueprint of equal ambition to the government’s industrial strategy to realise the potential of struggling and under-performing areas. …

… Only 41% of rural premises received a mobile data link of 2Mbps or higher, it found, compared with 83% in urban areas. …”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-48065625

Growth – the good, the bad and the ugly …

“Owl asks: Who is “growth” FOR? Developers definitely, privatised company bosses too – but ‘the workers’ – hhmmmm.”

COMMENT

Devon workers rank among the lowest paid in UK. We are an acute example of what is a general national economic malaise.

For decades Britain has had a big productivity gap compared to our rivals; it’s a result of low pay, inadequate training, and endemic short-termism in investment. It is aided by a “flexible” labour market. Why take risks investing in plant and machinery when you can hire and fire staff easily and still make a profit? Unless we break out of this culture we will continue to have a low paid economy, poor productivity and economic growth. A decade on from the banking crisis, wages haven’t reached pre-recession levels. George Osbourne’s austerity continues.

Heart of the South West, our Local Enterprise Partnership, has set wild targets to raise productivity and double growth by 2038; but don’t have too much faith in an organisation so out of touch with the reality of austerity that in 2017 it secretly voted its Chief Executive a 26% rise.

The flipside is that we have high levels of employment. This may have been a benefit during the depths of the recession but not now.

East Devon Conservatives in their local election manifestos claim they are delivering an economy that works for all and will deliver 10,000 new jobs. Doesn’t sound to me as if they are in touch with reality and addressing the fundamental problems either. With low pay, compared with the rest of the UK, the locally employed will always be out-bid for a house by those relocating from more affluent parts. Net inward migration to East Devon, from outside Devon, was 12,400 over the ten years to 2016.

The reality is that we have full employment and an ageing population in which the proportion of those of employment age will only grow at about 0.16% p.a. This results in a need of only around 230 jobs/year, including expected inward migration. For years EDDC Conservatives have been fixated on pushing job targets and using this to justify housing development well beyond what is actually needed. For example, in formulating the “Jobs-led Policy on” strategy for the 2013 Local Plan a target of 950 jobs/year was used to justify building a minimum of 17,100 houses over 18 years. Currently job creation is running at around 260/year. Where does the 10,000 new jobs target come from and who needs the 17,100 houses? It is not difficult to guess who benefits from this policy, but it certainly isn’t a policy that works for all of us.

Have Conservatives finally lost the plot on economic management as well?”

“HMRC reveal Devon workers rank among lowest paid in UK”

Owl asks: Who is “growth” FOR? Developers definitely, privatised company bosses too – but ‘the workers’ – hhmmmm.

“The figures from HMRC show the average employee in East Devon took home £19,100 before tax in the 2016-17 financial year, £100 more than their counterparts in North Devon who made £19,000 before tax.

That’s significantly lower than the £23,600 median income across the UK.

Workers in the City of London have the highest median salary in the UK at £54,300, while employees in Boston, Lincolnshire, have the lowest, at just £17,600.

HMRC uses the median, the middle number in a series, instead of the mean average, so the figures are not distorted by extreme highs and lows. The data does not cover people who are self-employed. …

East Devon workers also faired lower than others across the South West, with Stroud, Gloucestshire, recording the highest income in the region at £22,800. West Somerset employees have the lowest at just £18,000. The median is £20,800.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation, a poverty and social mobility charity, urged the Government to focus on strengthening the economies of poorer areas in the UK. …”

https://www.midweekherald.co.uk/news/east-and-north-devon-workers-among-the-lowest-average-salaries-in-the-uk-1-6000998

Was Owl right about why Virgin bought Flybe? Yes!

Here is Owl’s theory:

https://eastdevonwatch.org/2019/04/04/flybe-leaving-or-not-on-a-jet-plane/

and, in today’s Sunday Times its Chief Executive says:

“… Flybe will be profitable [for Virgin] … It has established slots at Heathrow and hundreds in Manchester. What will the rebranded carrier be called? “Virgin Something”. We have not made up our mind”. …”

Source: Sunday Times business supplement, page 6

Round One to Owl!