Good luck with that delivering of doubled growth, Local Enterprise Partnership!

And recall about EDDC and Exeter City Council wanting to make the Cranbrook “Growth Point” a digital miracle!

“Research has found that Exeter is the worst digitally connected city in the UK.

New data from GoCompare compares and contrasts 57 major business hubs across the country, taking into account an array of digital infrastructure such as WiFi availability, broadband speed and mobile/4G coverage.

Exeter ranked 57 out of the 57 cities with just 6.31 per cent 4G coverage, an average internet download speed of 26.84mbps and 1,166 people per public WiFi hotspot.

Unsurprisingly, some of the biggest cities in the UK ranked as the most connected including London, Manchester and Birmingham.”

“Rural areas at risk of terminal decline warn council chiefs”

Owl says: is EDDC paying too mych attention to Cranbrook and the Greater Exeter Growth Area p, leaving the rest of the district to wither on the vine?

“Unaffordable housing, an ageing population unable to access health services, slow broadband and poorly skilled workers make for a deepening divide between town and country.

The threat is exposed in the interim report of the Post-Brexit England Commission set up by the Local Government Association to examine challenges faced by non-metropolitan England.

Young people are struggling to stay in rural communities where the average house price is £320,700 – £87,000 higher than the £233,600 average of urban areas, excluding London, the report said.

Rural firms grapple with patchy mobile and broadband connections which cuts off access to new markets.

Councillor Mark Hawthorne, chairman of the LGA’s People and Places Board, said: “Rural areas face a perfect storm.

“It is increasingly difficult for people to buy a home in their local community, mobile and broadband connectivity can be patchy.

“People living within rural and deeply rural communities face increasing isolation from health services. If Britain is to make the most of a successful future outside the EU, it’s essential our future success is not confined to our cities. Unless the Government can give non-metropolitan England the powers and resources it needs, it will be left behind.”

Tom Fyans, of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said: “Affordable housing, public transport, high speed broadband and thriving rural economies are all interdependent.

“If our market towns and villages are to thrive once again we must make sure that rural communities are attractive places to live and prosper for people of all ages.”

https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/983495/uk-housing-crisis-countryside-rural-areas-at-risk-terminal-decline-warn-council-chiefs

Devon and Somerset – a new Klondike gold rush?

The LEP housing numbers, anticipating 50,000 new households in Devon, are almost certainly driven in part by the heroic assumptions about the local economy, as Owl has pointed out many times.

As we know, the LEP assumption is 4% growth per annum for the next 18 years. Such a sustained economic boom would invoke a ‘Klondike’ style immigration rush into Devon and Somerset, as the economies of all of the rest of the western world failed to compete with us at that level.

East Devon’s current Local Plan is based upon an anticipated annual UK economic growth rate of 3% from 2007, which has turned out to be just over 1%.

This, of course, is why many of our employment sites are dormant (and one of the many reasons why we do not need a new site in Sidford), and all our town centres are struggling – there simply isn’t demand.

Even if economic growth was to average 3% growth from now until the end of the Plan period, which looks incredibly optimistic, we would still have 33% more employment land than we need, according to East Devon’s own numbers.

The LEP’s projections have been laughed at by everyone – especially, Owl gathers, in Whitehall.

But they feed into a whole raft of housing and economic projections, that will ultimately emerge as policy around the region.

What assumption will be used for the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan (GESP) projections, Owl wonders? Now delayed until after the next local council elections in 2019?

Will the GESP team dare to condemn the LEP numbers, or will they adopt them, even when they must know they are nonsense?

What might happen if those without vested interests in the growth of expensive housing in the area were for once denied a say due to conflict of interest?

And where are the signs of the revisions of our Local Plan, based on current realities, that are required every 5 years?

Bad news for East Devon commuters: “Exeter rated one of the worst places to make a living in the UK”

So growth doesn’t equal wealth – who would have guessed!!!

“… TotallyMoney’s research into the best places to make a living ranked Exeter ninth from the bottom of 59 towns and cities in the UK.

Featuring 59 UK towns and cities, the company analysed median take-home salary, average monthly mortgage repayment, cost of living, employment rates and business closures.”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/exeter-rated-one-worst-places-1494891

Best live in western East Devon and not in northern or eastern East Devon!

In some parts of East Devon you are lucky to get a couple of buses each day!

“East Devon District Council gave the go ahead to fund four projects, unlocking new jobs and employment space locally.

Some £530,000 has been allocated over three years for an ‘enhanced’ bus service connecting the Enterprise Zone – Exeter Science Park, Skypark, Airport Business Park and Cranbrook town centre – and Exeter, with some services also running to Woodbury and Exmouth. This will be for a three year period from summer 2018. …”

http://www.exmouthjournal.co.uk/news/enhanced-bus-service-for-exmouth-to-boost-job-opportunities-1-5481849

Productivity, high tech, software development? Look to Cornwall not Devon or Somerset

BBC Spotlight tonight: Cornwall – thanks to its attractive lifestyle and very fast broadband throughout the county from an EU project – is cornering the market in high-tech and software and gaming industries.

Devon – with its special, expensively – developed campuses and industrial areas and its “growth point” – is losing out.

Productivity match: Cornwall 1 – Devon 0

Council borrowing so high, government intervention may be needed

EDDC is borrowing to fund the building of its new HQ and to fund its “Growth Point” and is also considering going into the housing construction market.

“Local authorities could face further intervention by central government if new changes to investment and treasury codes fail to dampen council borrowing levels, according to a senior Whitehall official. …

[A conference speaker said] … “said: “When last year local authorities borrowed an additional £3.8bn, that was a £3.8bn increase in net debt. “That was £3.8bn less that the chancellor had available to distribute as funding across the board at the last budget. “So, local authority borrowing does have a real world impact in the overall quantum of funding that is available to government.”

In addition, he said that concerns have been raised that councils investing in particular asset classes can drive prices up, creating a bubble.

New principles on proportionality included in the code were triggered by some smaller authorities taking on huge sums of debt relative to their size, Caller [the speaker] added.

“We had concerns that those authorities who were doing that were effectively assuming that government stood behind their risk. “That is not the statutory position, and it is not a position we want to encourage. “What the legislation says is that effectively it is council tax payers that have to make good any deficit in those assumptions, not central government. We want people to remember that.” …

http://www.room151.co.uk/treasury/councils-could-face-additional-intervention-if-borrowing-rates-continue/

EDDC to borrow a minimum of £3.4 million and up to £8 million to “improve” Greater Exeter enterprise zone

Owl says: it seems western East Devon/Greater Exeter is to thrive at the expense of eastern East Devon; more of everything for Greater Exeter, less of everything for Lesser East Devon.

“Improved bus services, a new park-and-change car park, and improvements to Exeter Airport are all on the cards.

East Devon District Council’s Cabinet is being asked to approve borrowing of nearly £3.5m to help accelerate the projects in the Enterprise Zone.

The Exeter and East Devon Enterprise Zone consists of the Exeter Science Park, the Skypark, the Exeter Airport Business Park and Cranbrook Town Centre.

A report to the cabinet is seeking approval for £3,391,250m to be borrowed against future ring-fenced business rate income.

The report, that goes to the Cabinet on Wednesday, April 4, written by Naomi Harnett, Enterprise Zone Programme Manager, says: “While not yet fully developed and appraised it is considered that these projects are also likely to make a substantial contribution to the achievement of the objectives of the Enterprise Zone.

“The Enterprise Zone designation is a powerful means of accelerating the delivery of new commercial space and jobs in the four sites in the West End of the District.

“The more that can be done to accelerate the delivery of new commercial space the greater the impact there will be both in terms of business rate income and wider economic benefit. Work has focused on developing projects that help to overcome identified barriers to delivery and/or have a catalytic impact in terms of accelerating the pace of new commercial development.

“Approval is sought for the funding of an initial set of projects that are considered to contribute substantially to meeting the objectives for the EZ.”

The report seeks approval for £3,391,250m to be borrowed against future ring-fenced business rate income.

The four proposals that the council is being asked to invest in are:

1 – An enhanced frequency bus service (30 minute at peak) connecting Exeter to the Enterprise Zone area. This includes connections via the key transport nodes of Exeter St Davids and Exeter Airport. The service is due to commence at around 5am and run through to 11pm, with the intention that this fits with key shift patterns and flight times. Some of the services will also continue to Woodbury and Exmouth. The service builds on an existing service tendered by Devon County Council and the intention is to subsidise this for an initial period of 3 years starting from Summer 2018. The scheme would cost £536,250 and would be delivered by Devon County Council.

2 – A 309 space park-and-change car park located at the Exeter Science Park, alongside bike lockers and an e-bike docking station. The facility will both support the development of the Science Park and contribute to the wider transport strategy for the area. It is anticipated that the works will complete during summer 2019 and be delivered by Devon County Council, and would cost £2.4m

3 – An upgrade to the Exeter Airport Instrument Landing System. The current system installed in 1997 has now reached the point where there is no further operational tolerance to accommodate additional nearby development. Subsequently this is a significant barrier to development coming forward particularly at both Skypark and the Airport Business Park extension. The scheme would be delivered by Exeter Airport and cost £1.4m

4 – An upgrade to Long Lane, the road that runs immediately to the south of the airport. It is the principle means of access to the Airport Business Park extension and is sub-standard to the point where no further development can proceed until it is improved and is therefore a significant barrier to one of the four EZ sites coming forward. An initial sum of up to £100,000 is sought in order to complete the scheme design and would be delivered by Devon County Council.

The investment in the enhanced bus service and park and change facility would be in the form of a grant, and a forward funding mechanism is proposed to secure the timely upgrading of the Instrument Landing Systems at the Airport. The costs of this can then be recouped as development proceeds.

The report also request that the cabinet agrees the principle of borrowing up to £8m against ringfenced business rate income to fund the delivery of projects and makes this recommendation to Council

Further papers setting out specific investment proposals in relation Cranbrook town centre and Exeter Airport would come to the Cabinet at a later date.

Clinton Devon Estates desperately tries to justify quarry industrial units

Owl says:

Surely, with EDDC having industrial areas aplenty at the East Devon Growth Point (where businesses enjoy a business rate holiday as a perk) there is no excuse for encouraging a heavy industry engineering company to remain at Blackhill Quarry to interfere with previously agreed remediation (already put back once) and a return to a wildlife habitat?

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/quarry-expansion-plans-provide-space-1166356

Ex-EDDC regeneration officer and Exeter City Council CEO gets award

“Exeter City Council’s dedication to supporting business and economy has resulted in its chief executive being named as one of the 2017 Faces of Growth.

Karime Hassan is one of seven people to appear on the list, compiled by accounting and consultancy firm Grant Thornton. …”

http://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/exeter-city-council-chief-executive-739798

Grant Thornton award. Former external auditor to East Devon and Exeter City Council until new EU regulations forced some councils to change auditors a couple of years ago.

Karime Hassan: he grew East Devon as regeneration chief, he’s growing Exeter as Chief Executive, he will grow Greater Exeter as its lead officer.

Aren’t we lucky …