(Tory) Council leaders, don’t you just love ’em – not!

Current leader of EDDC, Paul Diviani, and his Tory friends on the council voted against hospital bed cuts at EDDC (which is toothless on this matter) but he then voted FOR the same cuts at Devon County Council, which has just a few gnashers, but where former EDDC Leader and DCC councillor for Whimple, Sarah Randall Johnson, silenced a legitimate opposition debate on closures using very dubious tactics against her arch-enemy (campaigner and ouster from her EDDC seat) Claire Wright:

https://eastdevonwatch.org/2017/08/12/conduct-of-health-committee-members-investigated-by-devon-council-diviani-and-randall-johnson-heavily-criticised-for-behaviour/

Now the former Leader of Grenfell Tower Council joins the merry band:

The council leader who presided over the Grenfell Tower disaster offered paid “advice” on public sector cutbacks – and tried to “whitewash” his CV in the process.

Nick Paget-Brown resigned as leader of Kensington and Chelsea council after the authority’s woeful response to the deadly inferno drew widespread criticism.

He has remained a councillor but has attracted fresh ire from survivors and rival politicians after advertising his own company – NPB Consulting – on his new Linkedin profile.

The firm, of which he is managing director, offers specialist advice on “financial planning in an age of austerity” to other councils.

Paget-Brown is also accused of hurling a “final insult” to victims as he has omitted his experience as council leader from his CV’s career history, leaving a space between the end of his time as deputy leader in 2013 and founding NPB in 2017. His appointment as leader was mentioned elsewhere. …

Paget-Brown used the networking site to advertise his skills, including “policy analysis, seminars, briefings and drafting assistance for organisations working with local authorities”.

Emma Dent Coad, the Labour MP for Kensington, said: “Paget-Brown’s attempt to whitewash his career by becoming a cost-cutting consultant is the final insult.”

Moyra Samuels, co-founder of the Justice 4 Grenfell campaign, said: “To effectively say, ‘I’m moving on swiftly to my next project’ shows complete disdain for this community.”

At the time of his resignation, Paget-Brown said he shared responsibility for the “perceived failings” of the council. “

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/grenfell-paget-brown_uk_599a96bbe4b0e8cc855e707e

Only “perceived” note …

Twiss in charge of infrastructure money

Stakeholders? Bet it isn’t us but developers he’s talking about! Exmouth’s Queen’s Drive access for Grenadier, “improved access” to Feniton, Gittisham and Cranbrook western extension here we come!

“Since September last year, EDDC has been charging Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) on certain types of new development.

The council passes 15 per cent of this income, or 25 per cent if a neighbourhood plan has been completed, to town or parish councils, with the remainder to be spent by EDDC.

The council is now inviting stakeholders involved in the delivery of infrastructure to bid for this cash by September 22, with a final decision to be made in February 2018.

Councillor Phil Twiss, EDDC’s portfolio holder for strategic development and partnerships, said: “The CIL is a fairer, faster and more transparent way of funding infrastructure delivery.

“It provides more certainty than the current Section 106 system, which is negotiated on a site by site basis.

“However, unlike 106 money, CIL money can be spent anywhere in the district.

“Unfortunately, the projected income from CIL falls a long way short of the total infrastructure costs required to deliver the Local Plan.

“This is because the legislation requires the charges to be set based on what is viable for developments to pay rather than what is required to deliver the necessary infrastructure.

“CIL was designed to be matched with funds from other sources in order to deliver projects and so difficult decisions will need to be made in terms of prioritising projects and projects should demonstrate what other funding would be used in addition to CIL.

“The CIL pot is never going to be able to meet all demands made on it and we will have a robust and rigorous qualification process in place to ensure that the money is well spent and in the right places.”

http://www.sidmouthherald.co.uk/news/council-looking-to-allocate-money-for-east-devon-infrastructure-1-5155171

“Conduct of health committee members investigated by Devon council” – Diviani and Randall-Johnson heavily criticised for behaviour

“Devon County Council has confirmed it is looking into the conduct of members of one of its committees following a debate and vote not to refer a decision to close 72 community hospital beds in Devon to the secretary of state for health.

The matter was debated by the health and adult care scrutiny committee meeting at Exeter’s County Hall on July 25.

Among those who have expressed their concerns is Val Ranger, East Devon District Council ward councillor for Newton Poppleford and Harpford.

She says that at a meeting of East Devon District full council meeting on July 26, Cllr Paul Diviani, who sits on the committee as a representative of district councils, admitted he had not asked the opinion of other district councils about whether they wished to refer the decision to close local hospital beds to the secretary of state, and could offer no evidence on that basis that he was representing their views.

At the meeting Cllr Diviani was among those who voted not to refer the decision to the secretary of state.

Cllr Ranger said: “He said he voted not to because it was unlikely that the secretary of state would overturn the decision.

This seems duplicitous on two count. The first for failing to adequately represent the views of the district councils.

“Secondly for assuming the role of the secretary of state by stating there was no point in referring the matter to him as he was unlikely to overturn the decision.

“At the EDDC scrutiny committee on June 22, EDDC’s views and recommendations were very clear; Northern, Eastern and Western (NEW) Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has failed to provide the evidence needed to support their plans.

“However, Cllr Diviani failed to represent those views or the views of other district councils as he did not seek them. He has admitted he voted independently of both EDDC and other district councils, rendering his vote as entirely without integrity in his role at the DCC meeting.

“The vote is an entirely unsafe and undemocratic way of conducting business and brings both EDDC and DCC into disrepute.”

A spokesman for Devon County Council said: “We have received a number of comments, representations and complaints about the health and adult care scrutiny committee held last week and about the conduct of members at that meeting.

“We will be looking at all the points raised by Cllr Ranger and others under our normal procedures to see if there are any issues to be addressed.”

However, Cllr Diviani is confident the investigation by DCC will conclude there has been no wrong doing.

He said: “I take this predictable and entirely politically motivated complaint against me by people who contribute little or nothing positive to the debate at face value, and feel sure that DCC will dismiss the allegations as unfounded.

“I have neither seen or heard anything from Ms Ranger on how her party would address the huge challenges facing the NEW Devon CCG and the NHS.

“As the web cam at County Hall malfunctioned and didn’t record properly, the gist of what I said is as below. I did also explain that my position on that scrutiny committee is by virtue of my being elected by the other leaders of all the Devon districts to represent the county-wide views of the district councils, not just East Devon, and is a function I perform regularly both locally and in London through the District Councils Network where I represent the South West.

“There is a tendency to assume that everything is fine as it is, when it quite clearly is not, and that the government will keep throwing money at the NHS as they always have in the past.

“What that underestimates are the social care costs which are massive, but if tackled correctly will reduce the acute care costs, as evidenced by the Kings Fund report. We will still need our hospital buildings which in Honiton are already being used differently, for example, for kidney or chemotherapy treatments. Staffing is still a problem but that is not building dependent.

“Many of us have made a positive decision to live and indeed work in the countryside and a direct result of that decision is a diminution of accessible services we can reasonably expect the state to provide. When able, it is a price we gladly pay for the quality of life afforded.

“In straightened times, we need to cut the cloth accordingly. As is well documented, the largely under funded cost of adult social care is a significant factor in the problems besetting the NHS where the acute care service is the treatment of last resort, and very good it is too, but with the budget sliced off to the top tier local authority.

“As the truly excellent Kings Fund Report from 2016 made exceedingly clear, sorting adult social care comes first and if we tackle that with the help of the district councils the benefits will flow. The NHS cost pressures will diminish and the money can best be spent where most needed.

“In East Devon we have enormous and justifiable pride in our local hospitals and all our existing towns were well endowed. Costs are, however, never static and will always rise without innovation.

“But here we are talking service industry which is always people dependent and where low wages do not necessarily translate into low cost. Simply put, if one person falls, it will take two people to rectify the situation, and if not rectified speedily, the condition and costs multiply exponentially.

“And speedily must mean access to care, quickly. Our travel times are well known and until they are resolved, we will always need staging posts to either stop people occupying the acute provision when unnecessary or to maintain them in a degree of comfort until they can reach the comfort and safety of their own living space.

“The major flaw appears to me to be the ever present ‘one size fits all’. Flexibility is key and our response should be the start.

“Attempting to browbeat the secretary of state with a demand to overturn his own policies is counter intuitive. I prefer to ask him to rural proof our rural situation before allowing any further reductions in service which we on the ground can see will be detrimental, but our transformers would discount. But that is a local decision which should be made locally.”

Also among those who have raised concerns over the debate and vote at the scrutiny meeting is Claire Wright, Devon County Councillor for Otter Valley Ward.

She has said how she was “disappointed” by the behaviour of scrutiny committee chair Sara Randall Johnson who “appeared to do her utmost” to prevent any referral.

She said: “I am also disappointed with the attitude of the majority of the Conservative group who used a variety of ill-informed views and remarks to justify their determination not to refer, refusing to hear or see any member of the public’s distress, frustration and disbelief at the proceedings.

“The chair’s attitude made me angry and led to a protracted row where I repeatedly asked her why she had allowed a proposal to be made and seconded at the very start of the meeting by her conservative colleague, Rufus Gilbert, not to refer to the secretary of state for health, when I already had a proposal that I had lodged with her and the two officers, before the meeting.”

She added: “When they did what they did at the health scrutiny meeting, the Conservatives betrayed thousands of local people.”

The close vote whether to refer the decision was six votes to seven, with two abstentions. All those who voted with Cllr Gilbert’s motion were Conservative’s.

Cllr Wright, who is seeking advice on what happened at the meeting, concluded: “I am quite certain that with a different approach by the chair the outcome would have been different, and local peoples views would have been respected and acted upon.”

http://m.devonlive.com/conduct-of-health-committee-members-investigated-by-devon-council/story-30478465-detail/story.html

Seaton DCC Councillor on that shameful DCC Health Scrutiny meeting – and Diviani’s disgraceful behaviour

“Councillor-Sara-Randall-Johnson (from this article):

Why did Devon’s Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee block the proposal to refer the closure of our beds to the Secretary of State?

The idea that the Chair, Councillor Sara Randall Johnson (left), was settling an old score with Claire Wright makes a nice story but overlooks the concerted Conservative position. The collusion between Randall Johnson and Rufus Gilbert – who rushed to propose a ‘no referral’ motion before Claire could move her motion to refer – was obvious to all, as was her keenness to persuade her colleagues not to have a recorded vote.

Equally striking, however, is that only one out of 12 Tories on the Committee – Honiton’s Phil Twiss – voted against Gilbert’s motion. The other 7 Tories who voted were all for allowing the beds to be closed; 2 who had reservations abstained; 2 more were (diplomatically?) absent. Whipping is not allowed on Scrutiny committees, but this gives a strong impression of a Tory consensus. Members who were uncertain of their support were unwilling to defy it beyond abstention. Twiss was obviously a special case, as the one committee member whose hospital will lose its beds.

Clearly the Conservative Group on DCC gave their East Devon members the main role in dealing with the Eastern Locality hospital beds issue when in May (with its return to Scrutiny looming) they made Randall Johnson chair and nominated two Exmouth members, Jeff Trail and Richard Scott, as well as Twiss as members of the Health Scrutiny Committee. With East Devon Tory leader, Paul Diviani, representing Devon’s district councils, 5 of its Tory members were from East Devon and only 7 from the other five-sixths of the Tory group.

East Devon Tories on the committee certainly lived up to their role on Tuesday. All except Trail voted, making half of all Tory votes cast on the committee and 3 out of 7 on the pro-CCG side. In contrast, only 4 of the 8 Tories from elsewhere in the county cast a vote on this crucial issue: East Devon’s Tories may have convinced themselves, but not their colleagues.

Paul Diviani spills the beans

With Randall Johnson preoccupied with timekeeping (except when the CCG were speaking), Scott silent and Twiss asking questions, it was left to Diviani to express the Tory rationale. He claimed to speak for Devon district councils as a whole, but has acknowledged that he had consulted none of the others. He was happy to defy his own Council, which has voted to keep hospital beds, and spoke for himself – and East Devon Conservatives.

Diviani’s caustic little speech deserves more attention than it has been given.

He started by saying that those who decide to live in the countryside expect diminished service, and must cut their cloth accordingly in current times – forgetting that many have lived here all their lives, or moved here long before the present Tory government arrived to savage the NHS.

‘Costs will always rise without innovation’, Diviani continued, forgetting that the ‘costs’ of community hospitals are rising particularly because of the Tory innovation which gave them over to NHS Property Services and its ‘market rents’.

‘Local decisions should be made locally’, he averred, overlooking the fact that Sustainability and Transformation Plans, Success Regimes and NHS property sales are all national initiatives forced on the local NHS – while NEW Devon CCG is so unrepresentative even of local doctors that only full-time managers (Sonja Manton and Rob Sainsbury) are allowed to present its case in public while its ‘practitioner’ figurehead, Dr Tim Burke, hides in a corner.

When, however, Diviani warned that ‘attempting to browbeat the Secretary of State to overturn his own policies is counter-intuitive’, he expressed the truth of the situation. The closure of community hospitals results from the determined policies of the Conservative Government. (Referral would have served the purposes of delaying permanent closures, embarrassing the Government and forcing its Independent Reconfiguration Panel to give an assessment of the issue.)

East Devon Tories are the Government’s faithful servants. ‘Don’t trust East Devon Tories’ over the hospitals, I warned during the County elections. How right have I been proved.”

East Devon Tories were central to ditching Seaton and Honiton hospital beds

Exmouth DCC councillor ignores his own rule about “keeping your nose out and sticking to your own business”

Councillor Richard Scott yesterday voted for closure of Honiton and Seaton hospitals.  Yet on 26 March this is what he wrote about councillors from outside an area voting on matters that had “nothing to do with them”:

Who exactly does EDDC Leader Diviani represent? And who does he consult?

Questions at last night’s Full Council meeting at Knowle shed some light on this. Members of the public pointed out that Councillor Paul Diviani had voted against both his own EDDC council and public opinion, at Devon County Council just two days previously (25th July), by supporting the decision that ‘Your Future Care’ should not be referred to the Secretary of State.

The EDDC Leader’s vote on this occasion could be regarded as crucial, as the decision had been narrowly carried by 7 votes to 6, and was met by cries of “Shame on You” from the public, as reported on BBC Spotlight tv the same evening.

Last night at Knowle, Councillor Diviani replied that he had to vote the way he had at the DCC Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee because he was representing the views of the eight Devon District Councils. But when Cllr Roger Giles, Chair of EDDC Scrutiny Committe, then asked him if he had consulted Mid Devon, North Devon, South Hams, Teignbridge, Torridge and West Devon, the answer was no.

So is the oft-repeated phrase from Cllr Diviani and close colleagues, “We are where we are” , the consequence of poor leadership? Fortunately in democratic Britain, our leaders are not permanent fixtures.

Footnote: For reference, one of the questions asked last night, is copied below. All can be heard on the audio recording of the Full Council meeting, soon to be available on the EDDC website.

‘At the 17th May 2017 EDDC Full Council meeting, Councillor Mike Allen said, and the council formally agreed, that care in the community had not yet been proven to work.

Yesterday (25th July 2017), the EDDC Leader voted at Devon County Council Health and Adult Welfare Scrutiny Committee that ‘Your Future Care’ proposals be NOT referred to the Secretary of State. (This decision was made by 7 votes to 6).

Through the Chair, will Councillor Diviani kindly explain how voting against his own Council fits with his leadership of it? ‘

“How Tory Sara Randall Johnson took down rival Claire Wright’s health campaign”

Owl says: So, Honiton and Seaton hospitals sacrificed to Randall-Johnson’s anger?

By P Goodwin, Western Morning News

“As the old saying goes: revenge is a dish best served cold.

For Conservative county councillor Sara Randall Johnson the wait to gain the upper hand on old rival Claire Wright stretched to six years.

When she did, the result was painful and public.

At this week’s bad-tempered and rowdy council health scrutiny meeting, Ms Randall Johnson used her new power of chairmanship to thwart the independent rebel and stamp her authority on the newly-elected authority.

In a move which prompted jeers and cries of “fix” from the public gallery, Randall Johnson ignored a tabled motion to halt hospital bed closure plans and instead allow a fellow Tory, Rufus Gilbert, to seize the momentum by kick starting the debate and swiftly proposing the exact opposite.

She then dismissed Ms Wright’s protest by telling her the power to choose was entirely at her discretion as chair, before moving to a vote against referring the proposals, which was won by a majority of one, with one abstention.

It was a swift and brutal piece of politics. The result: bad headlines averted, no need to trouble Jeremy Hunt with the protests of a rebellious council and the upstart put firmly in her place.

Former Lib Dem county council leader and respected political veteran Brian Greenslade remarked after the meeting that the move had been highly unusual.

He considered that not mentioning or circulating a table motion – one submitted before the meeting begins – was rare: not against procedure but definitely a departure from protocol.

In other words: a low blow but not quite below the belt.

It was clear from the tetchy exchanges during the meeting that there is little love lost between the two women and this is perhaps no surprise.

Wright pulled off a shock victory when she ousted Randall Johnson from her East District Council seat and her position as leader, relegating her into third place in a race for two seats, by the slender margin of just 25 votes.

The defeated leader put on a brave face, claiming she had got her life back after 20 years of public service, but this hardly sounds like the words of a woman who just two years earlier was vying with Sarah Wollaston to become MP for Totnes.

Since that victory, Wright, an outspoken independent campaigner, has become a painful thorn in the side of local Tories at district and county level, particularly around the NHS, where she worked in PR before launching her political career.

She has led the opposition ever since, including two general election campaigns in which she gave MP Hugo Swire a run for his money.

But the campaign to halt bed cuts and hospital closures has been a major factor in her rallying call to local people, the jewel in her campaigning crown.

The recent background to Tuesday’s meeting went like this:

Plans by the Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group to axe 71 beds across four cottage hospitals sparked anger in the Eastern locality.

Amid fears the NHS is planning to sell off the hospitals, relations between the public and NHS officials deteriorated with many accusing executives of lying about their true intentions.

Campaigners, angry that the case has still not been made for the Your Future Care model of home visits, labelled the consultation a sham and turned to the Health and Wellbeing Scrutiny Group for help.

It could refer to Mr Hunt though in reality it the plans would have gone to an independent reconfiguration panel who would make recommendations.

What many people wanted was a change in the way the CCG operates and communicates. they wanted a more open approach and they felt this might give the health trust a jolt.

Under the chairmanship of veteran Labour councillor Richard Westlake, the scrutiny group was poised to refer the plans to the Secretary of State if 14 documented points were not addressed.

But he stepped down at the election and Ms Randall Johnson took up control.

At the first meeting of the newly constituted committee in June, it became clear that she did not intend to let this happen.

Ms Wright had proposed to the last meeting that it was time to vote to refer to the Health Secretary and the chair repeatedly came under fire for not putting this to a vote.

There was a lack of clarity among one or two members about the whole process and eventually, members were persuaded to defer a decision until yesterday to get more information.

It appeared that the Conservatives had their ducks in a row on Tuesday.

Wright cried foul when her tabled motion was ignored, claiming she had never seen it happen in six years of committee meetings.

Unfortunately, the legal advice from the council backed Randall Johnson: Motions needed to be proposed and seconded in the meeting.

Would it have changed the vote? Maybe not. It was close though. East Devon leader Paul Diviani rebelled against his members and voted not to refer and one Tory did admit he was wavering.

The way the meeting was handled did little to foster good relations between the council and the community.

Ms Randall Johnson may have done nothing wrong but she certainly didn’t make any new friends in the public gallery.

As for old foes among the membership – no change there.”

http://www.devonlive.com/tory-sara-randall-johnson-derails-claire-wright-s-health-campaign-six-years-after-election-defeat/story-30457493-detail/story.html