“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)

The (political) times are a-changing in East Devon!

Once upon a time, the saying was that a donkey could get elected to East Devon District Council if it wore a Tory blue rosette. But times are changing … And what do we have here – a plea from the local Conservative Party for candidates for next year’s local elections – anyone, anywhere – please, please, with a whiff of desperation!

as discussed on EDA DCC Councillor Martin Shaw’s blog post here:
Desperate Conservatives advertise for candidates on Facebook, as they try to cling to control of East Devon in 2019

It seems to Owl that some of the old (very, very old) guard Tories are throwing in the towel – but no-one wants to pick it up!

But when you think of councillors who are REALLY changing things, who do you think of?

Well, of course, Independent Claire Wright – but also EDA Councillor Martin Shaw (fighting long and hard for the NHS), EDA Councillor Cathy Gardner, constantly holding EDDC to account and fighting her Sidmouth corner, EDA Councillor Marianne Rixson and Dawn Manley – never-ceasing their crusade about the awful plan for a massive business park in Sidford, EDA councillor Val Ranger taking in developers, including Clinton Devon Estates in Newton Poppleford, EDA Councillor Geoff Jung – with some spectacular successes taming the Greendale tiger – which has now lost quite a few teeth! All EDA councillors, all making a big difference.

Voters – if you want to effect REAL change in East Devon, the Tories are a lost cause. Their MP in East Devon is an absentee, more interested in exotic foreign travel than his constituency. And even when down here he prefers to live in mid-Devon! Their Tiverton and Honiton MP puts all his energy into fighting for farmers after Brexit (well, not surprising as he is one in Somerset). Ah, and probably best not to go into the health service cuts and privatisations, Brexit fiasco, the austerity cuts, the drop in education standards, rising crime, inappropriate developments …

No, if you want to make a difference it has to be East Devon Alliance (note: this blog DOES support EDA but is not a part of EDA as everyone must surely realise).

Why become an EDA councillor? Because all EDA councillors ARE independent but do agree on the major issues facing the district and, while being free to vote as they wish – without the whipping by a Whip-who-says-he-doesn’t-whip that has seen some disgraceful behaviour of this majority party. And EDA councillors help and support each other in elections.

There MUST be a new approach to East Devon’ mounting problems and it must come from an effective and united independent opposition – that could hopefully become the ruling group.

So, if you are thinking of being an East Devon councillor, think carefully whether you want to continue to drag East Devon along the bottom and answer the plaintive Tory howl of anguish, or raise it up and contact East Devon Alliance!!!

They can be contacted at:
http://www.eastdevonalliance.org.uk/admin/contact-us/

or via their Facebook page

https://www.facebook.com/eastdevonalliance/

Should local party members elect council leaders?

So says a writer (Labour) in a Huffington Post blog. No problem in East Devon – most of the dwindling local Tory party membership are already councillors!

Some of the comments seem quite pertinent to East Devon:

” … a council leader who oversees a large budget and thousands of local government workers, is only selected by the party members who live in their individual ward to be a candidate for councillor, from there a vote of councillor colleagues takes place behind closed doors. There is no mechanism for members to have a say on who should be the Labour [or other political party] group leader or to debate the principles, priorities and policies they will lead before they are in place. In practice, there is no recourse for members if the leader chooses to act in a way that undermines the values our party is founded upon – other than to deselect them as a candidate to be councillor when they are next up for election, which may be four years away. …

[Ah, yes, who can forget Diviani being told to save community hospitals at EDDC and voting to close them at DCC]

… Too often we see Council Cabinet members dependent on the grace and patronage of their leader for their income and livelihood – no Cabinet position means no job, and as such very little dissent. In some places even scrutiny chairs – the name should give away what they’re there for – are put in place by the very leadership they are supposed to scrutinise. …”

[Scrutiny – we never did manage to get to the bottom (or even very slightly below the surface) of the relationship between disgraced Councillor Graham Brown, the council and their relationship with the East Devon Business Forum]

Source: Huffington Post

Mostly Tory county councils moan about Tory cuts

“England’s mainly Conservative-run county councils have warned ministers that the “worst is yet come” over cuts to local services and that several authorities risk going bust unless steps are taken to shore up crumbling budgets.

Only an emergency injection of funds next year to counter a growing financial “black hole” would head off severe cuts to services and potential unrest among local MPs, the County Councils Network said.

It said councils faced having to make “truly unpalatable” cuts to key services such as social care, refuse disposal, libraries, Sure Start centres and roads maintenance while putting up council tax bills and introducing new charges.

There is growing concern about the financial resilience of county councils, which are struggling to meet rising demand for high-cost, high-volume services such as adult and children’s social care.

This year the Tory-run Northamptonshire county council effectively went bankrupt after failing to balance its budget, and the National Audit Office said one in 10 councils with social care responsibilities could follow suit.

A survey carried out by the County Councils Network, which represents 36 councils delivering services to 27 million people, found that a third would struggle to balance their budgets for 2019-20 without extra funding, rising to two-thirds by 2020-21.

A budget analysis estimates that county councils face a £3.2bn gap between income and costs over the next two years, caused in part by projected extra demand for social care services and in part by government cuts.

Paul Carter, the County Councils Network chairman and Tory leader of Kent county council, said: “We will work hard to deliver the savings required this year, but the scope for making deliverable savings has dramatically reduced and decisions for next year will be truly unpalatable if we are to fulfil our statutory duties. Without additional resource, the worst is yet to come.”

Nick Rushton, the leader of Leicestershire county council, said savings of £200m locally since 2010 had cut services to the bone. “Without extra money the consequences could be dire,” he said.

The recent announcement of £20bn of extra funding for the NHS has left local authorities frustrated at the government’s lack of urgency in addressing the simmering financial crisis in town halls and the growing crisis in adult social care and child protection services.

The government recently announced that the social care funding green paper, expected before the summer recess, would not now appear until the autumn.”

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/jun/27/english-councils-warn-worst-is-yet-to-come-on-cuts

SWIPE – South West Independent Party for England! A pipe dream …?

A post from East Devon Watch August 2015 is recently seeing revived interest from readers. Here it is again – the points it makes no less relevant now:

“Following on from our post about how much the South-West loses out to other areas of Britain, particularly the South-East, we have been considering the suggestion that we should create in this region a party similar to (but definitely not the same as) the Scottish National Party – a party representing an area which finds itself time and again the poor relation to other areas.

One should recall that the South-West has had a long tradition of non-conformity. Indeed, search on the words “south west england” and “nonconformity” and a whole host of links will turn up. Devon County Council even has web pages for it:

http://www.devon.gov.uk/index/councildemocracy/record_office/north_record_office/leaflets/sources_for_history_of_nonconformity-2.htm

Admittedly, this refers specifically to religious non-conformity. But the South-West showed its independent thinking by being a hotbed of liberalism when liberalism was something more than Nick Clegg getting into bed with the Tories. From Yeovil to Cornwall, this area steadfastly refused to be buttonholed into conformity to the pendulum swings between Labour and Conservative.

So, given that the area is now so definitely politically blue, are we getting a better deal? The post from earlier this week shows very definitely that we are not:

https://eastdevonwatch.org/2015/07/31/is-it-time-the-west-country-had-its-own-party/

So, Owl thinks it is time we started thinking about alternatives.

Firstly, what is the South-West? Officially (for political and statistical purposes) it consists of nine official regions of England: Gloucestershire, Bristol, Wiltshire, Somerset, Dorset, Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. The Owl thinks that we can discount Gloucestershire (hunting, shooting, fishing, the residences of Prince Charles and the Princes Royal and MI5 keep them firmly blue!) and Wiltshire seems just a little too close to the Home Counties and includes Swindon – definitely out. Dorset we dismiss too – they are totally conformist (see Letwin, Oliver and Grand Designs)!

That leaves Bristol, Somerset, Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. Bristol has gone extremely green over recent years and are likely to remain so (hopefully) and the Isles of Scilly have always done their own thing and have never considered themselves part of mainland life, but they can have the option of joining us within Cornwall (as at present). This leaves Devon, Cornwall (including the Isles of Scilly if they so wish) and Somerset. These three counties have so much in common. Long sea coasts, poor infrastructure and transport links, large retirement communities, large number of second homes, tourism forming an important part of economic life, a history of being overlooked when the honey pot is being shared out.

Imagine a specific party for Devon, Somerset and Cornwall! Imagine what a group of people from this area who held the balance of power in Parliament could achieve. Imagine just how powerful that could be.

And the acronym: South West Independence Party England – SWIPE!

Take a SWIPE at London-centric politics – devolution for the Cornwall, Devon and Somerset region!

Alas, just a pipe dream – for now …”

https://eastdevonwatch.org/2015/08/02/swipe-south-west-independence-party-england/

Swire’s mate and co-director “shames himself”

It seems the national press is reluctant to point out that Lord Barker is in the energy business with our own Hugo Swire:

https://eastdevonwatch.org/2018/05/20/swire-and-lord-barker-linked-to-russian-military-and-oligarchs-appear-to-be-in-business-together-a-business-apparently-not-on-his-register-of-interests/

“A Tory peer has “shamed himself” by ­lobbying for a Russian energy giant that had sanctions imposed after the Salisbury attack.

David Cameron’s ex-Energy Minister Greg Barker met with the Irish government last month in a bid to enlist its support for En+.

Lord Barker is chairman of En+, which is majority owned by Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, a close ally of Vladimir Putin.

En+ and Mr Deripaska were slapped with sanctions after the murder plot against Sergei and Yulia Skripal in March.

The meeting can be disclosed today by the Mirror.

In response, MPs called on Theresa May to launch an inquiry into Lord Barker’s business dealings.

In April, Donald Trump imposed sanctions against billionaire Mr Deripaska and the companies in which he is a large shareholder.

His firms include aluminium producer, Rusal, and its parent firm En+. Rusal is the parent company of Aughinish Alumina in County Limerick, which employs 450 workers.

Lord Barker’s meeting with Irish Business Minister Heather Humphreys will raise ­questions about Tory links to Russia after the PM blamed the Salisbury attack on Moscow.

Lib Dem MP Tom Brake said: “He has shamed himself and the office he held.”

Jon Trickett MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office, added: “It stinks.”

The Irish government said it remained “concerned” about the impact of sanctions.

There is no suggestion Lord Barker is in breach of the Lords’ code of conduct.

Neither he nor En+ would comment.”

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/tory-shamed-himself-lobbying-russian-12718297