Hinkley C gets its own posh hotel thanks to OUR LEP

Anyone know of any hotel that got LEP funding in Devon? Seaton, Honiton Premier Inns perhaps? Certainly not!

From an LEP report:

“In October Deepak Chainrai of DC Hotels (Bridgwater) Ltd welcomed representatives from HotSW LEP, Bridgwater Town Council and Sedgemoor District Council to the site of the new Mercure Bridgwater Hotel, which is visibly taking shape, as an opportunity for all to see the work and progress behind the construction hoarding.

Before touring all five floors, the group was shown around the lobby area, meeting rooms, lounge and bar, leading to the destination restaurant that will be operated by The Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar & Grill.

The new hotel was partly financed by a loan from the LEP’s Growing Places Fund, which aims to get projects off the ground that would otherwise not be immediately served by the commercial marketplace. The site is strategically placed as an asset for the area with the development of the nearby Hinkley Point C. The establishment of a modern hotel with an international restaurant chain and commercial units is an important amenity that will boost the local economy and generate new jobs.”

HOTSW Growth Strategy: stymied by exodus of young from small towns

Devon: 47 towns, 2 cities (Exeter and Plymouth)
Somerset: 29 towns, no cities

2 mins read:

“The emptying out of young people from Britain’s small towns has accelerated over the past two decades, as the gap widens between the country’s cities and university towns and everywhere else.

New research shows that, since 1981, Britain’s towns and villages have lost more than a million people aged under 25, while gaining more than 2m over-65s.

By contrast, main cities have seen net inflows of more than 300,000 under-25s and net outflows of 200,000 over-65s.

Centre for Towns, a new think-tank set up to draw attention to the plight of smaller communities, whose millions of residents are frequently ignored in policy debates, said the trend has accelerated sharply since the millenium.

In 1981, the proportion of over-65s was similar across communities of all sizes, ranging from a low of 23 over-65s for every 100 working-age residents to a high of 26.3 in villages.

By 2001, the signs of demographic sorting had begun to emerge, with an old-age ratio of 22.5 in large cities, and 29.1 in villages; in 2011, there were 35.6 over-65s for every 100 people of working age in Britain’s villages — double the figure of 19 in large cities.

The changing demographics of small towns have seen their labour markets become less dynamic, while a growing elderly population puts strains on health and social care.

The divide was evident in the voting for the 2016 EU referendum. Centre for Towns calculated what share of the vote went to Leave and Remain in different sizes and types of towns and cities, and a clear gradient runs through from the large cities, university towns and commuter towns which delivered the strongest Remain votes, to smaller towns — especially those still suffering from post-industrial decline, and stagnating coastal towns such as Blackpool.

New polling carried out by Centre for Towns also provides a quantitative measure of the quality of life being left behind. Britain’s town-dwellers feel more socially, economically and politically peripheral than those who live in cities, and are more pessimistic about whether their areas’ fortunes will be reversed soon.

Among town-dwellers, 69 per cent feel their towns are being left-behind, believing the area they live in is less central to British society than other areas. Similarly, 68 per cent believe politicians do not care about their town. In cities, the corresponding figures are much lower, at 56 and 54 per cent.

A similar gap is evident in perceptions of communities’ economic strength. Of town-dwellers, 53 per cent feel their area is less well-off than other parts of the country, compared to just 36 per cent in cities.”

DCC Corporate Infrastructure and Regulatory Services Scrutiny Committee savages HOTSW Growth Strategy

(Thanks to Independent East Devon Alliance DCC Councillor Martin Shaw for bringing to the committee 10 of the 11 points and Budleigh resident David Daniel for his succinct 3 minute take-down of the original document)

Heart of the South West Joint Committee and Draft Productivity Strategy (Cabinet Minute 77/8 November 2017)

Minute 31:

“The Committee received the Joint Report of the Head of Economy, Enterprise and Skills and the Head of Organisational Development (EES/17/5) providing information on the Heart of the South West Joint Committee and the draft Productivity Strategy, which was currently being consulted on and which highlighted a number of challenges facing the Heart of the South West area.

The consultation period had been extended to 14 December 2017 and an Action Plan would be shared with the Committee at a future meeting.


the Committee note the work to develop a Joint Committee and that, to enable a bid for devolved powers and funds to be successful, revisions were suggested to be made to the Heart of the South West Productivity Strategy, taking the following comments into account, namely:-

(a) the ambition to double the size of the economy in 18 years, involving an annual growth rate of 3.94%, was unrealistic given that the regional annual rate over the last 18 years had been 1.5% and the national growth rate, which had not exceeded 3% in a single year during that period, was now forecast to average less than 1.5% per annum in the next five years;

(b) the early ambitious aim of moving from less than average to above average productivity was not credible since the Strategy lacked the wide range of specific proposals needed to raise productivity across the board and contained little detail on how gaps in higher skills level would be filled;

(c) the Strategy did not adequately address the obstacles to higher than average productivity in sectors with endemic low pay and casual working, like social care and hospitality, which were disproportionately represented in the local economy, by our older than average population, and by under-employment;

(d) the Strategy said little about rural Devon and needed to include the key recommendations of the South West Rural Productivity Commission;

(e) the Strategy did not emphasise sufficiently the shortfall in broadband provision and the radical investment needed if Devon were not to fall further behind other regions;

(f) the Strategy did not provide details of the opportunities of Brexit, which it mentioned, nor did it take account of risks such as a decline in investment due to uncertainty, issues for firms exporting to Europe if the UK was not part of a customs union, and threats to the knowledge element of our economy due to universities losing EU staff and research opportunities;

(g) the Strategy needed to show how Devon would respond to automation and Artificial Intelligence;

(h) the Strategy needed to indicate clear performance indicators through which success could be measured;

(i) the Strategy needed to align more explicitly with the Government’s new Industrial Strategy and ‘Sector deals’ which may provide funding;

(j) the Strategy needed to explain what kind of devolution would help meet aspirations and articulate clear, realistic selling points and questions of Government; and

(k) the Strategy needed to include proposals to bring forward all forms of transport, including rail, which improved accessibility to the Peninsular.”


Budget favours men

“Jeremy Corbyn is leading a cross-party effort to force ministers to publish details of the impact of their policies broken down by gender, race, age, disability, class and region, after analysis showed women continue to bear the brunt of austerity.

The Labour leader has signed a letter with 126 other MPs, including members of his own party, the Lib Dems, SNP and Greens, calling for an immediate equality assessment of all government policies.

The letter to the education secretary, Justine Greening, whose brief covers equalities, accuses the government of failing in its duty to sufficiently consider the impact of its actions on all groups in society.

Labour said its analysis showed that men received 46% more spending in Philip Hammond’s autumn budget.

A financial model developed by Yvette Cooper, a senior Labour backbencher, and House of Commons library statisticians found that 86% of savings to the Treasury from tax and benefit changes since 2010 had come from women.

Labour said the latest budget did nothing to change that, meaning women had been hit six times harder by austerity measures than men since the Conservatives came to power in 2010.

The letter, co-signed by Corbyn, Dawn Butler, the shadow equalities secretary, Jo Swinson, the deputy Lib Dem leader, Angela Crawley, the SNP spokeswoman on equalities, and Caroline Lucas, the co-leader of the Greens, said: “If the government continues in this manner there can be no public confidence that the public sector equality duty is being fulfilled.

“We are calling on the government to undertake and publish a comprehensive cumulative equality impact assessment of all government policies. This assessment must include analysis of the impact of all its policies in relation to gender, race, age, disability, class and region. …”


Watch EDA councillor Shaw and Budleigh resident David Daniel make most sense on LEP “strategy”

Jump to 2 hours into the meeting to see these two local people talk total sense to a bunch of mostly Tory councillors most of whom seem to understand beggar-all about why they are there!

Mr Daniel – a former government strategic analyst is at around 15 minutes into the meeting and speaks persuasively about why the Heart of the South West LEP strategy is totally unachievable. Independent East Devon Alliance DCC Councillor Martin Shaw (whose forensic report was totally accepted with one additional point added) is at around 2 hours into the meeting speaking on why the report before the councillors is style over substance and dangerous to go along with in its current form.

In Owl’s opinion, they run rings around the rest of the committee!

Although one councillor did make a point (Owl is paraphrasing here!} that this is an 18 year “strategy” and could well be redundant in a few years – when some other crazy idea might replace it!


“Tories accused of trying to quietly re-privatise Britain’s rail infrastructure” (including south west)

The plan is for Great Western Railways to be split into two:

“The plans would create a new West of England rail franchise to provide long-distance services between London, Wiltshire, Somerset, Devon and Cornwall together with local and regional services across the south-west.”


“Transport secretary Chris Grayling says the government wants to break up the troubled [Great Western] Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise when the current contract comes to an end, and look into reopening lines closed during the notorious Beeching cuts of the 1960s.

But the proposals also include publicly-owned Network Rail sharing its responsibility for running the tracks with private train operators.

Britain’s rail network – the tracks, bridges and infrastructure – was taken into public ownership after a bungled experiment with privatisation left it close to collapse.

Railtrack, the privatised franchise, went bankrupt after being hit with the cost of repairs and compensation from the Hatfield rail crash in 2000. …

… Mr Grayling denied that the plans amounted to the splitting up and privatising of Network Rail.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “No, we’re not privatising Network Rail. Network Rail will remain in public ownership, but Network Rail is going to be devolved into a series of route businesses, it’s not going to be one big central blob, it’s going to be a series of locally-focused, or route-focused, operations around the country.”