Cranbrook: bad news for E.on? Regulator to investigate district heating networks

Residents of Cranbrook are stuck with E.on for 80 years unless things change as reported by Owl here in February 2017:

https://eastdevonwatch.org/2017/02/05/cranbrooks-district-heating-system-under-fire-no-switching-allowed-and-developers-get-a-cut-for-80-year-contract/

and here in 2016:
https://eastdevonwatch.org/2016/07/28/cranbrook-what-can-happen-when-you-are-tied-to-one-district-heating-energy-supplier/

“The UK’s competition regulator has announced that it is launching a comprehensive study into domestic heat networks to make sure that households are getting a good deal.

Competition and Markets Authority on Thursday said that heat networks – systems that heat multiple homes from one central source – currently supply about half a million UK homes through about 17,000 networks.

Between now and 2030, the number of customers using heat networks is expected to grow significantly to around 20 per cent of all households. But the sector is not currently subject to the same regulation as other forms of energy supply such as mains gas and electricity.

The CMA said that, as a result of that, it’s concerned that many customers, a large proportion of whom live in social housing, may be unable to easily switch suppliers or are locked into very long contracts – some for up to 25 years.

There’s a risk, the regulator said, that they may be paying too much or receiving a poor quality of service.

It said that its study into the networks would examine whether customers are aware of the costs of heat networks both before and after moving into a property and whether heat networks are natural monopolies. It would also look at the prices, service quality and reliability of heat networks.

“Heat networks can play an important role in cutting carbon and keeping down energy bills for customers. However, we have concerns that this sector may not be working as well as it could be for the half a million homes heated by these systems now and the millions that may be connected in the future,” said Andrea Coscelli, chief executive of the CMA.

“That is why we’re taking a closer look at this market to ensure that heat network customers get a good deal on their energy now and in the future.”

The CMA study will be completed within the next 12 months. It said that it would source evidence from a wide range of stakeholders, including heat network builders and operators, other government departments, local authorities, sector regulators and consumer groups.

An interim report updating on the CMA’s progress will be published in six months.

Heating networks can be better for the environment because they deliver lower carbon emissions, which can also result in cost benefits for households.

Because of this, heat networks have become an important part of the Government’s strategy to reduce carbon and cut heating bills.”

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/uk-domestic-heat-networks-review-competition-markets-authority-review-regulator-a8096396.html

“Knowle developer will only pay for affordable housing if profits exceed expectations” – yeah, right!

Over 100 flats selling at around £400,000 or more with massive service charges. Will they make a profit? Of course not – developers never do in these circumstances!

“PegasusLife had argued its proposals should be classed under ‘residential institutions’ – branded ‘C2’ in planning terms – meaning it would not need to make a contribution.

Landowner East Devon District Council (EDDC) had contested it should be classed as C3 for housing, meaning there would normally be a payment towards off-site affordable housing.

An agreement between the parties, revealed last week, shows there is an ‘overage’ clause, so PegasusLife would only pay out if the scheme exceeds its forecasts.

An EDDC spokeswoman said: “PegasusLife has submitted viability evidence to demonstrate that the scheme would not be viable if it were to provide affordable housing, which the council has accepted.

“The council has had this information independently assessed by specialists in development viability who have confirmed that the development cannot afford to meet the council’s policy requirements for affordable housing.

“Accordingly, the council has required an overage clause to be included within the section 106 agreement, which will seek to obtain a contribution towards affordable housing in the event that the scheme is more profitable than currently envisaged.

“This approach has been used before and supported by planning inspectors at appeal. If the development is found to be C2 by the inspector then there would be no affordable housing required to be provided.

“However, the Knowle inquiry is still ongoing and is timetabled to conclude today (Tuesday).

“We anticipate receiving a final decision from the inspector in January.”

The section 106 agreement shows that the land is valued at £5.8million.

The deal with PegasusLife is worth £7.5million to EDDC, which will put the cash towards its £10million relocation to Exmouth and Honiton.

The dispute about whether the development should be classed as C2 or C3, as well as concerns about overdevelopment and the impact on the site’s listed summerhouse, led councillors to refuse planning permission last December.

The developer took its appeal to the Planning Inspectorate.

The inspector, Michael Boniface, is set to make a site visit this afternoon to inform his decision.”

http://www.sidmouthherald.co.uk/news/knowle-developer-will-only-pay-for-affordable-housing-if-profits-exceed-expectations-1-5308352

A reader asks: what is the definition of “kerbside”?

A few weeks ago I had to phone EDDC up re. a missed collection of my kitchen waste and recycling. All the refuse had been placed in the normal place (where it has been collected for a number of years) and ALL of it was put there the night before collection.

My landfill bin was emptied but not my kitchen waste and the recycling containers, so I contacted the refuse department.

Firstly, I was questioned as to whether the containers had been put out on time and, secondly, where they had been placed (they are always placed just inside the gate and I need to keep this shut for various reasons). This, apparently, is not acceptable and I need to put them on the pavement if the gate is shut. Surely, this is a trip hazard?

I emailed them later on and said that I am not insured for leaving them on the pavement and I am sure they are not either. In fact, after the landfill bin had been emptied the gate was left open, so there was no excuse for the recycling not to have been collected. What is the definition of kerbside?”

Owl replies:

Did you ask if EDDC’s public liabilty insurance includes accidents “kerbside” when waste bins are involved?

Best to do that by email and get their response in writing!

Exmouth’s Lonely Christmas Tree

“The Lonely Christmas Tree”

I am the lonely Christmas Tree,
In Exmouth’s market place;
No vending stalls are round about
No shopper’s welcome face.

The Strand is bare of trade and cheer
In Exmouth’s market place-
All moved to Ocean’s empty hall
To fill that empty place.

Shopkeepers have all tried their best
Around the market place
To pay their rates and sell their goods
With patience and good grace.

The loss to trade and income gone-
They’ve moved the Christmas Cracker;
No help then for the working shops-
Their Christmas has been knackered !”

CEO and Head of Audit suspended after irregularities in voting at General Election

Here in East Devon there were numerous mistakes made by our election officers but, so far, they have avoided examination or censure.

Nothing will change till electoral officers have to legally submit budgets of exactly how much money they spent (or did not spend), how much extra they were paid to do the job (average £10-20,000 per election, some got much more) AND they come under the Freedom of Information spotlight (they are currently exempted).

“Almost 1,500 voters were unable to take part in a general election contest which was won by just 30 votes, an independent inquiry has concluded.

Two senior officials in Newcastle-under-Lyme were suspended today following damning investigation into the June 8 election.

Newcastle Borough Council chief executive John Sellgren and Elizabeth Dodd, head of audit and elections, have been criticised for a number of issues by the Association of Electoral Administrators.

It found 500 postal voters were disenfranchised, nearly 1,000 potential electors were not included on the voting register and two people were able to vote who were not eligible to.

Labour’s Paul Farrelly held off a charge from Tory Owen Meredith to hold Newcastle-under-Lyme with a reduced majority.

The election cannot be re-run because complaints about the running of a poll must be made within 21 days.

But the probe concluded the result could have been different if the wrongly excluded voters had been allowed to take part.

The investigators it was ‘impossible not to question the result’ and detailed a ‘complex picture of administrative mistakes around registration and postal voting processes’.

There was an ‘inadequate performance by inexperienced and under-resourced elections office staff’, the report found.

Mr Farrelly described the election arrangements as a ‘shambles’ in the aftermath of the poll.

Mr Meredith said today: ‘It is vital lessons are learnt from this experience and that the recommendations of the report are implemented in full.
‘Urgent action must be taken by Newcastle Borough Council to ensure the credibility of upcoming council by-elections in December and the all-out elections in May.

‘Voters will be rightly horrified by the details of the report’s findings and trust in the democratic process in Newcastle-under-Lyme has been badly undermined. Urgent action is needed to restore that trust.

‘Voters have been truly let down by the Council officers and leadership and those involved must consider their positions.’

Council leader Elizabeth Shenton, said: ‘I sincerely apologise on behalf of the council for that situation but we can’t turn the clock back and right any wrong that occurred at that time.’

An Electoral Commission spokesman said: ‘Good planning and open communication are vital to ensure voters can receive the quality of service they deserve.

‘Both our guidance and this independent report recognise these factors.
‘We will now consider this report’s findings as part of our assessment of how Returning Officers performed at June’s election.

‘The Commission will continue to support and challenge the performance of the electoral services department at Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council to ensure forthcoming elections are well-run.”

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5125083/1-500-people-STOPPED-taking-election.html