East Devon average house price more than £50,000 higher than average

“A first-time buyer in East Devon is expected to pay an average of £220,486 to make their first step on the property ladder as part of an overall price increase of 1.6 per cent.

East Devon has seen property values increase by 3.6 per cent over the last 12 months and data from the Office of National Statistics shows the average property price in the area was £286,528. This price is over £50,000 higher than the UK average.

According to data from Rightmove, the average house price in Sidmouth was £358,370 which is a nine per cent increase since 2015.

The area has a similar average price to Ottery St Mary at £351,814 but is more expensive than Branscombe.

In the UK, house prices have increased by 3.5 per cent in 2018 and the average property owner in East Devon has seen their house value jump by £53,000 in the last five years.”

https://www.sidmouthherald.co.uk/news/east-devon-house-price-rise-1-5837746

EDDC “to start charging developers who build new homes to pay for waste containers”

“Developers will be charged for supplying new build properties with recycling and waste containers in East Devon.

Currently the council provides all new properties with the containers free of charge, but the cost of supplying them to between 750 and 900 new East Devon homes every year is escalating.

John Golding, Strategic Lead for Housing, Health & Environment, told councillors on Wednesday night that around £112,000 a year is spent by the council on supplying containers each year. …”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/council-start-charging-developers-who-2384645

“Say NO to Sidford Business Park” campaign newsletter and fundraising event

“We hope that you had a good Christmas and wish you a very Happy New Year!

In this newsletter –
v Approaching any potential planning appeal
v A fundraising event on 23 February
v Opening a Campaign bank account

Approaching any potential planning appeal
We still don’t know whether the applicants who submitted the planning application to build the Business Park in Sidford intend to appeal against the District Council’s decision to refuse planning permission for this site, the second application in as many years. Should the applicants want to appeal they have up to 6 months from when the District Council made its decision to do so.

The applicants therefore have until 18 April to lodge any appeal. Should the applicants decide not to appeal it would be nice to think that they would announce this so that local residents can be put out of their misery as otherwise this matter sits uneasily over us all.

We have had to assume that without any evidence to the contrary, the applicants will at some point submit an appeal. We are therefore preparing ourselves should an appeal happen.

At an appeal the District Council will have to defend its decision to refuse the planning application. As its grounds for refusing planning permission were restricted to the narrow issue of the highway not being suitable for the anticipated size and volume of traffic that the Business Park could be expected to generate, we have decided that we would want the Campaign to be a party to the appeal process.

The Campaign, and many of you who have supported it, have cited broader reasons, than those put forward by the District Council, for opposing the proposed Business Park. Therefore, the Campaign would want to become a formally registered party which could fully participate at an appeal. We believe that the District Council was wrong to only rely upon highways arguments for its refusal, hence the reason why we feel the need to be a party to any appeal hearing.

However, if the Campaign is going to do all of this effectively, we believe that we are going to have to employ a planning professional to make the arguments and to cross examine the applicants’ representatives and witnesses for us. As you can imagine to do this won’t come cheaply. Potentially, we would need to raise several tens of thousands of pounds to be professionally represented. We are in the process of contacting various people with the intention of identifying such a professional and a likely cost.

It is also our hope that other organisations who submitted objections to the planning application would also want to be a party to any appeal process. In particular, we would encourage the Town Council, which submitted a broad set of objections, would make its arguments at any appeal hearing. Indeed, there is no reason why other organisations such as the County Council couldn’t do likewise.

As we say, we are having to assume that we will need to be professionally represented at an appeal if one is held. That means that we have to think about how we might raise many thousands of pounds. One way will be to seek pledges of funds from our supporters. This is something that we will return to in a future newsletter.

A fundraising event on 23 February
In the meantime we are holding a fundraising ceilidh on the evening of Saturday 23 February in Sidford Hall. Tickets will be £5.00 and you will be able to bring your own drink. We will be holding a raffle and inviting donations of prizes for it. Further information about this event will be circulated soon and, in the meantime, we are approaching several businesses in Sidford and Sidbury to see whether they would agree to sell tickets.

If you are willing to donate a prize for the raffle please let us know! Please put this date in your diary!

Opening a Campaign bank account
So far, we have managed to run this Campaign on the basis of raising cash from you, our supporters. At our last public meeting we explained how much we had raised and what we had spent it on. On several occasions we have been asked whether we have a bank account to allow supporters to give donations by cheque. We have resisted opening a bank account as frankly it’s a time-consuming process.

But as we may now have to possibly raise a significant amount of money to pay for professional representation at an appeal, we have started the process of opening a Lloyds Bank account. Once this process has been finalised, we will circulate its details.

As we said at the beginning of this newsletter, we wish you a Happy New Year. Let’s hope that our wishes for this matter to come to a quick conclusion come to fruition.

Best wishes

Campaign Team”

EDDC says community hospitals do not contribute to social well-being

“Here is my letter, about Ottery Hospital, which was published in the Sidmouth Herald about ten days ago [from Ottery Hospital campaigner Philip Algar]:

Last August, I asked the Ottery Town Council to request the East Devon District Council to declare the Ottery Hospital to be an asset of community value. Such a designation would have delayed any decision by NHS Properties to sell the hospital.

The request was rejected by EDDC because the hospital was not a community asset.

Unlike swimming pools and pubs, it did not contribute to “social wellbeing”! This is manifest nonsense but there is a more disturbing aspect to this EDDC decision which challenges common sense and justice.

Apparently, there is no precise definition of social wellbeing so any determination must be subjective. This is demonstrated by the fact that three district councils in Devon have granted the status to hospitals in their areas.

This raises some serious questions.

What was different about the request to give the Ottery hospital this designation? EDDC admit that they gave more weight to an NHS objection than they did to the wishes of the people of Ottery and district whom they are supposed to represent.

Why did NHS Properties oppose this proposal whilst other councils granted the desired status to hospitals serving their electors? Who should we blame for having our hospital treated in this way? Is it EDDC for cravenly giving in to the NHS or should it be the NHS itself which may plan to close the hospital entirely and sell the site and so opposes any action that could delay implementing such a decision?”

Plundering of Knowle assets by councillors? Best value?

It appears that councillors and officers have been given first dibs of Knowle assets, in advance of the move to Honiton and one of them has rather jumped the gun on claiming his prize.

Is this best value or equitable, Owl ponders? As does at least one independent councillor.

Note: Neither of these emails were marked private and/or confidential when acquired by Owl.

From a well-known Conservative councillor:

Subject: Re; Large Table In Members Area

Dear Members and SMT,

Subject: Re; Large Table In Members Area

You will all be aware there has been an auction of council furniture, chattels etc of which I bid for a few bits and pieces.

I bid on behalf of my partner for the very large table in the members area along with the 20 green chairs that we all sit around.

I have been told that I have been successful in my bid so the table along with the 8’ extension is heading back to Exmouth to sit in (address of councillor), Exmouth in its rightful Town (some may say).

The relevance of my informing yourselves is that the rightful date of removal is end of January/ beginning of February when we finally ‘pull out of the Knowle.

I would apologise for the short notice but we have 22 family members to Christmas dinner and would like to pick the table up tomorrow as it appears it is the last day of our offices being open, which of course would mean I couldn’t collect it on Monday, 24th, as we will be closed.

We do have one or two meetings between the New Year and our final pull out but I feel it only right to ask members if indeed anybody felt offended if it was collected tomorrow on our last day.

I will fully respect any position any member may feel regarding it being removed earlier and would kindly request your thoughts.

If indeed it were removed earlier I have spoken to Simon Allchurch who feels we could put a few of the red tables on wheels in the place of the table and there is an array of chairs to use for members in the interim so it doesn’t look bare.

I must again apologise for the short notice but with the closing date being the 19th and all that goes with it at this time of year I would like to think you may grant me a little latitude (or not).

Best wishes and a Happy Xmas to one and all.”

And here is the response from an Independent councillor

“I feel I must reiterate my comment from when this started. Who authorised the ‘private sale’ of Council property to staff and members? Why are we not duty-bound to seek the best price at public auction? No-one answered my questions.

Will we ever know the proceeds of this internal sale for the public record?”

I strongly suspect that members of the public would be shocked to know that councillors have been able to buy items in this way. It is somehow appropriate that 22 family members will sit down to feast at this table, assuming the removal goes ahead.”

East Devon Alliance councillors spur council to decry poverty in East Devon

“The number of people using food banks in the Sid Valley has more than doubled in the last six months.

The Sid Valley Food Bank’s co-ordinator Andie Milne told East Devon councillors on Wednesday night of the alarming numbers of people and the stark rise in numbers of people they are seeing.

She said that six months ago, they were dealing with 15 families a week, but last week, more than 30 families came through their doors, with 36 children being helped.

And she added that last week they helped a family from Axminster as there was no help available in the East of the county for them, and raised concern over what would happen to the emergency food bags located at the council’s Knowle HQ, that sometimes are refilled four times a week, when the council offices move to Honiton early in 2019.

Her comments came prior to the full council unanimously supporting a motion brought forward by Cllr Cathy Gardner, of East Devon Alliance, calling for a report on the potential impacts of benefits changes and spending cuts on people in East Devon and whether there was a need for further support from the council in supporting the roll-out of Universal Credit, homelessness prevention or for local food banks.

Proposing her motion, Cllr Gardner said: “Most of us are doing okay and are comfortable, some are doing extremely well, but some are struggling, and we have a civic duty to see if we can do more. I would be horrified to learn if a child suffered as we failed to something in some way to help.

“I am not criticising the council or the hard work that our officers do to help people but simply to ask if there is anything more that we could do, as we know that people are struggling with Universal Credit.

“If the report says it is all perfect, then we can rest easy, but I want the report to come forward so we can be seen as outstanding, caring and vigilant.”

Cllr Marianne Rixson, supporting the motion, added that some people are being forced to use food banks just to make ends meet, even though they are in employment.

Cllr Eleanor Rylance said that the national picture showed there were 2.5m people living just 10 per cent above the poverty line. She added: “A small reversal of the economy could put 2.5m people below the poverty line in weeks. We all know of people who are struggling and other who could very soon be struggling.”

The motion received unanimous support from across the council chamber, with Conservative councillor Mike Allen said that he really liked the motion and thanked Cllr Gardner for bringing it forward.

He said: “If you work in a food bank, you get to understand how little accidents or small things can trip someone into a poverty – be it a divorce or splitting up with a partner, or a jobs loss, which leads to a massive hole in your income and you cannot afford what you used to take for granted.”

Cllr Jill Elson, portfolio holder for sustainable homes and communities, said that the council worked very closely with food banks across the district and that council staff were currently co-located in the job centres in Exmouth and Honiton to get the 1,013 people in East Devon claiming Universal Credit and were going the extra mile to help them, be it by helping them fill in the forms or giving them food bank credits.”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/number-using-food-banks-part-2323249