Cranbrook suffering from Exeter traffic congestion

“… Exeter has been named as the slowest city in the country in a report published by Sport England in January. In its active lifestyle pilot for Exeter and Cranbrook it states:

“Exeter and Cranbrook is an area of rapid population growth with 22,000 new homes and 12,000 new jobs forecast by 2026. Despite this growth there are some big strategic challenges, namely traffic congestion, with Exeter being the slowest moving city in the country averaging just 4.6mph during rush hour.”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/exeter-roadworks-helps-countrys-slowest-2635854

Shock news: ‘Government Agency ‘U-turn’ puts Axminster relief road at risk…’

EDDC press release:

“The £17m relief road and 850 homes, in the Masterplan for the east of Axminster, have been put at risk by a late change in Homes England funding.

East Devon District Council has reacted with dismay to news that government agency Homes England has changed how it is assessing the council’s £10 million bid for Axminster relief road.

The council bid for a non-repayable grant in 2017. This bid was accepted in February 2018, to be used to help fund the delivery of the crucial new relief road and associated homes, employment land and community facilities.

The council has now been told by Homes England that a new condition of the funding is that the money must be repaid by the development.

Council leader Cllr Ian Thomas is enormously concerned that the decision potentially puts the Axminster Masterplan in jeopardy.

He said: “We are dismayed by this fundamental change of mind. It throws the whole Axminster scheme up in the air and means that the effort we and our partners have put into this critical scheme over the last 12 months may have been completely wasted.

“Since I was first elected leader, I have been absolutely consistent that we don’t simply build homes, we build sustainable communities. The Axminster Masterplan is an excellent example of such a community. It would bring enormous social and economic benefit to Axminster, by delivering high quality affordable housing and employment land, together with other essential community facilities. After this decision from Homes England, it feels like we are back to square one. It’s bitterly disappointing.

“We understand that our scheme is one of a number across the country where similar funding decision changes are being made, as Homes England assesses the viability of schemes on a fundamentally different basis, to that applied in our original agreement with them.

“Our council is now considering its options. This includes taking legal advice to investigate whether we may have strong grounds to challenge Homes England’s decision.

The masterplan for 850 homes with employment land, open spaces and community facilities was endorsed by the council’s strategic planning committee in January. The plan was based on the money from Homes England not being repaid and even then, the development could only be made viable by expanding the site area and increasing the number of homes proposed to around 850. The amount of affordable housing required from the additional 200 homes was also reduced from 50% to 25%.

Following a decision by Homes England last week, it would appear that the development will have to repay the £10 million of government “grant” and the masterplan is no longer viable in its current form.

The council must also consider revisiting the masterplan to understand the consequences of the decision for the amount of affordable housing, employment land and community facilities to make the development viable again.

Throughout the masterplan process, the council has always been clear that the urban extension of Axminster is not just about delivering housing and the relief road but is about helping the town grow as a community in a sustainable way supported by the services and facilities that it needs.

The council is frustrated that Homes England’s change in approach puts this all at significant risk and could make the development undeliverable. It will be seeking an urgent meeting with Homes England to discuss this case and other implications for investment in the district.”

Local elections: Many independents throw their hats into ring in Sid Valley

“Sid Valley Democracy is calling for residents to stand as councillors in May for the 19 seats available.

The initiative says it wishes to ensure enough candidates for the seats to be contested after previous elections where there were not enough people, resulting in automatic appointment.

The informal group says 17 people have expressed an interest so far and have hosted meetings for prospective candidates to meet and find out more about the role.

On its Facebook page, the group said: “In most recent elections, so few candidates came forward, they were all automatically appointed – this has been the same for many town councils.

“The people behind this initiative believe that this is wrong.

“So without passing any judgement on the effectiveness of Sidmouth’s current town council, or indeed how democratically it operates, we have started the initiative to see if more people are interested in standing for election, giving Sid Valley residents a real choice come May 2.

“As well as candidates we’re also keen to get more people to vote, turnout at local elections is usually very low.”

The page has announced Charissa Evans, Peter Blackmore, Deidre Hounsom, John Loudoun, Denise Bickley, Cathy Gardner and Marianne Rixson plan to stand for seats.

Nomination packs are now available from the district council for those wishing to stand in district, town and parish elections.

Candidates must complete the forms and send them to the returning officer of East Devon District Council by 4pm on Wednesday, April 3.

The electorate will head to the polls to vote in district and town and parish elections on May 2.

The counting of the votes will take place in two locations at EDDC’s headquarters at Blackdown House, Honiton, and at Exmouth Town Hall.

District council votes will be counted and the results declared on Friday May 3, with contested town and parish elections, counted and announced on Saturday May 4.

If you would like a nomination pack, please contact the electoral services team on 01395 517402.”

https://www.sidmouthherald.co.uk/news/sid-valley-democracy-launches-to-find-candidates-for-town-council-election-1-5925851

[Ottery] “Hospital faces 18 month wait to apply for community status”

“East Devon District Council (EDDC) announced on February 27 that supporters must wait until February 2020 before re-applying for the hospital to be listed as an asset of community value (ACV). When a building is listed as an ACV, the local community has to be informed if it goes up for sale and the public can enact the ‘community right to bid’ which gives them a period of six months to determine if they can raise the finance to purchase the asset.

The initial decision not to list the building as an ACV came in December when Ottery was one of four East Devon hospitals to be nominated. EDDC stated that it did not believe the hospital furthered the social wellbeing or social interests of the local community.

At the council meeting on February 27, Cllr Roger Giles, who also sits on the Ottery Town Council, raised the matter and referenced Southwold Hospital, in Suffolk, which was successfully listed as an ACV, before becoming the first hospital in the country to be bought by the community.

As part of the decision to list it as an ACV, Cllr Giles said the strategic director of WDC stated the owner’s assertion there is no evidence of the community social wellbeing being furthered defied common sense.

Cllr Giles said this is a view shared by many local Ottery residents about their hospital and warned that Ottery and other local community hospitals are at risk because of this perverse decision. He said EDDC is suffering reputational damage as a result of this ‘very regrettable’ decision.

Cllr Ian Thomas, leader of EDDC, said each case is considered on its merits and there had been no new evidence to warrant a review for Ottery.

Last week, leading figures from the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital and the Northern, Eastern and Western Locality Devon Clinical Commissioning Group attended a discussion to review plans for the building. A statement from the working group said: “A wide-ranging and constructive discussion took place, and a number of tasks were allocated.”

A further meeting will be held in early June.”

https://www.sidmouthherald.co.uk/news/ottery-hospital-wait-1-5930495

EDDC Monitoring Officer censures Seaton Lib Dem Councillor Peter Burrows

Recall that Owl broke the original story about Seaton Town Council and EDDC Lib Dem councillor Peter Burrows here:

https://eastdevonwatch.org/2019/01/07/breaking-news-seaton-mayor-peter-burrows-resigns-after-bringing-the-office-into-disrepute/

and the updated story here:
https://eastdevonwatch.org/2019/01/11/seaton-disgraced-ex-mayor-peter-burrows-town-council-responds-names-names/

Although Councillor Burrows resigned as Mayor of Seaton Town Council he did NOT resign as a town or district councillor. It remains to be seen if local Lib Dems select him again to stand for district council elections in May 2019.

Now EDDC’s Monitoring Officer has also given a statement.

On or around the 1st January 2019, Councillor Peter Burrows posted a tweet on the SeatonTIC Twitter account [which was not an official Seaton Town Council website or an official Seaton TIC but a personal account of Mr Burrows, now closed] which alleged that a local business had bad-mouthed “the Mayor of Seaton” and [he] asked people to avoid [using] that business.

The tweet was a direct response to comments made by an individual who Councillor Burrows believed worked at the business concerned. This was not the case and neither the business nor its owner had any involvement in the making of the comments in relation to Councillor Burrows.

The tweet was inappropriate and breached Seaton Town Council’s Code of Conduct in that;

It failed to promote and support high standards of conduct,

It failed to treat others with respect,

It could not be justified to the public.

Councillor Burrows conducted himself in a manner that brought his office and Seaton Town Council into disrepute.

Councillor Burrows is hereby formally censured for the breaches that have been found in relation to his entirely inappropriate tweet.”

Seaton Wetlands runner-up in Countryfile Magazine awards

“Popular wildlife haven is runner-up in Best Nature Reserve category in BBC Countryfile Magazine’s 2019 Awards

Stunning Seaton Wetlands, one of East Devon District Council’s most popular nature reserves, has won a top national accolade after being voted for by readers of the BBC Countryfile Magazine.

The beautiful wildlife haven is runner-up in the Best Nature Reserve category in the 2019 Awards, which celebrates the best of the British countryside.

The Wetlands was nominated by the magazine’s readers alongside other nature reserves from across the country and a panel of six judges whittled them down to a shortlist of five in each category. Readers were invited to vote for their favourite place online or via a postal form from January to February this year.

The Falls of Clyde, managed by Scottish Wildlife Trust, won the Best Nature Reserve category, with Seaton Wetlands as runner up and Suffolk Wildlife Trust’s Carlton Marshes coming third.”