Wake up apathetic Honiton! For the sake of half-a-dozen volunteers your town is at enormous risk!

Owl simply cannot believe that in a town the size of Honiton half-a-dozen people cannot be found to join the neighbourhood planning group. People have been falling over themselves in the rush to volunteer in smaller towns and villages, many of which gave already had their plans signed, sealed and delivered.

What is wrong with the people in the town? Have they no civic pride? Do Honiton people not realise what enormous danger they are in if they DON’T have a neighbourhood plan? Everywhere in Honiton NOT named in the Local Plan (and that’s a lot of land) up for grabs by developers. Who will provide no infrastructure to the town and likely no affordable housing.

It paints a dreadful picture of a totally apathetic town with an inept town deputy clerk (who suggested shelving the project until 2020) and lazy town councillors if this situation is allowed to happen.

“Residents have been urged to ‘step up’ or face ‘losing out’ after the creation of the Honiton’s Neighbourhood Plan was granted a six-month continuation.

The warning, made by the town’s mayor, comes a month after the future of the document was thrown into doubt following a recommendation to shelve the document until 2020.

Deputy town clerk Heloise Marlow made the suggestion to town councillors based on the ‘lack of past and current’ interest from residents in getting involved with the plan’s creation.

The Honiton Neighbourhood Plan’s current committee is ‘inquorate’ – meaning it is not made up of enough members.

A report submitted to last month’s council meeting said: “A steering group made up of about nine to ten members with one-third councillors and two-thirds community members is essential. In view of the lack of past and current interest from the community of Honiton, the recommendation is that a neighbourhood plan cannot currently be delivered.”

However, at a meeting of Honiton Town Council last week, members agreed to let the creation of the town’s Neighbourhood Plan continue for the next six months.

Cllr Henry Brown, town mayor and chair of the council, said: “The Neighbourhood Plan will continue for the next six months, with the hope that the Community Engagement Forum will act as a conduit to entice members of the public to join the Neighbourhood Plan.

“The public must outnumber the council in representation on this – our community needs to step up or we face losing out.”

At last month’s council meeting, Cllr Roy Coombs staged a late intervention to save the Neighbourhood Plan from being shelved until 2020 – recommending it be deferred until last week’s council meeting at The Beehive.

He said: “If we have not got a Neighbourhood Plan in place it could, I feel, become a developers’ free-for-all.”

The Community Engagement Forum, which is comprised of various groups in Honiton, was formed in 2016 with the aim of improving the town and bringing about change.

Anyone who wants to join the Neighbourhood Plan committee should get in touch with the town council on 01404 42957 and ask to speak to Heloise.”

http://www.midweekherald.co.uk/news/creation-of-honiton-s-threatened-neighbourhood-plan-granted-a-six-month-continuation-1-5567305

It’s going to take more than a yew tree branch to ward off evil at EDDC new HQ!

And who at EDDC was responsible for this press release that gives the (totally erroneous) impression that the sale of Knowle is 100% financing the new HQ?

https://eastdevonwatch.org/2018/06/16/sums-on-knowle-relocation-not-adding-up-for-us-the-taxpayers/

“A yew tree branch has been placed on top of East Devon District Council’s new HQ to “ward off evil spirits”.

The topping out ceremony took place at Blackdown House in Honiton, which will be the council’s new home by January 2019.

As part of the ceremony, a yew tree branch was attached to the highest point of the building.

The ceremony was completed by council chairman Andrew Moulding and leader Ian Thomas. A council spokesman said it was “an age-old tradition”.

The authority plans to move from its current HQ in Sidmouth to Blackdown House in December 2018. The move will be financed by selling the property to Pegasus Life Ltd for £7.5m, which will turn it into a 113-apartment assisted-living community. …”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/uk-england-devon-44465408

CCG somewhat opaque on future of Honiton and Seaton hospital closures

Owl says: This is the sort of Press Release the CCG excels at. Telling us what the situation is at present but giving no guarantees that there will not be future cuts to current services (some of which, such as dermatology in Seaton, have already been closed.

Owl would also like to know how many of the extra 20,000 deaths noted in the first quarter of this year were in East Devon.

From EDA DCC Councillor Martin Shaw:

“NEW Devon CCG have issued the attached statement criticising ‘inaccurate information’ about Honiton and Seaton hospitals, after Dr Simon Kerr, Chair of the CCG’s Eastern Locality, was credibly reported as saying that these two hsopitals are ‘at risk’ in their Local Estates Strategy due this summer.

I welcome the CCG’s statement that it has no plans to close either hospital. However it has not denied that Dr Kerr said that they were at risk.

The CCG could end this controversy today if it gave an unequivocal assurance that both hospitals will continue for the foreseeable future with the present or enhanced levels of service. People in Honiton and Seaton were badly let down by the CCG over hospital beds and they won’t trust them now without a clear statement that our hospitals are safe in the coming Local Estates Strategy.”

The statement from the CCG reads:

“There have been reports today that the future of Honiton and Seaton Hospitals is under question.

NHS Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group wishes to make clear that there are no plans to close Honiton and Seaton hospitals.

In March 2017, the Governing Body of NHS Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning voted to implement a number of changes following a 13 week public consultation. This included the decision to close inpatient beds at both Honiton and Seaton hospitals.

Beds were closed in both hospitals in August 2017 as more care was introduced to look after people at home. Both hospitals are still open, thriving buildings providing more than 50 day services and clinics combined.”

Unbelievable! “Creation of Honiton’s Neighbourhood Plan could be shelved until 2020”

Gobsmacking! Villages such as Feniton and Beer manage to have a quorate Neighbourhood Plan group, so have smaller towns such as Budleigh but Honiton can’t manage it:

http://eastdevon.gov.uk/planning/planning-policy/plans-of-other-organisations/made-neighbourhood-plans/

Some really serious questions need to be asked and answered here otherwise Honiton will be descended on by vulture developers for years.

Didn’t Councillor Twiss intimate that he is Honiton’s problem solver …?

“Town councillors were asked to consider a recommendation to shelve the document at a meeting last night because its current steering group is ‘inquorate’ – meaning it is not made up of enough members.

A report submitted to the council by deputy clerk Heloise Marlow said: “A steering group made up of about nine to ten members with one-third councillors and two-thirds community members is essential.

“In view of the lack of past and current interest from the community of Honiton, the officers recommendation is that a neighbourhood plan cannot currently be delivered.

“As such the recommendation would be to put the process on hold for a period of two years.”

As part of the proposal, the town council’s annual budget of £10,000 would be put into earmarked reserves for a maximum of three years, including the financial year 2020-2021.

Research into average costings for a Neighbourhood Plan indicate that funding from the town council in the region of £30,000 would be needed, and there is limited grant funding available.

The deputy clerk’s report added: “Currently there is £1,022 being brought into earmarked reserves which is the balance of the East Devon District Council start up grant.

“In May 2020 when the matter is reviewed, there would be earmarked reserves available of £31,022 and therefore should the drafting of a Neighbourhood Plan over the next two years gather public support, and the decision is taken to revive the process, this would allow funding to be made available immediately.”

Councillor Caroline Kolek said: “I think we all understand the recommendation and I feel we have no option but to go with it.

“Having been involved with the Neighbourhood Plan right from the start, I think it’s really sad that we are at this point.”

Councillors opted to vote on the recommendation at next month’s meeting after Cllr Roy Coombs voice his concerns over the recommendation.

He said: “There’s no deadline but if we had got our Neighbourhood Plan in place now, possibly things could have been done differently over the Halse of Honiton site or the Ottery Moor Lane business park.

“There could be other missed opportunities – if we have not got a Neighbourhood Plan in place it could, I feel, become a developers’ free-for-all.”

Cllr Coombs proposed to defer the item to the council’s June meeting.

His motion was unanimously approved.”

http://www.midweekherald.co.uk/news/creation-of-honiton-s-neighbourhood-plan-could-be-shelved-until-2020-1-5518228

Claire Wright responds on threat to close Honiton and Seaton hospital day services

“Seaton and Honiton Hospitals may be at risk, local GP and chair of the NEW Devon CCG’s Eastern Locality, Dr Simon Kerr reportedly revealed at a meeting with health campaigners last month.

Dr Kerr was apparently speaking of the long-awaited Estates Strategy, which will list all the assets held by the local NHS and what it plans to do with them.

NEW Devon CCG is in considerable financial difficulty. Devon is one of three most financially challenged health trusts in the country.

The background is that 12 community hospitals across Eastern Devon were acquired by the private company (wholly owned by the Secretary of State for Health) NHS Property Services, last year.

As yet, we haven’t heard about the fate of the remaining 10 community hospitals now in the ownership of NHS Property Services. This of course, includes our beloved Ottery Hospital, as well as Exmouth, Sidmouth, Whipton, Okehampton and Crediton.

Many of these hospitals, including Seaton, Honiton, Ottery St Mary and Okehampton and Whipton, have sadly now been stripped of their beds in cost cutting measures. But they still are home to a range of services and clinics that are very much needed locally.

Up until now, NHS England has been picking up the tab for the extortionate rents charged by NHS PS, of well over £3m a year, across the area.

A stupid stupid system, set up to fail. All over the country health trusts are being forced to sell off estate because it can’t afford the ridiculous rents charged by NHS PS for a building that used to be in NHS ownership.

Honiton Hospital has a treatment centre and is home to East Devon’s out of hours GP service.

The idea that the building could be lost and with it the treatment centre and out of hours service is totally ludicrous and appalling. The RD&E’s A&E department is full to capacity much of the time and staff are struggling to manage the volume of patients.

It means someone unwell living in the far east of the area – Axminster, for example, would have to travel around an hour to Exeter, to be seen by a GP if they were unwell out of working hours. It is quite unacceptable.

The amazing maternity unit which has been ‘temporarily’ closed for the best part of a year, was also based at Honiton Hospital.

There are so many cuts to the health service now it is difficult to keep up with them, let alone fight them.

Cllr Shaw has written to the CCG chair, Dr Tim Burke demanding assurances that the buildings remain open.

I have asked for an urgent item on the next Health and Adult Scrutiny Committee agenda, which is held on Thursday 7 June.

I will keep you posted.

Here’s Cllr Shaw’s blog – https://seatonmatters.org/2018/05/14/ccg-chair-says-seaton-and-honiton-hospitals-at-risk-of-closure-in-local-estates-strategy/

http://www.claire-wright.org/index.php/post/seaton_and_honiton_hospitals_at_risk

“Suspension of birth services at Honiton Hospital extended”

“The suspension of birth services at Honiton maternity unit has been extended.

The Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust (RDE) has today delayed its reintroduction until mid-September 2018.

The Trust took the decision last year to temporarily suspend births and subsequent in-patient stays at Honiton Hospital.

It said the step was taken to maintain patient safety due to a combination of factors affecting the stability of the services at this site and the other units it operates in Tiverton and Exeter.

Zita Martinez, head of midwifery at the RDE, said: “We are sorry for this continued suspension in services. Although we have successfully recruited to a number of our midwifery vacancies, we are still managing a high level of staff absence, including maternity leave.

At the same time, the positively received implementation of national policy in the Better Births and Saving Babies’ Lives guidance has meant that the complexity and acuity of women and babies we are caring for has significantly increased.

“This means that our main maternity unit in Exeter is experiencing greater levels of demand on the specialist care that we provide.

“In the context of increasing complexity, re-opening Honiton maternity unit for births and in-patient stays would result in the Trust stretching our workforce too far and potentially compromising safety in our other delivery units.”

The Trust has agreed with NEW Devon Clinical Commissioning Group to extend the suspension of births and subsequent in-patient stays at both Honiton and Okehampton until mid-September 2018 in order to ensure the safety of services across a wider geographical footprint and therefore, for more women and babies.

All antenatal and post-natal appointments, support clinics and home births will continue as normal in both communities.”

http://www.midweekherald.co.uk/news/suspension-of-birth-services-at-honiton-hospital-extended-1-5517432

East Devon Alliance DCC Martin Shaw responds to threat of full closure of Seaton Hospital

“Martin​ Shaw
County Councillor for Seaton and Colyton​

LETTER TO THE CHAIR OF NEW DEVON CCG

Dear Dr Burke,

We have seen draft notes prepared by 38 Degrees of your meeting with them on April 5th. According to these, Simon Kerr said (before your own arrival) that Seaton and Honiton hospitals were ‘at risk’ in the coming Estates Strategy. These remarks, written down at the time, have been confirmed to us by several participants. While we appreciate that no formal decision may have been taken, there seems little reason not to take them as a clear indication of CCG thinking.

As the two elected local politicians on the organising group of Seaton Health Matters, the community conversation launched together together with the CCG and RD&E, we hosted Dr Kerr at the launch meeting on 23rd March, which also heard Em Wilkinson-Bryce (copied in) appeal to the audience to trust in the ‘good intentions’ of the speakers from the NHS organisations. We have no reason at all to doubt her sincerity, but it is difficult for us to believe in the good faith of Dr Kerr and the CCG, as (unless he had only just picked up the names of the ‘at risk’ hospitals) it seems to us that you may have helped launched us into a discussion of local health needs knowing that you may be moving to deprive us of our major health resource, Seaton Hospital.

Our initial Health Matters discussion broached many areas of constructive cooperation between the local community and the NHS, which we are keen to pursue. However it also left no doubt of the need to maintain the 50+ outpatient services currently based in the Hospital, the desirability of bringing in additional services if place-based care is to be meaningful, and the needs of an elderly community (with significant pockets of deprivation and poor public transport) for as many clinics, etc., as possible on the doorstep rather than in other towns. We are ready to explore the possibility of a combined health hub for the Axe Valley, but on the basis that services would be more or less equally shared across the two hospitals and there would be no reduction in the overall level of services in each. The other thing that was clear from our discussion was that the community considers the Hospital a community resource since its building was half-funded by local donations and it has been maintained by local contributions ever since. I am sure that people in Axminster and Honiton feel the same about theirs.

You should not underestimate the local anger, only just subsiding, over the removal of beds from Seaton Hospital. It bears repeating that this was widely regarded, including outside Seaton, as an unjust choice based on a misuse of the JSNA data and misleading assumptions about the relative agedness of the populations of Seaton and Sidmouth (their age structure is in fact almost identical and the comparison did not justify a choice of Sidmouth over Seaton). It was also based on false claims that the Sidmouth option would involve a better geographical spread: a glance at the map would have shown that, on the contrary, it left the remaining community beds concentrated in the southwestern corner of East Devon with none in the Axe Valley. There is similar feeling in Honiton because the Your Future Care consultation did not even include an option which would have retained their hospital’s beds.

We mention this history not to try to reverse the beds decisions (although the shortage of beds in the recent winter should lead to it being looked at again) but because the treatment of Seaton and Honiton in those decisions should be a reason for generosity in the distribution of outpatient services and in the Estates Strategy. It is adding insult to injury to place Seaton and Honiton on a shortlist of potential closures. Having switched your decision last time against Seaton, you should now reconsider again in Seaton’s favour. This is not, of course, to suggest that any other hospital should be closed instead. On the contrary, all East Devon towns have community hospitals which reflect real local needs and you should be devising a system of health hubs which enables all communities to have a solid base for place-based care.

The next meeting of Seaton Health Matters is scheduled for 24th May. We do not wish it to be dominated by the fallout from Dr Kerr’s remarks but without an unequivocal assurance that Seaton Hospital will remain open, it is unavoidable that this will be the main topic of discussion.

We look forward to hearing from you at the earliest opportunity. We have also copied this to Sonja Manton since we discussed the Health Matters process with Em and her before it began. We should like to meet with you about this, but before the 24th any meeting would have to be late that afternoon or on the 23rd, as one of us is away until the morning of the 22nd.

Regards,

Martin Shaw
County Councillor for Seaton & Colyton

Jack Rowland
Seaton Town Council”