“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”

Seaton and Honiton hospitals “at risk ” of full closure says CCG

“CCG chair says Seaton and Honiton hospitals ‘at risk’ of closure in Local Estates Strategy”

POSTED ON MAY 14, 2018 by Councillor Martin Shaw

It has been revealed that Dr Simon Kerr, Chair of NEW Devon CCG’s Eastern Locality, told a meeting with representatives of 38 Degrees on 5th April that Seaton and Honiton hospitals were ‘at risk’ in the CCG’s Local Estates Strategy due in July. His remarks were taken down by the 38 Degrees member who produced draft notes of the meeting, and have been confirmed by other participants, but have not yet been confirmed by the CCG.

Although the hospitals both lost their inpatient beds last summer, Seaton Hospital currently hosts over 50 outpatient services (and there are probably at least as many in Honiton). Both are vital community health resources, created with decades of financial and practical support from people all around the Seaton and Honiton areas.

As part of a move to promote ‘place-based care’, the CCG and RD&E are currently taking part in two ‘community health conversations’, Honiton’s Health Matters and Seaton and Area’s Health Matters, which local voluntary groups, town and parish councils etc. are involved in. However if place-based care means anything, it should mean that communities should keep their local hospitals as health hubs, with more rather than fewer services.

Together with Cllr Jack Rowland, who stood down as mayor of Seaton last week but remains the town council’s representative on the Health Matters organising group, have written to Dr Tim Burke, Chair of the CCG, to ask for an unequivocal assurance that the hospitals will remain open.

I am hoping to shortly announce a meeting of the hospital campaign group.”

https://seatonmatters.org/

Do you have a damp home? Do you need an affordable home? Contact Councillor Phil Twiss to get your problems sorted!

It seems councillor Twiss is a modern-day superhero – able to help you with just about any problem you might come across.

So, if you live in Honiton, do contact him:

Email: ptwiss@eastdevon.gov.uk
Telephone: 01404 891327
Address: Swallowcliff, Beacon, Honiton, EX14 4TT

http://eastdevon.gov.uk/council-and-democracy/councillors/honiton-st-michaels/phil-twiss/

or at DCC:
Email: phil.twiss@devon.gov.uk

True, he hasn’t so far sorted East Devon’s broadband not-spots, wasn’t able to halt the closure of Honiton Hospital’s community beds or stop Baker Estates from weaselling out of their affordable housing commitments and the ‘fillip’ to Honiton’s jobs and shops when the EDDC HQ moves to Honiton will be at the expense of Sidmouth … but these are just minor hiccoughs … aren’t they?

Jobs before houses or houses before jobs on Honiton brownfield site?

“Plans to demolish the former Halse of Honiton site and convert it into a 32-home development are set to be rejected.

The Homes and Communities Agency submitted plans last year to build the new homes at Foundry Yard on a brownfield site that was recently vacated by Halse of Honiton, who have moved to a new site in Ottery St Mary. …

But East Devon District Council’s development management committee are being recommended to refuse the application when they meet on Tuesday, May 1.

The report says: “The site is considered to be an employment site and in assessing the proposal, it has not been demonstrated that a continued use employment use would significantly harm the quality of a locality whether through traffic, amenity, environmental or other associated problems.

“Furthermore, options for retention of the site or premises for its current or similar use have not been robustly explored, the site having been subject of a flawed marketing exercise that ruled out any such uses before marketing began.

Evidence from the Economic Development also indicates a strong demand for employment generating sites in Honiton coupled with a shortage in the supply of such sites. The release of the site for housing would therefore not comply with Strategy 32 of the Local Plan and the development would not be sustainable development as it would contribute to imbalances in the provision of housing and jobs in Honiton.”

The application submitted by the HCA had said: “The proposed development of the site creates an opportunity to provide a high quality residential development that integrates well with adjacent areas of Honiton.

“The development will be sustainable, providing much needed open market and affordable homes in a town centre location, with good connectivity.” …

The developer is also proposing ten of the proposed homes – or 30 per cent – to be affordable, five per cent more than the required provision of 25 per cent. …”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/plans-former-halse-honiton-site-1495246

Honiton Town Council slated for poor financial management

“Grant Thornton, who were appointed by the Audit Commission as auditor of the council, found that there have been a number of serious failings in governance and procedures at Honiton Town Council.

The internal audit report revealed that financial systems had not been updated between November 2016 and March 2017, no financial information had been provide to the council for scrutiny since September 2016 and that reserve levels were not being reported to the council.

The report of Mr Morris says that the internal audit report noted that:

The financial systems had not been updated between November 2016 and March 2017 and that only the clerk had the login details of the new finance system

The council did not have adequate contingency plans for key staff being absent, result in the council failing to maintain proper records

At the point of the internal audit review in March 2017 it was noted that due to the financial system not being kept up to date, there had not been any bank reconcillliations completed since September 2016

No financial information had been provided to the council for scrutiny since the October 2016 finance committee meeting

Insufficient information was provided on the assets and liabilities of the council

No amount had been input for the budgeted precept, resulting in the accounts showing the council was budgeting for a £236,000 deficit

Reserve levels were not being report to the council
There was little detail of how the council set its budget and that progress against the budget was not regularly monitored. …”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/serious-failings-revealed-damning-report-1439581

Helpers needed to drive forward Honiton’s neighbourhood plan

“Honiton Town Council and existing members of a steering group have been working together to formulate the town’s Neighbourhood Plan, a document which will enable residents to have a say on its future development.

A council spokesman said: “The aim is to work as a community to develop a plan which reflects the aspirations we all have for the future of Honiton.

“However, we now need a Chairperson and additional members of the Steering Group to lead and deliver the project for the benefit of the community.
“We are looking for a chairperson who is a collaborative leader, an effective communicator with project management experience who has the willingness, enthusiasm and time to devote to the whole project.”

No experience or qualifications are required, although anyone with knowledge of project management, town planning, community engagement and consultation and report writing will be warmly welcomed.

Additional information about the role of Chairperson and the Steering Group, including a person specification and job description, is available on request

Those interested in joining to help steer the group can contact deputy town clerk Heloise Marlow DeputyClerk@honiton.gov.uk

http://www.midweekherald.co.uk/news/chair-needed-to-help-complete-honiton-s-neighbourhood-plan-1-5445942

“How Bristol is standing up to developers”

East Devon developers do not disclose their viability agreements – EDDC thinks they should remain confidential because they contain “commercially sensitive information” yet Bristol disagrees and publishes theirs.

Baker Estates in Honiton have been allowed to reduce the number of affordable properties, using such a confidential document.

“Last autumn, campaigners scored an unprecedented victory. The target was “viability assessments”: dossiers produced by housing developers to justify the amount of affordable housing – or lack thereof – in their developments, and which are frequently used during the construction process to shrug off previous commitments.

“Developers were saying, ‘We can’t afford to put 30-40% affordable housing in here,’ to make the profits they are legally entitled to,” says Louise Herbert, spokesperson for Bristol-born tenants union Acorn. “But all of their numbers – how much they projected to sell the houses for, how much they bought the land for – were redacted.”

Acorn, along with the Bristol Cable media co-operative, campaigned for the full release of these files. Following a public outcry, the council voted to make the viability assessments public.

Now, Herbert says, the public can examine these assessments themselves, and make sure that more affordable housing is built in their areas.

In response, Andrew Whitaker, planning director at the Home Builders Federation (HBF), argues that those without formal training “may feel that the figures set out in such assessments are ‘too high’ or ‘too low’ and make representations and decisions accordingly, rather than based on the evidence.”

For now, it’s too soon to tell if publishing the viability assessments has achieved change in Bristol. But it’s a small step that could point the way for cities such as London, where viability assessments remain pervasive, or Manchester, where in contravention of the city’s own guidelines, none of the nearly 15,000 planned new developments have any provision for affordable housing.

Bristol’s mayor, Marvin Rees, believes that it sends a signal to developers: “We’re a great city to do business in – but we want the right kind of money.”

Councillor Paul Smith agrees. “Housing can’t be left to the market if you want to meet the housing needs of the whole city,” he says. “There are 500 families in temporary accommodation, 100 people sleeping rough on the streets, huge numbers who are inadequately housed, and people living in poor-quality, high-rent accommodation.”…

https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2018/mar/07/bristol-housing-developers-affordable-property

“Planners back REDUCTION of affordable homes in Honiton”

“… Councillors voted by 13 votes to one on Tuesday afternoon to allow the application, but not until Cllr Jenny Bond asked the committee to remember the 26 affordable homes and the families who would miss out when voting on it.

She had earlier added: “We have lived and breathed this application for many years through gritted teeth but this is disappointing as there is a real need for affordable housing in Honiton and Gittisham. The current offer is 90 affordable with £500,000 offsite, which equates to four houses, so the net loss is 26 families in desperate need of an affordable house who have to wait.

“With my heart I would recommend refusal and vote against it, but my head says that we have to vote with the recommendation and not waste public money on appeal. But to lose 26 affordable houses is unforgivable.”

Cllr David Barratt said: “I will propose approval as we need to vote with our heads on this one, even though affordable housing is incredibly important.”

The committee was told by development manager for EDDC Chris Rose that the applicants have submitted the request as they believe that current planning policy would support a reduction in the provision of affordable housing down to 25 per cent, if a new planning application were to be submitted.

The planning officers’ report advised that while there is a chance that Baker Estates may not be able to successfully argue 25 per cent affordable housing provision as part of a new planning application, there is an equal chance that such a proposal would be acceptable should an application be submitted and determined on appeal by the Planning Inspectorate.

Graham Hutton, Development Director at Baker Estates had said: “We think that we are making a very fair offer. We have consulted at length with the local ward members, as well as with both Gittisham Parish Council and Honiton Town Council, to make sure that we get this right.

“What is now on the table is a proposal to provide 31 per centaffordable housing, as well as a far better mix of homes and a further £500,000 off-site contribution. This provides the best chance of securing the swift delivery of 90 affordable homes for the local area – it’s worth bearing in mind that fewer than 10 affordable homes have been built in Honiton in the past decade.

“Only by reaching agreement at the local level today is it possible to offer a package this generous, as the costs of appeal or a new application would prohibit it. An agreement today will allow us to continue delivery of the homes and this will make a huge difference to Honiton and Gittisham.”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/planners-back-reduction-affordable-homes-1305831

Oh, what a surprise! Another poor, poor developer at Hayne Lane, Honiton

One presumes that Councillors Diviani and Twiss are aware of this, having declared hospitality from Baker Estates in September and December last year:

https://eastdevonwatch.org/2018/02/22/eddc-councillor-freebies/

PRESS RELEASE

“Developer requests reduced affordable housing provision on residential development at Hayne Lane, Honiton

Local planning authority will consider offer from Baker Estates to provide improved mix of houses at Hayne Lane development plus £0.5m contribution towards off-site affordable housing

East Devon’s Local Planning Authority (LPA) has received a request from Baker Estates to amend the amount of affordable housing that they provide on their development of 300 houses on land to the west of Hayne Lane in Honiton.

The request will be considered after 12 noon at the next meeting of East Devon District Council’s Development Management Committee on 6 March 2018, which is being held at Exmouth Town Hall

East Devon planning officers are recommending that the request be agreed.

As present Baker Estates is required to provide 40% of the dwellings (120 units) as affordable housing in accordance with the original planning permission granted on the site in 2015.

However, the developer is now asking the LPA to agree to reduce the affordable housing provision to 30% or 90 dwellings, whichever is the greater. This change would also affect the amount of financial contribution being secured for off-site open space, which would be reduced from £488,000 to £210,000.

In exchange Baker Estates is offering an improved mix of houses on the site and £500,000 financial contribution towards off-site provision of affordable housing.

The applicants have submitted this request as they believe that current planning policy would support a reduction in the provision of affordable housing down to 25%, if a new planning application were to be submitted. While they are offering less than the 40% affordable housing provision currently secured, they are offering more than the 25% they believe they would be required to provide if a new planning application were submitted.

The planning officers’ report advises that while there is a chance that Baker Estates may not be able to successfully argue 25% affordable housing provision as part of a new planning application, there is an equal chance that such a proposal would be acceptable should an application be submitted and determined on appeal by the Planning Inspectorate.

In addition, the planning officers believe that the viability of the site is such that it is unlikely that the council would be able to secure the current 40% provision into the future, and that agreeing to the request will negate the need for a lengthy and costly planning appeal, enabling the development to proceed as quickly as possible while providing 90, much needed, affordable housing units.

The report can be viewed on the council’s website:

http://eastdevon.gov.uk/council-and-democracy/committees-and-meetings/development-management-committee/development-management-committee-agendas/

Cllr Mike Howe, Chairman of East Devon’s Development Management Committee, said:

“It is important that this sort of decision is made in the public view, so that everyone can understand the issues at stake. It is about striking a fair balance, while ensuring that the right amount of affordable housing provision is made.”