Local Tories panic at last minute – and ask what you think (too little, too late!)

The Local Tories are asking the electorate at the 11th Hour! (A BIT TOO LATE!).

Why?

Because they know they have let us down, while Independent councillors have been fighting our battles, not them!

Whilst our Independent District Councillors have been listening and dealing with local people’s issues and concerns for years the “East Devon Conservative Association” may be waking up to the fact that rather than follow their Central Offices National Policies, they maybe should listen occasionally to what is happening in their local area!

A questionnaire is being distributed by the East Devon Branch of the Conservative Party, just 5 weeks before Local Parish Town and District Elections asking for local people’s thoughts!

There is however a “health warning” on the leaflet in very small print!

The types of information we may collect about you, will probably include your name, address, and contact information and information about your ethnic origin, political opinions, and religious, philosophical and other beliefs. The data you provide will be retained by the Conservative Party, its Candidates and its MPs”.

Nice to know the Tories want to collate a database on us!

The questionnaire first asks several questions about the ward and then asks
“Are there any local issues or concerns you would like to raise?

Then they ask which of 14 issues are the 3 issues that should be prioritised. Looking at the list most local people would hope that their Councillors were concentrating on ALL of them, but at least the local Conservatives MIGHT spend some time on 3 local issues which is a start!

On the second page it becomes even more amusing!

Q: What Conservative commitments are the most important to you?

Make a success of Brexit”
(guessing the leaflet was planned some time ago!)

First one on the list is Not really a local issue, but the you would not think that the turmoil in Parliament and Brussels was anything like a “success”!

Q: “Cut the Deficit and deal with our country’s debts.”

This could be translated as: Do you approve of austerity and the selling off of public assets.

Again, not much of a local concern, except for the closing of local hospital beds, reduction in funding for all local services, no spending on our local infrastructure but the Government spending billions on HS2 to connect London and Birmingham and Cross Rail connecting one part of London to the other!

Q:“Continue to increase housebuilding and support home ownership”.

East Devon is already building more than 950 new houses per year, but the Tories want more and more! What local people want is “the right houses, built to the right quality, in the right place, at the right time”. Not what we are getting which are large, expensive housing estates that look like “everywhere land!”.

Q: Cut income tax by raising personal allowances.

If you earn enough to pay tax that’s fine, but the less well off become even further left in crisis with the cutting of social services! And what about all those billionaire donors – some paying no tax in this country at all!

Q: Ensure that pensions continue to rise annually.

Anything to keep pensions in line with inflation is good but reducing public services for the elderly affects their quality of life! And “rising annually” is no good if increases are below the cost of living and savings earn nothing and then go to fund home or nursing home care.

Q: Ensure the welfare and benefit system is fair and rewards work.

Just one comment here “Universal Credit! It’s NOT working!

Q: Continue to increase NHS spending.

Local NHS spending has been and is being cut and all our services at breaking point! Nine hours for an ambulance to turn up for a pensioner with a broken hip in Exmouth! And a CCG that has said it will cut HALF A BILLION pounds more in the next few years.

Q: Control and reduce immigration.

They cannot control migration if they cannot sort out a Brexit deal! And SOME immigration (such as health care workers) is urgently needed. And they have already confessed that immigration will now come from India and the Phillipines rather than the EU!

Q: Protect spending on schools.

Only this week our largest secondary school in the district asked parents to contribute to the funding! And academy schools pay their heads and directors hundreds of thousands of pounds – and then often go bust!

Q: Invest our National Security and defence.

It is a known fact that we are spending less on our armed forces and the police. These cuts can be seen with less police on our streets, crime seemingly increasing and less arrests and weaker sentences for those that are apprehended!

This is Our governing Political Party and our governing East Devon councillors asking these ridiculous questions!

You are asked to tick which 2 are important to you! Again, most people would say they are all important!!

You are then asked what party you voted for last time and which party you may consider voting for this time around, and finally asking you if you want to help or even join the Conservative Party! Remember, all this data on you is kept for later use (or sale).

What’s the alternative?

This questionnaire graphically demonstrates how out of touch this national and local political party is!!

Don’t reply to add to their already large database on you but elect a local INDEPENDENT candidate, already in touch with the electorate and already fighting on your behalf!

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

“Pork Barrel politics”: why ‘good news’ always comes just before elections

Portishead Independents tell it as it is!

“Pork Barrel Politics

There’s a lot of good news in Portishead at the moment. In our local papers you may have seen headlines like

“£180,000 to be spent on precinct regeneration”
“New investment brings rail line closer”
“New playground opens “

And without a doubt these are all great news stories,but have you ever stopped to wonder why we as a town are suddenly so lucky. Well it’s down to something that the Americans call Pork Barrel Politics.

It works like this a Cllr or two worried about their seats asks their party boss if there is any spare cash available to fund some projects that concern their voters say a new railway line that’s been delayed for years or a shopping precinct that’s in urgent need of repair.

They put out a press release with a quote from the Councillor so that the voters know whose “working hard” for them and just like that they expect the voters to forgot how awful they’ve been the last 4 years and re-elect them.

And if anyone mentions this and complains then the councillors supporters say “look at these people, you see they are never happy”.

Expect the papers in the next few weeks to be full of good news stories.

Why ?

Because they are scared of you, they are scared that you know there’s a better way. They are scared that change is coming to our town.

Portishead independents, your team, your town.”

“COUNCIL TO BORROW £200 MILLION FOR PROPERTY SPECULATION – CHIEF EXECUTIVE BARS COUNCILLORS FROM TALKING ABOUT IT

East Devon District Council is controversially set to borrow £200 million to purchase property. The Council Cabinet agreed its Commercial Investment Framework, which would allow it to do so, on 6 February.

However many EDDC councillors have great concerns about this strategy. As a result, a Notice of Motion (NoM) was tabled by Councillor Roger Giles (Independent – Ottery Town) to be debated at the EDDC full council meeting on 27 February. The NoM was submitted in time, and was supported by more than the required number of other councillors.

However the EDDC Chief Executive Mark Williams struck the NoM off the agenda, on the grounds that the matter had already been discussed at the Cabinet meeting on 6 February.

“The EDDC Cabinet consists of just 10 councillors, and is Conservative controlled” said Roger Giles.

“The investment strategy would massively increase the council`s indebtedness, and is inherently risky. I therefore considered it essential that the whole council should be able to have a full-scale debate, and vote on the strategy.”

“However the Chief Executive has intervened to ban my NoM from being included on the agenda paper. By doing so I believe he has damaged our democratic processes – an action which is deeply regrettable.”

Guess which council is very picky where it (sort of) recruits new councillors?

Teignbridge District Council is actively promoting new councillor candidates via numerous events throughout the district.

When challenged, EDDC it seems is not – choosing instead to send CEO (and supposedly neutral civil servant) Mark Williams to selected events, only upon invitation. Like trueblue Budleigh Salterton.

It’s almost like they don’t want any new candidates signing up – thus allow the incumbents to romp back home without a contest thus maintaining (their trueblue) status quo…

Odd that …..

And maybe time to check that electoral roll again.

We don’t want to find ourselves with 6,000+ too few voters again do we, Mr Williams.

As Private Eye might say: Shom mistake shurely …

Greater Exeter Strategic Plan – Exeter leaks its “vision”*

“But not yet in East Devon until July 2019 (see below). It seems East Devon is the only council keeping ALL its plans secret until after the 2 May 2019 district council elections.

Fishy? You bet!

Anyway, here’s what we currently know:

Interesting proposals for changes to Sidmouth Road and Junction 30 of the M5. The Motorway Services and Sowton Park and Ride being developed as a “Mixed Neighbourhood” (see image above).

The Governments require the Greater Exeter Housing target to be 53,200 new homes over the next 20 years. That is for the combined area governed by East Devon, Teignbridge, Mid Devon and Exeter.

Exeter’s housing ambitions

Karime Hassan, chief executive and growth director of Exeter City Council revealed this week a proposal for 12,000 new homes in the City of Exeter over the next 20 years. His vision of “Liveable Exeter”, for delivering a transformational housing programme for Exeter from 2020 to 2040. involves the creation of 8 new neighbourhoods.

Exeter’s published Vision

Red Cow Village (St David’s) – 664 homes in new neighbourhood, including new work space, on both sides of the railway around St David’s Station.

Water Lane (close to Exe Valley Park) – 1,567 homes. A space for expanding leisure attractions near the quay, with low traffic or car-free development with attractive cycle and walking connections.

Marsh Barton – 5,544 homes in a new neighbourhood. It will remain an important employment and retail area, but with the integration of living and working, to make better use of riverside location. Development linked to the new proposed train station. Creation of new types of work space, including light industrial, workshops, office and shared work space.

East Gate (Heavitree Road) – 962 new homes, an enhanced approach to the city centre from the east, reduced traffic on Heavitree Road and a greater provision for public transport, walking and cycling. New places to live close to the city centre will exist alongside existing neighbourhoods.

West Gate (Western Way) – 617 new homes, opening up access to the river and canal from the city centre, a new cultural destination, an expanded and connected park at the heart of the city, a “Green Bridge” promoting active travel across the river.

South Gate (Holloway Street/South Street linked via Topsham Road) – 300 new homes, establishing an improved link between the city centre and the historic quayside, with a greater emphasis on the wall, city gates and Southernhay.

North Gate (North Street) – 308 new homes, a new approach to the city from St David’s, uncovering the medieval city wall.
Sandy Gate (land off Sandygate roundabout) – 1,050 new homes in a new sustainable and well-connected mixed-use neighbourhood, bridging the city and the new and existing neighbourhoods to the east, providing recreational, cultural and entertainment space where Exeter meets the proposed Clyst Valley Park.

Mid Devon’s published ambitions.

Mid Devon’s Local Plan is almost complete with a Planning Inspectors hearing due in the next few weeks to consult on their final draft.

Culm Valley on the South side of the M5 opposite Cullumpton create a new community of up to 5,000, with a new Motorway junction and railway Station.

Junction 27. A landmark project for a leisure and tourism development involving Tim Smit from the Edan Project
Tiverton Eastern Urban Extension will cover 153ha, to the east of Tiverton.

Teignbridge future ambitions.

Teignbridge has just started a review of their Local Plan and therefore their plans are in the infancy.

Brownfield Their preferred option to develop brownfield land for development however, the required number of homes the government require Teignbridge to build, is not possible to meet the housing needs from brownfield land only. Therefore, open countryside will need to be considered for development to meet the housing needs.

Garden village is being considered with the new settlement proposal to be between 1500-10,000 homes.

So – What are East Devon’s Ambitions?

Hard to say.

Although the other 3 Authorities are keeping their residents well informed on their sections of the GESP proposals, East Devon has been an almost total blackout! There has been a Local Plan in place since 2016 with most of new development being built in an area known as the West End. That is an area close to Exeter’s border plus the new Town of Cranbrook.

At East Devon District Council Strategic Planning Committee on Tuesday 29th January it was hoped that Agenda item 12 would be able to explain more on the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan strategy and provide councillors some clarity on the East Devon Local Plan, plus the East Devon Villages Plan only agreed last year which most councillors only learned the previous week, would be jettisoned and replaced with a brand new East Devon Local Plan by 2023.

Local Plan to be replaced

At the meeting last week, the Head of Planning Ed Freeman explained that the present Local Plan was in 2 parts, with the section on Policies would require total re-writing because the Policies would be “substantially superseded” by the emerging GESP Policies. He also explained that the Villages Plan policies, will be merged into the new Local Plan.

Tory Councillor Philip Skinner who along with Tory Councillor Paul Diviani who are the only 2 East Devon`s elected representatives on the GESP “steering group committee” along with 2 elected members from the 3 other Authorities gave only a few hints on some of the latest thoughts for the GESP Strategy for East Devon.

Higher Density Housing for Exeter proposed for GESP

Regarding a question on Housing, he explained that it had been decided by the steering group, that each authority had a certain quota of dwellings proposed and it was not correct that if one Authority was unable to provide the housing numbers, other Authorities were required to build extra dwellings to offset the shortfall. He also explained that Exeter City Council had to return to the drawing board to enable extra dwelling numbers through “much higher density” within the confines of the City.

East Devon will take on most of the Industrial and commercial development for the GESP

Councillor Skinner also told the meeting regarding business development that he aimed to “Get the best for East Devon” and explained that to “Our strength and Exeter’s demise, they do not have the capacity, but we do!” and claimed most of the commercial and industrial development “will be in our patch”

After 2 years of joint secret meetings.

Exeter’s residents know what to expect with “Liveable Exeter”, Teignbridge residents are being told that their local plan is being re-assessed and are having public consultations, and Mid Devon residents have been through their public consultations and an agreed local plan about to be approved.

However, the residents of East Devon only know that their local plan is now being superseded by a new plan with substantial more housing and more industrial, commercial and business development.

All will be revealed in July 2019 after the District Council Elections. Who will you trust to steer East Devon through the next few years of obtaining the most appropriate and suitable Planning Policies. Leave it to the Tory Councillors who have kept everyone in the dark?

Or choose an Independent who are the major opposition for East Devon?

EDDC Independents call for action on poverty

Owl says: prediction – watch all these motions get watered down or struck out by block+voting Tories!

“Pressure to provide more help to struggling families, affected by benefit changes and low wages, is mounting on council bosses.

A motion calling for action will be put forward to East Devon District Council (EDDC) at a meeting on Wednesday (December 12).

The move looks to bring two reports before the authority, from the UK Equalities and Human Rights Commission and the UN Special Rapporteur, which put a spotlight on the impact of benefits changes and spending cuts on people in the UK.

The motion has been proposed by Councillor Cathy Gardner, of East Devon Alliance.

She said EDDC was due to receive a report on the potential impact on residents in East Devon and the need for further support, helping those affected by the roll-out of Universal Credit (UC) and supporting homelessness prevention and food banks.

Cllr Gardner added: “Residents in East Devon are not immune from these effects and in fact the rollout of Universal Credit is already having an effect.

“We have seen two homeless people die since 2015, both in Sidmouth.

“An increasing number of people, some with children are relying on foodbanks in all our towns, including Sidmouth, Honiton, Axminster, Seaton Ottery and Exmouth.”

The news comes in the same week that organisers of the Sid Valley Food Bank said that more people were needing help every week. And the numbers of people needing help were higher than they had ever been.

Co-ordinator Andie Milne said the top five reasons were:

• Delays in benefit changing transferring to UC, which could be up to 5 weeks.
• Repayment of loan provided in the case of delayed UC payment.
• Low wages and difficulties paying private rent over the housing benefit cap.
• Zero hour contracts – reduction in hours/sickness.
• Low wage unable to have contingency funds for unexpected expenditure – very noticeable with families needing to but school uniform, coping with school holidays, car repairs, winter bills and household repairs.

Cllr Garnder said: “I’m calling for the council to review whether more support is needed by people in East Devon and whether it can be provided.

“If the council does not have sufficient resources, then we must call on Government to review funding and make changes to Universal Credit. EDDC have statutory obligations, especially for housing, and it’s likely that increased demand will not be met.

“There is an urgent need to provide more social housing as well as support families who are at risk of homelessness.”

Cllr Gardner said there currently were five verified rough sleepers in East Devon – including the gentleman on Sidmouth seafront.

She added there were 27 households in temporary accommodation via EDDC – made up of 16 singles and 11 families, eight single people and two families in supported accommodation in Honiton, eight singles and two families in B and B accommodation, one family in a private sector lease property and six families in the council’s own housing stock that is being used as temporary accommodation.

Cllr Gardner said EDDC was required to help families and individuals in need of housing and was doing so, but Government cuts would likely mean it would not able to provide all the support it does or would want to in the coming years.

An EDDC spokesperson said: “This is one of three motions that are on the council agenda and officers of the council will take any necessary action arising from the council’s consideration of the motions and the decisions that are taken.”

https://www.sidmouthherald.co.uk/news/calls-for-help-for-struggling-families-1-5809034