Greater Exeter Strategic Plan: change or no change?

Now that the Local Election is over, we can see from this report in the Sidmouth Herald:

https://www.sidmouthherald.co.uk/news/possible-locations-for-new-devon-villages-set-to-be-released-1-6061225

that potential sites for new villages in support of the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan (GESP) have been found and are due to be unveiled shortly.

A whopping 57,000 new properties cross the four council areas adjoining Exeter will have to be built to satisfy Exeter’s growth aspirations.

Quite soon, therefore, we can expect that the newly elected Councillors who represent us on the GESP, Councillor Susie Bond and Councillor Philip Skinner, will have to decide how many new villages East Devon will take and where they will be sited. Obviously close proximity to Exeter will be a significant factor and places like Lympstone, Woodbury, Clyst St Mary, Farringdon and West Hill must be in the frame.

To give an example of the impact to expect. A tiny community between Broadclyst and Pinhoe – Westclyst, has had a whopping 1200 houses imposed upon it. Where the highest quality agricultural land lay four years ago, bounded by about 30 bungalows, there are now sprawling housing estates.

In the past these decision have been kept a closely guarded secret. Will the new regime now act with transparency and openness?

We know from the CPRE study on “Devon’s Housing Needs” that:

•​Far too many homes are already being planned for Devon in the next 10 years.
•​Two thirds of these will be occupied by inward migration.
•​Vacant and second homes are becoming a problem across the County.
•​We in East Devon are taking a disproportionate share of development. Our Local Plan annual housing target is the highest in the Greater Exeter Area: 58% higher than Exeter, 53% higher than Teignbridge and nearly three times that of Mid Devon.
•​Whilst we are planning too many houses, we are failing to plan for enough homes of the right type in the right location, especially for locally generated households.

Ex Councillor and one time Leader, Paul Diviani boasted in council, just before Christmas, that the high growth policy he advocated for East Devon was justified because “we have the land and we are good at it”.

In the election Paul Diviani was decisively rejected by the electorate, receiving a derisory 319 votes.

On 3rd May the voters clearly voted for change but are they going to get it?

New “Lead Members” (aka Champions) for new council includes 8 Conservatives

More Tories get posts:

Ian Hall
Andrew Moulding
Tom Wright
Mike Allen
Chris Pepper
Maddy Chapman
Bruce de Saram
Helen Parr

One East Devon Alliance – Dan Ledger
One Kib Dem: Steve Gazzard
Two Greens – Olly Davey, Tony Woodward

 

How does an “Independent Group” become an independent group?

Owl is confused.

The Local Government Independent Group website says:

“The Independent Group represents councillors in England and Wales who are Independent or of a political affiliation outside of Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat. It provides a voice at the national level and works within the cross-party Local Government Association (LGA) to ensure that the values and interests of its members are promoted.”

Who created the EDDC Independent Group? Who was invited to join? How did they elect their leader? What were people who joined told? Are they still independent if they include Tories in their Cabinet and as a committee chair? If EDA is “independent” according to the LGA what is different about EDCC?

Would really appreciate a tutorial!

TiggerTory EDDC Chairman responds to EDA Councillor Martin Shaw

Owl says: Not really sure this makes things any better! Proof positive of TiggerTory chats …

Still not sure this is what voters anticipated … and since when was the post of Chairman of EDDC “non political”? Anyone ever remember Tories electing a non-Tory Chairman in the last 45 years?

I take exception to Martin Shaws assertions that the Independents who formed a minority administration allowed the Conservatives to take the key position of Chair/Chairman of the Council……Wrong Cllr Shaw…. I actually was approached by the leader of East Devon Ben Ingham and he asked if I would consider taking the (non-political) position of Chairman having done a good job from 2015 to 2017….. I accepted the position and he contacted Andrew Moulding to give him the news and Andrew called to congratulate me and asked if I’d get a seconder lined up for the AGM.

I also believe that Mike Howe was approached to see if he would take on the Chairmanship of DMC and so once again Cllr Shaw is barking up the wrong tree.

The East Devon Alliance Party had the opportunity to put names forward for the Chairmanship of the Council … however they chose not to and I do believe some of their members voted for me.

Many outside bodies went to the EDA including Recycling and Waste with Conservatives voting for Denise Bickley…..the Conservatives also voted for other positions to be taken by EDA.

I am delighted to have EDA member Cllr Val Ranger as my Vice Chairman who was voting and she was not only voting for EDA nominations but for also Conservatives, Lib Dem’s and true Independents.

It is comments like yours that are unhelpful and perhaps before writing again you should take time and get your facts right.

Stuart Hughes CC

East Devon Alliance county councillor Martin Shaw adds his thoughts about TiggerTories

From his blog “Seaton and Colyton Matters”:

“I was unfortunately unable for personal reasons to attend last night’s annual meeting of EDDC, but many Independent supporters who were there have expressed considerable disappointment. I have however close knowledge of the situation and offer the following comments.

Mandate for change

On May 2nd, after 45 years of increasingly dysfunctional rule by the Conservatives at East Devon District Council, the local electorate reduced their number to just 19 of the 60 councillors. Instead voters elected a majority of 31 Independents, including 11 members of the East Devon Alliance (EDA), 8 Liberal Democrats, and 2 Greens.

A clear mandate was given by local people. Big gains by Independents – both EDA and others – Liberal Democrats and Greens all represented their desire for change. The best administration would have been a coalition of some of these groups, which could have formed a progressive majority of up to 40 seats out of 60.

A new ‘Independent Group’ excludes the East Devon Alliance

Before the elections, all Independent councillors including EDA members were part of the Independent Group, led by Ben Ingham. EDA expected this to continue and looked forward to working with other Independents to form a progressive new administration, possibly in cooperation with the Liberal Democrats and Greens.

However on the day after the elections, Ben formed a new Independent Group, which EDA councillors were not invited to join. He was elected leader and Susie Bond deputy leader. As a result of this exclusion, EDA councillors formed their own group but continued to work for an alliance of EDA with the Ingham-led Independent Group.

The Independent Group relies on the discredited Tories

Since the new Independent Group with 20 members is the largest group on EDDC, they had the right to take the initiative in forming an administration. In this light the EDA leader, Paul Arnott, was happy to second Ingham’s nomination as Leader of the Council.

However there was no justification for the Independent Group, with only one-third of all councillors, to form an exclusively Independent Group cabinet. Even the outgoing Conservative administration, which had an overall majority, was more inclusive, including some non-Conservatives in the Cabinet.

In both the Axe Valley and the Sid Valley, the East Devon Alliance had routed the Conservatives, but in Ben’s selection of his new Cabinet and chairs of key committees, he could find no place for EDA Independents from these areas. The east of East Devon is once again drastically under-represented in the EDDC leadership.

Rewarding the discredited Tory party

Clearly there were personal issues here – Ben had left EDA after being voted out as leader in 2017 – but we had still collaborated in the old Independent Group. Nothing can justify Ben’s apparent decision now to rely more on the defeated Tories than on his fellow Independents.

The Conservatives are the official opposition, entitling them to the Chair of the Scrutiny Committee. But the Independent Group have also allowed them to take the key positions of Chair of the Council and Chair of the Development Management Committee. In contrast they offered EDA only the position of Vice-Chair of the Council. In addition they appear to have voted members of the discredited Tories on to other bodies, at the expense of EDA and Lib Dem candidates.

At the very moment when the electorate voted for change, and the Conservative Party has lost all credibility nationally as well as locally, the EDDC Independent Group seems to have breathed life back into this exhausted party and allowed it to keep several important positions, while turning its back on the other advocates of change.

A way forward

The East Devon Alliance believes that many members of the Independent Group share our desire for change at EDDC. They must surely realise that yesterday was a highly embarrassing false start.

Despite the way that group has chosen to form its administration, I know the EDA group will support them, as the Lib Dems have also said they will, when they propose positive policies for the benefit of East Devon, as well as seeking their support for our own proposals.

In particular, I welcome the fact that when questioned by Paul Arnott, Ben Ingham yesterday repeated his long-held position that EDDC should consider the option of a more collaborative Committee system, rather than the all powerful Leader-with-CEO and small Cabinet model which he has inherited, which leaves most councillors with little real input into major decisions (as I know from the County Council).

In any case, EDA councillors will have healthy proportionate representation on key committees such as Planning, Strategic Planning, Scrutiny, Audit & Governance and Overview, and I am certain that this will give them many opportunities to change the district council in a collaborative and positive way.

We must now hope that despite yesterday, both groups of Independents together with the Lib Dems and Greens can do some real work for local communities in the new Council. “

A false start at EDDC sees new ‘Independent Group’ relying on the discredited Tories rather than the East Devon Alliance, Lib Dems and Greens who local communities voted for in order to achieve change. And the Axe Valley is left out in the cold again.

Correction! WEDNESDAY crunch day for Indies at EDDC … and us

Elections for various posts will take place at the Annual Council meeting on WEDNESDAY (Blackdown House, Honiton, 6pm) where Leader, Chairman etc will be revealed.

Then the interesting bit.

How representative will the new cabinet be of different types of independents?

Jobs for the boys/girls or best man/woman for the job?

Will Greens or Lib Dems get a seat at the table?

Will it be loaded geographically to one side of East Devon or spread out equally?

Who will lead the influential Development Management Committee?

Who will represent EDDC at Greater Exeter Strategic Plan meetings?

Who will the MINORITY Conservative leader be?

Who will chair the Scrutiny Committee?

So many questions!