DCC opens up its Local Enterprise Partnership Scrutiny Commmittee to public scrutiny and participation

This positive change has long been requested by East Devon Alliance DCC Councillor Martin Shaw (Colyton and Seaton).

See minutes below for a full account of discussion at the meeting – about what is working well and (more importantly and interestingly) what is not:

https://democracy.devon.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?MId=3572&x=1

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.

Seaton Lib Dem Councillor ‘censors’ councillor publicising bus consultation

Astounding that something as neutral (and important) as a consultation on changes to major bus routes to and from Seaton should be censored. And even a pitiful and low-bar excuse of a ‘political post’ (assuming that is the reason) doesn’t hold water as Councillor Shaw is not up for re-election until 2022!

Councillor Burrows, in the other hand, IS up for re-election on 2 May 2019 – even though he had to resign as Mayor, admitted that he had brought the town council into disrepute AND was censured by EDDC – if the Lib Dems can’t find a better candidate! If they can’t, it really doesn’t say much for the quality of their current membership in Seaton!

From the blog of Seaton and Colyton East Devon Alliance DCC Councillor Martin Shaw:

“Seaton EDDC and town councillor Peter Burrows (pictured in his Facebook logo with the late Liberal Democrat leader, Paddy Ashdown) resigned as mayor in January after self-confessedly ‘bringing the town council into disrepute’ after abusing a ‘Tourist Information Centre’ Twitter account to pursue a personal grudge.

Now, in the very week in which East Devon’s Monitoring Officer has formally censured him on four counts, Burrows and his co-administrator, Tony Antoniou, have abused their positions as admins on a community Facebook group to remove me from the group, as I found when I tried to post details of the Stagecoach bus consultation to the group, to which I’ve belonged for years. No warning was given and neither has responded to requests for an explanation.

This example of arbitrary censorship raises two fingers to Town Council recommendations – in response to Burrows’ January actions and expected to be adopted in two weeks’ time – that councillors should ‘behave responsibly, considerately and professionally’ on social media and should NOT be Facebook admins.

It is laughable for Burrows to call himself a Liberal Democrat. This self-appointed Town Censor has no respect for the idea that a community Facebook group – the group in question is called Positive Development for Everyone in Seaton and was set up after a community meeting – should be open to a County Councillor to post important local information, and indeed for members to express views different from the admins’.

There is a long history of Burrows arbitrarily removing people and posts from different Facebook groups. I have considerable respect for the Liberal Democrats – their members on the County Council are fine councillors and I work with them closely – but Burrows is bringing his party into disrepute. I am reporting him to their regional organisation for his latest antics.”

Seaton’s rogue councillor is at it again on Facebook. I’m reporting him to the Liberal Democrats, because this self-appointed Town Censor certainly isn’t a liberal. Paddy Ashdown must be turning in his grave.

“Tory MP complains that Government isn’t giving Brexit bribes to South West MPs – because the region voted Conservative!”

From the blog of Independent DCC Councillor Martin Shaw, East Devon Alliance:

“The Government has announced its bribes to towns in order to persuade MPs, mainly Labour, to vote for its miserable Brexit deal.

Although it claims to have used a “need-based formula,” the South West is to receive the second-lowest allocation of cash (£33 million) despite being among England’s most deprived regions.

Coincidentally, it also has very few Labour MPs — and Sheryll Murray, the Tory MP for South East Cornwall, appears to have spotted the discrepancy.

“The fact this money appears to be directly routed to Labour-voting areas smacks of pork-barrel politics, and the public will know that,” Murray complains to The Times.

“It would be a crying shame if Conservative-voting communities were being disadvantaged because of the way they voted.”

Tory MP complains that Government isn’t giving Brexit bribes to South West MPs – because the region voted Conservative!

“County Council leader tells me he ‘hasn’t got a clue yet’ about No Deal Brexit planning” says EDA Independent Councillor

At yesterday’s DCC Cabinet meeting, Leader John Hart answered three questions I had put in writing about estimated risks from Theresa May’s Brexit and No Deal, about help to businesses for No Deal, and emergency planning for disruption to fuel, food and medical supplies in Devon as a result of No Deal.

The questions and answers are attached. It will be seen that Cllr Hart did not answer any of the questions. When I asked when he would answer them, he said ‘We haven’t got a clue yet’ about what is going to happen, and that there would be a meeting next week, with just 10 weeks left to when the UK will crash out of the EU with No Deal if no change is made.

It can be seen that there are no protections in place to protect Devon from the effects of a No Deal. Economy Cabinet member Cllr Rufus Gilbert said ‘we can’t plan for a hypothetical’ but at the moment No Deal is the default scenario for 29th March.

This is why Devon and Dorset MPs like Ben Bradshaw, Sarah Wollaston and Oliver Letwin are absolutely right to try to block No Deal. I told Cabinet it was irresponsible of them not to support these moves.

Martin Shaw
Independent East Devon Alliance County Councillor for Seaton & Colyton”

dcc leader’s replies on no deal brexit 9.1.19

Local Enterprise Partnership “scrutiny” committee – an oxymoron

Minutes (for what little they are worth) here:

https://democracy.devon.gov.uk/documents/g3417/Public%20minutes%2002nd-Nov-2018%2014.15%20Heart%20of%20the%20South%20West%20HotSW%20Local%20Enterprise%20Partnership%20L.pdf?T=11

REAL scrutiny by DCC Independent East Devon Alliance Councillor Martin Shaw of this laughable attempt to continue to hoodwink us here:

An inauspicious start for new Scrutiny Committee for the Heart of the South West Local Economic Partnership