Another government u- turn – to benefit the well-off

That should win them a few votes in the leafier suburbs of East Devon!

“Probate fees: Planned increase scrapped ahead of election

“Controversial plans to raise the legal fees payable after death are to be scrapped ahead of the general election.

Probate fees had been due to rise from £155 or £215 to up to £20,000 for some estates in England and Wales from May.

The Ministry of Justice said there was now not enough time for the legislation – dubbed a “stealth death tax” by critics – to go through Parliament.

A senior Conservative declined to say if the scheme would be brought back if the prime minister was re-elected.

Probate charges are paid to the government when someone dies and the executor of their estate gathers their assets to distribute to beneficiaries of a will.

Currently, there is a flat fee of either £155 or £215 per application for probate, depending on whether or not the application is made through a solicitor.

There is no fee paid for estates worth under £5,000.

Legal move?

Under the proposed changes, this system would have been replaced by a sliding fee scale linked to the value of the estate.

Thousands of people would have faced sharp jumps in probate costs as a result.

Estates worth more than £50,000 and up to £300,000 would have attracted fees of £300, rising to £20,000 for those valued at more than £2m.” ….

Woodbury: if you don’t want Greendale in your backyard – act NOW

Residents of Woodbury – if you don’t want Greendale Business Park in your back gardens – act NOW!

Here is the necessary information for action:

Woodbury Salterton Residents Association
This reference needs to be attached to all correspondence
Representations must be received by 2 May

“At the same time as residents have been asked to comment on an “Employment Zone Boundary” at Greendale Business Park, an “Enforcement Appeal” has been submitted by the owners of Greendale regarding a requirement to remove approximately 3.5Ha of industrial development which have been built without planning permission over the last 2 years.

The Woodbury Salterton Residents Association support East Devon District Council serving a breach of Planning Control. Therefore the Association are asking all Residents to respond to the Planning Inspector by 2nd May.

The details of the appeal are:

Planning Consultation Appeal
Appeal by FWS Carter and Sons

Greendale Business Park Woodbury Salterton EX5 1EW

The appeal arises from the serving of an Enforcement Notice in respect of the unauthorised development which has taken place on the land on the Eastern Boundary at Greendale Business Park.

The breach of planning control

Without planning permission, the construction of four compounds, by the levelling of the land, the laying of hard surfaces using concrete and scalping, enclosing with security fencing, gates, cctv cameras and lighting. The construction of two buildings and the associated use of the land to store a portacabin type temporary building, cubicle, shipping containers, mobile park homes, caravans and other associated items.

The Council considered it expedient to issue the Notice having regard to the provisions of the Development Plan and to other material planning considerations.

Reasons for issuing the Notice

It appears to the Council that the above breach of planning control has occurred within the last four years.

The development, by virtue of its scale and extension beyond the built form of Greendale Business Park and outside of any recognised development boundary, is within the open countryside where new development is strictly controlled. The development represents a sprawling development in the countryside in conflict with the special approach to accommodate industrial development within defined settlements as identified within the Local Plan.

The development also has the potential to impact on the amenity of occupiers of nearby dwellings by virtue of noise and potentially light pollution and potential unacceptable visual impact on the landscape.

The proposal is therefore contrary to the provisions of Strategy 7 (Development in the Countryside), Policy E4 (Rural Diversification), Policy E5 (Small Scale Economic Development in Rural Areas), Policy E7 (Extensions to Existing Employment Sites), Policy D1(Design and Local Distinctiveness), Policy EN14 (Control of Pollution), Policy D2 (Landscape Requirements) and Policy D3 (Trees on Development Sites) of the adopted East Devon Local Plan and guidance within the National Planning Policy Framework.

The requirements of the Notice are to –

1. Permanently remove from the land the concrete hardstanding, foundations and associated drainage works from the compounds 39, 48A and 47

2. Permanently cease the use of the land as compounds and for use of storage of mobile park homes, caravans, shipping containers, portacabin type buildings and storage of associated items.

3. Permanently remove from the land all fencing from the perimeters of and within compounds 39, 48A, 47 and 11.

4. Permanently remove from the land all gates from the perimeters of and within compounds 39, 48A, 47 and 11.

5. Permanently remove from the land all CCTV cameras and supporting ancillary equipment from within compounds 39, 48A, 47 and 11.

6. Permanently remove from the land all light fittings and cabling from compounds 39, 48A, 47 and 11.

7. Permanently remove from the land the two permanent buildings sited within compound 39.

8. Permanently remove from the temporary buildings including the shipping containers.

9. Permanently remove from the land the cubicle.

10. Permanently remove from the land the mobile Park Homes, caravans and associated items.

11 Replace the topsoil in compounds 39, 48A and 47 to a depth of 20cm and reseed with an agricultural grass mix which shall be retained and maintained in perpetuity.

12 Permanently remove to an authorised place of disposal, all materials associated with compliance with steps 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 & 10.

The time for compliance is within six months of the Notice taking effect.

The appellant grounds of appeal.

(a) That planning permission should be granted for what is alleged in the notice, and;

(f) The steps required to comply with the requirements of the notice are excessive and lesser steps would overcome the objection.


There are 2 Consultations ongoing at present at Greendale Business Park.

1. Consultation on a definitive Employment Boundary.

2. Planning Appeal consultation regarding a removal of an enforcement

If you wish to make comments in respect of the appeal, you can do so on
the Planning Portal at or by

emailing .

Or send three copies to

The Planning Inspectorate Room 3E. Temple Quay
House 2. The Square. Bristol BS1 6PN”


Tory DCC candidate in Ottery thinks hospital closure is progress and it was just a “geriatric home”

From the blog of Claire Wright, Independent candidate for Otter Valley Ward and current DCC councillor:

The Conservative candidate for Otter Valley Ward, Tim Venner, has hit out at residents attending the event at Ottery St Mary Hospital on Saturday, which showed local determination to save the hospital and its services, which may be at risk in the future.

The hospital had its general medical beds removed in 2015 but the building may now be at risk too.

Mr Venner, who is my Conservative opponent in the Devon County Council elections, tweeted: “Guess its (sic) good to spread gloom – stop hindering progress we need an evolving NHS fit for todday (sic) not 1970.”

It isn’t the first time Mr Venner has lashed out at local people trying to save Ottery Hospital.

After an event I organised at the hospital last May which Hugo Swire MP attended, Mr Venner referred to Ottery St Mary Hospital in a tweet as a “geriatric home.”

In a few days the Conservatives will no doubt send a leaflet around pledging their support for local hospitals and the NHS.

It is important that people are aware that in the Otter Valley, their Conservative candidate holds views that may be at odds with those set out in his leaflet.

The elections are on Thursday 4 May.”

EDDC Cabinet commits to £10 million plus relocation with no Knowle buyer confirmed

East Devon District Council are being advised to go ahead with their relocation from Sidmouth, despite not having a buyer for their current Knowle HQ.

The council decided to relocate its headquarters in March 2015 to new offices in Honiton and Exmouth and to finance the move, East Devon District Council had agreed to sell its Knowle headquarters to Pegasus Life Ltd for £7.5m.

The cabinet were recommended to approve the ‘go now’ option at the meeting, and voted in favour of that recommendation. Full council will make a decision at their next meeting. …”

Hugo Swire defends his Eton mate “6 jobs” Osborne – says being an MP isn’t a job and leaves p,enty of time for other things

His whole blog post is shown here in full:

“George Osborne has been denounced for “greed”, “moonlighting” and “neglecting his constituents” after accepting an appointment as editor of the Evening Standard. Whilst I do not deny there may be some conflicts of interest which may well have to be unreeled, my main response, after years of intense public service in the front line, is good luck to him.

The reality is that in all George’s Osborne’s positions he is being employed as a figure head rather than the man that gets his hands dirty. At the Evening Standard I suspect the Deputy Editor, who is a trained journalist, will be doing most of the leg and legal work! At Blackrock, his main job will be to advise on economic matters and to represent the company in a social capacity. As for abandoning his constituents, I shouldn’t think the hours he puts in will be any less than those of when he was Chancellor which, I might add, was also a second job and quite a considerable one at that!

George has formidable talent and phenomenal energy. Even when he was Chancellor he was moonlighting, attending the daily Downing Street meetings morning and evening and running two election campaigns. Then that is the sort of person he is. Fingers in lots of pies. He just can’t help himself. He was never going to flounce off into the wilderness when Theresa May sacked him. And he might just have taken the Standard job as a fight back for the metropolitan electorate with whom he is identified and possibly even for the ‘remoaners’; the 48% whose voice have been drowned out by the Brexit brigade. George Osborne could well become the Standard bearer for the entrepreneurs, the disaffected young, the internationalists with his new platform of power, a vacuum that was looking to be filled. Who knows, only time will tell, but I suspect it is a clever and counter intuitive move by the paper’s proprietor Evgeny Lebedev.

The scrutiny of politicians working arrangements is now so intense – boosted by a voracious social media – that I fear it will deter good people going into politics. Sometimes we just can’t win! I remember the days when George Osborne (who had never had a job outside politics) was accused of being a member of the political class, a ‘professional politician’ who had no understanding of the real world because he only operated in the Westminster bubble. Ironically now he is a mere backbencher he is being criticized for going out to work!

The problem lies in a misunderstanding that being an MP is a job. It isn’t really, it is more a representative role. A back bencher’s task is to represent his or her constituents, make laws and hold the Government to account. It is not an executive function. With about 550 others doing the same thing, it should not require full-time labour. Not everyone can be on a committee for example. Representing constituents involves case work, and this is often shared with a dedicated team of back room staff who are invaluable in sifting through the ‘system’ and its diverse bureaucratic obstinacies. Although the MP bears overall responsibility in what he signs off.

We are also expected to be accessible – not just by holding surgeries but also across an array of events in our constituencies. Then there is the task of upholding the broader constituency interests – for instance working with business and local government in seeking to ensure the local economy thrives. Surely each MP’s effectiveness should be measured by their output and their results not by the false measure of how many hours are put in. Still less should there be envy over how much money they earn. Besides, if the electorate find their MP lazy or underachieving or completely distracted elsewhere they have the ability to kick him or her out.

Being a Minister of course is entirely different, that is a job, a job in which you run, or help run, a Government department, therefore any other work would be a conflict of interest, which is why it is disallowed.

If an MP uses his time efficiently he has plenty of room for other interests. I, for example, have some paid outside interests but I’m also Chairman of the Conservative Middle East Council (CMEC) and Deputy Chairman of the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council (CWEIC); both these posts keep my interest in foreign affairs active and enable me to ask informed questions to the executive on foreign matters.

What about another Devon MP, Geoffrey Cox, the Conservative MP for Torridge and West Devon? He earned over half a million last year as a barrister. Have his constituents suffered as a result? His surgeries in Torrington and Tavistock are fairly regular. Even though more case work comes via email these days. Geoffrey is still lobbying for the Appledore Shipyard and like all of us is active on hospital closures and funding for Devon schools. Only last week he arranged a meeting with the Health Secretary about the loss of beds at Holsworthy Hospital.

So are the parliamentary Quangocrats who think they are echoing the views of the public really going to stop MPs coming to parliament who are practicing doctors? or stop barristers like Geoffrey who bring an eagle legal eye to legislation? I hope not. The Commons is a much richer place for the experience it holds. If they do, I can assure you, many of the brightest and best will leave only to be replaced by politically obsessive, self promoting campaigners that see politics as a career not a vocation.

And as Michael Gove pointed out if we believe in a free press, should proprietors not have a right to appoint who they see fit as editor, without the executive or anyone interfering in that decision? Should unelected and undemocratic bodies in Parliament make decisions – waving the banner of morality and standards – about MPs? Are they really superior to the decisions made by the the electorate who have the democratic right to kick out an underperforming MP? I don’t think so. Parliament is, and should remain sovereign.

In 1909 there was a warning from Sir William Bull, the Conservative MP for Hammersmith, against a proposal to pay MPs. Sir William predicted the next thing would be that local councillors would be paid and there was a danger of “a very distinct class of professional politicians.” Well, both have happened. A local councillor was always meant to be a pillar of the local community who devoted his or her spare time to public service; now we have some councillors who do nothing else.

In 1995 Lord Nolan’s Committee on Standards in Public Life declared:

“A Parliament composed entirely of full-time professional politicians would not serve the best interests of democracy. The House needs if possible to contain people with a wide range of current experience which can contribute to its expertise. The onward march of the professional politician may be an irresistible feature of modern life, but we believe that nothing should be done by way of institutional arrangements which would hasten it.”

In my opinion that conclusion remains valid.

I fear much of the uproar surrounding Mr Osborne’s new jobs tells us more about salary envy than anything else, and that is not a good basis for an argument.

So, nice work if you can get it George!”