Blogpost by recently-elected Independent East Devon Alliance DCC Councillor Martin Shaw”

“East Devon District Council’s Scrutiny Committee called tonight for the existing level of community hospital beds in East Devon to be maintained, with no closures. It expressed ‘great concern’ that under the NEW Devon Clinical Commissioning Group’s plans ‘there will be no community hospital beds east of Sidmouth, leaving residents in a whole swathe of eastern Devon remote from the nearest hospital facilities.’

The Committee also agreed to write to Devon County Council’s Health Scrutiny Committee, urging it to refer the matter to the Secretary of State for Health ‘as a matter of urgency’ as it was ‘concerned that lack of an early submission will result in NEW Devon CCG going ahead with its proposals’. This followed a claim from Councillor Mike Allen that staff were already leaving and patients being turned away from Honiton Hospital. The point was echoed in comments by County Councillor Martin Shaw about Seaton Hospital.

The Committee’s resolution was the outcome of two hours’ pressure from Committee members, other councillors and the public on the Chair of the CCG’s Eastern Locality, Dr John Kerr. The resolution was proposed by Chairman, Councillor Roger Giles of Ottery St. Mary, who had interrogated CCG representatives on their proposals. He repeatedly asked ‘how many additional staff will be required’ for the CCG’s new model of care, only to be told ‘what is required’. Other members expressed doubt that enough new staff could be recruited.

Cllr Giles’ proposals followed speeches by Councillor Shaw and EDDC ward councillor Andrew Moulding of Axminster for keeping hospital beds in Seaton. Councillor Moulding pointed out that not only Axminster, but also Axmouth, Uplyme and Rousdon, had been omitted from the CCG’s calculations of the population served by Seaton Hospital.

Much of the discussion at the EDDC meeting reacted to the discussion at Devon’s Health Scrutiny Committee last Monday. Devon councillors had followed the recommendation of their Chairman, Councillor Sara Randall Johnson, to postpone until July a decision on Councillor Claire Wright’s proposal to refer the CCG’s decisions to the Secretary of State for Health. Councillor Shaw, who also addressed the Devon meeting, said afterwards that he was ‘incredibly disappointed and frustrated by the unnecessary and damaging delay’. Sixty protestors, from Honiton, Seaton, Colyton and other parts of Devon, had waved placards outside County Hall and had then watched the Scrutiny Committee, some of them jeering when it was proposed to delay the decision.

Councillor Shaw later expressed his satisfaction with the outcome of the EDDC meeting, which he said ‘put saving the beds back on the agenda’ and pointed the way for Devon County Council’s Scrutiny Committee to follow when it reconvened. He said, ‘I am very pleased at the strong cross-party case made for East Devon hospitals and especially the mounting support for looking again at the CCG’s completely indefensible abandonment of Seaton. Keeping beds in Seaton has had tremendous backing this week, including not only from Councillor Moulding but also Councillor Hall from Axminster, and Mike McAlpine, Chair of the Committee for the Axe Valley Health Hub. Seaton’s Deputy Mayor, Martin Pigott, made an excellent case at County Hall.’

Councillor Shaw said it was very obvious that CCG representatives, Dr Sonja Manton at the Devon meeting and Dr Kerr at EDDC, had refused to answer direct questions about the flawed case for axing Seaton’s beds. ‘I am optimistic that when this comes back to Devon, councillors on the Health Scrutiny Committee will pick up the Seaton issue and we will finally get justice for our communities.’

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

LEP member moans that it has been snubbed

Owl says: no surprise to me – the LEP just an “emperor with no clothes” club using our money without any accountability and with an already-overpaid CEO who just got a 26% pay increase to supervise a staff of 4 – why should it be taken seriously?

“The Chairman of Devon Chamber of Commerce has said the fact that only Exeter’s Met Office of any Westcountry project was mentioned at a major infrastructure conference shows the challenge the region faces in the fight to attract Government investment.

The conference, held at London’s Royal Victoria Dock, failed to mention any other Westcountry project – not even the £18billion Hinkley Point C power station near Bristol.

Richard Stevens, managing director of Plymouth Citybus and chairman of Devon Chamber of Commerce, said it show the challenge the region faces in the fight to attract Government investment.

Mr Stevens, who attended the event as a director of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (HotSW LEP), said the event did reveal there were “signs of growth” in the region’s economy.

But he stressed: “The sad thing is we did not get a single mention.”


Tories get money from Wonga – for the rest of us it’s the other way round!

“A major investor in Wonga, a banker and two billionaire hedge fund managers head a list of Conservative donors in the final set of election watchdog data released before Thursday’s general election. The Tories raised £1.16m in the final full week of campaigning, beating Labour by just over £69,000, the Electoral Commission disclosed on Wednesday.

Adrian Beecroft, the former government adviser and investor in payday lender Wonga, gave £50,000 in the week to 6 June. In 2012, he wrote the Beecroft report for David Cameron, which called for changes to make it easier for businesses to sack employees.

The hedge fund millionaire Reade Griffith also gave the Conservatives £50,000. In 2013, Griffith, who founded Polygon Investment Partners, was ordered to pay more than £800,000 to Kensington and Chelsea council for planning permission to build an “iceberg” basement under his house. Griffith and his wife had applied for permission to build a swimming pool and media area in a two-storey basement. The money was supposed to contribute to affordable housing elsewhere in the borough.

The billionaire hedge fund manager Sir Michael Hintze has given £250,000, making him the joint top individual donor in this particular week. Before the last general election, he gave the party their single biggest donation in six years – £1.5m.

Ehud Sheleg, an Israeli-born businessman now based in the West Midlands, has also given £250,000. He is the director of the Halcyon Gallery on Bond Street, which recently exhibited a collection of Bob Dylan’s artworks. Arne Groes, an executive at the London headquarters of French bank BNP Paribas, has given £100,000, as has Keith Bradshaw, a Birmingham-based businessman.

Labour has received £1.046m in the final full week of the campaign. Unite, the union, is the biggest donor, with gifts of £528,000, followed by the Communication Workers’ Union, with just over £320,000.

The Lib Dems received just over £103,000, most of which came from public funds. The Green Party received £10,000, around half the amount received by the Women’s Equality Party. Ukip received no donation of more than £7,500.

The Conservatives raised more than 10 times as much as Labour two weeks ago, partly thanks to a donation of over £1m from the theatre producer behind The Book of Mormon and The Phantom of the Opera. John Gore, whose company has produced a string of hit musicals, gave £1.05m as part of the £3.77m received by the Conservatives in the third week of the election campaign. In the same period, Labour received only £331,499.

Labour has concentrated on raising small sums from its members, most of which will not be included in these figures, sources said.

By law, political parties standing candidates at the general election must submit details of any donations and loans of more than £7,500, as part of weekly reports to the Electoral Commission.”