Christmas catch-up

Owl didn’t want to spoil Christmas but here are a few of the stories that would have done so over the ‘festive’ season:

Hedge funds win even if retailers fail:

France to overtake UK as world’s sixth largest economy:

UK is institutionally ageist:

Scrap the parliamentary lobby:

Richest 1% will have two-thirds of the world’s wealth by 2030:

Minister tells councils to put CLOSED libraries in failing high streets:

Universal credit is damaging mental health:

Tory MP wants legal aid reintroduced now he needs it:

90 people die each DAY waiting for social care:

NHS cuts halt 70,000 operations:

Councils ripped-off by private landlords:


Two degrees of separation: Paul Manafort and Hugo Swire

Manafort is heavily implicated in the Trump Russia scandal and facing jail:

To recap some of the crucial plot points in the Paul Manafort story, based on my own reporting and lawsuits filed against him:

1. He owed millions of dollars to Oleg Deripaska, who invested in a fund that Manafort created for buying up assets in Russia and Ukraine.

2. Manafort was so deep in debt to Deripaska that he avoided him when the oligarch came asking for his cash in 2010.

3. When Manafort went to work for the Trump campaign, he suggested giving Deripaska “private briefings,” with the hopes of the Russian forgiving his debts. (All this is obliquely explained in emails obtained by The Atlantic last year.)”

Deripaska is closely linked to Sir Greg Barker – Chairman of Deripaska’s UK company EN+:

“This spring, a British lord with deep ties to the governing Conservative Party and a reputation as a do-gooder environmentalist arrived in Washington on an unlikely mission: to save the business empire of Oleg Deripaska, one of Russia’s most infamous oligarchs.

Mr. Deripaska was in deep trouble. In April, the Trump administration had announced sanctions on oligarchs close to President Vladimir V. Putin, and on their companies, as punishment for Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and for other hostile acts. A billionaire who controls the world’s second-largest aluminum company, Mr. Deripaska faced possible ruin.

Portrayed as little more than a thug by his critics and suspected by United States officials of having ties to Russian organized crime, Mr. Deripaska, 50, has spent two decades trying to buy respect in the West. London welcomed him; Washington still mostly has not. Successive administrations have limited his ability to travel to the United States.

Even Mr. Putin was unable to resolve the situation when he interceded personally with Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama on Mr. Deripaska’s behalf.”

Sir Greg Barker has 50/50 stake in a company with Hugo Swire (Eaglesham Investments:

The company (currently dormant) describes itself as “investing in “emerging economies”:

Brazil, China, India and Russia are currently considered the top 4 emerging economies:

“School Cuts: New £4.5bn Pensions Bombshell”

“Austerity-hit schools could be facing an eye-watering £4.8bn cuts bombshell if the government doesn’t fund a planned pension contributions hike.

Headteachers will be left with no choice but to slash spending on “the absolute basics” if Chancellor Philip Hammond does not plug the four-year shortfall at next year’s spending review, Labour has said.

The new figures, from the House of Commons Library, will pile pressure on ministers to act in the wake of a mass protest at Westminster by headteachers in September.

The Department for Education (DfE), however, said that the changes make teachers’ pension schemes “sustainable in the long-term”. …

In 2016, ministers admitted the pensions shortfall would amount to a sizeable £2bn, but that figure was revised up at the November budget and there is only enough cash set aside to cover costs for 2019/20.

It comes after respected think tank the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) found that per-pupil funding had fallen by 8% since 2010.

Labour MP Stephanie Peacock, who is a former teacher, said the government should match the commitment it gave to the NHS, which has seen its extra pensions contributions fully covered.

Strange goings on at Greendale Business Park ? Like Brexit – will we ever get the full story!

Councillor Geoff Jung Independent Councillor for Raleigh Ward and member of the Development Management Committee made the following statement at Tuesdays 4th of December meeting prior to 2 planning applications which were about to be discussed.

Having taken legal advice, I feel I need to declare that I have a personal interest in the 2 planning applications regarding Hogsbrook Farm which are in the ownership of FWS Carter and Sons that we are about to debate.
There are two declarations and I must stress are totally unrelated.

Firstly, I need to declare that I am member of the Woodbury Salterton Residents Association because the Association have sent a response to these applications.

Secondly, I need to declare that I have been sent a letter from the applicant FWS Carter and Sons` Solicitor informing me that as:

… “I entered onto their property without the licence or consent of their client and took a number of photographs”.

They kindly sent me copies of the photographs which they claim is the evidence of my trespass.

The letter further informs me that unless I sign a written undertaking, court proceedings may prove necessary and they may seek significant legal costs to me personally.

I have totally denied this allegation and East Devon District Council officers have stated that the photographs were not from myself.

I have no knowledge of who took the photographs or who sent them to the Planning Team at East Devon District Council.”

However, I come to this meeting to discuss the applications with a totally open mind.”

Once the debate started a representative from FWS Carter and Sons who was the registered speaker was asked a question by Councillor Jung about a landfill site, which was the subject of the photographs, but the Chair told the meeting that it was not relevant.

Councillor Jung explained that the landfill site formed part of the planning application, but the Chair insisted, and Councillor Jung then said he had no other questions.

The two planning applications in question were for two Agricultural Buildings at Hogsbrook Farm near to Greendale Business Park at Woodbury Salterton 17/2430/MFUL and 18/0920/FUL which is proposed to be built on a raised landfill site.

These two planning applications had been originally approved at the October meeting at East Devon, but the Applicant had requested that they should be re-considered without a Legal Clause called a non-alienation clause, preventing the sale or letting to another party and requiring the buildings to remain in agricultural use.

This clause had been suggested at the previous meeting because of the applicant’s previous history of building agricultural units and then changing them to industrial, claiming the agricultural units were redundant, and then building more agricultural units.

The two planning applications were approved after a short debate with Councillor Jung abstaining from the vote.

After the meeting Councillor Jung said he was unable to provide further comment.

What is Trespass? A search on the internet:

“Unlawful physical entry to land or buildings can result in an injunction by the civil courts to prevent further trespass or damages. In terms of photographers or those filming video footage, taking photographs or footage from property where the person in question has the right to be is not considered trespassing.”

“Farmland is privately owned, and although you are free to walk through farmers’ fields without being a trespasser, farmers reserve the right to remove anyone from their land who they believe to be disruptive or otherwise a threat to their land or crops.”

Councillor Geoff Jung in his statement states he did not trespass and it seems that East Devon District Council have confirmed that the photographs did not come from him.

What the photographs show and who took the photographs remains a mystery but it’s clear the owners of Greendale are not very happy!

A good political example of an oxymoron

Oxymoron – definition:
“a figure of speech in which apparently contradictory terms appear in conjunction”

A good example:
“Conservatives launch campaign to help low-paid women”