Another developer attempts to rip-off EDDC (and the NHS)

.”A housing developer has been accused of ‘blackmail’ over a refusal to pay any contribution to the NHS.

Councillors had previously agreed to a land swap between the Exeter Science Park and Eagle One that would make the next phase of the Science Park expansion more deliverable and allow the 150 new homes to form an extension of the Redhayes/Mosshayne development.

The plans were agreed by councillors in April, subject to a viability assessment of a £216,000 contribution towards the NHS due to the impact of the development.

At last Tuesday’s East Devon District Council development management committee meeting, Chris Rose, the council’s development manager, said that the NHS contribution would not have a sufficiently detrimental impact on scheme viability to cause the proposed land transfer to fail.

But he said that Eagle One have said that as the overall transaction would not be in their interest, they will not agree to provide any NHS contribution.

Officers had recommended that councillors approve the application, even without any NHS contribution.

Mr Rose said: “In pure viability grounds, our viability consultant considers that with the contribution to the Trust, the development is still just viable but could certainly support a reduced sum of £81,422 as officers have tried to negotiate.

“However, the applicant is not prepared to enter into a S106 agreement which includes any contribution to the Trust as they consider it doesn’t meet the tests for acceptability and that the land deal is on the basis of what was previously agreed without the contribution to the Trust.

“The options open to the council are therefore to either refuse planning permission on the basis that the development does not adequately mitigate its impact on health services, or accept that no contribution to the Trust will be forthcoming and proceed.

“The main risk with a refusal is that the proposed land deal would be lost which would negatively impact on the delivery of the Science Park.

“To issue an approval of planning permission without the contribution to the Trust would secure the land deal and have huge benefits to the progress of the Science Park. Members would need to be clear that to do this would accept no mitigation for the impact of the development on health services.

While at the current time, significant weight should be attached to the request for a contribution to the NHS Trust, it is considered that greater weight should be attached to the proposed land transfer which will facilitate significant long terms gains for the delivery of a major science park integrated with the other development happening in the area.

“While there are grounds to secure a contribution to the Trust, nevertheless the applicant will not agree to a contribution and have advised that they will not enter into the land transfer on this basis. “The only way for the Council to proceed with confidence that the land swap transaction will go ahead would be without the NHS contribution.”

He added though that late documentation had been provided by the applicant from neighbouring councils to support Eagle One’s assertion that the NHS’s request was not justified, but that officers had not had the chance to fully assess the documentation.

Cllr Kevin Blakey, portfolio holder for economy, said that the application should be approved due to the benefits it would bring to the Science Park, and that if it was refused, the land swap deal was almost certain to fail.

He added: “Although the request is legal, this deal won’t proceed if there is a requirement for Eagle One to make a contribution. It may be unpalatable but if we want to see this happen and introduce opportunities for highly paid and highly skilled jobs, this deal should proceed.”

But Cllr Mike Allen, lead member for business and employment, said that while the land swap should proceed, there should be a contribution for the NHS as it was viable. He added: “This has been rejected by Eagle One and I think they have stepped over the line from negotiation to bullying.”

Cllr Steve Gazzard said that he had real concerns about the application and that Eagle One’s behaviour was ‘tantamount to blackmail’. He said: “They will build 150 homes so that could be up to 500 people, and it will increase pressure on the NHS. It is not an undemanding request that they should provide something.”

He proposed that the application be deferred to seek further advice on the legitimacy of the health contribution following additional information being submitted by the applicant.

Cllr Paul Hayward supported him, although said: “I wouldn’t use the word blackmail. I think undue pressure may be better. I am sure there is a reason why the NHS has asked, so we have to take it into account. We have asked for something, and they are saying they won’t pay and won’t move their position at all. We need to see the evidence.”

The council’s solicitor, Henry Gordon Lennox, said that officers had considered the benefits from the land swap were sufficiently great that the application should be approved, even if there is no contribution towards the NHS.

He said: “We were content that the contribution was justified, and we have now been given information that it isn’t, and we haven’t had a chance to look at it properly. But as they aren’t paying a contribution anyway, so it is irrelevant.

“Our officers are suggesting you approve it without any contribution to the NHS. If you are not willing to do that, then deferral is the right option, as we need to understand the legitimacy of the health contribution.”

The committee agreed to defer a decision for a further month to seek further advice on the legitimacy of the health contribution.”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/blackmail-claims-over-housing-developers-3205288

Not the first time Eagle One has hit the headlines:

https://eastdevonwatch.org/2018/06/25/eddc-current-planning-policy-encapsulated-in-one-planning-application/

https://eastdevonwatch.org/2014/11/19/more-development-between-exeter-and-cranbrook-when-will-it-stop/

Survey on local health services

Please do fill in this survey – it has a lot of open-ended questions about what you think – but remember this survey is about cuts so it needs to be emphasised that cuts are not the answer – increased funding IS.

From the blog of Claire Wright, Independent Parliamentary candidate for East Devon:

“The local NHS says there’s a funding shortfall so is asking people their views…

The local NHS – Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (NEW Devon CCG) – is asking Devon residents their views on health services, after outlining in a presentation sent to councillors, information about a funding shortfall, workforce shortages, a population increase and lengthening waiting times.

They say:

One in 10 nurse jobs and 1 in 12 social worker posts in Devon remain vacant as demand for services increase.
There have been increases in NHS funding, but peoples’ needs for services are growing faster
Devon is struggling to provide timely access to services. In addition, a rise of conditions like cancer, heart disease and dementia will put the health and social care system under more pressure unless more flexible, joined up approaches are taken
The county’s population will rise by about 33,000 people equivalent to the population of Exmouth over the next five years
The number of people aged over 85 in Devon will double in the next 20 years. W e need to be able to offer all the services they need as an even greater priority
The CCG says it does not have all the funding it needs to deliver the ‘current models of service provision.’

Here’s the link to the questionnaire. It closes on 5 September.

I urge you to complete the survey.

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/BetterDevon

For a full copy of the briefing contact Ross.Jago@nhs.net”

The local NHS says there’s a funding shortfall so is asking people their views…

“Johnson’s NHS cash ‘money trusts already have’ “

“Much of the £1.8bn for NHS infrastructure announced by Boris Johnson is money providers already have, health experts have said.

On Sunday the government announced the cash injection, which consists of £1bn in capital spending for infrastructure projects and around £850m to upgrade existing outdated facilities and equipment.

The £850m will be available for 20 hospitals in England over a five-year period while the £1bn will be used to tackle a backlog of maintenance issues this year.

Although the government has repeatedly claimed this was ‘new’ money, health experts have said it was mainly giving trusts permission to spend cash they already have.

Dr Eleanor Roy, health and social care policy manager at CIPFA, said: “It should be noted that more than half of this ‘boost’ to the NHS represents cash that many NHS providers already have.”

The prime minister’s announcement “merely raises the capital Departmental Expenditure Limit (DEL) threshold for the health services overall”, she said. …”

https://www.publicfinance.co.uk/news/2019/08/johnsons-nhs-cash-money-trusts-already-have

No “new” hospital money for Devon

The “new” money for hospitals, announced by Boris Johnson, is actually money for projects already agreed but where funding had not been released. Suddenly the “magic money tree” has sprouted new leaves and plans for 20 projects are being given the go-ahead.

None are in Devon.

Most are in leave constituencies.

“Boris Johnson will upgrade hospitals in Leave-voting seats as he attempts to see off the electoral threat from the Brexit Party.

The Prime Minister has announced a £850million funding boost to add hundreds of new hospital beds and improve facilities in 20 hospitals across the country.

The money, which will be spent predominantly in Leave-voting constituencies, is part of a £1.8billion funding boost for the NHS, in addition to the £20bn a year Theresa May pledged for the NHS.

The new money will be funded by dipping into Philip Hammond’s £26.6billion “fiscal headroom”, a Downing Street spokesman said. …”

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/08/04/boris-johnson-pledges-hospital-upgrades-leave-voting-seats-attempts/

How has Devon fared under Theresa May?

Badly – crime, education, homelessness and health and social care have all got much worse, only unemployment has improved with the gig econony and zero hours contracts:

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/how-devon-changed-under-theresa-3123246

NHS privatisation : follow the money – £9.2 billion to be precise

On the back of this article saying £9.2 billion has already gone from the NHS to private companies:

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/jul/21/private-firms-nhs-budget-matt-hancock-promise?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

It’s good to be reminded of this oldie: