Fake News: “I have the support of my Cabinet”

This phrase is fake news at any level – let’s take it at national and local level as an example

1. As with the national government where May chose her Cabinet, so does the Leader of EDDC. They choose people closest to them and the ones most inclined to do their bidding – it would be foolish to do anything else.

2. Cabinets are not chosen for quality – they are chosen for obedience. It’s no use May saying she tolerates Boris for not being a “yes man” as it is precisely that which has endangered her. A foolish “strategy” to follow if, like her or any other Leader, you want to cling to power. See Trump and Kim Jong-Un. You upset Trump, he fires you; you upset Kim … let’s not go there.

3. It pays to choose weak and feeble Cabinet members if you are their Leader. It strengthens your position. The downside is that you then have to forge VERY close relationships with your civil servants and officers as they are the route to getting your agenda fulfilled (or, in the case of the current government, a very close relationship with the DUP forged with a £1 billion bribe).

4. As soon as anyone hits a Cabinet, they get a vastly increased taste for power – it’s like a drug. They spend days and nights thinking about how THEY could make a better job of things. There is no such thing as loyalty to a Leader in a Cabinet.

So, when any leader says they have the full support of their cabinet – FAKE NEWS!

Q: who does Diviani represent on the NHS? A: Jeremy Hunt

How does Owl know?

Well, he DOESN’T represent East Devon District Council – they told him to vote to keep local community hospital beds and maternity services open. He went to a DCC scrutiny meeting and voted to close them.

He DOESN’T represent the eight district councils he is supposed to represent at DCC [as a co-optee NOT a full member of the committee – and he was only allowed to vote because the badly-worded DCC constitution does not make the voting power of a co-optee clear] because he admitted in public that he did not consult any of the other councils before voting.

He DOESN’T represent DCC because he has not stood for election to that council and been successful.

WHAT was his reason/excuse/pathetic flim flam for his vote then?

That other attempts to refer the closure to the Secretary of State had failed, so this one would also fail.

How did he know that? Does he have a direct line to Hunt’s office or what passes for Hunt’s brain? He must have one or the other because he KNEW in advance what would happen and chose to vote on what he says he KNEW.

But if he KNEW what would happen (and he says he did) then why not vote as EDDC told him to do? The letter would have failed and he could still say he had voted as instructed at EDDC (though not as other councils wanted as he had no idea about that.

BUT – as he again admitted – it would have slowed down the closure. It would have given councils, the staff and supporters of the hospitals, the patients and their carers, more time to put alternative plans into action. More home care staff, more suitable plans for hospital buildings, better care for patients at home.

He did none of these things. He and Sarah Randall-Johnson consigned community hospitals to the rubbish heap.

And all because, he says, he knew what Jeremy Hunt would do.

So, now we know, he has a direct line to Jeremy Hunt and does what Jeremy Hunt wants him to do.

But why? Owl can only guess that he wants a gong from this despicable government to add to his only other qualification – an innkeepers certificate.

And the only way to do that is do the bidding of those who hand them out.

And if that isn”t his rationale, Owl would welcome a comment from him which would be published on the blog in full.

And what of his “representation” of the other councils? Who voted for him to be their representative? Was there a vote at all?

Or conversations in dark corners of County Hall?

EDDC Tory councillors voted against themselves to protect Leader


“A letter, copied below, from today’s Sidmouth Herald (22/09/17), explains:

The issue of no confidence in EDDC Leader Paul Diviani is nothing new, as the 4,000 people who took part in the SOS Mass March to Knowle, nearly 5 years ago, would agree. (Nov 3rd, 2012, photos archived on http://www.saveoursidmouth.com).

How is it, then, that the ‘Motion against East Devon District Council leader’ failed’ (Sidmouth Herald, 15/09/17)?

Paul Diviani had, according to a senior Conservative colleague, clearly broken trust with the District Council. At the County Health Scrutiny Committee, the EDDC Leader had failed to represent his own Council’s unanimous (i.e. cross-party) recommendation that hospital bedcuts should stop until an effective alternative had been shown to be in place. His contrary vote had influenced the outcome at the DCC, the only body capable of statutory action, thereby apparently betraying not just his own Council, but the people of East Devon that they represent. This left the Tory group of District Councillors “caught between a rock and a hard place”, as Cathy Gardner (EDDC Ward Member Sidmouth Town, East Devon Alliance) reminded them, at the Extra Ordinary Meeting at Knowle (13/09/17).

But all the Tory Councillors present (just one abstained), did an extraordinary thing. To the disbelief of the public crammed into the Council Chamber, they turned the debate away from their uncomfortable Leader’s conduct, and onto problems with the National Health Service. Then, in voting against the Motion of No Confidence in the Leader, they effectively blockvoted against their own unanimous recommendation regarding NHS problems and bedcuts, taken just a few weeks’ earlier. The sort of thing, and Leader, that brings a Council into disrepute?
Jacqueline Green

How ‘no confidence vote’ came to be rejected by Council let down by its Leader

Diviani and Skinner lead EDDC for “Greater Exeter” and business-led Local Enterprise Partnership

“Pragmatic in its focus, the strategy sets out how our economic development teams are working effectively on the areas where our respective council/corporate plans overlap.
The strategy also sets out our collective growth ambitions, priorities and future approach that we will take to support economic growth and development for the greater Exeter area.

No new resource or structural changes are being put forward in this strategy – only an assurance that EHOD authorities continue to dedicate the existing economic officer resource to the four key EHOD economic initiatives where we can show collaborative working to be more effective and efficient in delivering outputs for our local authority areas beyond what we could achieve in isolation. …

… We will use the Shared Economic Strategy to communicate to partners our ambitions and plans, with a view of improving collaboration and maximising leverage.”

The strategy will address the key themes of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (HoTSW LEP) Devolution Prospectus and support the delivery of the emerging Single Productivity Plan, maximising the effectiveness of the group’s work with the HoTSW LEP. …”

Signature here Cllr Paul Diviani Leader
Signature here Cllr Philip Skinner Economy PFH Exeter City Council
Signature here Cllr Pete Edwards Leader, Exeter City Council
Signature here Cllr Rosie Denham Economy and Culture PFH, Exeter City Council


So, no resources except officer time … a very expensive resource, the hourly cost of which is never counted by our councils and comes out of our pockets.

Diviani and Skinner … a marriage made in … ! Still, our Tory councillors do so trust each other, so that’s … er … fine?

Diviani: Confidence or protection of cronies?

NO, NO, NO – Diviani does NOT have the trust of the Council.

He has the PROTECTION of his Tory cronies.

“East Devon District Council’s Conservative Leader says that he still has the confidence and trust of the council after a failed vote of no confidence into his leadership – but the leader of the opposition says that he will now do all in his power to kick out all the Tories at the next election.

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Ben Ingham, the leader of the East Devon Alliance, said that he would do everything in his power to ensure that he could field 59 candidates at the next district elections.

Cllr Ingham said: “The Tories on this council voted to protect the political career of Paul Diviani instead of looking after the people of East Devon.

“As a result, I will do all that I can in my power to in 20 months field 59 independent councillors at the East Devon District Council elections and this will give the people a chance to kick out the lot of them, and I challenge the people of East Devon to do that.

Cllr Diviani though said that the vote showed that he did have the trust of the council. …”


Some councillors value party over people … and they are all Conservatives

“Knowle Council Chamber yet again rang with cries of “Shame” from the public gallery, as entrenched Party allegiance took precedence over East Devon’s wellbeing, and the Motion of No Confidence in the EDDC Leader was lost by 31 votes to 18.

Of the 32 Tory members present (there were some notable absences, including some who had distanced themselves from Diviani), one abstained and 31 voted against. The Motion, called by the Independent Group, was supported by strong and clear arguments condemning Diviani for his conduct at the Devon County Health Scrutiny Committee*. As Cllr Roger Giles (Ottery St Mary) spoke of it as “a day of shame and infamy”, adding, ”In 26 years on this Council, I cannot think of a single occasion where a Leader has gone against his Council”.

Condemnation came from Council representatives far and wide across the District, to frequent applause from the crammed-full public gallery. Cllr Ben Ingham (Lympstone), who had called the Motion, pointed out why Diviani’s conduct had failed “all of the 7 Nolan principles in one go”, indicating how “This council continues to fester under a pernicious Leader”. Cllr Val Ranger (Newton Poppleford and Harpford) reminded Members that “We relied on Paul Diviani”, and arguing that “He does not understand the role of his own Scrutiny Committee.”

Cllr Cathy Gardner (Sidmouth) sympathised with Tory Councillors now finding themselves “between a rock and a hard place” (as they’d voted unanimously for the decision that their Leader had then ignored), and asked them, “Are your principles with your Party or with the people of East Devon?”

Cllr Geoff Jung (Woodbury) put his support for the No Confidence Motion succinctly, “Cllr Diviani agreed to take our vote to the DCC meeting, but he voted the other way”. Cllr Cllr Marianne Rixson (Sidmouth-Sidford ) said, “He’s betrayed everyone. How can we trust a Leader who ignores us? When will he do it again?”. Cllr Susie Bond (Feniton & Buckerell) reported her own town council’s “unanimous and extreme dismay”. Cllr Steve Gazzard (Exmouth) reasoned that “The Leader has got it totally wrong” . Cllr Peter Burrows (Seaton) said, “Councillors should support Community first, Party second.” Cllr Peter Faithfull (Ottery St Mary) drew attention to the central issue that “The personal views of one councillor (Diviani) is not what this is about. It’s whether we can have confidence in him”.

In contrast, contributions from the Conservative Councillors supporting their Leader, seemed to be largely out of focus. Cllrs Mark Williamson , Geoff Pook, Ian Hall and others, spoke mainly about NHS difficulties, some citing personal stories at some length. There were frequent calls of “irrelevant” from the public.

The Chair made no attempt to remind them of the wording of the Motion they were there to debate, but cautioned the public on several occasions, that hecklers would be removed.

So many members of the public had registered to speak, but the time allocation of 15 minutes in total, meant that several questions could not be put. The Chair, Andrew Moulding (Axminster) did however ensure that one question to the Leader, from East Devon resident, Jane Ashton, was answered straightaway. Here it is, with the response.

Jane Ashton : “When members of the public stand up for democracy, honesty and representation, to accuse them of being politically motivated is disrespectful. Would you acknowledge that?”

Paul Diviani replied that he “doesn’t recall himself ever saying these words. I would not like to be seen to be disrespectful in any way.”

The Leader’s reply might perplex the public who were there last night for the second Extra Ordinary Meeting concerning the fate of the Exmouth Fun Park.

Full report on both Extra Ordinary Meetings on the Devonlive news:


NHS given 6 weeks to EMPTY beds – not CLOSE them. If we don’t have enough beds, blame Diviani

Diviani’s excuse for not (at least) buying time for our closed community hospitals was that 14 such pleas had been refused so ours was unlikely to succeed. Not CERTAIN to succeed – unlikely. BUT the referral would have

(a) bought us time and ensured our beds stayed open over winter, and
(b) forced the CCG to give us MUCH more information about their numbers.

IF/WHEN we run out of winter beds the BLAME will lie fairly and squarely on Diviani, Randall-Johnson and all those Tories who voted for bed cuts at DCC – PLUS Twiss – who although he voted for referral at DCC, according to news reports, supported his Leader at EDDC last night.

“Hospitals and GP surgeries will struggle to cope this winter as a severe flu outbreak heads towards Britain, the head of the NHS has warned.

Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, has given the health service six weeks to empty beds in order to avoid chaos in A&E as more elderly people than usual get sick.

He also told NHS leaders that he would have a “hard look” at why life expectancy growth is slowing, after The Times revealed this week that progress in Britain has stalled while people in other countries live ever longer.

Theresa May has been briefed about health chiefs’ fears of a winter crisis after hospital wards ended the quieter summer months already dangerously full. Now Mr Stevens has warned that after Australia experienced its worst flu season for many years during the southern hemisphere winter, the virus is likely to strike Britain hard.

NHS flu vaccination will shortly get under way and while it will include the H3 strain dominant in Australia, health chiefs never know in advance how well the jab will protect patients. Last year the vaccine did not work in the elderly but protected children.”

Source: Times (pay wall)