Cranbrook will grow to 8,000 homes over 15 years

Owl says: and still it has no town centre and developers refuse to fund one!

“Feedback on how Devon’s newest town, Cranbrook, should grow and develop over the next 15 years, goes before councillors next week.

The Cranbrook Plan: Preferred Approach’ document sets out how the growth of the town up to around 8,000 households over the next 15 years will be achieved.

A community consultation ran for eight weeks from mid-November last year to early January and it gave residents of Cranbrook and its neighbouring communities the opportunity to comment on the proposals for the future of the town contained within the document ‘Cranbrook Plan: Preferred Approach’.

In addition to identifying land for new houses, the document also identified land for sport and community, economy and enterprise, schools, allotments and Gypsy and Travellers pitches. …

Outline planning permission for the first 2,900 homes at Cranbrook was issued in October 2010 followed shortly by the reserved matters for the first 1,100 homes in April 2011. Today there are approximately 1,700 households living at Cranbrook, equivalent to a population of around 4,000 people, but the Local Plan anticipates Cranbrook comprising approximately 7,850 new homes by 2031. This equates to a population of around 20,000 people meaning that Cranbrook will have quickly expanded to become the second largest town in the District.

The consultation revealed that there is a concern over relationship with properties at Broadclyst Station, who are keen to retain a separate identity, that the East Devon New Community partners say that the Treasbeare area could accommodate a minimum of 1,000 dwellings as opposed to the 800-950 stated in the masterplan, and that there should be a school in both of the Bluehayes and the Treasbeare area of Cranbrook..

On transport issues, the responses reveal that the delivery of a half-hourly rail service is a key ambition of the plan in order to encourage use of rail travel as an alternative to the car, but that despite the wishes of residents for the old A30, the B3174 London Road to remain as a bypass to developed, it is scheduled to be downgraded from its current status and to become an integral part of the town. …”

Oh, what a surprise! Another poor, poor developer at Hayne Lane, Honiton

One presumes that Councillors Diviani and Twiss are aware of this, having declared hospitality from Baker Estates in September and December last year:


“Developer requests reduced affordable housing provision on residential development at Hayne Lane, Honiton

Local planning authority will consider offer from Baker Estates to provide improved mix of houses at Hayne Lane development plus £0.5m contribution towards off-site affordable housing

East Devon’s Local Planning Authority (LPA) has received a request from Baker Estates to amend the amount of affordable housing that they provide on their development of 300 houses on land to the west of Hayne Lane in Honiton.

The request will be considered after 12 noon at the next meeting of East Devon District Council’s Development Management Committee on 6 March 2018, which is being held at Exmouth Town Hall

East Devon planning officers are recommending that the request be agreed.

As present Baker Estates is required to provide 40% of the dwellings (120 units) as affordable housing in accordance with the original planning permission granted on the site in 2015.

However, the developer is now asking the LPA to agree to reduce the affordable housing provision to 30% or 90 dwellings, whichever is the greater. This change would also affect the amount of financial contribution being secured for off-site open space, which would be reduced from £488,000 to £210,000.

In exchange Baker Estates is offering an improved mix of houses on the site and £500,000 financial contribution towards off-site provision of affordable housing.

The applicants have submitted this request as they believe that current planning policy would support a reduction in the provision of affordable housing down to 25%, if a new planning application were to be submitted. While they are offering less than the 40% affordable housing provision currently secured, they are offering more than the 25% they believe they would be required to provide if a new planning application were submitted.

The planning officers’ report advises that while there is a chance that Baker Estates may not be able to successfully argue 25% affordable housing provision as part of a new planning application, there is an equal chance that such a proposal would be acceptable should an application be submitted and determined on appeal by the Planning Inspectorate.

In addition, the planning officers believe that the viability of the site is such that it is unlikely that the council would be able to secure the current 40% provision into the future, and that agreeing to the request will negate the need for a lengthy and costly planning appeal, enabling the development to proceed as quickly as possible while providing 90, much needed, affordable housing units.

The report can be viewed on the council’s website:

Cllr Mike Howe, Chairman of East Devon’s Development Management Committee, said:

“It is important that this sort of decision is made in the public view, so that everyone can understand the issues at stake. It is about striking a fair balance, while ensuring that the right amount of affordable housing provision is made.”

EDDC councillor freebies

Can be found here:

Councillors Diviani and Twiss appear to have only ever met only one developer (Baker Estates) but have done so twice in September 2017 and December 2017 to discuss “future projects in East Devon”, Councillor Skinner has been a beneficiary of rugby tickets paid for by the Carter family (Greendale) several times, Councillor Moulding has met developers St Modwyn and Heritage Developments and Clinton Devon Estates treated several councillors to a concert at Exeter Cathedral.

Free Sandy Park rugby match tickets seem to be quite popular with Councillors Diviani, Godbeer, Skinner, Wright and Moulding.

Two whipping Tories – or just one?

Anyone notice how Brandon Lewis (Chairman, Conservative Party – whose new job is to whip the ageing party’s members into better digital shape) looks and sounds just like EDDC Conservative Councillor Phil Twiss (the man who is their Chief Whip but assures us he has never whipped anyone ever and who has been in charge of EDDC’s digital policies).

Has anyone ever seen them in the same room together!

DCC Health Scrutiny Committee – not fit for purpose

The DCC Health Scrutiny Committee lurches from poor practice to bad practice to utter chaos under the continued Chairmanship of Sarah Randall-Johnson

Can you imagine saying you will vote against questioning NHS Property Services about their intentions on the future of community hospitals which they now own “because they might not come”! And Randall-Johnson saying she is “not aware of any threat to any community hospital!!!

[CCGs have been offered match funding from the government for any properties sold in their areas]

Claire Wright’s Blog:

NHS Property Services will be invited to attend the next Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee in January.

But my simple request prompted a debate lasting over half an hour, at Tuesday’s meeting (21 November).

The lengthy and baffling discussion gave a poor impression of the committee in my view, with some Conservative councillors claiming confusion and dismissing the proposal several times as “premature.”

It all started off with a presentation to the committee by Independent councillor, Martin Shaw, under the final work plan agenda item.

Cllr Shaw rightly pointed out how many people were concerned about the potential loss of the hospital buildings, that they had put their own money into them and still there was no clarity over their future, yet NEW Devon CCG were (or at least would very soon be) paying large sums of money in rent each year when previously they owned the buildings outright.

NHS Property Services, a private company wholly owned by the Secretary of State for Health, set up under the Health and Social Care Act 2012, acquired the ownership of 12 community hospitals in Eastern Devon at the beginning of this year.

Given that the NEW Devon CCG is one of three most financially challenged health trusts in the country and must make huge cuts to try and stem a deficit of over £400m by 2020, people’s concerns about the future of the hospitals are very valid.

Following my proposal to invite NHS Property Services to the January meeting, chair, Sara Randall Johnson said there was a full agenda for the next meeting so it may not be possible to include it. She said that she was not aware that there was a threat to any community hospital.

Liberal Democrat, Brian Greenslade said NHS PS had been invited previously but questions had been remained unanswered and so should be invited again.

Conservative, Phil Twiss, who represents Honiton which has lost its own hospital beds, claimed in a number of long statements that it was “premature” to invite the company because the future of the buildings had not yet been decided.

He later added that they wouldn’t come anyway.

I replied that waiting until the March meeting was far too long and could mean that decisions were already made. Surely we need to talk to NHS PS and the CCG before their decisions?

I attempted to explain again why it was important we invited the company to the January meeting.

But apparently confusion reigned.

Conservative members became very fixated with the legacy issue, even though I had made it clear that it was about questioning NHS PS and the CCG about their plans on the future of community hospitals and the legacy issue was only part of that.

Chair, Sara Randall Johnson, suggested holding a meeting first to agree some questions to ask NHS PS. I have not seen this approach in my four and a half years as a member of the committee.

I had to make my proposal numerous times, while one or two persistent Conservative members continued to challenge it.

There was an amendment by Liberal Democrat, Nick Way, who wanted a spotlight review into the issue as well.

Phil Twiss then changed his tack and claimed there was no point in asking the company to attend as they wouldn’t come. He was in favour of a spotlight review instead (spotlight reviews are held in private).

But when the vote finally was taken, it was on the spotlight review amendment and not my original proposal to invite NHS PS to the next meeting …

I tried to intervene. Fortunately, the officers corrected matters… and then the majority of the committee voted in favour of my proposal. Finally.

My proposal couldn’t have been more straightforward or uncomplicated. It was entirely within the committee’s remit.

It was also within a couple of hours of hearing the county solicitor’s presentation about how scrutiny should do its job properly. Or be culpable. See this blogpost here –

Here’s the webcast. It is the final item on the agenda –

Pic: Me exasperated!”

Some councillors on DCC scrutiny committee seem to have difficulty in grasping the concept of ………. scrutiny

Claire Wright’s blog:

Devon County Council’s solicitor, Jan Shadbolt, reminded the Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee of its legal responsibilities at Tuesday’s (21 November) meeting.

I had asked for this agenda item following a disastrous meeting in July where a referral to the Secretary of State for Health on the closure of 72 community hospital beds in Eastern Devon was thwarted by the Conservative members of the committee, resulting in over 20 complaints from members of the public.

Mrs Shadbolt read out a paragraph from the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry, led by Sir Robert Francis in 2013. Many people had tragically died there as a result of poor care.

The local council’s scrutiny committee was deemed to have failed in its duty to effectively scrutinise the local health trust and identify problems.

Mrs Shadbolt said it was the first time that non-executive members of a local authority were held to account because they were deemed to have failed in their duty.

New regulations were brought in afterwards to beef up the legal powers of health scrutiny committees. These were that health scrutiny committees can:
– Require a local officer to attend to answer questions
– Expect to be consulted by an NHS body or service provider on substantial developments (although there is no definition of substantial developments)
– Refer to the Secretary of State for Health (subject to a series of constraints)

The county solicitor told the committee that we had a “very powerful role to play within the community” and that we were “unique in scrutiny committees” on that basis.

Conservative, Phil Twiss wanted to know who “scrutinises the scrutineers.” The county solicitor replied that the ultimate scrutiny was being called to account over the failure of a service provider, but that generally speaking councillors were answerable to the community.

Cllr Twiss then wanted to know how the committee knew it was performing properly. Mrs Shadbolt said that the committee’s role was to ask pertinent questions, call any officer to present. She added that there are all sorts of bodies who can give information to help with this, such as Healthwatch.

Conservative councillor, Paul Crabbe, wanted to remind the committee that this agenda item had been added because “some members felt we failed to scrutinise correctly…” He went on to say that a “chap from south Devon was fizzing with excitement over the success and how about how wonderful his new system was” then they were later asked to vote that it was “rubbish.”

Cllr Crabbe said that this struck him as a nonsense then and still struck him as a nonsense and just because the committee voted against “someone’s particular view” it didn’t necessarily mean that the committee was not fulfilling its role.

Liberal Democrat, Cllr Brian Greenslade asked the county solicitor to remind councillors that scrutiny is not a normal committee of the council in that it is not supposed to be political. He said that he thought it was worth underlining this point…”

Here’s the webcast –

“Tories block recording concerns over biggest ever planned health service cuts in Devon”

Oh, how different it will be if (when) Tories lose control of DCC. We will then hear Twiss and his party colleagues saying EXACTLY what Claire Wright is saying!

Party politics sucks. More Independents needed – urgently.

From the blog of Claire Wright:

“.. And the County Solicitor will be called to address the committee to remind it of its responsibilities.

Devon County Council conservatives blocked my proposal yesterday to record significant concerns over the biggest cuts facing Devon’s health service in living memory.

Sonja Manton from NEW Devon Clinical Commissioning Group gave an update on the plans to slash around £500m by 2020, as part of Devon’s Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP).

The county’s STP is one of 44 across the country and is the government’s main programme of major cost cutting and centralisation in the NHS, to stem a £30bn shortfall by 2020.

I asked a number of questions mainly on staffing, budgets and buildings, along the following lines:

What are the vacancies and how do you plan to fill them and when do you plan to make redundancies (which has been previously hinted at)?

The answer was woolly (and no amount of pushing would encourage Dr Manton to reveal more). It contained no information on numbers, but she did mention that there is a 30 per cent turnover rate across Devon, in home care staff and that 75 per cent of the NHS budget is spent on staffing.

Next I asked whether pregnant women would still have a genuine choice where to give birth, as three community maternity units at Okehampton, Tiverton and Honiton were set to close (two have already closed temporarily due to staffing issues).

The answer was that the new service would meet national guidelines, so I pushed and asked whether pregnant women would be able to have a choice of a midwife led unit and how far they would have to travel. The answer was that there will be a new midwife led unit at the RD&E, adjacent to the consultant led unit.

So essentially women from all over Devon will soon have to either have a home birth, or travel to Exeter to give birth, whether that’s at a midwife led unit or a consultant led unit. There was a bit of a disagreement about me saying the current midwife led units were closed, despite the announcement having already been announced that this was the intention and two being temporarily closed due to staffing pressures.

Next I asked how many more beds were planned to be cut.

More prevarication.

I pushed. Was the figure of 600 bed cuts recognised, which was the broad figure in the first draft of the STP?

Yes this figure was recognised but it depended on a raft of issues.

Finally, I asked about the selling off of redundant estate. How many, where and when? Another non answer ensued. It was the next piece of work.

Entirely frustrated at the refusal to answer questions, not because I believe, the answers are not known but because there is a total refusal to get into any detail whatsoever, I expressed my complete frustration and disappointment at the answers. It made no difference.

Other councillors asked other questions.

At the end of the debate I proposed a resolution that the committee express significant concerns over the STP, its potential effect on patient care and the lack of transparency so far.

I called for urgent information on staffing, beds, buildings and budgets, in particular.

The proposal was seconded by Chair, Sara Randall Johnson, who added that a piece of work would be done on this.

Unfortunately, my wording appeared to upset the conservative group. Cllr Philip Sanders said he didn’t like that I had said the process appeared not to be transparent and wanted this word deleted. I replied that that it was entirely justified and refused to amend my proposal.

But fellow Conservative, Phil Twiss, wanted ANY mention of concerns deleted.

He said: “We don’t need the emotional language.”

Three years ago, Cllr Twiss reported me and this blog to the police cyber crime unit. You can read about it here, if you like –

Cllr Twiss then proposed that ALL my words were deleted, simply retaining the section that relating to a task group being set up.

This was voted through by the vast majority of the Conservative group.

Letting down every single resident in Devon who relies on the NHS.

Yes, I think that’s everyone.

Ambulance Trust response targets are failing and RD&E unable to discharge its patients in good time

Later in the meeting we were examining the performance review.

The South West Ambulance Trust which used to meet the national target of eight minutes largely without a difficulty, are now significantly under target. Only 59 per cent of calls were answered within eight minutes, across Northern, Eastern and Western Devon, in July of this year. The target is 75 per cent.

Lives are surely being put at risk. Certainly news of the failures are hitting the local media.

The narrative attached to the graph claimed that the reason was the rural nature of the South West. Yet the South West has been rural for years and this wasn’t a problem previously. Of course there have been cuts to budgets, and reductions in the number of ambulances so that is more likely to be the cause of the failure.

Problem with delayed discharges at the RD&E

Similarly, the RD&E was shown to have a significant problem with delayed discharges.

In June this year a daily average of 66 beds were occupied by patients who were well enough to go home.

It was obvious from the graph that the problem was clearly way out of kilter with other local NHS trusts.

This was largely to do with major staffing problems in the care sector, an officer confirmed.

of course it is these staff among others that we will rely on, to look after people in their own homes following community hospital bed cuts.

I proposed a resolution that the committee record its concerns at the ambulance response rates and the high level of delayed discharges at the RD&E and invite both trusts to the next committee meeting.

I had to argue with the chair that the proposal should retain the bit about recording concerns, before it was seconded by Cllr Brian Greenslade.

One of the Labour councillors was unhappy with me mentioning the RD&E at all in my resolution because she was chairing a piece of work looking at delayed discharges. I tried to point out that the resolution supported her work but she was adamant …

Then Cllr Twiss started up again. He said he didn’t like my wording and that I was simply making a statement that “looks good in the press.”

I reminded Cllr Twiss that the committee is legally constituted to scrutinise health services on behalf of the people and our job is to hold the health service to account. In fact such words had been used recently in a standards committee hearing minutes.

Anyone who is familiar with the basic requirements of an audit trail will recognise the importance of the committee recording concerns about service failures in this way.

I told Cllr Twiss that I intended to ask in the work programme agenda item, that the county solicitor attends the next committee meeting and outlines our responsibilities.

The final amendment removed my words about concerns about the RD&E’s delayed discharges but retained the words about the ambulance trust target failure.

So Ambulance Trust representatives will be invited to the next meeting.

I have certainly heard anecdotally that things are very challenging indeed within the Trust, with too few ambulances and low staff morale.

I duly asked in the final agenda item for the County Solicitor to attend the next meeting to remind the committee of its remit.

Some councillors appear to be in sore need of training.

Playing political games with health scrutiny resolutions is a dirty and unacceptable game.

NHS Property Services and buildings

Cllr Martin Shaw spoke to a report he submitted to the committee on this. The upshot will be that a sub group will examine the future of community hospital buildings.

The speaker itemised webcast can be viewed here –”