(Tory) Council leaders, don’t you just love ’em – not!

Current leader of EDDC, Paul Diviani, and his Tory friends on the council voted against hospital bed cuts at EDDC (which is toothless on this matter) but he then voted FOR the same cuts at Devon County Council, which has just a few gnashers, but where former EDDC Leader and DCC councillor for Whimple, Sarah Randall Johnson, silenced a legitimate opposition debate on closures using very dubious tactics against her arch-enemy (campaigner and ouster from her EDDC seat) Claire Wright:

https://eastdevonwatch.org/2017/08/12/conduct-of-health-committee-members-investigated-by-devon-council-diviani-and-randall-johnson-heavily-criticised-for-behaviour/

Now the former Leader of Grenfell Tower Council joins the merry band:

The council leader who presided over the Grenfell Tower disaster offered paid “advice” on public sector cutbacks – and tried to “whitewash” his CV in the process.

Nick Paget-Brown resigned as leader of Kensington and Chelsea council after the authority’s woeful response to the deadly inferno drew widespread criticism.

He has remained a councillor but has attracted fresh ire from survivors and rival politicians after advertising his own company – NPB Consulting – on his new Linkedin profile.

The firm, of which he is managing director, offers specialist advice on “financial planning in an age of austerity” to other councils.

Paget-Brown is also accused of hurling a “final insult” to victims as he has omitted his experience as council leader from his CV’s career history, leaving a space between the end of his time as deputy leader in 2013 and founding NPB in 2017. His appointment as leader was mentioned elsewhere. …

Paget-Brown used the networking site to advertise his skills, including “policy analysis, seminars, briefings and drafting assistance for organisations working with local authorities”.

Emma Dent Coad, the Labour MP for Kensington, said: “Paget-Brown’s attempt to whitewash his career by becoming a cost-cutting consultant is the final insult.”

Moyra Samuels, co-founder of the Justice 4 Grenfell campaign, said: “To effectively say, ‘I’m moving on swiftly to my next project’ shows complete disdain for this community.”

At the time of his resignation, Paget-Brown said he shared responsibility for the “perceived failings” of the council. “

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/grenfell-paget-brown_uk_599a96bbe4b0e8cc855e707e

Only “perceived” note …

RIP Seaton Community Hospital beds – vigil, noon today

The town with the largest catchment area for elderly people – its community hospital closes the doors on its beds today.

Built by public subscription, funded by a hard-working League of Friends, only its outpatient services will remain – for now.

The heart of a community stops beating today.

Thanks to the vote of East Devon District Leader (Paul Diviani – who voted at EDDC against his own district recommendation) and former Leader and Chair of DCC Health and Social Care Committee Sarah Randall-Johnson, who voted along with all other Conservatives on that committee not to refer the closures of Seaton and Honiton (next Monday) to the Secretary of State.

This will leave the whole of the eastern side of the district with no community beds at all – the few remaining beds to be (for the time being) in Sidmouth and Exmouth, closer to Exeter and Cranbrook.

Boris Johnson: almost a billion pounds wasted on vanity projects!

Public money wasted:

Garden Bridge £52 m
New Routemaster £321.6 m
Emirates cable car £21 m
Water cannon £323,000
Hire bikes £225 m
(hire bikes was supposed to be “cost neutral” – where have we hear THAT before!)
Estuary airport £5.2 m
Olympic stadium conversion £305.5 m
(original cost estimate with large part from football club which did not materialise)
Statue at Olympic Stadium (Orbit) £6.1 m

The article:

“The scrapping of Boris Johnson’s Garden Bridge project has exposed a £940m bill for his “vanity projects” as London mayor and prompted a senior Labour figure to say her party was partly to blame.

The figure is the total spent on eight projects closely associated with the former mayor, including the pedestrian bridge for the Thames that was abandoned this week, which either failed or whose value for money has been questioned.

His office insisted that the schemes represented important investments and that to describe them as vanity projects was “ignorant and wrong”.

Three Johnson projects ended in failure at a cost of more than £57.5m: the Garden Bridge; the purchase of water cannon; and the Thames estuary airport. ..”

Five others: the new Routemaster bus; hire bikes; the Emirates Air Line cable car; the conversion of the Olympic stadium and the ArcelorMittal Orbit helter-skelter, all did go ahead at a combined cost of more than £900m. They have run into problems after turning out to be far more expensive than promised.

The former Labour minister Margaret Hodge, whose review of the Garden Bridge project led to its abandonment, said she was shocked at how “irresponsible” Johnson was with public money. But during her review she was also struck by the lack of scrutiny of his profligate spending decisions when mayor.

“I kept thinking how the hell was he allowed to get away with this,” Hodge told the Guardian. …”

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/aug/18/bridge-940m-bill-boris-johnsons-mayora-vanity-projects-garden-bridge-routemaster-bus

(Some) council leaders brand single-option consultation a sham

“The leaders of Adur and Worthing councils have called for a ‘sham’ A27 improvements consultation to be halted and re-run with further options.

Highways England has put forward just one £69million proposal to tweak six key junctions between Worthing and Lancing. But councillor Neil Parkin and councillor Dan Humphreys have joined forces to campaign for a rethink. Mr Parkin, Adur District Council leader, said: “Highways England say they want to consult with us but we say this is a sham.”

“By not allowing the public to weigh up options and see full costings how are we to make any kind of decision? “All I do know is the current scheme on the table is barely worth the disruption and certainly not worth spending £69million on.” Modest improvements to six junctions between Durrington Hill and the Lancing Manor roundabout are proposed which would cut three minutes from journey times but, according to Highways England’s own scoring system, would deliver no ‘significant benefits’.

In its consultation document the agency alludes to more expensive and radical solutions, such as underpasses and flyovers but dismisses them as too expensive without further explanation.

Mr Humphreys, Worthing Borough Council leader, said: “The more I listened to officials explaining the scheme at the launch of the consultation the more angry I became. “Highways England do not seem to be taking us seriously. Our questions were met with an ‘experts know best’ response while there was no explanation about why other options hadn’t been explored,” said.

“The current consultation should be halted and a proper one, involving other options and explanations started afresh. The agency must have those plans and calculations so let’s seem them.” The leaders insisted it is not for the councils to submit plans but for Highways England to give local residents, businesses and politicians real choice and real consultation.

Consultation ends on September 12 with two years of construction expected to start in 2020 if the scheme is approved.

Article originally appeared on Worthing Herald”

https://www.consultationinstitute.org/consultation-news/council-leaders-brand-single-option-consultation-a-sham/

Do we have ANY statistics on votes at elections? Seems unlikely

It would appear that someone or some agency appears to ask for this information regularly – wonder how many local authorities register the replies that EDDC registers?

“Verification statements for the 2017 general election count

Date submitted: 19 July 2017

Summary of request

1. For each of your constituencies, a copy of your full verification statements for the 2017 general election count, including

(i) for each polling district separately, (a) the number of electors; and (b) the verified number of ballots
(ii) for postal votes,
(a) total postal ballots issued; and
(b) total postal ballots received

2. The same information as in 1), but for the 2015 general election

3. The same information as in 1), but for the 2016 EU referendum
(Note: Some of you sent us this information for the 2016 referendum in response to our survey last year seeking other referendum voting details; if you are one of the authorities who already sent us this, there is no need to send it again, please simply confirm this has already been sent).

4. Please also let us know if the boundaries of any polling districts have changed between the 2015 general election and the 2017 general election. If so, please indicate which polling districts were affected and when the change took effect

Summary of response

1. For each of your constituencies, a copy of your full verification statements for the 2017 general election count, including

(i) for each polling district separately,
(a) the number of electors; and
(b) the verified number of ballots –
This information is not recorded

(ii) for postal votes,
(a) total postal ballots issued; and
(b) total postal ballots received –
This information is not recorded

2. The same information as in 1), but for the 2015 general election –
This information is not recorded

3. The same information as in 1), but for the 2016 EU referendum –
This information is not recorded

(Note: Some of you sent us this information for the 2016 referendum in response to our survey last year seeking other referendum voting details; if you are one of the authorities who already sent us this, there is no need to send it again, please simply confirm this has already been sent).

4. Please also let us know if the boundaries of any polling districts have changed between the 2015 general election and the 2017 general election. If so, please indicate which polling districts were affected and when the change took effect –
This information is not recorded.

Date responded: 27 July 2017″

http://eastdevon.gov.uk/access-to-information/freedom-of-information/freedom-of-information-published-requests/

The Swamp UK-style: David Davis – 6 days work a year for a pal – £34,000 and help to cancel a £450,000 fine

David Davis backed a City high-flyer’s appeal against a huge fine for insider dealing a month after accepting a lucrative position at one of his companies, the Observer has established.

The Brexit secretary has been a staunch ally of star banker Ian Hannam for many years. Both men were members of 21 SAS Reserve Regiment and Hannam donated £2,000 to Davis’s Tory leadership campaign in 2005. But their relationship deepened in 2012 when Davis criticised the Financial Services Authority in its pursuit of the City’s leading dealmaker, who was forced to leave his job with JP Morgan after being found guilty of “market abuse”.

The £450,000 fine imposed by the FSA (replaced by the Financial Conduct Authority or FCA in 2013) was one of the largest handed down to an individual and was considered a major coup for the authority. But Davis described its action as “unBritish”. He said at the time: “This is an incredible extension of what constitutes insider trading by the FSA. It’s quite an astounding pattern of behaviour by the FSA.”

Ian Hannam, former global chairman of equity capital markets at JP Morgan, was fined £450,000 by what was then the Financial Services Authority.
Ian Hannam, former global chairman of equity capital markets at JP Morgan, was fined £450,000 by what was then the Financial Services Authority.

When the authority first brought the case against Hannam, Davis had no financial relationship with his friend, who was considered one of the most powerful people in the Square Mile for his ability to make deals happen. But this was to change a year later when Davis was appointed to the supervisory board of a German company, Mansfelder Kupfer und Messing (MKM), which describes itself as the “leading European manufacturer of primary and semi-finished products made of copper and copper alloy”.

Davis listed his position – for which he “anticipated remuneration of approximately £34,000 per annum” – in the register of MPs’ interests on 10 June 2013 and disclosed that the role was for six days work a year. The disclosure was made a month after Hannam bought MKM via a company called Copper 1909. MKM confirms on its website that it is owned by Hannam & Partners.

In further updates to the register of interests, Davis acknowledged that he received a series of payments from Copper 1909 – each for around £7,000 – until he stood down from the company on becoming Brexit secretary last year. The Observer estimates that he may have earned more than £100,000 from the arrangement, based on his anticipated remuneration of £34,000 a year.

In July 2013, a month after he accepted the position at MKM, Davis made a very public show of support for Hannam when the banker sought to have the FSA’s decision overturned. The former shadow home secretary sat behind his friend, formerly JP Morgan’s global co-head of UK capital markets, when his appeal was heard. The FSA’s decision to fine Hannam was upheld in 2014 by the upper tribunal, the ultimate arbiter of authority decisions. There was no suggestion that Hannam was acting for private gain and he was granted a licence to continue operating in the Square Mile after the decision was handed down.

The FSA’s case against Hannam was based on two emails in which he revealed that his client, Heritage Oil, had struck oil before the discovery had been announced publicly, and that it was a potential bid target.

Commenting after the appeal was dismissed, Tracey McDermott, then director of enforcement and financial crime at the FCA, said: “This has been a long and complex case but the tribunal’s substantial judgment is a landmark. It should leave market participants in no doubt that casual and uncontrolled distribution of inside information is not acceptable in today’s markets. Controlling the flow of inside information is a key way of preventing market abuse and we would urge all market participants to pay close attention to the judgment.”

Davis was one of several people Hannam thanked for their support after the tribunal’s ruling.

The Observer put a series of questions to Davis, including requests for him to confirm how much he had been paid by Hannam’s company, what the work entailed and whether he believed the position had opened him up to any conflicts of interest. Davis declined to comment. However, his friends said he has made no attempt to hide his friendship with Hannam and that all his appointments, and income received, have been declared in accordance with MPs’ rules.

The Observer approached the Committee on Standards in Public Life. A spokeswoman said it would not comment on individual cases but confirmed that the committee was exercised by the issue of MPs holding second jobs.

The spokeswoman said: “We are currently collecting evidence and will feed our findings into the review of the MPs’ code of conduct in due course.”

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/aug/12/david-davis-linked-to-city-trader-fined-for-insider-dealing

“Conduct of health committee members investigated by Devon council” – Diviani and Randall-Johnson heavily criticised for behaviour

“Devon County Council has confirmed it is looking into the conduct of members of one of its committees following a debate and vote not to refer a decision to close 72 community hospital beds in Devon to the secretary of state for health.

The matter was debated by the health and adult care scrutiny committee meeting at Exeter’s County Hall on July 25.

Among those who have expressed their concerns is Val Ranger, East Devon District Council ward councillor for Newton Poppleford and Harpford.

She says that at a meeting of East Devon District full council meeting on July 26, Cllr Paul Diviani, who sits on the committee as a representative of district councils, admitted he had not asked the opinion of other district councils about whether they wished to refer the decision to close local hospital beds to the secretary of state, and could offer no evidence on that basis that he was representing their views.

At the meeting Cllr Diviani was among those who voted not to refer the decision to the secretary of state.

Cllr Ranger said: “He said he voted not to because it was unlikely that the secretary of state would overturn the decision.

This seems duplicitous on two count. The first for failing to adequately represent the views of the district councils.

“Secondly for assuming the role of the secretary of state by stating there was no point in referring the matter to him as he was unlikely to overturn the decision.

“At the EDDC scrutiny committee on June 22, EDDC’s views and recommendations were very clear; Northern, Eastern and Western (NEW) Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has failed to provide the evidence needed to support their plans.

“However, Cllr Diviani failed to represent those views or the views of other district councils as he did not seek them. He has admitted he voted independently of both EDDC and other district councils, rendering his vote as entirely without integrity in his role at the DCC meeting.

“The vote is an entirely unsafe and undemocratic way of conducting business and brings both EDDC and DCC into disrepute.”

A spokesman for Devon County Council said: “We have received a number of comments, representations and complaints about the health and adult care scrutiny committee held last week and about the conduct of members at that meeting.

“We will be looking at all the points raised by Cllr Ranger and others under our normal procedures to see if there are any issues to be addressed.”

However, Cllr Diviani is confident the investigation by DCC will conclude there has been no wrong doing.

He said: “I take this predictable and entirely politically motivated complaint against me by people who contribute little or nothing positive to the debate at face value, and feel sure that DCC will dismiss the allegations as unfounded.

“I have neither seen or heard anything from Ms Ranger on how her party would address the huge challenges facing the NEW Devon CCG and the NHS.

“As the web cam at County Hall malfunctioned and didn’t record properly, the gist of what I said is as below. I did also explain that my position on that scrutiny committee is by virtue of my being elected by the other leaders of all the Devon districts to represent the county-wide views of the district councils, not just East Devon, and is a function I perform regularly both locally and in London through the District Councils Network where I represent the South West.

“There is a tendency to assume that everything is fine as it is, when it quite clearly is not, and that the government will keep throwing money at the NHS as they always have in the past.

“What that underestimates are the social care costs which are massive, but if tackled correctly will reduce the acute care costs, as evidenced by the Kings Fund report. We will still need our hospital buildings which in Honiton are already being used differently, for example, for kidney or chemotherapy treatments. Staffing is still a problem but that is not building dependent.

“Many of us have made a positive decision to live and indeed work in the countryside and a direct result of that decision is a diminution of accessible services we can reasonably expect the state to provide. When able, it is a price we gladly pay for the quality of life afforded.

“In straightened times, we need to cut the cloth accordingly. As is well documented, the largely under funded cost of adult social care is a significant factor in the problems besetting the NHS where the acute care service is the treatment of last resort, and very good it is too, but with the budget sliced off to the top tier local authority.

“As the truly excellent Kings Fund Report from 2016 made exceedingly clear, sorting adult social care comes first and if we tackle that with the help of the district councils the benefits will flow. The NHS cost pressures will diminish and the money can best be spent where most needed.

“In East Devon we have enormous and justifiable pride in our local hospitals and all our existing towns were well endowed. Costs are, however, never static and will always rise without innovation.

“But here we are talking service industry which is always people dependent and where low wages do not necessarily translate into low cost. Simply put, if one person falls, it will take two people to rectify the situation, and if not rectified speedily, the condition and costs multiply exponentially.

“And speedily must mean access to care, quickly. Our travel times are well known and until they are resolved, we will always need staging posts to either stop people occupying the acute provision when unnecessary or to maintain them in a degree of comfort until they can reach the comfort and safety of their own living space.

“The major flaw appears to me to be the ever present ‘one size fits all’. Flexibility is key and our response should be the start.

“Attempting to browbeat the secretary of state with a demand to overturn his own policies is counter intuitive. I prefer to ask him to rural proof our rural situation before allowing any further reductions in service which we on the ground can see will be detrimental, but our transformers would discount. But that is a local decision which should be made locally.”

Also among those who have raised concerns over the debate and vote at the scrutiny meeting is Claire Wright, Devon County Councillor for Otter Valley Ward.

She has said how she was “disappointed” by the behaviour of scrutiny committee chair Sara Randall Johnson who “appeared to do her utmost” to prevent any referral.

She said: “I am also disappointed with the attitude of the majority of the Conservative group who used a variety of ill-informed views and remarks to justify their determination not to refer, refusing to hear or see any member of the public’s distress, frustration and disbelief at the proceedings.

“The chair’s attitude made me angry and led to a protracted row where I repeatedly asked her why she had allowed a proposal to be made and seconded at the very start of the meeting by her conservative colleague, Rufus Gilbert, not to refer to the secretary of state for health, when I already had a proposal that I had lodged with her and the two officers, before the meeting.”

She added: “When they did what they did at the health scrutiny meeting, the Conservatives betrayed thousands of local people.”

The close vote whether to refer the decision was six votes to seven, with two abstentions. All those who voted with Cllr Gilbert’s motion were Conservative’s.

Cllr Wright, who is seeking advice on what happened at the meeting, concluded: “I am quite certain that with a different approach by the chair the outcome would have been different, and local peoples views would have been respected and acted upon.”

http://m.devonlive.com/conduct-of-health-committee-members-investigated-by-devon-council/story-30478465-detail/story.html